I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Carmel, California with my family. As always, we stayed at the Highlands Inn, a Hyatt property. During brunch on Sunday, two couples seated at the table next to us began speaking about airline travel.
While I do not make a habit of eavesdropping on others, I could not help but overhear a conversation at the table next to mine…about upgrades on United Airlines.
Last week I wrote about my conversation with a 1K member while waiting to board a Hong Kong Airlines flight to Los Angeles. He claimed that he was abandoning United primarily because he never received an upgrade.
So it was with some amusement that the conversation quickly turned to upgrades.
“I’m Global Services thanks to my company. That means United treats me like a king.”
That’s true, to an extent. Global Services is United’s top-tier elite status usually reserved for high-dollar travelers or given to employees as part of a high-value company contract.
“I’m flying to New York on Tuesday and United always upgrades me for free. Every time.”
Except they don’t. Even Global Services members do not receive free upgrades on premium transcontinental routes. Global Services members, however, do have a better chance of clearing upgrades because their inventory comes from PN rather than PZ class. Nice that his company buys him a business class ticket, though…
“The flights to New York are great because you have your own suite.”
Alas, no. United operates a mix of 757-200s and 777-200s on its premium transcontinental routes to New York (from SFO or LAX). The 757-200s are configured 2-2 in business class while the 777-200s are configured 2-4-2 in business class.
“You should come with me sometime. United will upgrade all of my companions for free.”
Nope. Global Services members start the year off with four regional premier upgrades and six global premier upgrades. While complimentary companion upgrades (for a single companion on the same itinerary) are possible on non-premium transcontinental domestic flights, these are subject to space availability and difficult to clear, even for GS members.
I’ve Come to Realize Something…
All the high end companies that spend a lot of money on United tickets nominate their employees who are going to travel the most on United to get the GS status…
And that’s a fair point – the man at the table next to me admitted exactly that. It also explains the colossal ignorance shown by many Global Services members. They receive amazing perks and really fail to understand how the system works.
My point in sharing this conversation is that people who hold top tier status are often not as frequent travelers as those in lower tiers. It’s the way the status game works and it further underscores the nebulous connection between status and individual loyalty.
I was so tempted to join the conversation. But thankfully my better judgement prevailed and I did not butt into a conversation that did not concern me. It took some willpower, though…
Would you have joined in the conversation and offered some corrections?