United systemwide upgrades now post immediately upon passing 100,000 elite qualifying miles

Historically, United has deposited the six systemwide upgrades earned for achieving or reqaulifying for 1K status at the beginning of the calendar year after which you achieve the status. So if you earn 1K status on August 1, 2010, you would receive your six systemwide upgrades on January 1, 2011, at which point they’re valid for 12 months.

It seems that they have changed that policy as of this year, now depositing the six systemwide upgrades immediately upon earning 1K status, and the systemwide upgrades are still only valid for a year. So if you achieved 1K status today, for example, your systemwide upgrades would likely post within a week or so, and would be valid through March, 2012. Historically, in comparison, you would receive them in January, 2012, and they would be good through January, 2013.

This can be either good or bad news depending on your future travel plans. I know many people prefer American’s system, as they deposit systemwide upgrades immediately upon earning Executive Platinum status, and they’re always valid until February two calendar years later. In other words, if I qualified for Executive Platinum status today, my systemwide upgrades would be valid until February 2013.

It’s worth keeping in mind that as of a couple of weeks ago, you can link your United and Continental frequent flyer accounts. If you have elite qualifying miles in both programs and are close to requalifying for 1K, it probably makes sense not to link your accounts yet, as that will only cause you to cross the threshold faster, making your systemwide upgrades expire sooner.


  1. Ben, I still interpret the linking of the accounts differently. It seems to me that linking accounts is only for a.) status matches, and b.) transferring miles. UACO has been pretty consistent in saying that your 2012 elite status will be based upon the sum of both accounts at the END of the year. Thus, you can credit 50k to UA and 50k to CO during 2011 and come out as a 1K next year. But it seems like the SWUs won’t post until the accounts actually merged, not just linked.

    What makes you think that they’ll dynamically sum the accounts throughout 2011?

    I really want the answer to this. But of course, we’re not allowed to start a new thread on FT for this — it’s got to be merged into a mega-thread!

  2. @ hobo13 — Maybe I’m not understanding what you say correctly, but if you credit 99,000 elite qualifying miles to Continental and 99,000 elite qualifying miles to United, you won’t earn any systemwide upgrades for most of the year, right? Then, at the end of the year you would earn the systemwide upgrades for your combined total, right? That’s all I’m suggesting, that this could be a way to extend the expiration of your systemwide upgrades.

  3. @hobo13- It says in the T&Cs for the “Combine My Activity Offer” that they will be monitoring it on a constant basis if you have linked accounts.

    Combined 2011 activity

    1. Registrants’ combined 2011 Mileage Plus elite status miles (EQM) or elite status segments (EQS), and 2011 OnePass Elite Qualification Miles (EQM) or Elite Qualification Points (EQP), will be reviewed weekly after registration.
    2. If a member’s combined 2011 elite-qualifying activity meets a higher published qualification threshold, the member will receive equivalent status in both programs for 2011.
    3. Qualifying members who reach published Regional Upgrade or Systemwide Upgrade earning thresholds as a result of their combined 2011 activity will be awarded the appropriate upgrades into their primary program for upgrades.
    4. Qualifying members who select Mileage Plus as their primary program for upgrades will receive the appropriate Regional Upgrades or Systemwide Upgrades within 7-10 days of qualifying activity posting to the member’s online account.
    5. Qualifying members who select OnePass as their primary program for upgrades will be awarded the appropriate Regional Upgrades or Systemwide Upgrades starting in mid-2011. Thereafter, earned upgrades will be awarded within 7-10 days of qualifying activity posting to the member’s online account.

  4. Mike is right, they will be regularly checking your combined activity – assuming you’ve had your accounts linked – to bump you up in status should the combined activity pass a certain threshold. I could see crediting each program up to, say, 99k before linking them. Of course, the real question is, if you’re going to fly that much, would you receive and get to keep DOUBLE the SWU’s if you earn 100k+ in each program before linking them? Say you hit 100k with UA, then you switch to CO and earn 100k there. You earn your SWU’s in each program independently, and THEN you link them. Do you end up with 12 SWU’s?

  5. @gobluetwo – I believe that is the case. I know a few FTers have mentioned that is the sole reason they aren’t going to combine their accounts.

    If you flew 100k on each without combining, you would have 12 SWUs and 8 Regional Upgrades.

    If you linked your accounts and flew 200k between both, you would have 10 SWUs and 12 Regional Upgrades.

    I guess it’s a YMMV issue.

  6. So if you have 99k in CO and 99k in UA, and you combine, they’ll figure out when you get to 100k total and issue the SWU’s then? Thus, by not combining, you prevent that from happening. If this is the definitive answer, thanks.

    There is also rumor that UA is going to allow a one-time exception of extending the early deposit SWU’s to 1/13.

  7. I dislike the immediate posting of the SWUs as the only option as it reduces their period of validity. I would prefer UA to keep the early deposit option or the January posting.

    @hobo13, I am finding the mega threads on Flyertalk to be getting ridiculously obfuscated by their length and content. Milepoint seems to be allowing for more open discussions. Would you please let us know more about the rumoured exception policy of extending SWUs to January 2013?

  8. Agreed. There are a few mods who insist on consolidating everything. And you aren’t allowed to comment on their moderating — at least on FT!

    So yea, it’s buried in there somewhere — I can’t remember where.

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