Thursday, January 04, 2007

United's Global Services

United Airlines has a special frequent flyer class referred to as "Global Services". It's the creme-de-la-creme of frequent flyer status at United but you can't find any clear delineation of what that status means nor how to attain that status anywhere on United Airlines site nor on any of the various frequent flyer sites I've looked at.

I've been a Global Services member for the past two years (not sure I'll get it again this year) and I can't tell you exactly what the qualifications are (although they did come out last September and state in letters to current members that flying 50,000 miles in full fare coach, business or first was one certain way to qualify). Most of the speculation around other ways to qualify had to do with overall revenue and/or revenue per mile.

The two years I have qualified, I flew 250,000 miles one year and 175,000 miles the next year, but did have a substantial number (5 or 6 -- can't remember) of business class international flights which I'm sure went a long way towards getting me qualified. Unfortunately, last year, while I did fly 160,000 miles, none of it was in business class (other than upgrades, of course) -- hence my concerns about getting it again this year.

So, what does this secretive level get you?

  • Top of the list for upgrades and they clear 120 hours prior to departure (1K members clear at 100 hours). With this status I was able to upgrade 68 of my 70 flights last year.
  • Automatic re-booking with highest priority if there's a schedule change or cancellation - usually before I'm off the airplane. I've even had them re-route me when it looked like there would be delays on a connection through Chicago -- without my asking for it.
  • Early boarding with 1st Class (in case you aren't in first class). They are even starting to do some Global Services only boarding prior to first class at some airports. One might ask why someone who flies that much would want to get on early -- it's all about storage, especially if you're in a bulkhead seat. I hate having to swim upstream to get my bag, or even worse, having to check it.
  • Use of the United Arrivals facility in select international airports, even if you aren't booked in business or first class. Being able to take a shower when you arrive after an overnight flight is a great thing.
  • In one particular airport, London Heathrow, they really try to treat Global Services as special -- they meet them at arriving flights and drive them to the connections center -- saving a long walk through the labyrinths of Heathrow. This is the only airport that seems to have a dedicated team for taking care of Global Services people.
  • Some have reported that Global Services members get gratis upgrades all the time. I haven't found that to be the case. In the past two years, I've gotten a gratis upgrade probably 2 or 3 times.

    I believe that this is because gratis upgrades are only given out when there's an otherwise empty seat that nobody's willing to pay for or upgrade into (and if you've flown recently, you know that there aren't all that many empty seats). In addition, I think that the paid fare has a lot to do with it as well. If you're flying on a full fair ticket for the class that you are currently in, you're probably first in line for the gratis upgrade.

    For me, since I've been upgraded already (which I paid for in miles or certs), I think I'm at the bottom of the list for a "double bump" (upgrade of an upgraded seat). I even worked quite hard on my 23 hour leg from LHR to HKG via Chicago to get the double bump (mentioning that I went over 1 million lifetime miles during that leg, begging and otherwise making a fool of myself) to no avail (not that I'm really complaining as I was in upgraded business class the whole way).

Otherwise you're very much like a United 1K person with all of the 1K benefits (system wide upgrades, double mileage, etc.). I don't know for sure if you get the 1K status if you qualify for Global Services but don't fly 100,000 miles. It would seem that they would still want to give you that benefit, but I have no information about that one way or another.

Me, I'm hoping that they think my 160,000 miles, my going over 1,000,000 lifetime flight miles last year plus the fact that I'm already a member will get me at least one more year of Global Services status. I do like the benefits.

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Dionne said...

Thank you for this article! I am United 1K and I have been trying to figure out how on earth to become a Global Services member and what that membership gives you. This article provided me some insite. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for your clear explanation of Global Services. I've even asked UA staff at airports, and they very politely haven't been able to give me a clear answer.

gabo said...

Global Services membership qualification criteria is tightly guarded. I fly 150K+ miles per year on United and have almost 3 million lifetime Mileage Plus miles and have NEVER been a Global Services member. When the program was initiated I was informed that Global Services members are the 1000 highest revenue producers per year. No one who might really know ever confirmed that. But as no more than 2 or 3 Global Services members are passengers on any flight - even long haul wide body aircraft - it seems plausible. BTW, 2 full fare Int'l First Class or 5 full fare Int'l Business Class fares with likely qualify. But that's $50K in fares. It's not how much you fly, it's how much you pay that gets you into the program.

Mobile Point View by Paul Ruppert said...

I, too, am a Global Services member with UAL. I've been running around the globe for the last four years and have been part of the program since it started. Well guarded, I once was advised by UAL's Special Services Office at IAD--they make sure politicos and high profile VIPs navigate through the airport--that it was determined by the amount of "full fare Y & B in economy, or C, D, Z in business and first. I fly internationally across all the Star Alliance airlines, and there's no doubt they always have taken care of me even in tight spots where delays or cancelations forced changes. They'll have my business for life as a result.

