Star Alliance Gold status match for Qantas, Virgin Australia

By Chris Chamberlin, December 20 2018
Star Alliance Gold status match for Qantas, Virgin Australia

Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyers can take advantage of a generous status match to top-tier Gold status across all Star Alliance airlines.

Your Gold or Platinum membership in the Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity Frequent Flyer schemes is all it takes to unlock 90 days of Gold-grade benefits such as airport lounge access, priority check-in and boarding and a boosted baggage allowance across all Star Alliance airlines: a solid roster which includes Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Thai Airways, Air New Zealand, ANA, Lufthansa and Swiss.

And with a single flight you can extend your Star Alliance Gold status through to January 2020.

Ready to grab your Gold-plated perks? Here's the drill.

Qualifying for the Star Alliance Gold status match

The Star Alliance Gold status match is being offer by United Airlines as part of what it calls a 'status challenge' promotion.

You'll start with 90 days at either United's Premier Gold or Premier Platinum frequent flyer tiers, both of which line up with Star Alliance Gold.

That status can then be extended to a much longer period by completing a 'status challenge' during which you have to fly a certain number of miles with United.

United Airlines accepts a wide range of frequent flyer programs for the status match, including Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One, and Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum.

Also on the list are the following cards from overseas-based airlines that fly to Australia:

  • American Airlines (AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey)
  • British Airways (Executive Club Silver, Gold, Premier)
  • Cathay Pacific (Marco Polo Club Gold, Diamond)
  • China Airlines (Emerald, Paragon)
  • China Eastern (Eastern Miles Gold)
  • China Southern (Sky Pearl Gold)
  • Delta Air Lines (Gold, Platinum and Diamond Medallion)
  • Emirates (Skywards Gold, Platinum)
  • Etihad (Guest Gold, Platinum)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (Pualani Gold, Platinum)
  • Japan Airlines (Sapphire, Diamond, JGC Premier)
  • Korean Air (Morning Calm Premium)
  • LATAM (Platinum, Black, Black Signature: choose 'LAN Airlines' from the list and add a comment to your request as these names have recently changed)
  • Malaysia Airlines (Enrich Gold, Platinum)
  • Qatar Airways (Privilege Club Gold, Platinum)

The roster also encompasses airlines further afield like Air France, Alitalia, Finnair and Virgin Atlantic.

Of course, United won't do a status match to another Star Alliance airline; and if you've taken advantage of a different United status match or status challenge in the past five years, even if that matched status has since expired, you won't be eligible to sign up this time around.

You won't lose your existing airline status in the process, of course, so there's no harm in taking part if you have some United or Star Alliance flights coming up – but whether you continue flying with these airlines, or return to your 'old' airline, is up to you.

Signing up for the Star Alliance Gold status match

So you have your shiny Gold or Platinum card at the ready?

If you're already a member of United's MileagePlus frequent flyer scheme, get things moving by visiting this promotion page on the United Airlines website and logging into your account.

If you’re not already a MileagePlus member, you'll first need to sign up, and then return to the promo page to register for the challenge.

The next screen asks to confirm your email address, mailing address and your phone number.

This is where you'll also share the details of your current Gold or Platinum frequent flyer status, and provide proof of that status – either by attaching a photograph, scan or screenshot of your current membership card, or a copy of your most recent mileage summary from your airline which shows your status.

Planning your 'status match challenge'

The last part of the registration asks you to nominate the date you'd like to begin not only your 90-day status match to United MileagePlus Premier Gold and Premier Platinum, but the 'challenge' to earn enough United frequent flyer miles to keep that status.

If you're looking only to grab that 90 days of gratis status only to ensure lounge access, priority check-in and so on during a forthcoming trip on any Star Alliance, set the start date accordingly.

However, if you're serious about taking advantage of the challenge to pocket Star Alliance Gold status beyond 90 days, it's important to make the right choice on your challenge start date.

If you complete your challenge – that is, you take the last flight needed to hold onto your new status – on or before June 30 2018, your Star Alliance Gold membership will be extended until January 31 2019.

However, if you complete your challenge on or after July 1 2018, that same status will be yours until January 31 2020 – giving you an extra year of lounge access and 'priority everything'!

