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I've been Global Services for 5 years and I'm looking elsewhere. Anyone else?

I've been Global Services for 5 years and I'm looking elsewhere. Anyone else?

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Old Oct 4, 17, 6:27 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 33
I've been Global Services for 5 years and I'm looking elsewhere. Anyone else?

Hey all!

I recognize that this post risks sounding kind of snooty; and that's not my intent. I am very grateful for being at a place where I've been GS for the last 5 years, and I very much understand that what I'm about to post highlight a first-world problem.

So, here goes:

I've been struggling. I feel like Global Services (and United more broadly) has gone down hill since I first become GS.

I won't list all of the specific incidents I've experienced over the last ~2 years to keep the thread short, but suffice it to say that I don't really feel like a valued customer.

The quick summary of downhill customer service:
* When connections are late, they don't work to backstop flights like they used to. Same thing when routing or other irregular operations happen.
* Mileage tickets booked for others are not upgradeable.
* My award inventory is indistinguishable from other tiers (1k, etc.)
* They don't ever do favors to help out family members in need
* Simply stated, I feel kind of... like I'm not in the top 1% of revenue.

The lounges, at this point, are a total joke. With the intense marketing push for United Credit cards, I'm finding that the gate is almost always more comfortable than the lounge. And, as a GS member, they do NOT let your spouse/partner into the Global First lounge if you are on a business class ticket. Even when the main international lounge was under construction at SFO (and was, literally, standing room only.)

Contrast that with Lufthansa, where I've flown First Class a couple times this year. It's like night and day. A stellar lounge, driven to the gate, and excellent onboard service.

Ok ok, so this is not a gripe thread. What I'd really love is advice. Contextually, this is me:
  • A person with the means to spend significantly on business/first class tickets each year. (~$40-$90k per year)
  • I use a lot of credit cards (SPG, UA, Alaska). Total spend on these is ~$50-70k a month.
  • I intend to be an active traveler for another ~30 years.
  • I have a family, and I like to travel with the whole crew a couple times a year.
  • I run a small business, and sometimes want to buy last-minute tickets in miles for the sake of flexibility and cost.

I'm wondering if it's even worth it to try and re-earn. At this point, I feel kind of disenchanted with UA.

I'm wondering if I should just work the system of various cards because I have so much business spend on my personal cards. Further, I could just pay up for business/first fares on other airlines when I need them.

Part of me says that having no brand allegience would be better for me. If they don't care about me, why shouldn't I just book whoever is most convenient each trip?

The other part of me says that maybe.. just maybe.. they'll turn it around. But I'm not sure what, if any, strategic moves they've made to that end. Quite possibly an irrational thought. That, or sunk-cost fallacy hard at work.

Any guidance? Thanks in advance, friends!
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Old Oct 4, 17, 6:35 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Redondo Beach, CA USA
Programs: UA 1KMM, RCR LP, HH Diamond, National EE, Hertz PC
Posts: 2,708
Since I am not in your financial or travel shoes, what I'm about to say may make sense to me but not to you. But why on earth do you care a hoot about loyalty programs at all?

If you're generally buying business/first class tickets anyway, it's not like you're looking for upgrades. As you've vividly pointed out, some airlines offer far superior service to others regardless of elite status. You even asked if having no brand allegiance would be better for you--I think the answer to that question is "yes".

The only thing I can think of that could change the calculus is if you think those travel/spending habits could ever change over the course of your next 30 years of travel. If you would have to start buying economy tickets, for instance, then elite status would start to mean more. How close are you to any kind of million miler status on UA?

Other than that, enjoy the true perks of spending so liberally. You might not get treated any better, but at least you won't feel like you've been promised certain treatment (a la GS) and not getting it.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 6:44 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K, SY, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
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I think it's interesting that you called out LH F in your post. A lot of the advice I would offer depends a lot on whether you are looking for a 3-cabin First level of service in your travel, or if Business would do.

If LH F is the level of quality you want, you should not bother with loyalty to United. UA F is a dying, inferior product with a nice seat and absolutely nothing else (besides the fabled soup) to distinguish it from J. Polaris is nice, but doesn't hold a candle to a true F product. Fly LH F, SQ F, CX F, etc. and don't worry about loyalty.

However, those products can be extremely expensive even when compared to J class products. In the simply J world (and I will get a lot of flack for saying this), UA isn't all that bad. I agree with the decline in GS benefits you cited (although you still have hugely significant award travel benefits - in summary your saver Economy inventory is T and saver Business is R, and you can force award space for your spouse). But I would find it hard to say things are that much better anywhere else. Unless all your international travel is to a select city set, you're not likely to make or benefit from top status on a non-US carrier. For all its decline, UA GS is still an extremely valuable status, if only for the ton of upgrade instruments and award travel benefits that can save you money especially on leisure travel. If you're finding that, without really forcing it, your travel qualifies you for GS, I still think it's the best bet out there.