Anonymous said...

My husband is a GS member. He flies 6-12 flights a month, all international. His company sends him business or first through United and Star Alliance members and its all full fare . . . . I thought the whole GS thing was silly, until our family of 4 was upgraded from Business to First on a (frequent flier mile) flight to Hong Kong this summer. Thanks United!
All these comments have been really interesting...but is that true? "Top 1000 revenue producers"?
I had always joked that if he didn't travel one month, United might go under . . . This has all been very interesting. thanks.

Anonymous said...

On my last flight to HKG from SFO in a few days ago, I witnessed this A hole GS member jumped up abruptly from his seat yelling to a female flight attendant who was on her knees for apologizing for his broken audio system or something. He was hovering over her in a threatening way. He was saying, "I am a G S member! I do not want any apologies. I want XXXXX( could not hear)." This poor girl was shaking. This G S was abusing his status. I do not know how much he flies, but United should strip his status for his disruptive behavior. He ruined our flying experience in a way.

Conor P. Cahill said...

Yeah, he certainly sounds abusive. It's sad, but you can find such people in every crowd and I can certainly say that isn't the norm for the GS and 1K members that I have met.

I've never used my status for anything other than trying to talk a united employee out of charging me some fee (overweight bags, flight change fee, etc.). Even that wasn't all that successful.

Anonymous said...

UA's 2005 numbers (yes, a bit dated), show:

18,000 Global Services members
46,000 1K
239,000 Premier Executive
535,000 Premier

Anonymous said...

I got Global Services status this year prior to getting 1k status (I think I was around 75,000 mi at the time). It took 6 full fare business international IAD-AMS, but then United gave me 1k Global Services. So far, 2 gratis bumps to first and 1 guaranteed seat on a downsized aircraft... hasn't changed my life but certainly helps.

Anonymous said...

My wife got a call from United the other day saying that I have been "chosen" as a GS member. It's January now. I crossed the 100K mark last October so I have been a 1K member for a few months. I have been a 1K member 5 out of the past 7 years but this is the first GS status I get. The only difference last year was that I had to fly quite a few full fare Business class. I bet that definitely was one qualifying factor.

Anonymous said...

I've been a 1K for the past 5 years and was just invited into Global Services on January 1st. The difference in my travel pattern in 2007 from all my previous years as a 1K was more international travel and I bought First Class tickets for all of my flights on UA. I did ORD to Kuwait (thru IAD) three times, ORD to LHR three times and ORD to Dubai via Frankfurt on LH twice. I bought my tickets with United's PassPlus program which is prepaid. You have to lay out a lot of money in advance but you wind up paying a lot less for F and C tickets...about 30% less so it's not a bad deal. I'm using it again this year. TC

Dave said...

I know this part of your blog is now a year old, but I just found it and thought the comments interesting. My only question is, how the heck do I get a job with a company that pays full fare for any class of service? I am only a Premier Exec, but I fly internationally and my company would fire me if I paid for business class or full fair coach. You all work for (or own) great companies!

Anonymous said...

Which companies do you folks work for? Must be incredibly profitable. I worked for one of the most profitable (MSFT) and was forced by company policy to book coach or discounted business through the agency they used, even though I flew 150k+ all on international.

Conor P. Cahill said...

Yeah, that seems to be the way that most companies are going now. Last company I was at that would pay business for the long international flights was AOL (and they still do).

I flew 160K miles in 2006 and 179K in 2007 with a good bunch of it international, but still ended up being just a lowly 1K (feels that way after having several years as a UGS).

I did talk to one guy on a flight who said that he flew around 500K miles each year all international but all in coach and mostly in discounted coach, but he was a UGS member. He's the only UGS member that I've known or met who flew predominately discounted coach.

Anonymous said...

It's got to be a total spend consideration. The guy that flew 500K of economy in one year probably reached a spend threshold. Boy, do I feel sorry for him. He should be careful about developing deep vein thrombosis. I have been averaging 150K a year - last year I flew 3 around the world business class tix and didn't get GS. This year I'll probably hit 200K but no business class. I think a lot of companies are cutting back on business class travel. Just wait until the banking crisis ripples through the rest of the economy...

USFguy said...

I have been a MP Premeir member for a long time and i really feel irratated about their GS program. I have spoken to some of the GS members when i fly. I found out that some don't even travel more than two or three trips per year. Most of them are in the early twenties and no way they have flown for 1Mil miles.

I just feel that it is a scam. on my last flight from IAD to SFO, i counted atleast fifteen GS member getting aboard. I think there are more than a few thousand GS members, maybe ten times that.

I feel that UAL is using this gimick to give them a elite status that they would have NEVER earned on their own just to get them to fly. For most of us that earned this priviledge from flying, it makes me sick to my stomach. After twenty plus years of flying with UAL, i guess there is no loyalty to the customer. I also find United as one of the most rudest airline flying the skies.