Your Star Alliance Gold card unlocks the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX...
Your Star Alliance Gold card unlocks the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX...

Savvy flyers might choose to delay their status challenge application until May or even June, when taking eligible flights in July or beyond, to make the most of this deal.

If you don't meet the requirements of your challenge – more on this below – you'll drop to your previous status with United when the 90-day period concludes, which means losing your Star Alliance Gold perks.

How to keep your new Star Alliance Gold status

It typically takes 7-14 days for United to approve your application.

And as soon as you've been bumped to United Premier Gold or Premier Platinum that 90-day clock starts ticking on earning the necessary amount of what United calls 'Premier-qualifying miles' (PQMs) on flights operated by United Airlines or its regional offshoot United Express.

Think of PQMs as United's version of Qantas or Velocity status credits.

Frequent flyers matched to Premier Gold – typically by being a Qantas Gold or Velocity Gold member, for example – need to earn 12,500 PQMs to successfully complete their challenge and extend their status.

For travellers given Premier Platinum status by way of their existing Qantas Platinum or Velocity Platinum  membership, the bar is set a little higher at 18,000 PQMs Note that as a Premier Platinum candidate you won't be able to obtain Premier Gold at the lower 12,500-mile rate: you can only retain Premier Platinum at 18,000 PQMs, or lose your status after 90 days.

However, flights taken with other Star Alliance airlines don't contribute to your challenge.

You can still fly with other Star Alliance carriers during this time and can enjoy perks like airport lounge access if your boarding pass reflects your new Star Alliance Gold status: but to keep this for longer than 90 days, you'll need to fly with United.

How to lock in Star Alliance Gold status with a single flight

Keeping your United status is all about racking up the right number of PQMs – and because Australia is quite a distance from the United States, it's possible to earn all the PQMs you need to retain Premier Gold or Premier Platinum in a single return trip.

Take United's Sydney-Los Angeles route: even a one-way ticket in business class (or one return flight in economy) pulls in almost 15,000 PQMs. That's enough to complete the Premier Gold challenge and provide Star Alliance Gold until January 2019 or 2020, depending on when you take that flight.

The same is true of United's Sydney-San Francisco flights of a similar length, while its Melbourne-Los Angeles route offers closer to 16,000 PQMs on identical tickets, given its longer distance.

United's new Sydney-Houston service provides just over 17,000 PQMs (return in economy or one-way in business class) – enough for Premier Gold, but just shy of the 18,000 PQMs needed for those completing the Platinum challenge.

That's where a connecting flight comes in handy, such as from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Houston to New York with United or United Express, on which you'd earn enough PQMs to get over the Premier Platinum mark.

Meet your target and your United Premier / Star Alliance Gold membership expiry date will be updated within five to seven business days and a proper United membership card will arrive at your doorstep shortly after.

Finally, keep in mind that United Premier Gold and Platinum doesn't provide access to United lounges on domestic trips within the USA, but if that's a perk you're looking for, Singapore Airlines is also offering a fast-track to KrisFlyer Gold (Star Alliance Gold) after just three flights, which does open these doors.

Read: How to get Star Alliance Gold status after just three flights

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

02 Jul 2015

Total posts 17

Chris, do you know if there is a cut-off date for the commencement of the 90 day challenge? I have a SQ flight booked for early January 2019 and the Star Alliance Gold perks would come in handy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

The status match deal isn't new and has been extened year on year.

The current match status match is the 2018 one so obviously, matches will occur up to 31 December 2018 and I guess we'll wait to see if they extend the program into 2019.

If you sign up say Mid December you'll get it for 90 days from then even if that reaches into 2019.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Mar 2017

Total posts 6

Hi Chris,

fantastic detailed article. I have a business reward saver ticket booked for September this year that was booked outright with points (SIA). Would this count towards the extension?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Feb 2016

Total posts 37

Flights booked outright with points doesn't accrue "status credits" so I am guessing not.

06 Mar 2018

Total posts 1

Hi - Are you required to fly United metal or could you also fly other carriers (like Air Canada) but the flight(s) were ticketed by United within the 90-day trial?


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2502

As the article clearly says, "flights taken with other Star Alliance airlines don't contribute to your challenge." Your challenge-qualifying flights must be on United or United Express.

