United Airlines, Star Alliance status match targets Qantas

This status match is your shortcut to as many as 18 months of top-tier frequent flyer perks.

By Staff Writers, March 25 2024
United Airlines, Star Alliance status match targets Qantas

United Airlines is once again throwing down the gauntlet at Qantas with a status match intended to woo the airline’s millions of high-value frequent flyers.

The US carrier, which is partnered with Qantas rival Virgin Australia, offers direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to the likes of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston, with a vast network of onwards connections across the Americas – many featuring its Polaris business class.

The United Airlines 2024 status match offers Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers an immediate boost to the equivalent status in United’s MileagePlus rewards program for four solid months of free perks such as lounge access, complimentary checked bags, complimentary upgrades, priority check-in and more.

Holding membership in Qantas frequent flyer program – or equivalent in the loyalty scheme of any other contender – is all it takes to unlock an instant 120 days of benefits, such as priority check-in and boarding and a boosted baggage allowance, when travelling on any United or United Express flight.

And by choosing United on international and US domestic flights within that four month period, your gratis status can be extended all the way to January 2026.

Fly your way to fast-tracked status in United Airlines' Polaris business class.
Fly your way to fast-tracked status in United Airlines' Polaris business class.

United’s membership of the Star Alliance group also translates into reciprocal benefits across 25 other airlines: an impressive roster which lists Air New Zealand, Air Canada, ANA, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss and many more.

In other words, the United Airlines 2024 status match unlocks worldwide benefits to smooth out the bumps and streamline your travels.

And this opportunity isn’t restricted to Qantas frequent flyers: the United status match is also open to members of the rewards programs of Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qatar Airways and dozens of other airlines.

Ready to pounce on those perks? Our guide to the United Airlines 2024 status match will get you up to speed.

Looking for a different path to get globetrotting Gold status? Here’s a way to unlock Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status without setting foot onto a plane.

Who is eligible for the United Airlines 2024 status match?

United Airlines has thrown its net wide for the 2024 status match.

Headliners on the local front are of course Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers.

(And before you ask: Virgin Australia Velocity members and frequent flyers of other Star Alliance airlines aren’t eligible for the United 2024 status match, owing to their respective United partnerships.)

How do those Qantas tiers line up against United’s MileagePlus tiers? It’s pretty straightforward:

  • Qantas Silver = United MileagePlus Premier Silver
  • Qantas Gold = United MileagePlus Premier Gold
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One = United MileagePlus Premier Platinum

Also on the list are the following overseas-based airlines currently flying to Australia:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways

Other carriers eligible for the United Airlines 2024 status match include Air France, Alaska Airlines, Finnair and Virgin Atlantic: you’ll find the full list online at the United 2024 status match page when you first register for the promotion.

And no, you won’t lose your existing frequent flyer status in any airline by participating in the United Airlines status match program, so there’s no harm in signing up if you have some United flights planned, so you can at least take advantage of the free 120-day status period.

But there’s one caveat: if you’ve taken been accepted for a United status match in the past five years, you won’t be eligible to sign up this time around.

However, if your application for a previous United status match was not accepted, you should be able to try again this time around.

How United’s MileagePlus status perks stack up

As a reasonable entry level for your trans-Pacific journeys, United MileagePlus Premier Silver will get you on the plane during Group 2 boarding, early access to available Economy Plus extra legroom seating and seven times the U.S. dollar value of your fare in extra miles to fatten up your MileagePlus balance.

United MileagePlus Premier Gold adds priority first-group boarding, up to three extra checked bags, complimentary Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and more.

And if you’re aiming for the top rung of the ladder, United MileagePlus Premier Platinum delivers discounted membership to United Club lounges, 40 'PlusPoints' which can be used for upgrades on future flights, better award seat availability and free Avis President's Club Elite status for your next car rental.

As a bonus, MileagePlus Premier Gold and Premier Platinum are both are equivalent to Star Alliance Gold, while MileagePlus Premier Silver lines up against Star Alliance Silver.

The United Airlines status match also provides access to hundreds of Star Alliance lounges around the world.
The United Airlines status match also provides access to hundreds of Star Alliance lounges around the world.

How United’s 2024 Status Match works

United officially calls its promotion the MileagePlus Premier Status Match Challenge, and the name implies, there are two components to this:

  • the status match gives you an instant 120 days of status with United Airlines
  • the status challenge is an incentivised program to keep that status through to as far as January 2026

Here’s how they work together.

You’ll begin with the status match. At United’s discretion – and depending on your status with Qantas or another airline loyalty programs – you’ll be granted 120 days at United’s MileagePlus Premier Silver, Premier Gold or Premier Platinum frequent flyer tier.