I looking for a change soon. They went bankrupt once and thought that they learn their lesson, but i gather not. Just remember UAL, 'without customers, there is no business, without business there is no jobs for all you employess". Maybe it is time to treat loyal customer correctly.

if you (United Airline) are reading this, and want to comment directly, feel free to.

Conor P. Cahill said...

This hasn't been my experience. The GS members that I *know* and those that I have spoke to all had flown extensively the previous year (including me, for the 2 years that I had the status).

I wouldn't be surprised if they also gave the status to key players (e.g. presidents/CEOs of large companies -- but I haven't seen many of those that don't also travel extensively).

Anonymous said...

There is another situation where a CEO of a company (or person in charge of travel) is give GS not necessarily because of their personal miles or revenue but rather, because of the revenue their comany books. This isn't a scam but rather, good marketing to honor those people whose loyalty and business brings in a lot of revenue. In most cases, GS are awarded to high revenue individuals and the program is very similar to lK

Conor P. Cahill said...

I've heard/suspected that before. However, I've yet to run into someone who actually had obtained the status in that way, so to me it's still in the rumor stage.

Of course, it makes a whole lot of sense that they would do this, especially for the CEO or other leaders at companies that chose to fly exclusively on United or otherwise brought United a whole lot of business.

USFguy said...

United GS membership is really irratating (a total Farce)to myself and many other Premeir/Exec members. Most of the Premeir and Exec member are the Real people that pays United's bill/expenses and the bottom line is that they really treat you like shit and give all the benefits to their friends that have not earn it.

I good portion of GS members did not earn it. It is totally unfair to the customers that have supported you. I have even spoken to a few UAL execs and when asked they just smile and one actually said that it is something most of us use to give to friends telling them what a great guy we are. I just laugh.

Last week i was on a flight to PVD and had to transfer in ORD. I was trying to use a some of my upgrades to First and was turn back due to the number of 1K and GS that is ahead of me. I could understand the 1K but the GS that have not even earned the priviledge yet. I was sitting at the waiting gates and heard another GS member brag that she just got into GS by dating a senior exec in the company (UAL) and what a 'chump' he was trying the impress her. I have heard so many people talking about getting GS and basically "trumping' a lot of Premeir/Exec members when getting upgrades.

To top it off, when i got onto the flight, I saw a few of the UA flight crew taking seats in First Class. What the F&CK. UAL could earn customer loyalty and revenue from these seats. These 'fat ass' employees could sit in the back of the plane.

Recently i booked tickets on UAL after seeing a mileage promotional offer. It was so confusing that i actually called up UAL to book the tickets and asking them that i want these tickets to qualify for the 5K bonus miles offer. They tell me yes...yess..yess. A month after the flight, i checked and no mileage bonus posted. Called again, customer service (of course out of Manila) told me that it was forth coming.. another few weeks of wait i called again. after being on the phone for another hours, they tell me that it did not qualify due to a technicality. Wrong fare should have taken a different flight.

Wrote a letter to the CEO, and i told him the customer service at UAL steered me wrong. I got a letter back that they referred me to customer service. Ahhh... i guess that 'clown' does not read his mail.

Bottom line. it is time to change airline. Hopefully UAL will go out of business soon and take most of their employees to that hole in the ground. Totally useless company.

United, if you are reading this.. just remember this.

"Without customers, there is no business. Without business, there is no job left."

I really hope that you read and think about the above quote before it is too late.

The only bright spot in the company is those wonderful people that work at the Hong Kong Airport. They are wonderful, efficient and offer mucho courtesy. kudos to them.. maybe they could teach the rest of the company how to treat customers right.

Conor P. Cahill said...

Well, I have been a GS and/or 1K for the past 6 years or so and don't have the same experiences that you have, nor have I run into any person who actually had GS and hadn't earned it in one way or another.

I don't get irritated about GS at all as *all* of the people who I had met who were GS were also 1Ks. So they do spend quite a lot of time with their buts in the seats on airplanes.

It does bother me when crew get upgraded in front of me, but I think that's one of the perks of being a pilot (you get to ride home in business/first).

However, the real killer for me is the fact that United has decided to charge $$ for upgrades using miles starting next July. That really sucks big time.

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to request being designated as a Global Service member, who would I write in United? Any specific info would be much appreciated. Thanks

Conor P. Cahill said...

There isn't any published contact or other information about where to go to ask for this status.

I presume if you caught the ear of the CEO, or other senior member of the management team and were able to convince them you were worthy of the status, they could get it for you.

I'm not aware of any other path to asking for the status.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to figure it out. I have 1.7M miles (base UA) and have been a 1K member for the past 10 years. I have never been a GS member. I am currently a 1K. Maybe it is because I do not live in the US?

Conor P. Cahill said...

It's not how many miles you've flown on UA in your life (I've done 1.4M) nor is it how many miles you fly each year (I fly 160K and I've known people who have flown more than 250K miles and not gotten GS).

