When it comes to airline loyalty programs, there is “top-tier” status, and then there is true top-tier status…
My friend Chris McGinnis, writer of the Travel Skills blog on SFGate, wrote about it yesterday and so nicely encapsulates what this secretive program is all about.
My favorite part of his story was a Global Services passenger sharing about his delay experience in Shanghai:
“The Global Services employee boarded the plane, came up to me, and whispered in my ear: the crew doesn’t know this yet, but we are going to cancel the flight. But I’ve booked you on the last business class seat available on another flight home,” the flier remembers the agent saying.
“Everyone else is flying home in coach or staying overnight.”
LOL is my response. Let’s admit it, we’d all love to be in the position. It’s nice to be singled out for special treatment. Talk about special perks!
But it comes at a price. Global Services offered on an invitation-only basis. Those who earn it the hard way spend in excess of $50,000/year on full-fare tickets on United. Those road warriors at the hubs often spend far more. I say “those who earn it the hard way” because United also doles out this status to some of its larger corporate contracts and sometimes these travelers have no clue they have status or what the status means.
Benefits of this status, in addition to rebooking situations like the above, include:
- Enhanced upgrade inventory
- First to board
- A smaller cadre of dedicated phone agents
- Gate-to-gate car transfers at certain hubs
- Access to Lufthansa First Class lounges in Frankfurt and Munich
The only published way you can earn this status is by flying 4,000,000 “actual” (butt-in-seat) miles on United. Absent that, this status is awarded on a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” basis.
United is not the only airline with this top-tier status. American offers “Concierge Key” level above Executive Platinum and Delta offers “Delta 360” over Delta Diamond. The perks are similar to that of Global Services.
I’ve flown United long enough to see so many Global Services airport agents take care of their Global Services passengers. It truly is something special. But I’ll never earn it. Not because I don’t want it, but because the world of miles and points means I never have to spend so much money to fly around the world.
If you have United Global Services status, do you love it? Do you notice a huge difference over 1K status?