Reader success story: How 1 reader leveraged free elite status to score an upgrade on his 2nd United flight ever

Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.

I want to share a quick story from reader Ryan Kassanoff, who enjoyed a complementary United first-class upgrade thanks to a United Airlines status challenge on Bilt Rent Day. What’s even more impressive is that this was Ryan’s second flight on United—and he doesn’t pay his rent with Bilt.

So how did Ryan do it?

First class on a United E175. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Being from Dallas, my travel is generally on American or Southwest. I hold mid-tier status with both carriers, so I’d only flown United once in my life. That changed, however, when flying on a group trip to Israel with a Lufthansa flight from Washington’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) via Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

My day started with a positioning flight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Dulles. Given the frequencies from CLT to United’s IAD hub, I bought a ticket on United. A few days after booking the United flight, I read a TPG article about the Bilt promotion to get Premier Silver status. Although Kyle had warned me that complementary United upgrades are few and far between (especially for lower United elites), I enrolled in the status match.

I checked the upgrade list 36 hours before the flight. Surprisingly, I was first on the upgrade list with three seats available. Shortly after checking in for the flight, my upgrade cleared—and I was glad to have it. The standard United check-in counter was overwhelmed with over 50 passengers in line.

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Thanks to the Bilt status match, Kyle and TPG, I could quickly drop my free bag off and enjoy priority luggage handling and security. And, of course, a comfy first-class seat on the flight from Charlotte to Dulles was an added plus.

On the first day of each month, Bilt runs its Rent Day promotion. Generally, you can earn double Bilt points on non-rent purchases. In November, however, Bilt teamed up with United to offer its Blue members a 120-day Premier Silver status challenge. Bilt’s Silver, Gold and Platinum members enjoyed a 120-day Premier Gold status challenge.

Bilt’s Blue status tier is open to the public even if you don’t have the Bill Mastercard®. So when Ryan read our November Rent Day article, he registered with Bilt and then did the status challenge to United Premier Silver.

We love this story from Ryan. His story of him reminds us all that entry-level elite status can make travel significantly more enjoyable. With his Premier Silver status, Ryan earned extra United miles on his transatlantic Lufthansa flights. Now, he’s working out a way to qualify for United Premier Gold, giving him perks like lounge access on more flights, Economy Plus at booking and Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status.

While Bilt is no longer offering this status match, use this article as a reminder to take advantage of future status matches and challenges. We keep a running list of ongoing offers in this article.

See Bilt Mastercard rates and fees here.
See Bilt Mastercard rewards and benefits here.

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