The Guide to United Platinum Benefits

Among many other perks, the 40 PlusPoints that come with Premier Platinum status can pack incredible value.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Elite airline status can deliver frequent flyers a lot of perks, including free checked baggage, priority boarding access and even complimentary upgrades.

United Airlines has four published elite status levels. Of these, Premier Platinum is the second-highest tier. Here's a look at United Platinum benefits, how to earn this status and how much it's worth.

United Premier Platinum perks

United’s MileagePlus program provides those with elite status a variety of benefits intended to make flying simpler and more lucrative. Here’s what you get once you reach Premier Platinum status:

  • 9x miles on flights. For every eligible dollar spent on airfare, members will earn 9 United miles.

  • Free checked bags. Premier Platinum members get three complimentary checked bags weighing up to 70 pounds each.

  • Priority check-in. Take advantage of the Premier Access check-in desk, where it's available. 

  • Priority boarding. Members and their companions receive Group 1 boarding. 

  • Priority security. In airports with priority screening, Premier Platinum members have access to faster security. 

  • Free same-day changes. Free confirmed changes to other eligible flights within 24 hours of boarding. 

  • Better seating. Complimentary access to Economy Plus or preferred seating for the member and up to eight companions when booking. 

  • Unlimited, space-available complimentary upgrades. Upgrades to first class begin clearing at 72 hours before your flight. 

  • Instant upgrades on eligible fares. Those purchasing a Y or B fare class will receive an instant upgrade to first class if space is available. 

  • Discounted Clear membership. An annual Clear membership is available for $149.

  • United Club membership discount. A $50 discount off the regular annual cost of a United Club membership.

  • Access to sold-out flights. Ability to purchase Y-fare-class flights up to two hours before departure. 

  • PlusPoints. Platinum members receive 40 PlusPoints per year, which can be used to confirm upgrades to premium cabins starting when you book. 

  • More award availability. Those with Platinum status and above have access to better award availability for premium cabins. 

  • Waived fees. Fees charged for booking by phone are waived. 

  • Star Alliance Gold status. Includes benefits such as free checked bags, lounge access, priority check-in and more on eligible partner alliance bookings. 

  • Marriott elite status. Free Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status. 

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

How to earn Premier Platinum elite status

To earn Premier Platinum status with United, you'll need to complete the following requirements within a calendar year:

  • Fly at least four segments with United or United Express.

  • Complete 36 premier qualifying flights (PQFs) and earn 12,000 premier qualifying points (PQPs). If you don’t meet the PQF threshold, you can qualify by earning 15,000 PQPs instead.

A PQF is determined by the number of flights you’ve taken with United or a partner airline. Each segment within an itinerary counts as a flight, so if you have a layover on a one-way trip you’ll receive two PQFs, whereas a nonstop flight would earn you one PQF.

The amount of PQPs you'll earn is determined by the cost of your ticket (base fare plus carrier-imposed surcharges), along with certain eligible upgrades you can purchase.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Those with an eligible co-branded United credit card can earn PQPs through spending on the card.

Award flights are eligible to earn PQFs and PQPs. Each flight segment is worth one PQF, and you'll earn one PQP per 100 miles redeemed for your itinerary.

How much is United Premier Platinum status worth?

How much is United status worth? In general, airline elite status relies pretty heavily on luxury benefits such as priority check-in and faster access to phone agents that don't have a price tag attached to them.

However, there are quite a few included perks you would otherwise generally have to pay for, such as checked bags, an upgraded seat and lounge access.

In our analysis of major U.S. airlines, NerdWallet ranks United Platinum second among similar high-tier statuses. It trails behind Alaska’s MVP Gold 75K, which provides a 63% return on spend in our calculations.

Premier Platinum status, meanwhile, provides a 49% return on your investment.

According to our analysis, it costs an estimated $12,658 to earn Platinum status. For that investment, you’ll receive perks worth roughly 49% of that amount, or $6,235.

What else you need to know

PlusPoints upgrades can be incredibly valuable. Upon earning status, Platinum members receive 40 PlusPoints, which can be used to confirm upgrades on flights ahead of time.

Although it’s possible to use those 40 PlusPoints to upgrade two domestic flights to first class (they cost 20 PlusPoints apiece), it’s generally a far better value to use these for a long-haul international flight.

It costs as few as 40 PlusPoints to upgrade from an economy class long-haul flight to United's Polaris business class, which features a lie-flat bed, superior food and drink options, and even pajamas.

Even better, there’s no limit to which flights are eligible, which means those 40 PlusPoints could be used on the longest, most expensive flights, where the price difference between economy and business class can be thousands of dollars.

United Platinum status is valuable

Although it takes work to earn elite status with an airline, it can often be worth it, especially if you travel often. This is the case with United’s Premier Platinum status, which provides a bevy of benefits to those who invest.

Along with perks such as free checked bags, better seating and complimentary elite status with other partners, Platinum members receive 40 PlusPoints, which can be used for incredibly valuable international business class upgrades.

(Top photo courtesy of United Airlines)

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