How happy are current GS folks?

Old Jul 17, 12, 11:46 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2011
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How happy are current GS folks?

Hey all -- I'm currently a 1K on UA with a decent likelihood of earning into GS this year.

I know stuff hasn't been the greatest since 3/3, and I've had a lot of frustrating flights/experiences. Also, my UDU % has dropped considerably. (I've already status-matched to AA)

Of course, reading the boards has made it clear that other people are frustrated too. I've seen many references to 1Ks and GS leaving en masse. But what I really want to know is: how many *current* GS are really unhappy right now?

If you are currently a GS and are unhappy, what is it that's making you feel that way? If you are switching to another carrier, what do you hope to gain?

Thanks in advance for your insights!
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Old Jul 17, 12, 11:54 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Portland, OR, USA
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For me it is not so much that I am unhappy as that there is less benefit to making GS than in the past. Making GS requires a focusing of spend which means taking UA when there might be better options if looked at in isolation. Some things are better or still ok. The GS phone line is still great and just the other day they converted some R inventory to I so that I could clear some award upgrades so that stuff is good. On the other hand, despite the nominal place in the boarding hierarchy I find little GS benefit at boarding because it is generally chaotic and getting my boarding slot means having to act like an idiot pushing past a herd of credit card holders etc. Also, checkin seems to have really gone downhill - at outstations it seems GSs get to wait behind everyone with Premier Access just to drop off a bag and that I really find inexusable. I personally haven't dealt with IRROPs since 3/3 so can't say there, although there are certainly some worrisome posts on the boards. Overall, I certainly don't get the warm feeling that I did over past years (and I have been GS since the program started). There is no question that I would adjust spend to maintain GS in previous years. This year, if I keep it great but if not that's probably fine too. I just don't think UA currently values the business that a GS represents that much right now.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 6:29 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
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My experience as GS since 3/3 isn't much different than before. For a week to ten days after 3/3 it was nearly impossible to get through on the dedicated GS phone line, whereas before an agent would usually answer on the first ring, but that's back to normal now. I have found that phone agents are still very friendly and try to be cooperative but they just do not have the ability or flexibility anymore that they had before the new SHARES computer system to do certain things, such as force an international upgrade within 5 days. It also takes them far longer to make simple changes - 20 or 30 minutes that would have taken them 1 minute to accomplish before.

I experienced superb service a month ago when flying through O'Hare to connect to an international flight to Germany. My incoming flight was severely delayed and I was sure I had missed my connecting flight. A Global Services agent met me at the arrival gate and whisked me over to get on the flight to Germany. The other agents at the departure gate looked startled (one actually said "what are you doing?" and was ignored) when the GS agent rushed by them and opened back up the ramp door and practically threw me on board. The door shut immediately and the aircraft began pushing back before I had a chance to sit down and buckle up. A flight attendant said to me later "you must be very important for them to hold the flight for you." That's the GS treatment I know and love, and was glad to see it's still "there."

My UDU do not clear immediately at the 120 hour mark like they did before (like clockwork) and sometimes not until the very last minute at the gate, but I find my upgrade rate is almost as good as before.

Even though I haven't personally experienced a significant drop in service as GS I've read the stories here on flyertalk from other GS members, which prompted me to get the status match offer from American Airlines "just in case" - there's no cost or downside so why not - but I have yet to book any AA flight. If I start experiencing the bad stuff others report, or if there is a strike, it's good to have AA Executive Platinum status in my back pocket to use.

