Home Airlines Is It Worth It To Work Towards Low-Tier Status?

Is It Worth It To Work Towards Low-Tier Status?

by joeheg

It’s nice to have airline status and it’s nice to not have it.

How can both of these statements be true? It’s because some perks of elite status make your travel experience more comfortable. However, once you have status, you feel the need to use it. The perks weigh in your value assessment when choosing one airline over another.

And while you may read about frequent flyers getting upgraded to first class (which doesn’t happen all the time), those people have top-level status.

If you’re starting, you won’t zoom right to Delta Diamond, American Executive Platinum or United 1K. You’ll have to start at the bottom; for United, that’s Premier Silver.

Thanks to last year’s Bilt promotion, we’ve had Silver status for the past few months.

Here’s what you get for having Premier Silver status:

  • Group 2 priority boarding
  • 1 free checked bag in economy
  • Complimentary upgrades on the day of departure
  • Access to preferred seating at booking and Economy Plus at check-in (includes 1 travel companion)
  • 7x extra miles per dollar on United, United Express, and select partner airlines
  • Avis Preferred Plus status
  • Access to a greater inventory of United mileage awards

Better Seat Assignments

The one part of having status I appreciated the most was being able to select preferred seats at booking and then try for Economy Plus seats at check-in. Each time I was able to find Economy Plus seats. (Here’s my view on if these seats are worth it.)  Even on a mostly full flight, the only empty seats were in Economy Plus.

Same-Day Upgrades

As for the “complimentary upgrades on the day of departure,” this was the closest we got to scoring one of those:

As they say at awards shows, I’m just happy to be nominated. At least we made the first page this time. On my flight from Newark to Orlando, I was on the 2nd page of names.

Increased Award Availability

This is a great perk that United gives to its elite members. When looking for awards, members can access extra saver inventory that’s unavailable to those without status.

Other Perks

How much value you’ll get from getting a free checked bag depends on how often you check luggage. The savings can add up quickly at $30 to $35 a bag.

Preferred boarding is OK but I’m not sure it has much value.

Is It Worth Working To Get Premier Silver Status?

If you’ll earn status with your regular travels, take it and learn how to use it. However, what if it’s close to the end of the year and you’re missing a few points or segments? I always see people asking if they should take extra flights to earn status.

My personal opinion is if you didn’t fly enough to earn the status, then it’s not worth spending the time and extra money to get it. That’s because you’re not regularly flying enough to make the investment worthwhile.

I have a slightly different opinion about working to meet higher levels as those levels get perks worth much more than a free checked bag.

What Can You Do To Fly Like A Premier Silver Member?

Not is all lost as there’s a way to get most of the same benefits as Premier Silver members. You can get a free checked bag, preferred boarding and expanded award availability by having a United co-brand credit card, like the United Explorer Card

You get treated almost the same for a $95 annual fee, but if you want a preferred or Economy Plus seat, you’ll have to pay for it. However, you do get 2 United Club passes each year. (Just don’t send your wife to review a lounge for your website) 🙂

Final Thoughts

Our trial run is done and United has bounced us back to Member status.

We’re not going to fly enough on United to earn status. I have to decide what to do if we start flying United more often, as I like the perks Silver Premier status provided.

I previously had the United Explorer Card but canceled it when we stopped flying United. It may be time to look at adding it back to my wallet.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian March 5, 2023 - 9:23 pm

I got United silver status indirectly from Marriott and it was surprisingly nice. Unlike my years of silver at Delta I was actually upgraded. In fact, I was upgraded even on award tickets about half the time. The advantages of living in a tertiary city I suppose.

Beachmouse March 5, 2023 - 9:25 pm

The hidden best thing about Delta Silver Medallion is the ability to select preferred seats at time of ticket purchase, which includes being able to select free exit row seats.

Joey March 6, 2023 - 7:03 am

For me, it’s not worth it. If I don’t fly the airline that frequently, I don’t mind paying the extra dollars to upgrade myself to economy seats with extra legroom.


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