It says flights taken with other Star Alliance airlines don't contribute to your challenge.

However, if you signed up for 90 days Gold status, were approved, and took no United flights, would you move down to Silver status with United after the 90 days? Is this the equivalent of Star Alliance Silver?

As covered in the article: "If you don't meet the requirements of your challenge – more on this below – you'll drop to your previous status with United when the 90-day period concludes."

So, if your previous status was Premier Silver, then yes. Otherwise, no.

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 66

Has this been updated?

When I did this just over a year ago (in December 2016) I was only given Silver and was told that my Virgin Australia Gold was only equivalent to United Silver.
I was told that if I had Delta or Etihad Gold as an example that would be equivalent to United Gold.

United is offering Premier Silver (Star Alliance Silver) to first-tier members of other programs (this would be Velocity Silver), Premier Gold (Star Gold) to mid-tier members (which would be Velocity Gold), and Premier Platinum (also Star Gold) to third-tier flyers and above (which would be Velocity Platinum). Wouldn't hurt to remind United that Velocity Gold is mid-tier (and offers lounge access etc.) if you're concerned when you apply.

Excellent tip on flying after July 1 to get the needed PQMs and have Gold to Jan 2020! I have to fly to San Francisco in May and again in August, so will do QF for the first one for my Qantas status credits and choose UA for the August flight to get Gold status to 2020!

09 May 2011

Total posts 23

Worth noting on the Promotions page after submitting your information, one particular T&C along the lines of "Please note your membership MAY no be valid at partner lounges..." (Sorry I should have copied and pasted it). That't a very pertinent T&C to make note of! Particularly as I am mainly doing this for lounge access in Europe in May when flying TAP and Lufthansa.

My understanding is that this is a 'cover all' just in case your status isn't correctly picked up by a partner airline (i.e. if your boarding pass doesn't reflect your Star Alliance Gold status and you don't have the actual membership card to prove otherwise).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

It depends on how the airline process Star Alliance status and what types of lounge you are using.

Most of the time it will appear on your boarding pass and you can enter star alliance operated lounges without the card.

Singapore, United and Air New Zealand never ask to see the card if the system can see it but airlines like Air Canada will often ask to see the card even if the scanner has already gone green.

Partner (3rd party operated lounges) will often deny access without a star alliance gold card in hand but that again will depend on the airport and the airline.

15 Dec 2017

Total posts 4

I've done this status match before and if you download the United app and show your virtual card you should have no problem at all accessing partner lounges. Even when it's not reflected on your boarding pass.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 49

I am new to the *A game. Can this challenge be used in conjunction with Golden Circle/Kris Flyer offer. I have a short notice trip to SIN (J) then a couple local trips (Y). I can use the OW carriers or use *A carriers. From what I read, and my interpretation of the above rules I could register for this challenge with UA via QF (P1) or VA (WP) and get *G.

At the same time link my KF account with Golden Circle then fly SQ from/to AU in J. Fly SQ for the couple of trips within Asia (4-6 sectors) in Y. If the UA status challenge is accepted, I should be able to access the *A lounges provided my UA challenge is accepted for the Asia Y flights.

Arrive back in AU within the week, 6-8 SQ (maybe 1 or 2 TG flights) under my belt, I would have meet the Golden Circle/Kris Flyer *G match requirement i.e. x4 flights with SQ and have *G for the next 12 months.

I am only interested in getting *G with SQ or UA, I do not need both. If I can use this UA challenge to get lounge access whilst SQ it seems to be a win-win.

Am I missing something or interpreting this offer wrong.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2018

Total posts 11

very insightful, just signed in as I am flying Thai and United very soon :-)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 2

I see that domestic USA flights won't get lounge access. However, what if it's a domestic leg on an international ticket? For example at LAX heading to JFK from MEL.

