No I'm not referring to double or triple EQM (elite qualifying miles) promotions. Last year United Mileage Plus had an Elite Choice Team competition, where the winning 50 teams (of 4 people) earned 1 million redeemable miles (all these to be shared between each team) plus some other lesser prizes.
The 2010 individual Elite Choices are not as lucrative but once again appeal to competitive insane Flyer Talkers. Top billing is for the first 50 people to reach 250,000 EQM or 250 EQS (elite qualifying segments) - they get 50,000 redeemable miles (on top of the pile of miles earned) and also get 1K status (with all the attendant Star Alliance gold benefits) to gift to a nominated person.
Another great, but hard to get, prize is for the person who in a calendar month earns the most EQM from United flights - 2 SWUs (systemwide upgrades good for any one-way trip between stopovers) and also Premier Executive status (also Star Alliance gold) to gift to a nominated person.
To show how lucrative this could be for someone flying an insane amount, take the following hypothetical.
Suppose you win both of the prizes mentioned above (most United flying in a calendar month and also in the first 50 to reach 250,000 EQMs in 2010). Suppose also you currently do not have any United status. While reaching 250k EQMs you would earn at a minimum (ignoring everything other than the Elite Choices promo):
- up to 250,000 redeemable miles from flying depending on fare class and airline
- potentially a significant amount of redeemable miles from credit card spend
- 25,000 redeemable miles or gift of Premier status at 125k EQMs
- 25,000 redeemable miles or gift of Premier Exec status at 175k EQMs
- 50,000 redeemable miles from 250k EQMs prize
- gift of 1K status from 250k EQMs prize
- 2 SWUs from most United flying in a month prize
- gift of Premier Exec status from most United flying in a month prize
- up to 6,250 redeemable miles from the Premier 25% bonus miles on United flights (between 25k and 50k EQMs)
- up to 200,000 redeemable miles from the Premier Executive and 1K 100% bonus miles on United & Continental flights (after 50k EQMs)
- up to 88 of 500-mile region 1 upgrades from the 4 500 mile region 1 upgrades per 10k EQMs on United after 25k EQMs
- up to 2 confirmed region 1 upgrades (CR1s) from flying 10k miles on United in a quarter
- 6 SWUs on qualifying for 1K (credited at end of 2010)
- 6 SWUs from 2 SWUs per 50k EQMs starting at 150k EQMs in a calendar year
- up to 25% of the way to Million Mile status (if all EQMs are from United flights)
I've assumed all this flying happens in the first quarter & so have ignored the new unlimited United domestic upgrades system.
If all the flying is on United, and assuming take the bonus miles option this comes to a total of:
- up to 556,250 redeemable miles (before any other promotions, minimum mileage, credit card earn, etc)
- 14 SWUs (8 of 2010 vintage and 6 of 2011 vintage)
- 88 500-mile upgrades
- 2 CR1s
- 1 gift Premier Exec status
- 1 gift 1K status
- 1 sore butt
I'm not an expert on United Mileage Plus, so hopefully my maths is right. Please correct me if not.
That is a lot of bennie for some crazy enough to do a lot of flying on United (or slightly less benefits if flying other Star Alliance airlines). How much flying? Well 250k EQMs in a premium cabin is at least 167k flown miles, or roughly 7.5 times around the world. I have flown that distance in under 2 months, although admittedly not on United.