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United Airlines launches lofty perks to boost Houstonians' travel post-coronavirus

United Airlines launches lofty perks to boost post-COVID-19 travel

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, September 2017
United is unleashing a slew of perks to encourage travel.  Courtesy photo

As frequent travelers are painfully aware, airlines are taking a massive hit during the global coronavirus crisis. A recent study shows the airline industry experiencing a two-decade low in traffic, a staggering drop that may only worsen.

The sweeping effects target carriers and their support systems; only increased travel and a potential government bailout may save the struggling industry.

In effort to entice flyers locally, United Airlines has announced a series of crucial changes to its current incentives. United customers can make changes to, or cancel, any travel they have booked through the end of the year without fees if they act by April 30.

Participants in the carrier’s MileagePlus program will see their current MileagePlus Premier status extended through January 2022. All MileagePlus Premier members will retain the status they earned for 2020, through January 2022, according to the airline.

Here are the benefits United is extending to travelers, per the airline.

Easier qualifications
United is making it easier to qualify for the Premier title by reducing thresholds for qualification by 50 percent for each status level, to make reaching an even higher status tier easier for the 2021 year.

Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade
The airline is also increasing the ability for Premier members to use their upgrade benefits. The airline is offering a six-month extension for all PlusPoints that are set to expire on or before January 31, 2021. Those who travel internationally will enjoy the perks of expended availability of Skip Waitlist, which is an upgrade option that allows Premier 1K members to confirm upgrades at the time of booking — to significantly more international long-haul flights.

Annual membership and subscription benefits expirations will be extended by six months. This United Club memberships purchased directly from United and purchased subscriptions for Economy Plus, wi-fi packages, and checked bags.

No fees, please
Electronic travel certificates (ETCs) will be extended and redeposit fees for members who booked travel using award miles will be waived. ETCs will be valid for two years from the time of booking.

The airline is also waiving all redeposit fees for members who have flights booked through May 31, 2020, and will be waiving fees for all members who cancel their flights at least 30 days before departure for the remainder of 2020.

Benefits in the cards
United is increasing the maximum number of premier qualifying points (PQPs) United Explorer and United Club credit card holders can earn through card spend toward status in 2021. A promotion that doubles the maximum PQPs for United Explorer credit cardmembers and quadruples the maximum PQPs for United Club cardmembers will run from May 1 through December 31, 2020.