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United Airlines

Inside United’s Secret Invite-Only Club

Inside United’s Secret Invite-Only Club
Joe Cortez

Most airlines have a “secret” loyalty tier to reward their highest-value customers, and United MileagePlus is no exception. We dug through the stories on the FlyerTalk forum to give you the inside scoop on United Global Services status – and what flyers in this invite-only tier get for their loyalty.

Most MileagePlus members know about the four tiers of loyalty: Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, and Premier 1K. However, not everyone knows about the tier that comes after Premier 1K: United Global Services. It’s a secret, invite-only status available to high-value flyers.

What are the benefits of United Global Services? How do you qualify? Just how much do you have to fly? We checked with the world’s largest community of frequent fliers–the FlyerTalk forums–to find out everything about United Global Services Status including what it’s like once you’re a member.

How to Qualify for United Global Services in 2020?

In a word? Spend. How much? As United Global Services is a secret invite-only tier, there are no official guidelines. But, the frequent fliers on FlyerTalk have given us a few clues in the Global Services 2020 Notifications forum.

One thing we do know is that the amount of flying and spending you have to do differs from person to person and from year to year. But, if we had to ballpark we’d say $54,000 with plenty of caveats.

One FlyerTalker was invited to join Global Services in 2019 after spending $70,000 with United; In 2018, they spent just over $54,000 when they got their invitation. Another was invited in 2019 after earning over 237,000 PQMs (Premier Qualifying Miles) and spending over $54,000 on airfare (it can’t hurt to note that their cumulative spending over the past three years has topped $100,000).

Most secret-tier flyers are spending over $50,000 with the airline every year, with the majority of their flying aboard United aircraft.

 

Global Services United Mercedes Benz Transfer

All the Benefits of United Global Services

United goes above and beyond for its Global Services members. The best place to read first-hand accounts of what it’s like is the Global Services Benefits, Questions & Experiences Wiki.

Manufactured Award Availability: For starters, Global Services members get the first shot at award availability – even if it doesn’t exist on the United Airlines website. For United-operated flights, booking agents can create economy-class Saver award space if T-class tickets are available, or create business-class Saver awards if PZ-class tickets are on the flight. Don’t expect to get tickets for everyone in your circle though: created award space is limited to the Global Services member and one guest.

Mercedes-Benz Transfers: When it comes to making connections at the airport, Global Services members can get between flights in style. At certain airports, elite flyers with tight connections can get an escort to their next flight from a waiting Mercedes-Benz car. Unfortunately, this service can’t be requested in advance: United will select flyers for the service based on turnaround time.

Dibs on Complementary Upgrades: United Global Services flyers get the first chance to upgrade to the next best cabin starting 120 hours from their flight, 24 hours before Premier 1K passengers. Global Services members also have additional benefits for themselves and one companion when it comes to spending United PlusPoints for regional and global upgrades. Finally, Global Services flyers get the highest priority at the airport – including re-accommodation and sold-out flight availability.

Want to know everything about MileagePlus and how Global Services benefits may be worth spending more aboard United? Be sure to read the FlyerTalk United MileagePlus Wiki to understand all the pros and cons of the airline loyalty program.

 

Is There a Dedicated United Global Services Website?

Among all the benefits of United Global Services status, there isn’t necessarily a dedicated website for secret-tier elites. However, Global Services members can log into their account at United.com and see all the benefits available to them online.

In addition to seeing all the benefits, Global Services members can use the website to get first access to the best award space options. They also (reportedly) have access to a dedicated e-mail address that gives them access to online support in a matter of hours instead of days.

Is There a Dedicated United Global Services Phone Number?

Much like the other United MileagePlus Premier status tiers, United Global Services members also have their own dedicated phone number. On the other side is a set of agents dedicated to helping Global Services customers only. And, you can speak to them directly. You don’t have to go through a confusing phone tree or press dozens of options.

Can I Get Special United Global Services Lounge Access?