Those 120 days are your window for completing the status challenge, during which you can potentially lock in your newly-minted MileagePlus tier to the end of January 2026 by taking a certain number of United Airlines flights and earning a set number of qualifying points.

In theory, the 120-day status match period offers status perks only when flying with United Airlines, and not with Virgin Australia or other Star Alliance airlines.

However, many Executive Traveller readers doing previous United status match promotions report that including their United MileagePlus number with their booking on Virgin Australia or a Star Alliance member usually sees those temporary status benefits recognised. It’s not guaranteed, of course.

Signing up for the United Airlines 2024 status match

If you’re not already a member of the United MileagePlus program, you’ll need to sign up (it’s fast and free).

Armed with your MileagePlus account number and your shiny non-United frequent flyer card, visit United’s MileagePlus Premier Status Match Challenge promotion page to swot up on the details and then click through to the MileagePlus Premier Status Match Challenge form.

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

The final step asks you to nominate a start date for the 120-day period, which sets the clock ticking on the period of flying needed to meet the status challenge.

If United approves your application – which can happen anywhere from overnight to within three weeks – your MileagePlus account will be automatically upgraded to reflect your new tier, which also marks the start of your 120-day trial period to lock in that status for longer.

Savvy travellers can keep their United status as far as January 2026.
Savvy travellers can keep their United status as far as January 2026.

So here’s our expert tip: if possible, set your start date for sometime after July 1, 2024.

Sure, if you have a lot of United flights in the coming months then start sooner in order to make those flights count towards successfully completing the status challenge: but if you complete the challenge before July 1 2024, your status will be retained only until the end of January 2025, which isn’t long at all.

But any challenge completed after 1 July 2024 will extend your MileagePlus status all the way to the end of January 2026.

How to keep your new United Airlines status

As soon as you’ve been bumped up to United’s MileagePlus Premier Silver, Gold or Platinum status, that 120-day status challenge countdown clock starts ticking.

If you fail to meet the requirements of this challenge, you’ll drop to your previous status with United.

To stay among the high flyers you’ll need to earn the necessary amount of what United calls ‘Premier qualifying flights’ (PQFs) and ‘Premier qualifying points’ (PQPs) on flights with United Airlines or its regional US offshoot United Express.

Think of these as United’s much more complicated version of the status credits or tier miles used by other airlines: and note that you need to get both PQFs and PQDs under your belt.

  • each eligible flight counts as one PQF
  • every US dollar in the cash value of your fare (t, excluding taxes) counts as one PQP

Here are United’s 2024 status challenge requirements within that 120-day trail status period:

  • Premier Silver: make 4 PQFs and earn 1,300 PQPs (equivalent to US$1,300 or A$1,990)
  • Premier Gold: make 8 PQFs and earn 2,600 PQPs (equivalent to US$2,000 or A$4,000)
  • Premier Platinum: make 12 PQFs and earn 4,000 PQPs (equivalent to US$4,000 or A$6,120)

The ‘Premier qualifying flights’ requirement is more likely to be the catch here: within 120 days an Australian resident would need to make eight flights to retain Premier Gold status.

For example, that might be two business class or premium economy return trips from Sydney or Melbourne to Los Angeles or San Francisco plus two domestic return legs within the US.

Note that flights taken with other Star Alliance partner airlines don’t contribute to your challenge.

Even with this status match, United Premier Gold or Platinum will demand a lot of flying...
Even with this status match, United Premier Gold or Platinum will demand a lot of flying...

United’s status match catch

There is one caveat in all this. As noted earlier, United chooses your MileagePlus Premier status based on the status you hold with a competing airline.

If you hold Platinum or Platinum One status with Qantas, for example, United will set you up with MileagePlus Premier Platinum – which means you’ll need to collect more PQPs and PQFs than if you were status-matched to MileagePlus Premier Gold.

But if you don’t earn that full Platinum-qualifying serve of PQPs and PQFs (12 flights and 4,000 points) you won't automatically just be dropped back to Premier Gold – you could land at a lower tier or bottom out completely, at United’s discretion.

One way around this is to not shoot for the highest possible status match unless you know you’ll hit those PQF and PQP goals.

If you’re likely to only rack up the more modest PQF and PQP counts needed for MileagePlus Premier Gold or even Premier Silver, you’d be better off applying for the United status match using Gold- or Silver-equivalent status with a rival.

The obvious example would be if you have Platinum or Gold with one airline (such as Qantas) and Gold or Silver with another (such as Emirates or Etihad).

However, you might hold Qantas Platinum One, Platinum or Gold as your yearly status but have also reached Qantas Lifetime Silver or Lifetime Gold – in which case, use your Lifetime Silver or Lifetime Gold to apply for the status match.

Looking for a different path to get globetrotting Gold status? Here’s a way to unlock Star Alliance Gold frequent flyer status without setting foot onto a plane.

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