It's how much you spend on tickets (full fare coach, business or first). The two years I qualified for GS, I was working for a company that paid for business class on international trips over 8 hours and I few quite a number of those trips).

Anonymous said...

Yup, the co-pay has me a little ticked off also. It seems a bit excessive to have to pay $500 and 20,000 miles each way for an upgrade to Europe. That'll be $1,000 and 40,000 miles if you decide to upgrade the return also. I figure $1,000 is just around the price of a discount return to Europe. If you've already paid $1,000 for a return to Europe and then you want to upgrade both legs, cough up another $1,000 plus 40,000 miles! The total fare is $2,000 plus 40,000 miles. For a little more you might as well pay for the return in business class, save yourself the points and get a 25% bonus on the miles.

I've made my views known to United that the only reason I came over the MileagePlus was because they didn't have a co-pay. I was told a lot had been calling in and none had told them it was a fabulous idea. They've been known to backtrack on boneheaded ideas a few times this year ( remember the minimum 500 miles for short haul and the pay for food in economy on international flights? ) so if enough complain, they may set the co-pay at a more realistic amount. I doubt they'll get rid of it as all the other airlines seem to be charging them too. A case of monkey see-monkey do rather than actually looking at how many frequent flyers they've attracted to MileagePlus because of not having co-pays. I doubt they've thought about how many will just stick to other airlines because it's worthless changing over when they all make you cough up a co-pay.

Give them a call, you've got nothing to lose except $500 and 20,000 miles each way if you don't.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone flown in United's new rear facing business seats? I've had the pleasure now of flying ( facing forward ) three times in the new setup and I've noticed people getting sick twice. Both were facing backwards and both were when the planes were descending to land. It's interesting if the nose-low, tail high and slight rocking that accompanies a descent to land can make people hurl faster if they are facing backwards than frontwards.

Conor P. Cahill said...

I've ridden the new seats facing backward twice (both on 767s) and had no issues -- nor did I notice anyone else who had issues (on those flights or on the flights when I was facing forward).

Then again, I haven't found a roller coaster that I won't ride, nor one that I didn't enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I have been 1K for the past 10 years or more running, more than 200,000 miles a year, more than 2 million lifetime UA miles, all in paid business class, once in awhile in paid first, almost all international. I live in Japan, until now no sign of GS membership for me, but my boss got it and he travelled less than me, but more often in F, lending weight to the fare argument but also to the discretion of station chiefs, etc in offering this status to people they think might be making travel decisions...

Conor P. Cahill said...

I can't explain that unless a large portion of your miles were on code-share or Star Alliance flights (which earn mileage points but don't count towards UA revenue from a GS point of view).

The years I made GS, I flew about 150K miles with about 40 to 50K in international business class and about the same in domestic B or Y (high fare economy).

I was an almost nobody at the company I worked for and in fact the second year I qualified I had moved to a new company whose policy was discounted economy *allways* so my position clearly didn't come into play.

dsearls said...

I realize this is an old thread, but it comes up at the top of a search for United Global Services, so it's still current in that respect.

I've been 1K for three years running, and flew at least two full-fare business class flights overseas from the U.S. in 2008. I'm also rather publicly a United flier, with over a dozen thousand photos taken from the windows of United planes. (Plus thousands of photos tagged United, UAL and United Airlines.)

Before that I was a Premier or Executive Premier flier on United, going back to the early 90s.

But in the current economy no clients are funding business class flying for the near future, and my total miles with United are still a bit short of a million. So I figure if I reach GS, this will have to be the year for it. Otherwise, ain't gonna happen.

By the way, my experience with United has included nothing bad in all the time I've been with them. My only persistent complaint is an odd one: I don't want upgrades to business or first class if it's not to a window seat. I've been offered several upgrades this past year to aisle seats and have turned them all down. (I accepted one that did go to a window seats.) One time this past year I was upgraded to an aisle seat and it annoyed me badly because the seat I gave up in economy had a windwow. Yet I still managed to shoot this set in a hurry while the woman with the window seat next to me was asleep.

Conor P. Cahill said...

Well, for 2008, I flew 165K miles with 4 business class international round trips (one to Asia and 3 to Europe) and I've already gotten my 1K card for 2009, so clearly I did not make it to GS yet again.

So I don't hold high hopes for you with your two trips :-(.

Anonymous said...

As I believe most folks have already stated, it is all about the money to get GS. At my current company our Chief Operating Officer got a letter in September reminding her that she needed to fly x thousand full fare miles by the end of December to keep her GS.

Like many of you, I have "earned" my 1k status over and over again. I got my GS status yesterday for the first time but flew zero full fare flights in 2008 but did fly nearly 400k miles. The total spend was about $100k per thousand so I guess they got $40k for all my miles last year.

