Simplifying how to earn frequent flyer status

Role: UX strategy, information architecture + visual design

Stakeholder: Loyalty operations at MileagePlus®

Deliverables: Content strategy, accessibility guidelines, data-driven UX, UI/visual design, fully responsive web experience with integrated onboarding process


MileagePlus® is the award-winning frequent flyer program of United Airlines. In 2020, the airline revamped the way members earn award miles and achieve premier status to focus on the amount spent rather than the distance flown or or fare type purchased. As one of the largest frequent flyer programs in the world, the program’s change impacted a multi-million member program base and a massive revenue generator for the airline. I was tasked with leading the user experience strategy for the program changes’ impact to core digital touchpoints across the United website and native app.


Existing state

Premier status qualification changes to the 2020 MileagePlus program

Source: MileagePlus Program Updates

Member summary

Displays loyalty earnings based program requirements and a snapshot view of the most current transactions.

Member activity

Displays account activity that earn or use miles, and if applicable, the amount that applies towards PQM, PQS, or PQD totals.



Project kickoff

  • Gather product requirements in partnership with business and technology stakeholders
  • Conduct current state audit of existing experience ecosystem to define scope

Design process

  • Synthesize customer feedback and competitive analysis to identify key areas of opportunity
  • Build in feedback loops with product, business, and technology to drive decision-making required for timely release

UX handoff

  • High-fidelity detailed design assets for product development, enterprise technology, and marketing customer communications teams.
  • Accessibility documentation, interaction states, and new global components for modern design system

Sample asset for development

Key highlights

Driving the value of benefits at every level

While integrating program updates to the "Premier Status Qualifications” section of a member’s account, I leveraged this project as an opportunity to address a long-standing desire of our general membership base: knowing what benefits are available to them at their current and the next level.

With buy-in from our loyalty stakeholders and product leadership, a benefits overview component was designed to serve as an initial proof-of-concept, with a goal to optimize with an internal contextual communications engine post-launch.

Simplifying how to compare loyalty earnings

Since mileage activity is available in a member’s account for up to two years, a challenge we faced was how to clearly show loyalty earnings over that time under the old and new program requirements. Additionally, it had to be simple enough for the general user base, while also detailed enough for Premier® members who were power users of this table and its features.

Leveraging insights from usability testing and input from key stakeholders, we learned that this section was heavily used by loyalty enthusiasts as record-keeping for earning and spending miles- many even export their statements to report expenses for business travel. This direction delivered on an experience that solved for the immediate program needs while also scaling for the future.

Improving digital self-service for the most common requests

When implementing the loyalty program changes, I leveraged this opportunity to make iterative self-service improvement for one of the top customer pain points: how to find missing miles

From observing user sessions and running page analytics, I identified an opportunity to take a more proactive and contextual approach to presenting helpful next steps rather than the vague “quick links” drop down in the existing design. With this enhancement to a member’s account, the experience enables more visible self-servicing for these tasks on digital channels rather than customer contact centers.


An updated loyalty account experience launched in January 2020 to millions of MileagePlus members around the world, averaging over 100K sessions a day.