07 Mar 2018

Total posts 1


Are you aware of any reciprocity by Qantas by offering their top tier status to United Gold members, of which I am one?
Thanks for sharing your travel knowledge and insights
Bob Abbey

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

04 Oct 2017

Total posts 5

may i ask what you need with United to access their domestic lounges?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 2

This is not as easy to obtain as it seems. I am a Gold QF and earn status credits through flights like everyone else. I went Life Gold last month. So far my responses from United are:

"Based on our investigation of the submitted documentation, we have determined there may be fraudulent or suspicious aspects of the credentials you provided and your request has been declined. If you believe this assessment to be in error, you may contact United Airlines Corporate Security"

I then sent more info and got this reply:

"The intent of the MileagePlus Premier Challenge Promotion is to match a status with select airlines that was earned via the normal means of qualification. We did reach out to the Qantas Airways frequency program you submitted on your behalf, they were not able to verify a current, earned status for your account. As such, we are not able to reach a different conclusion, and we are not able to offer you participation in the Premier Status Promotion"

All very odd. Makes me wonder if Qantas doesn't want people joining this program.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2013

Total posts 67

I don’t think it’s about QF not wanting you to join, LT SC’s aren’t the same as SC’s earned in a 12month period. Are you still earning the equivalent of Gold or Plat SC’s per annum or are you just flying QF when it suits now you have LTG? The current level of actual flying is what counts not what you have achieved with one carrier.

did you reach a solution with united on this issue?


01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

Any good UA 5th freedom options now that HKG-SIN is no more?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

15 Mar 2018

Total posts 2

Agree. The confusion seemed to arise when United saw I was Lifetime Gold. I provided details of all my flights for the past 12 months and they granted me the Gold status. Just used it for priority check in and boarding and lounge access on Star Alliance member flights. All good.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 2

Has anyone tried using the 3 mnths status matched United gold to get Gold elite status with Marriott hotels?


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 58

I'm looking to fly to SFO from SYD in June and return in July (in order to unlock the extra year of gold status). If I fly via Houston the website says its 10,231PQM one way. But if I have applied for the challenge and already have gold status, will this add the extra points bonus which would then push me over the 12,500 needed in June and not July when I want it to be converted?

In short: Are Premier bonus award miles (based on status) included in the challenge.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2017

Total posts 58

"Finally, keep in mind that United Premier Gold and Platinum doesn't provide access to United lounges on domestic trips within the USA, but if that's a perk you're looking for, Singapore Airlines is also offering a fast-track to KrisFlyer Gold (Star Alliance Gold) after just three flights, which does open these doors." - So KrisFlyer gold can access United lounges on domestic trips?

Correct - the restriction is only for United members, not all of Star Alliance.


24 Feb 2017

Total posts 1

I'd like to book at UA flight this week to take advantage of some great prices for travel in October/November this year.

If I apply for the status match (currently Platinum with QF) in say late June (to meet the 90 day limit on the status challenge), will my existing booking be recognised as part of the status challenge, or does it only apply to flights booked after you've been approved for the status challenge?

Is anyone experiencing difficulties with United honoring this offer? Seems like a lot of bullshit...

Any suggestions will be welcome ; thinking this will be an easy process, I already booked a flight with United to earn the 12500 for gold match in 2weeks time.

After sending a clear picture of my current valid velocity gold, they are making all sorts of excuses like “We did reach out to the Virign Australia frequency program you submitted on your behalf, theya re not able to verify a current, regulalrly earned status for your account” AND “Based on our investigation of the submitted documentation, we have determined there may be fraudulent or suspicious aspects of the credentials” ....

I'm a current 1k with United (star alliance gold) but will lose this for 2019. I'm a Oneworld gold via Qatar airways. Should I wait until my 1k is finished and risk missing this offer or if I accept the offer now will it keep my 1k and then swap to premier gold in a few weeks?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Dec 2011

Total posts 18

As a VA Gold, don't you get *A benefits anyhow?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Dec 2014

Total posts 81

As VA is not part of Star Alliance the benefits are limited. VA Gold members only get full benefits when they fly with Singapore Airlines (including SQ's lounges worldwide). Other Star Alliance members: South African Airways will allow most benefits; Air Canada only points earning. Access to lounges only in North America if travelling in Business Class on VA codeshares operated by AC. Air New Zealand and ANA offer interline agreements, as in: free terminal transfers and through bag checks, but no points earning, redeeming, lounges etc. For full details check with VA. Hope this helps and if I've got anything wrong please correct me.


