Did you hear the big announcement from United Airlines earlier this fall regarding how the airline plans to run its loyalty program? It was revealed recently that United plans to adjust the way its top-tier customers earn elite status in the popular MileagePlus program. The announcement was met with mixed feelings.

What will change under United's new setup? Elite status will now be based on spending and travel time. The change is a big departure from United's previous policy of basing elite status on the number of miles flown. Big spenders now have the most to gain from the way United awards elite status. Also, short-haul travelers who book pricey seats can attain elite status more easily under the new arrangement. Travelers who take ultra-long flights a few times per year may not find the new arrangement so wonderful.

Changes aren't in store only for travelers seeking elite status. Anyone who travels with United Airlines should be aware of what the new setup looks like. Here's a quick rundown of what it will take to earn status going forward:

  • You will need to spend at least $4,000 and take 12 flights annually to qualify for Silver status. You can also qualify by spending at least $5,000 on at least four flights.
  • You will need to spend $8,000 and take 24 flights annually to qualify for Gold status. You can also spend $10,000 on a minimum of four flights.
  • You will need to spend $12,000 and take 36 flights annually to qualify for Platinum status. You can also qualify by spending a minimum of $15,000 on at least four flights.
  • You can attain 1K status by spending $18,000 and taking 54 flights annually. The other option for attaining this status is to spend $24,000 on at least four flights.

United plans to make it easier to obtain status by applying dollars spent on both fares and upgrades. However, taxes and fees will not count toward status.

MileagePlus members who meet the spending requirement on their United-branded credit card can look forward to earning toward status at lower threshold, too. The new changes will become effective in January 2020.

Scott Dylan is a contributing writer at GET.com and has been to (almost) every country in North, Central and South America with nothing more than a backpack, a laptop and the desire to explore. He speaks Spanish fluently and has logged enough time in planes, trains, rideshares, buses, taxis and rickshaws to know how to rack up rewards and points to get anywhere his heart desires for pennies on the dollar. Email: scott.dylan@get.com.