Reader Testimonial: How a reader took advantage of free elite status to get an upgrade on their second United flight

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 got a free upgrade to United First Class through a United Airlines status challenge on Bilt Rent Day. What’s even more impressive is that this was Ryan’s second United flight – and he’s not paying his rent with Bilt.

So how did Ryan do it?

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

Being from Dallas, my trip is usually on America or the Southwest. I hold mid-tier status with both carriers, so I had only robbed United once in my life. This however changed during a group trip to Israel with a Lufthansa flight from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Tel Aviv 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 between CLT and United’s IAD hub, I purchased a ticket on United. A few days after booking the United flight, I read an article from TPG about the Bilt promotion to get Premier Silver status. Although Kyle warned me that free United upgrades are rare (especially for United’s lower elites), I signed up for the status match.

I checked the upgrade list 36 hours before the flight. Amazingly, I was first on the upgrade list with three seats available. Shortly after checking in for the flight, my upgrade was cleared – and I was glad I got it. United’s standard check-in counter was overwhelmed with more than 50 passengers waiting in line.

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

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

The Bilt’s Blue status level is open to the public even if you do not have the Bilt Mastercard®. So when Ryan read our November Rent Day article, he signed up with Bilt and then completed the status challenge for United Premier Silver.

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

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

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

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