C. said...

For the first time in years, I made no international flights and flew less than 70K miles. I did have 100 segments so I made 1K for the third year in a row. I have less than 300K lifetime miles. I wasn't expecting to get Global Service status, but I'm certainly glad that I have it. There must be multiple ways to get Global Services status.

Anonymous said...

I have been GS member 2 out of the last 3 years. I fly the same 4 trips a year full fare business. I didn't get GS in the middle year. I asked a UA service rep about it and she said it was the top 1% of revenue flyers.

I did take advantage of it a few years ago by getting a representative to make award seats available on a flight that didn't have available award seats. 3 first class seats to Hawaii. Used saver rate also.

Anonymous said...

I flew about 120K miles on UA in 2008. All in economy but mostly full fare and I got GS status for 2009.

Anonymous said...

Just made GS for the first time, and got this in the mail:

Eligibility for Global Services is by invitation only,
exclusively reserved for the top percent of our elite
membership population, based on their extraordinary
contribution of revenue. Unlike the Mileage Plus program,
Global Services qualification is not measured by the number
of miles flown, but by the value of tickets purchased. The
limited number of invitees ensures we are able to maintain
the exclusive nature of the Global Services program.

Anonymous said...

I just received notice that I have qualified as a GS Member. I am also a 1K member. I flew around 125,000 miles last year, mostly to/from ORD - SYD about 5 times and several times in Business Class. The total amount that I spent on flights with UAL Last year easily reached $50K so I'm guessing that's the mark to reach. I can't see myself having this status again next year as I don't have any international trips planned (yet).

Anonymous said...

I've just been invited into GS for my third year in a row. GS is not bullshit as some have suggested. United wants to reward people who buy expensive tickets with perks that don't cost the airline too much i.e. upgrade priority (not free upgrades), use of the arrivals suites, cutting to the head of the security lines. I fly about the same amount of miles per year...about 150,000. On domestic flights I buy discounted coach and always get my upgrade to First Class cleared using the 500 mile electronic upgrades. On international flights I buy full fare business (B) and use system wide upgrades to move up to First Class. I take 4 or 5 international flights per year. That's what GS too much and pay too have to buy F, B and/or Y tickets. I've never encountered ANYONE in Global Services that was very young or who didn't travel and buy tickets in the way I just described. It's a great status to have.


Conor P. Cahill said...

I'm back in GS this year after 2 years of measly 1Kedness. Already I see a difference in that my upgrades clear in advance again (either they fixed a bug in the system or it's the status, but my upgrades weren't clearing until a few hours before the flight, even when there was an overabundance of seats available).

I agree that it isn't BS and that people who spend a lot of $$ with United get the status. That's been the case for me each of the 3 years I've qualified and not the case when I didn't qualify.

I haven't run into anyone who got the status for other reasons (like being the CEO of a company that brings lots of travel $$ to United) but that wouldn't surprise me and I wouldn't have a problem with it as it makes lots of sense from a business point of view.

Here's to a good 2009!

Anonymous said...

I have been a United Flier for 5 years now. At Least 1K every year and GS twice now, have just had a phone call and have been elevated to GS for 2009.

GS is all about $ spend and not miles flown, even though I have flown over 200,000 the last few years.

Having been at the GS level once before I am glad to have attained that level again.

Anonymous said...

I have been a United Flier for 5 years now. At Least 1K every year and GS twice now, have just had a phone call and have been elevated to GS for 2009.

GS is all about $ spend and not miles flown, even though I have flown over 200,000 the last few years.

Having been at the GS level once before I am glad to have attained that level again.

Anonymous said...

I found out this year that I got GS status. I was only Premier Exec in 2007, but last year I flew about 190k EQMs with two full fare international business round trips and one full fare economy international round trip. I'm not sure at what point I crossed the line to qualify, but it's a nice perk after feeling like I spent all last year on airplanes.

Anonymous said...

To Usf Guy: You really sound like a nice guy. First of all, I guess I am one of those fat ass employees who occasionally gets to use one of my few privileges of pass travel. If you are speaking of someone in uniform who sits in First, shame on you. Mind your own business. United would not put an employee in front of a revenue paying passenger. In terms of upgrades, I know there is a system to how they assign upgrades and again, I assure you uniformed employees only get to occupy those seats in premium cabins that are not otherwise upgraded to by miles or $$. Thanks for your kind words. Just checking out this blog because my dad was recently given GS status and I wanted to find out exactly what perks he should get. BTW - he has been 1k for some time now, full fare tix bewtween sfo and Narita, Nagoya. I think he, along with so many others here, has "earned" his status. Quit being such a hater.

Anonymous said...

Most of the posts, and the original blog comment are really cool.

