(CTN News) – It is expected that United Airlines will make it easier for its customers to earn elite status through co-branded Chase credit cards, making the airline the latest to take steps to reward big spenders through its lucrative frequent flyer program.
A first for the carrier since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that the airline will not make any changes in the overall requirements for elite frequent flyer status next year as a result of the pandemic.
To replace this, United Airlines announced on Thursday that from 2024 onwards, it will reward its customers with 25 qualifying points for every $500 they spend on their co-branded credit cards if they spend more than $500 with them.
At the moment, customers receive 500 points for every $12,000 they spend with the company. Additionally, the carrier is removing the cap on the amount that customers can spend on their credit cards to qualify for elite status.
For a traveler to get silver status, the lowest level of membership in the airline program, they need 5,000 qualifying points plus four flights or a combination of points and flights.
Some United Airlines offer their elite members perks such as free upgrades, if they are available, earlier boarding, and other perks in addition to the upgrades.
While elite frequent flyer groups have surged in recent years, travelers have continued to spend during the recent COVID-19 pandemic and United Airlines have allowed them to hold on to their tier status even if they were not flying.
As a result, United Airlines has been challenged to keep its programs both exclusive and reasonably accessible at the same time, and that has angered elite travelers who have been jostling with fellow travelers for upgrades and airport lounge access.
In September, Delta Air Lines announced that elite status would be awarded solely based on spend – instead of a combination of flights and spending – however, after receiving complaints from its customers, the company walked back some of the planned changes to its SkyMiles program and lounge access limits.