United Airlines began a “Surprise and Delight” program last year as an effort to surprise “High Value Flyers” (HVFs — essentially those who spend a lot of money on tickets) with complimentary upgrades, sometimes cleared weeks in advance. The program has expanded beyond upgrades to other recognition, enabled by new iPhone technology that provides in-depth information on each passenger.
> Read More: United FAs Get iPhone 6s Filled with Info About YOU!
On Friday I flew Los Angeles to Washington National via Houston, in part so I could fly into DCA rather than IAD and in part so I could fly the 787-9 from LA to Houston. I left the United Club just before scheduled boarding time and when I reached the gate area I lined up behind the 60-70 other “Group One” passengers.
Suddenly I heard my name being paged. My heart sank — were they going to take my first class seat away? (I had purchased a cheap P-fare, the ones that agents sometimes like to claim are “coach seats with a free upgrade”).
I approached the counter and a United agent approached me, opened the rope separating the boarding gate from the waiting passengers, and introduced herself as a Global Services rep. Immediately I told her she had the wrong person, but she said, “Oh no, you are the right person Mr. Klint.”
My heart skipped a beat. What was going on? Was I getting Global Services status for buying $360 business class tickets?
Then she said, “Don’t look behind you. Everyone is staring at you wondering who you are.”
She presented me with a card and said, “Do you know that today is your 15th Anniversary in the MileagePlus program? We at United are very thankful for your business. Please feel free to board now in front of everyone else and we look forward to continuing to serve you.”