For all the United GS members (of which I am not), I think you can all figure out what the magic number is to "qualify" for the "invitation" to United GS status. Couldn't you all just go back to your emails where you were given the reservations from your travel agent, and then look at the bottom for the cost of the ticket, then add up all the ticket prices for the year? Based on this blog, it looks like the magic revenue number is probably to spend $100,000 in tickets with United. Rough guess, maybe it's higher. And certainly an unimportant exercise for senior executives worth flying full fares. But you could give this task to your kids, and pay them a couple of bucks to do this calculation for you. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

It's a great program, but overall I wish all elite programs were banned. Before you flame, I've been a 1K on UA and a platinum on NW many times over the years.

Elite programs are just a way for them to extract more money and more of our time. That's all it is. Like drug marketing - they do it because it works.

Imagine if 2 simple rules were passed. First, you could use any segment of a ticket you booked. That ends the non-stop premium. Now, we all fly direct when possible. Next, end the elite programs - now there is no incentive to fly any specific airline - so we all get to fly the one with the best times.

Connecting flights would plummet. Less people stranded and flexibility would skyrocket. You could still play games with miles, but getting the FFs to go direct regardless of airline would decompress ATC.

Conor P. Cahill said...

I have to say I disagree with your position. I have traveled on airlines where I was not a premium member of their loyalty program and, frankly, it sucked. No seat selection till I got to the airport. No good seats available for me. No upgrades available other than $$.

I'd also say that your rules about regulating how the airlines price tickets/segments sounds like a way to put the airlines out of business. This kind of regulation is the kind of thing that will drive us to nationalized airlines and really, really crappy service. Much better to leave things as they are and let competition bring out good service.

That said, I think there is some areas that could use some regulation -- things like how long an airline can keep a person locked up in the plane on the tarmac. I don't know what the right rule should be, but there has to be some common sense brought into the picture. As things stand now, the airlines have way too much control and little oversight.

BTW - the hub/spoke system of connecting flights came about as a way to serve a much larger set of destinations. Back in the 70's, before hubs came into being, the number of airports served with regular service in the country was much smaller than it is today and some trips frequently required 3 or more connections through weird city pairs. I'm not sure we want to go back to that.

Anonymous said...

I am 1K on United this year for the first time. In 2009 am in the midst of my fourth full fare international trip and will most likely reach six - hope to make GS! Do flights on partners like Luthansa count the same as flights on UA?

Conor P. Cahill said...

As far as I am aware, Star alliance and/or United code-share flights flown by other airlines such as Lufthansa do *NOT* count towards Global Services status because United is not earning the bulk of the revenue.

They do count for base miles but don't typically earn the status multiple (e.g. 1Ks receive a 100% mileage bonus on each flight -- I have not gotten this bonus when the flights are operated by other airlines -- code share or not).

Anonymous said...

I like United and Star Alliance.

I have been a 1K for over 10 years flying over 100,000 miles every year, but my company adopted a travel rule many years ago banning purchase of business class no matter how far the destination is (I flew SFO-SIN on discounted economy upgraded using Systemwide). I would like GS status, but I would rather save my company money and ensure my employment than fly expensive fares and see my company go belly-up.

BTW, most of the GS's I know are investment bankers, management consultants and lawyers. They are charging back their clients for their flights. Looking at the young morally bankrupt GSers taking first class and business class seats do nauseate and disturb me.

Anonymous said...

Hi all- I have no idea how I attained GS level in 2009. Never notified by UAL, but it showed up on my boarding pass. Not knowing what it meant I showed an agent who told me I could go right into the exec lounge 'sir'. whoa. I fly6-7 int'l full fare business RT's per year. To be honest the distinction vs 1K is lost on me, but a recent upgrade to 1st was a pleasant surprise, even if the attendant working the section was not.

Nate said...

I have been a GS member for 5 years now as my company paid for Business Class seats and I fly internationally 4 times a year, though last year I only flew Business once due to travel cutbacks, the rest were full fare economy and I still got GS status. Maybe less people travelled putting me in still in the top tier? It an adjustment to traveling back in Business (upgraded) after 4 years of First (upgraded)...

Anonymous said...

Two other benefits of my UGS membership I have discovered are -

1. A special reserve of saver award seats just for GS members, so even when they are gone for everyone else I can usually get them. I just got 2 to Los Angeles for this Christmas.

2. The ability to upgrade on a free ticket (saver or standard award) using regional, systemwide or 500-mile certificates. Only GS members have this ability. I upgraded my 2 free saver award tickets for this Christmas to first class using regional upgrade certificates.

artfullyurs said...

I am 26 years old. I have been a GS for 3 years in a row now. I travel about 200K a year. I mostly fly P.S. full far F or C from JFK to LAX/SFO pretty much on a weekly basic. I fly to Europe twice a year with full fare business class.

I disagree with USFGUY on MANY level. He posted a comment above saying UA giving out GS like hot cakes to people who are in their twenties. Sir, just because we are young, it doesn't mean we don't flight that much. It's all about revenue. The more money you pay, the more likely they will give you GS status. Calling the FA crew who sat in First a "fat ass" is just too immature. They earn their spot there. UA only allow crew member to sit in first when the seat is available. Are you expecting them to give it to you for Free just because you are a 1K ?

