This hobby of collecting miles and points can make you a bit mad at times. I don’t mean mad in the sense of being angry, though there are plenty of disappointments with service issues and delays. I mean mad as in having an irrational view of what the goal is.
I’ve been a United Premier 1K member for the last few years. While I’ve found the status to be very uneven, even disappointing at times, it beats having no status at all.
But, does it beat having Premier Platinum status?
I have enough PQMs that I’ll likely qualify for Platinum status this year. A few weeks ago I booked a mileage run that would get me pretty much all the extra EQMs I’d need to qualify for 1K. I can still get a full refund for the ticket, and I’m not sure if I’m having buyer’s remorse. So, I turn to you to help me make the decision.
There are plenty of similarities between Platinum and 1K. Both have access to regional premier upgrades, a space-available upgrade you can clear ahead of time on flights such as ones in the domestic US. Both can secure Economy Plus extra legroom seats for up to 8 passengers at time of booking, 3 checked bags per passenger on the same record and Star Alliance Gold status for international travel. But, there are differences:
- 1K members get upgraded 96 hours prior to departure for flights that feature Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) versus 72 hours for Platinums
- 1K members get automatic upgrades to the next class of service on M-class fares. Platinums don’t.
- 1K members get 4 Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs), while Platinum members get 2.
- 1K members get 6 Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) at 100K miles each year. These are good for a one-way, one-cabin upgrade on all United flights.
- 1K members will earn 2 miles more per dollar spent in 2015 under United’s new revenue-based program.
- 1K members have a dedicated phone line.
- 1K members receive a $60 statement credit for the United MileagePlus credit card.
So, what are these benefits worth to me?
I buy a handful of M-class fares a year, mostly due to last-minute changes. So, that benefit has value.
The RPUs have real value for me, as I’ve used them each year to upgrade a family trip somewhere in the US.
The GPUs on United Airlines are a bit of a sticking point for me. I haven’t redeemed any yet on an international flight. United Airlines requires you to purchase a more expensive fare (W class or higher) to use a GPU. When I’ve tried to use them over the past few years, there hasn’t been availability at time of booking and I wasn’t willing to pay the higher fare in the hopes the upgrade would clear later (what I affectionately refer to as the upgrade lottery).
I don’t tend to buy my airline tickets early enough to get the cheapest fares. For roughly 60,000 miles this year I’ve spent a bit over $8,000. To be conservative, let’s say I spend $7,500 on United tickets in 2015. That would be 15,000 miles (2 miles per dollar spent), or a bit less than $300 worth of miles, since I value United MileagePlus miles at a bit less than 2 cents a piece.
It’s hard to put exact numbers on most of the differences here. And, different folks will assign different values to each of these benefits.
It would cost me a few days of reduced lost/productivity, not to mention some time away from my family.
The question is whether that lost time is worth earning 1K.
What do you think?
How much is 1K worth to you versus Platinum status?
Would you mileage run?