15 Mar 2018

Total posts 48

As a UA Million Miler, I was a 1K (3 times) for years. When my 1K status ceased this year I automatically moved to UA LTG. Only loss I see is no access to UA domestic lounges, but with other P, G and E statuses, I haven't found this a problem (yet). If worst comes to worst, I'll pay for a lounge access.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Sep 2013

Total posts 6

Chris, just to confirm, if I participate in the status match, I don't surrender my QF or VA status? It's not like leaving one for the other is it?

Wouldn't want to be caught or punished lol.

PS Sorry if stupid question but if it looks too good to be true, it generally is.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Dec 2014

Total posts 81

You'll keep your status with QF and/or VA.


Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 4

Hi Chris,Is there anything similar coming through with Cathay or has there been one ? I would like a Status Match with Cathay and have Gold with SQ,Platinum with Virgin Australia and have 2 big trips in Business class with Cathay early next to Europe and One to China..Any Thoughts ? THANK-YOU very much.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2502

Cathay Pacific doesn’t have any standing status match or status challenge promotions, although as with all airlines you can email them - or more specifically email the Marco Polo Club - to make your case as to why you might deserve a one-off stratus match.

David is correct, CX doesn't do formal status match promotions but it does do them on application. However CX policy is to generally offer Marco Polo Club status at one level below the status you are matching against. so even if they did match your SQ Gold or Velocity Platinum you would only end up with Marco Polo Club Gold, not Diamond, so you would have the same lounge access as you would get anyway being in business class.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

Be careful with your choice if the status match... If you decide for UNITED airlines you will not get so many points flying on SQ, ER and many other airlines... For example: If you fly UA in Business J booking fares would be 300%, in D, C, Z, P booking fares you can get 200% Premier Qualifications miles but if you fly SQ, ER you might get max 100% or less ...depending of the class, only if you fly AC NZ NH LH OS LX you will get more PQ miles. Award miles you will get 125% or more...but if you match with SQ or NZ you will get more from UA and all other airlines...however award points would be the same as Status qualification miles... somethin that US airlines have separate and it make sense for me... but you will decide.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2017

Total posts 13

Can anyone tell me how long this promotion runs for?

with my current QF bookings, I am due to become QFF Gold in April/may. Am currently silver.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Mar 2018

Total posts 1

I submitted a request with a picture of my Gold QF card, but the request was declined with the following message: "Based on our investigation of the submitted documentation, we have determined there may be fraudulent or suspicious aspects of the credentials you provided and your request has been declined."

This is quite shocking. The first thing they claim is that it is fraudulent or suspicious, instead of reaching out for clarification. It seems that I am not the only one experiencing this.

Why did I expect more from United?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jul 2017

Total posts 7

Hi guys.

Is there a specific timeline before we request to start the challenge date to take effect ?
At the moment its only allowing to start it from 2 weeks from now.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

02 Jul 2019

Total posts 1

Apologies for the (slight) necropost, but I have some concerns about this article as follows:

The article states that "Frequent flyers matched to Premier Gold [...] need to earn 12,500 PQMs to successfully complete their challenge and extend their status." and "..."for travellers given Premier Platinum status [...] the bar is set a little higher at 18,000 PQMs..."

Now, as my day job is largely to do with reviewing contracts, I couldn't help myself: I just had to click through to the United page and read the promo T&Cs :)

Sad to say, I cannot see ANY mention of "12,500" or "18,000" anywhere on the page or linked terms. What I can see is an initial 90-day period (the "Offer Period") during which you would need to "reach one of the published qualification thresholds for Premier status."

Which for the avoidance of doubt, are:

Premier Silver25,000 PQM or 30 PQS (and $3,000)
Premier Gold50,000 PQM or 60 PQS (and $6,000)
Premier Platinum75,000 PQM or 90 PQS (and $9,000)

So it seems to me, based on reading United's own site, that the only way to get e.g Platinum status beyond the Offer Period is to earn 75k PQMs over 90 days. Which is quite the task.... and a heck of a lot harder than 18k !!!

AusBT need to review this article and amend as IMO it is currently hugely misleading.

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 118

Hi James, we have an updated version of this article here, with a link to the current offer page which does state the 12.5k / 18k thresholds for the challenge.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Star Alliance Gold status match for Qantas, Virgin Australia