I just can't stand people like you who always complain about everything.

peter noone said...

REVENUE is the magic word here REVENUE
I have been GS the year AFTER I spent lots of money buying A fares and BIZ and F
The years I didn't spend lots of money I got what I expected. No GS. For me it makes no difference as I live in a small market, and if you look carefully, you will notice that most GS customers don't seek any attention

Conor P. Cahill said...

I agree Peter. My experience has shown that it's always been related to years in which I've spent a lot of money with United.

I also agree that most, if not all, of the GS members that I have met have been good people, though I'm sure there are some *ssholes in there (there are always some of them in every crowd).

Anonymous said...

Global Service = Buy Full Fare First, or Business class - repeatedly.

Translation: Work for a non-value-creating Investment Bank and spend tax-payer dollars (TARP) for these seats.

Let them eat cake!

Beasley said...

Hmmmm. Very interesting set of comments. I have been GS for about 4 years, and have been fortunate to already been informed I qualify for 2010. I agree revenue is the key to obtaining and keeping GS status. I would also like to see a personality test in order to extirpate the rude and obnoxious; although, I would suggest, the malcontents are proportionately much less at the GS level. Maybe that's because we are stroked, maybe it's because we are tired, maybe it's because we fly so much our expectations are low.

Anonymous said...

Another way to obtain GS status is to be an officer of a larger company with a contract with United. I work for such a company and all our corporate officers (C-suite) are GS members although several of them do not fly enough to qualify (they take one of the corporate jets)

thanhluu007 said...

I have been a 1K member since 2007 and just received GS status in 2009 afer flying 6 RT Full-fare Business (FFB) class flights from PHL-NRT (Narita, Japan). In 2008, I flew 6 FFB trips to Narita and received GS for the first time. In 2009, I flew 8 FFB trips to Narita and recieved notification in July of GS for 2010. I was told that to renew the GS for 2010, I had to fly 50,000 full-fare miles which I greatly exceeded (98,000). I have not met any GC member that has not earned the status. I have been 1K for the past 3 years. I enjoy the extra perks you receive for being GS and just hope my company keeps allowing me to travel FFB. BTW, I work for a defense contractor and the US dept. of defense foots the bill for these FFB trips.

Peter Yared said...

Conor Cahill! How funny to click a link to this post and see it is written by you! I have a friend at Oracle where they fly a LOT of AA, and Oracle can select 5 employees to be Concierge Key members as part of their annual contract with AA. All the senior execs fly corporate jets, so he got one of the CK memberships. Don't know if UA has a similar program, but I imagine they do, so at least with AA you can have the case of a CK member who doesn't actually fly a lot, but who does spend a lot of $$ with the airline. Happy new year! Peter

Anonymous said...

I was on an oversold flight last night from IAD to SJU. I had a seat in First Class which I actually paid for (not comp upgrade or miles upgrade). I was asked twice to move seats to accommodate GS families that they had upgraded and wanted to seat together. I did so willingly. I ended up across the aisle from one of the GS members that I moved for. She said, "I appreciate you moving. I am Global Services so.....". She didn't finish her sentence, but by inference she was saying "I have have special privileges so I have the right to bump you out of your seat". I kept my peace, but I was kind of annoyed. Hello???? I actually paid for my First Class seat!!!

Anyway, she was upgraded as was her husband, mother, and two screaming kids who ran around the First Class cabin like it was their own personal playground while Ms. Global Services read magazines and drank wine (as she complained about the quality of it). At one point (when the kids got tired of watching their own individual personal DVD players), they got up on their seats and were hopping over the armrests from one seat to another like they were playing hopscotch.

Then, she chided the Flight Attendant for not having more "kid-friendly" dining choices in First Class. They brought her some of those snack boxes that UA sells with all the unhealthy chips and cookies in it. She was OK with that. God forbid she would feed her kids the hot turkey sandwich or healthy salad with grilled shrimp on it that the airline provided!! one point I asked the flight attendant to ask the parents to quiet down the kids. The flight attendant apologized about the noise and said, "Well they are Global Services Members so.......". WTF does that mean? That's was the second time I got that "so....." thing. Does that mean that GS members have the right to act like a$$es on airplanes and we lowly paying First Class passengers have to tolerate it?

So here's the icing on the cake. I asked the woman what the qualifications were for Global Services. She said "Oh, I have no clue. Our company must have some sort of corporate deal or something. I never fly United, but we are having some executive meeting down in San Juan and this was the only direct flight we could get on short notice."

Global Services? If the qualification for Global Services is that you are rude, inconsiderate, snobbish, and elitist, then no thanks!!!!

Conor P. Cahill said...

Well, I'm not a GS member this year, but I have been in the past and I NEVER experienced the "oh, you're a GS member, you can do whatever you like".

