The Guide to United Premier 1K Status

Though expensive to earn, United 1K features extensive benefits that, together, get you a 58% return on investment.
Sep 9, 2022

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United Premier 1K status is the highest publicly published elite status available to members, and it comes with a plethora of perks for those who fly United often.

Let’s take a look at the perks available to United 1K members, how to become a 1K member and how much this elite status is worth.

United 1K benefits

United’s Premier 1K benefits include some incredible perks. These include:

  • Priority check-in. Premier 1K members have access to a separate check-in line than standard guests, even when flying in economy.

  • Increased earnings. Premier 1Ks get 11 miles per dollar spent on flights.

  • PlusPoints. There are 320 PlusPoints per year valid toward flight upgrades.

  • Free drink and snack. When flying in economy, 1Ks get one free drink and snack per flight.

  • Priority security screening. Available in certain airports, those with 1K can skip the regular security line and instead head to a dedicated line.

  • Preboarding. You’ll board before everyone else with preboarding access.

  • Complimentary checked bags. No matter your fare class, with 1K you’ll be able to check up to three 70-pound bags free of charge.

  • United Club annual membership discount. Premier 1Ks get a $100 discount on United Club membership.

  • Confirmed flight changes. Free of charge within the same fare class starting at 24 hours prior to departure.

  • Clear membership. Complimentary Clear membership, which helps you speed through security.

  • Access to most sold-out flights. Access to Y or B fares when booked at least 1.5 hours prior to departure.

  • Complimentary upgrades. Premier 1K member upgrades start clearing up to 96 hours in advance of the flight.

  • Complimentary Economy Plus seats. Available at booking and for up to eight companions.

  • Instant upgrades to a premium cabin. This benefit is available to 1K customers on Y, B or M fares.

  • Waived fees. Premier 1K members get waived fees on phone bookings and award ticket redeposits.

  • Marriott elite status. Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status.

  • Avis elite status. Complimentary Avis President’s Club elite status.

  • Star Alliance status. As a 1K, you’ll have Star Alliance Gold status.

How to become a United Premier 1K

United revamped its reward program in 2019, eliminating the need to meet a certain mileage requirement to earn elite status. Instead, you’ll earn Premier Qualifying Points, or PQPs, and Premier Qualifying Flights, or PQFs, whenever you fly United or a partner airline. In total, there are just two ways to earn United Premier 1K status.

Earning PQPs and PQFs

Premier Qualifying Points are earned on a variety of spend that you make with United. This includes:

  • Economy Plus purchases.

  • Flights operated by United.

  • Flights operated by a Star Alliance partner airline and connecting partners.

  • Flights operated by Air Dolomiti, Azul, Edelweiss, Eurowings and Olympic Air.

  • MileagePlus Upgrade Award co-pays.

  • Most preferred seating purchases.

  • Paid upgrades on flights operated by United and United Express.

Premier Qualifying Flights are much simpler. These are the number of flight segments that you’ve flown. You’ll need to have flown a minimum of four segments with United to qualify for status.

🤓Nerdy Tip

For the 2022 program year, those who hold a qualifying co-branded United credit card will also be able to earn PQPs based on their spend.

You can earn United Premier 1K status with a mix of PQPs and PQFs. You’ll need 13,500 PQPs and 36 PQFs to earn status with this method.

Earnings PQPs only

If you tend to fly fewer but more expensive flights, you can also earn United Premier 1K status by simply acquiring enough PQPs. In this case, you’ll need to earn 15,000 PQPs in a calendar year to achieve Premier 1K status.

How much is United elite status worth?

We reviewed a variety of airlines to determine how much their elite status is worth. Of all these airlines, United scored in the middle of the pack, with a 3.5 out of 5 based on a variety of factors. These include bonus mile earnings, baggage fee offsets and upgrades.

Silver

Gold

Platinum

1K

Cost to earn

$4,819.

$9,639.

$14,458.

$21,687.

Value of tier

$1,129.70.

$3,155.82.

$5,928.31.

$12,510.20.

Elite earning rate

23%.

33%.

41%.

58%.

What else you need to know

Taking advantage of promotions

United will occasionally offer promotions to targeted individuals, allowing them to earn additional bonus miles. While this isn’t applicable to everyone, you’ll always want to check and see if you’ve been targeted for the promotion.

Achieving million miler status

Once you’ve flown a million miles with United, you’ll earn permanent elite status.

  • At a million miles, you’ll get Premier Gold for life.

  • At two million miles, you’ll receive Premier Platinum status for life.

  • At three million miles, you’ll get Premier 1K for life.

  • At four million miles, you’ll receive lifetime Global Services elite status.

Status match

Although United doesn’t typically accommodate direct status matches, they’re pretty good about offering status match challenges. In these cases, you’ll provide United with evidence of your existing elite status on another airline.

In return, they’ll grant you elite status after earning a truncated amount of PQPs/PQFs within a 120-day period.

How long does United 1K status last?

United Premier 1K status can be earned at any point in the year. Once you’ve earned it, the status is valid for the remainder of the year, as well as the entirety of the following year. This means that if you earned the status in January, you’d have 1K status for nearly two years.

Is United extending 1K status to 2023?

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This year, United has lowered the amount of PQPs and PQFs you need to earn Premier status across all levels. United granted elite members PQPs in early 2022 based on their elite status in 2021, making it easier to obtain elite status for 2023. As mentioned earlier, PQPs earned from an eligible United card — including the United℠ Explorer Card — count toward 1K status.

All PlusPoints that expire on July 31, 2022, or Jan. 31, 2023, will get an automatic six-month extension.

The bottom line

If you’re a frequent United flyer, becoming a Premier 1K member may be a good idea for you. Although it’s costly, the benefits you’ll receive are expansive. These include complimentary upgrades, free checked baggage, Marriott elite status and more.

Photo courtesy of United Airlines.


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