Last edited by Chevelter; Jul 18, 12 at 6:35 am Reason: corrected spelling
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:03 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: ORD/EGE
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I as well still find GS a wonderful program and still consider it the best elite level to be a part of out of every US airline. Going from 1K to GS, you will notice many differences but there are few huge ones that stand out. 1st is obviously higher priority for UDUs and standby lists etc. Moreover, airport assistance is an incredible benefit. Last week I had a connection in IAH going from Mexico City to Chicago. My original connection was about 2 hours. When we landed in IAH, I realized there was another flight to ORD leaving in 15 mins. I called GS right when I touched down and they told me the flight was sold out all the way. When we got to the gate, an agent came on the plane and told everyone to stay in their seats except for me. I got off and was golf carted to the ORD flight leaving in 10 mins. When I got there, boarding was finished and the gate agent was standing at the door with a First class boarding pass for me. I had no idea how I got on the plane, let alone in F, but this is just another great perk of being a GS. As a former 1K, I remember countless times that I would miss planes and never get seats- this happens much less frequently at a GS. It truly is a great program all around. The unhappiness you see is all relative. No GS member is upset with the service they are getting now- they are upset because pre3/3, the program was much better. Although it has taken a pretty big blow since March, no GS member can actually dislike the program because compared to being a 1K, it is fantastic. I highly recommend you stay with UA if you get GS- just at least for a few months to get a taste of it, then make your decision.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:16 am
  #5  
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This is very helpful

Thanks for the candid perspective guys; it is highly appreciated. pdx1M I'm curious to know if your UDU rate has changed at all. (Or if anyone else's has?)

I guess it's somewhat paradoxical. To (re)earn GS, I'm buying M-fares all the time anyway, so I guess I wouldn't have to worry that much about UDUs. But it would be nice to have a high probability of clearing when I take the gal on vacation.

Looking forward to insight from other GS. Thanks a bunch!
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:21 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2001
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Originally Posted by nauce View Post
Thanks for the candid perspective guys; it is highly appreciated. pdx1M I'm curious to know if your UDU rate has changed at all. (Or if anyone else's has?)

I guess it's somewhat paradoxical. To (re)earn GS, I'm buying M-fares all the time anyway, so I guess I wouldn't have to worry that much about UDUs. But it would be nice to have a high probability of clearing when I take the gal on vacation.

Looking forward to insight from other GS. Thanks a bunch!
Since I tend to buy premium on transcons and up I don't have a lot of data on upgrade rates. I haven't done a lot of short haul lately which is where I would be looking for UGs.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:21 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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The quibbles I have are relatively minor (compared to the other issues I'm reading and hearing about):
(1) Elite security lines at some hubs have gotten crazy. Need dedicated security lanes, including scanners for GS/1K/Premium Cabin passengers
(2) No access to GlobalFirst lounges
(3) Boarding is with Group 1, which for some flights is 1/4 of the plane
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Old Jul 18, 12, 7:41 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Chicago
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I have unfortunately not had the generally positive experiences as the other posters. My last two flights IAD to KWI to BAH (paid business fare) were late, and I knew my final connections would be tight (with a non star alliance carrier BAH to XXX in economy). I asked each time in Kuwait if someone could meet me in Bahrain to zip me to the connecting gate, and was told both times that "we don't do that here" and "you'll have no problem making your flight anyway". I missed both flights by a couple of minutes. On the second occasion, UA did comp me into the lounge to wait the 5 hours for the next flight.

Here's one positive. The GS desk allowed me a same day no-charge flight change ORD to DCA when my original flight was ORD to IAD. I'm not sure if the 1K desk would have done that.

The other frustrations have been more specific to Shares. Here's 3 rants from the past two weeks.....I switched a flight LHR to ORD at the LHR ticket office for the next day and when I arrived for the flight they had cancelled my ticket for being a no show on the earlier flight. It took 3 people 45 minutes to figure it out. When my miles didn't post for the flight I took I called and was told "we have no record of you being on that flight". I replied, "terrific, then I would like a refund of the $3,000 I paid for the flight" The mileageplus clerk then instantly found my flight and credited the miles. Last night I spent 94 minutes on the phone with the GS desk to move a simple flight in August out 3 days, and now I see this morning that I have duplicate flights with different confirmation numbers.

The only time a FA has acknowledged my exalted status was to ask me during a long delay on an almost empty plane (DOH to DXB), "Why do you continue to put up with this miserable service? I truely appreciate your business, but I would have switched to another carrier by now if I were you."

I do generally find the GS desk to be staffed by competent, caring people who want to help. They just don't seem to have the tools anymore to assist much.