I've flown as a 1K or GS member for the past 10 or 11 years and for the most part on the plane, I can't tell the difference between the two status levels (other than GS members get to pick their meals first).

I'm sure there are rude people who are GS members, as well as rude people who are 1K members, Premier Exec, Premier, etc., etc. They are in every crowd.

As far as I know, I'm generally not rude, nor do I ask for or expect any special treatment when I'm on the plane (I do ask for, and try to plan, the special treatment game when it comes to upgrades -- I'd much rather sit up front than in the back... sorry...).

Anonymous said...

Hi Conor -

Thanks for your reply. I'm sure that the vast majority of the GS members out there are perfectly civil individuals who know how to behave on a plane. I was mostly upset with the flight attendant's attitude that somehow this GS person was untouchable.

I agree with you that flying up front is much better experience than Economy, and I avail myself of that as often as possible. I guess I needed to vent a little. :-)

BTW - I used to work at AOL also. 2004-2006. I was in the Digital Media group, which eventually became "Audience".


Thomas said...

Ill let you know exactly what qualifies one to obtain the GS status. I worked for United for 5 years and was amazed at the amount of GS Members who would ask me how and what the protocol was for membership. However, I cant post it here, for the public to see. Its for my own protection and that of UA, itself. Id be happy to send an email to anyone inquiring.

Anonymous said...

GS for 4 + years: Any other GS flyers seeing a tremendous increase in the hassle factor since UA implemented the "complimentary' uprades?

Conor P. Cahill said...

As a 1K, I have seen two major difference now with complimentary upgrades:

1) It is harder to get upgrades since *everyone* is not automatically on the upgrade list, but at least being a 1K, I am usually up near the top of the list and have been able to get my upgrades.

2) If you change your travel plans within 24 hours of travel (like because of a flight change/cancellation) it is much, much harder to get an upgrade since most of the upgrade seats have already been given out for complimentary upgrades.

Generally, I like the new model as long as I don't have to change my flights.

Anonymous said...

How many (still 50,000?) miles in full-fare tickets (would that be B fares or higher?) be sufficient for GS nowadays, now that economy has changed from when Conor first posted his article?

NW Professional Tax said...

This is the kind of service that Goerge Clooney receives in "Up in The Air" right? My Grandmother used to fly constantly for the company she works for, at least 3-4 times a month, but they were all within the united states, since they never were international flights would this hurt her chances?

Conor P. Cahill said...

It's all about the money you spend on United, so if she flew mostly discounted tickets it probably wouldn't help her get into Global Services. On the other hand if she flew mostly Y class (full fare economy) or higher, the domestic flights would help.

BTW - the qualification is every year, so you only get Global Services this year if you qualified last year. Stuff you did in the past doesn't help you.

Anonymous said...

I am now in my 4th year in GS, been 1K for 6 years before that and I'm a 2 million mile man on UA. The airline has always treated me great as a 1K and GS. I fly about 175,000 miles per year with about 6 international "B" tickets per year which I upgrade to First with the "system wide" upgrades. As far as domestic travel I buy economy class tickets...whatever the booking code is that pops up on when I look for fares and it is extremely rare that I don't get upgraded to First class. In fact, I can't remember the last time I sat in back. Aside from the upgade status I especially like the service and treatment that I get when I call the GS (866) number to make or change reservations. They're EXTREMELY efficient and that's a big plus. I have nothing but good things to say about UA.

Anonymous said...

I know that some very large companies have deals with United to spend a certain amount of money per year. The people who work for them can be assigned GS even if they don't fly that much. Its a money thing. But not always the money of the individual flyer. It is often the company.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, do GS members get comp upgrades on the PS flights? (JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO) or do they need to use certificates or points as well?

Conor P. Cahill said...

When I was a GS, we did not get any "official" comp upgrade rights domestic or international. That, however, didn't stop some gate agents from giving an upgrade to me.

However, on average, I'd have to say that has happened as much when I was a 1K as it did when I was a GS (of course, most of my 1K life was probably before GS, so it might not be the case today).

Anonymous said...

In its first year introducing its Presidential Platinum level (similar to United GS), Continental stated that it required 100k and $30k of fare revenue (that is the ticket price minus any taxes or fees) on Continental. Once you made 100k, there was a countdown showing how far away you were from meeting the revenue requirement. This was the year prior to announcing the merger... The following year, this disappeared from the website. Given that on many discounted fares the taxes can be half of the ticket price, meeting the $30k level can easily require $50k of actual spend.

eternitydavid said...

I just started my fly life since 2012 between Asian and US, the first year, i flied 800,00miles and bought some miles to hit 1K for the first year to join UA program, and I will fly 150K this year at least, i am very interested in Global Service due to at boarding always someone to be the first to get on board. You are the man, sir. and I hope I can hit million miles in 7 years that i will be 40 years old and 2 million at 45 years old.