Outside of the first access to award points, possibly the best benefit of being a Global Services member is the airport experience. At United’s major hubs and select airports, Global Services flyers don’t check-in at a desk but in a special reception area. From there, they are escorted to a dedicated TSA security lane for processing.

Lounge Access: When flying international, United Global Services members can access the United Club prior to departure, as well as other Star Alliance member lounges available to them. When flying internationally in the premium United Polaris cabin, Global Services members can also access the United Polaris lounge at select American airports, or VIP lounges at Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT), London Heathrow Airport (LHR) or Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).

Arrival Benefits: On arrival to select airports, Global Services flyers can also receive some arrival benefits as well. When flying to London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 2 on a United flight, Global Services flyers can visit the Star Alliance Arrivals Lounge. And when traveling aboard United to Frankfurt Airport (FRA) or Zurich Airport (ZRH), they are welcome to visit the Lufthansa or Swiss Arrivals lounge to refresh after deplaning. Guests are not permitted in these arrival lounges: It’s an exclusive benefit for Global Services flyers only, who must present their boarding pass or Global Services card for entry.

While $50,000 is a lot to spend on airfare, the benefits of becoming a secret-tier flyer are worth it. If you’re doing most of your flying aboard United, consolidating to make it to Global Services could absolutely be worth your time and money.

View Comments (17)

17 Comments

  1. mh3265a

    January 13, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Pretty sure 1Ks and anyone flying in business class can access the *A arrivals lounge at LHR. It’s not a specific Global Services benefit unless something changed recently.

  2. Hugo OZ

    January 13, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    The arrival lounge at FRA is available to all *G, I have used it before and it is outside of the sterile zone, therefore after you have collected your bags (and only open in the morning). If flying LH First you can use the Hon Circle lounge which is in the sterile zone, if GS are allowed to go in there that is huge. By far the best lounge in FRA

  3. zoned_post_meridiem

    January 13, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    I’m not sure a tier that has its own check-in lobbies can be called ”secret”

  4. YOWisHome

    January 14, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    4 Million Miles also gets you into GS.

  5. LondonElite

    January 15, 2020 at 4:07 am

    Everyone who has ever flown on a UA flight knows about GS. They are called for early boarding and the status is shown on the board?!?!?

    Most of the lounge access is a *G privilege, and has nothing to do with GS. Anyone travelling in Polaris can access the Polaris lounge, and more to the point, GS in economy can’t. This really is poor ‘journalism’ with little research and even less value.

  6. sfcharles1

    January 15, 2020 at 4:24 am

    Anyone with an international business class ticket on UAL can go to the Polaris lounge.
    And same with the arrivals lounges in FRA and LHR, to the best of my knowledge.
    Delta Sky mile flyers (1K equivalent) have their own check in area…it is great! Never a queue, super friendly. And you have to show your status before you can get in. Very nice… and that translates over to Partners – particularly great in China where. you get seating area and sit across the desk… very civilized. AND you get priority check in! And lounge privileges. So many of the top tier Global elite perks are there for delta 1k’s, without spending $54,000!
    And just to top it off, if you are a KLM or AF flying blu, once you get the Platinum status it is much easier to maintain… requiring far less flights!
    United is really nothing special….and if you are trying be a Global to get the benefits that other carriers give to 1k’s, you’re wasting your time.and money.
    If UAL was worth its salt, it would just tell you what you need to do and let you do it or not. It’s a pathetic game.

  7. BMGRAHAM

    January 15, 2020 at 4:28 am

    Not sure what the point is in posting this information either

  8. Shareholder

    January 15, 2020 at 6:25 am

    How likely are GSs to be flying in Y or even PE so most stated benefits go to anyone flying in front cabins. And overseas flying F on STAR partners get most of the others. I tend to marvel at how coddled these Masters of the Universe are and how hopeless they might be coping with what we mere mortals confront on every trip through the airport!

