Woe to frugal miles hoarders like me: United, the world’s largest airline, recently announced annual spending and mileage minimums in order to earn status on its frequent flier program. This seems to be the new reality among legacy carriers: United’s statement comes just a few months after Delta, the world’s second-largest airline, made a similar decree.
Come January 2014, United fliers will need to travel 25,000 miles within a year (or 30 qualifying flight segments) and shell out at least $2,500 total on fares—and buying tickets for other travelers don’t count—to qualify for Premier Silver, the program’s entry-level elite status. And for top-tier 1K Premier status, you need to spend a whopping $10,000. Check out the site for more details.
I’ll admit to having built an entire trip to visit family in Hawaii around a ticket with an enticing mile-to-dollar ratio, and that same 10,000-mile round-trip flight from New York City was what earned me my mid-tier elite status last year. But I fear those glory days are over. If I want my miles to count towards my status in the perk-filled world of the elite flier (and believe me, I do!), I’ll have to fork over more dough to see my Auntie Elaine in Honolulu—and commit to seeing her a lot more often.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.