The Daily Parker

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Frequent flyer spending minimum on United?

This could make it harder to qualify for elite status:

Starting next year, United Airlines frequent fliers will have to spend minimum amounts to achieve elite flier status, in addition to flying a certain number of miles or segments, the Chicago-based airline said Tuesday.

Those who want to achieve the lowest elite tier of the MileagePlus program, called Premier Silver, will not only have to fly 25,000 miles or 30 segments, but also spend a minimum of $2,500 on United tickets. Purchases on partner airlines and extra-legroom upgrades, called Economy Plus, count toward the spending threshold.

One tactic some people use—I'm not saying everyone, just some people—is called a "mileage run," which is where you book a flight for no purpose other than getting to the next elite tier as cheaply as possible. For example, if you've got 48,000 miles and you want to make the 50k tier for the next year, you can take a trip to nowhere to earn the last 2,000 miles. From Chicago, for example, you could fly to Tampa (1,018 flight miles) or Albuquerque (1,118 miles) and back, which is great if you find a super-cheap ticket to do so.

I am curious whether US Airways will follow United's lead. (American can't make any changes of that magnitude to its A'Advantage program without US Airways' approval.) If so, I would probably lose my 50k-tier status, because unless I have a lot of business travel at full rate, I'm unlikely to spend $5,000 a year to keep it.

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