  9. DenverBrian

    January 15, 2020 at 7:18 am

    I’m definitely sure that a tier that has its own check-in order, ANNOUNCED EVERY SINGLE TIME AT EVERY SINGLE GATE, cannot be called “secret.” Unless you’re in the business of creating click-bait headlines for blog posts, apparently.

  10. Molepup

    January 15, 2020 at 9:16 am

    There is no question that the Global Service status brings many benefits for a traveler. At the same time, this article appears to have been composed in such a way so as to emphasize the exclusivity of the benefits for only those that spend $50,000+ on travel per year.

    There is nothing secret about Global Services when signs appear at every airport, every check-in and they are announced during pre-boarding for every United flight. Many international airports that do not have a GS lounge provide a separate GS check-in area right next to 1K and premium services.

    Membership is granted to those individuals that spend the top 2 to 3% on flights during each year. In addition, many members are not frequent travelers, as some number Global Services memberships are part of a negotiated corporate contract with United, these memberships are handed out to executives that may or may not be frequent travelers.

    Any Star Alliance Gold member (Premier Gold, Platinum or 1K) travelling in any class of service has access to United Club and all Star Alliance Gold member lounges on any itinerary that includes international travel.

    Any Star Alliance Gold member travelling in any class of service has access to most Star Alliance arrival lounges but not those designated only for the first-class cabin.

    Any traveler that purchases or upgrades to the United Polaris cabin is allowed entry into the Polaris lounge – this is not just for GS members.

  11. russmeyergirl

    January 15, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    They have more than this as there are special events run for them too. I attended a GS dinner at Per Se in NYC before the NYC Marathon one year, when UA were a sponsor. It was very flash and a lot of senior UA personnel in attendance. It was very impressive.

  12. kalo93406

    January 15, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    So secret, but they announce it for boarding.. :p

  13. jjmoore

    January 16, 2020 at 3:24 am

    As a 4-year GS, I can attest that the best perks of the status are: Next flight guarantee in case of cancellation or missed connection, conversion of T to XN for award inventory, ability to upgrade award tickets, 85% upgrade rate on complimentary upgrade routes, and the flat out fantastic agents dedicated to making my travel experience a smooth one. GS is far superior to 1K.

  14. Dov Isaacs

    January 16, 2020 at 8:09 am

    What wasn’t mentioned in this article is that a very large number of GS members have that status for reasons other than their personal spend on United Airlines.

    It is exceptionally common for United to grant large corporate customers for which United is the “preferred carrier” (with special corporate travel rates) a specific number of GS memberships for their executives, regardless of how much said executives actually fly on United.

    Since there are so many of these special GS memberships and United wishes to preserve the exclusivity of GS, it is necessary for United to limit the number of GS memberships. They do this by raising the bar each year on annual “United spend.” Ten years ago, $30K spend easily got you GS status, at least in the SF Bay area; it is now upwards of $50K annual spend.

    And United is doing the same thing with the “non-secret” 1K program. 4 or 5 long haul international round trips could easily get you 1K status because it was based on PQMs (qualifying miles) that often were either 1.5X or 2X the actual miles if you flew business class. Not anymore! For 2021, it is strictly “show us the money.” 1K status for 2021 requires $24K spend on United travel in 2020!

  15. Jackie_414

    January 21, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    jjmoore, I agree that GS is far superior to 1K. But that is due to the fact that, over the past 15 years now, United has consistently downgraded what it means to be a 1K.

  16. jjmoore

    January 23, 2020 at 8:52 am

    @Jackie_414 ….. agreed. 1K is harder to attain (must spend $18,000 in base fare now), and rewards those loyal flyers less than ever (my upgrade % as a 1K a couple years ago on one of the years I didn’t qualify for GS dropped to 20% on CPU routes when I used to clear 75% of the time 10 years ago).

  17. milepig

    January 24, 2020 at 10:48 am

    Well. There is a secret level. It’s above GS, but I can’t talk about it. Sash.

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