Bottom line....GS is the best thing UA or other american carriers have, but it's still not that great, especially outside the USA.
FC ORD is offline  
Old Jul 18, 12, 7:50 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Chevelter View Post
Even though I haven't personally experienced a significant drop in service as GS I've read the stories here on flyertalk from other GS members, which prompted me to get the status match offer from American Airlines "just in case" - there's no cost or downside so why not - but I have yet to book any AA flight. If I start experiencing the bad stuff others report, or if there is a strike, it's good to have AA Executive Platinum status in my back pocket to use.
The only downside is that you pretty much will not be able to status match to AA again unless they make a rare exception. Status matches are an once in a lifetime thing and while it is nice to have that in your back pocket now, you won't have it in your back pocket anymore for years to come.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 8:31 am
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
The only downside is that you pretty much will not be able to status match to AA again unless they make a rare exception. Status matches are an once in a lifetime thing and while it is nice to have that in your back pocket now, you won't have it in your back pocket anymore for years to come.
My theory is that if a GS with some ridiculous annual spend comes to them serious about switching airlines then they're going to be willing to make one of those rare exceptions.

I, on the other hand, am screwed, because I got a status match and haven't used my AA status yet and cannot possibly requalify by the end of the year. But hey, I'm getting at least two free visits to the Qantas club out of it come September, so that's something...
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Old Jul 18, 12, 8:38 am
  #11  
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Content

Status quo for me as a NYC based GS flyer.

Upgrades are still high (90%) on non Y/B/M fares. I have a few GPU's for flights in September which are still waitlisted, so don't know if they're going to clear yet, but I expect they will closer to departure.

Most of my flights are nonstop so rarely am I dealing with connection issues.

I also tend to buy B/M fares so I get instant upgrades often.

No reason to switch to AA or DL
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Old Jul 18, 12, 8:42 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
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Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
The only downside is that you pretty much will not be able to status match to AA again unless they make a rare exception. Status matches are an once in a lifetime thing and while it is nice to have that in your back pocket now, you won't have it in your back pocket anymore for years to come.
I realize that and don't expect to want to status match again. I see no need to hold back now for some hypothetical in the future. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I could legitimately earn Exec Plat (maybe even OnePass) pretty quickly considering the amount I spend on full fare business and first class tickets. I doubt they'd hold a grudge.

Also, I understand that AA traditionally has a "soft landing" policy regarding status, so if I don't fly much on AA this year - in fact, even if I don't fly on AA at all - I will become a regular platinum member for 2013, and gold in 2014 - which is something - unless for some reason they decide not to extend this benefit to those who status matched and then didn't fly much, which is possible not not likely.

Last edited by Chevelter; Jul 18, 12 at 8:47 am Reason: corrected spelling
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Old Jul 18, 12, 8:58 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by FC ORD View Post

Here's one positive. The GS desk allowed me a same day no-charge flight change ORD to DCA when my original flight was ORD to IAD.

I'm not sure if the 1K desk would have done that.
IAD/DCA/BWI are 'co-terminals' - like EWR/JFK/LGA etc.

My understanding is changing an ORD-IAD to an ORD-DCA is still an ORD-"Washington" flight, and if destinaton does not alter, and fare bucket you were booked in still exists in inventory, it is no biggie.

So curious why UA doing that is a large bennie as you outline? As a 1K I'd be pretty miffed if this was not acceded to, especially on the B fares I generally used as changes were always permitted on them.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 9:05 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
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These are good things to hear. I am at $37,590 full fare spend (not including taxes or fees) and hoping to continue that pace. Fingers crossed I will hit it and fingers crossed it still means something.
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Old Jul 18, 12, 9:29 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
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This is my first year as a GS, having come from CO as a PPL.

Other than using the GS security line at ORD, I have felt absolutely no difference in terms of service, which is to mean it's been plainly ordinary.

I've stopped using UA when I reached 75k during AA's status match and will now fly 30k on AA until the end of August. After that, I'll reconsider. But giving the summer troubles with UA, I think it's more likely I'll go for EXP/1K rather than Plat/GS for 2013.
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