It’s that time of year for me to renew my United Club membership and I received the following reminder email from United.
But after six consecutive years of membership, I’ve decided to let it lapse. I’m probably in the minority of travel bloggers (and you, my readers) who actually dole out cash directly to United for lounge access instead of having the Chase Club credit card or Star Alliance Gold status with an international carrier.
And it wasn’t until this time last year that I matched my United elite status with Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program to receive their Star Gold card.
At that time, they were (oddly) only providing a status match to other Star Alliance elites – not those in oneworld or SkyTeam. But Turkish has since made changes to their unpublished program.
According to this forum thread, Turkish is currently matching SkyTeam Elite Plus and oneworld Emerald members, in addition to Star Alliance Golds. And since we’re nearing the end of the year and status match programs can expire at any time, now might be the time to get your “soft landing” to United Club access by holding Turkish’s Star Gold card.
First, you’ll need to sign up for a regular Miles&Smiles account if you don’t already have one. Then, you’ll need to send a webmail requesting a match, including a PDF of your latest account statement and image of your card. Back when I matched, there was a dedicated email set up for status matches, but it appears to no longer be working.
It took about a month to receive the physical card after I was approved and it generously had an expiration date two years later (12/31/14 in my case). [Edited to add: Based on Alex's comments below, Turkish won't send a card until at least one flight posts to your Miles&Smiles account.]
There are reports that some United Club agents require you to have your Miles&Smiles number in your United reservation to get club access when flying domestically. While that’s not really the policy, people have simply appeased the lounge dragons by having them switch frequent flyer numbers on the spot, only to later go to another agent, the gate or a kiosk to swap their MileagePlus number back in.
So, United, while I won’t be renewing my membership, I’ll still be visiting your clubs for another year at least. After that, I’ll hope for another status match or finally break down and get the Chase Club card if my travel volume dictates it.
– Follow Darren Booth on Twitter, @FrequentlyFlyin, for more airline, hotel and travel industry news, reviews and opinions.