Especially if you like taking family vacations, the upgrade and award travel benefits of GS are hard to match on any airline, anywhere.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 6:45 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by nauce View Post
* My award inventory is indistinguishable from other tiers (1k, etc.)
Huh? Can't you can convert revenue space (T) to saver award (XN)? That's way beyond what 1Ks get!

Originally Posted by nauce View Post
* Mileage tickets booked for others are not upgradeable.


* I have a family, and I like to travel with the whole crew a couple times a year.
You can't upgrade award tickets for others when you're on the reservation?
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:05 pm
  #5  
formerly FrequentFlyKid
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
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Originally Posted by nauce View Post
With the intense marketing push for United Credit cards, I'm finding that the gate is almost always more comfortable than the lounge.
You lost credibility to me with this one statement. You truly find the gate more comfortable than the UC's (even when they're very busy)? That makes no sense.

I would turn your question around on you. What is it that's important to you? What do you want out of your spend and loyalty?

I would add an echo to those above me that if you're spending $50K to $90K and book J and/or F tickets exclusively, who cares about loyalty?
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:06 pm
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Originally Posted by nauce View Post
....I'm finding that the gate is almost always more comfortable than the lounge....
It's hyberbole like this that reduces credibility. Lounges, while sometimes crowded, are not more uncomfortable than the gate areas. I'm cheap - if gate areas were almost always more comfortable than the lounges, I wouldn't have a Club Card.

What makes lounges crowded are the people in 'em who claim they're less comfortable than the gate areas (or horrible in other ways) and won't leave .

You don't even mention your home base. If you're at a UA hub, the likelihood of AA or DL being better might to be very debatable depending on your travel needs (beyond just the FF program).

Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Oct 4, 17 at 7:15 pm
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:19 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: JFK, LGA, EWR
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as someone who is frequently in the EWR lounges, both pre- and post- construction, i find the statement quite credible. i'd rather go to an empty gate and spread out than relentlessly walk around looking for an available seat while pulling a carryon with one hand and holding a bowl of soup in the other.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:21 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Are you still SFO based? ( Current 1k Considering US Airways , How happy are current GS folks? )

Do you actually have a choice of airlines or is it basically "UA or nothing"?
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:25 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
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Originally Posted by In The 216 View Post
You lost credibility to me with this one statement. You truly find the gate more comfortable than the UC's (even when they're very busy)? That makes no sense.
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
It's hyberbole like this that reduces credibility. Lounges, while sometimes crowded, are not more uncomfortable than the gate areas. I'm cheap - if gate areas were almost always more comfortable than the lounges, I wouldn't have a Club Card.
I don't think that's being fair to the OP.

At my home airport, SFO, I rarely use the lounges. Sometimes it's because I'm going to the Centurion lounge, but generally unless I'm flying international (and now because of the G lounge disaster, maybe even then), I'm happier grabbing a decent coffee from Peet's, maybe something to eat at Klein's and grabbing a seat at the gate. The clubs are so crowded and the food is so mediocre that I don't go.

LAX, by contrast, my most frequent destination, is a place where I definitely use the UC in preference to the gate areas, which are a world of suck.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:26 pm
  #10  
 
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Where are you based and where do you travel to?

i think those are the big determiners you left out. If you are based at a United hub and fly more domestic than international, or to a wide range of intl destinations, staying with United probably makes sense. If you aren't at a hub and/or fly to a smaller set of overseas locales, then you might pick something else.

For instance, I'm only 1K these days, but since I fly out of SFO to a whole range of domestic and international destinations, there is no other airline where I could get equivalent status or even close. For a couple of years I stayed away from United when I could, but that meant flying a combo of Virgin, Alaska, Jet Blue, Hawaiian and even Delta a couple of times domestically, and Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, and Singapore internationally. still ended up on United sometimes when that was the only schedule that made sense.

For me out of SFO United just makes the most sense.

Now one if I almost always flew to New York and London, like a banker friend of mine does, then a combo of AA and BA or Virgin Atlantic and Delta or something like that would be really appealing. But with my travel pattern it doesn't work.

On the the other side, if you're based in Atlanta then why haven't you already switched to Delta? :-)

so it really depends on location and flight patterns i think.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:27 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by UK Stages View Post
as someone who is frequently in the EWR lounges, both pre- and post- construction, i find the statement quite credible. i'd rather go to an empty gate and spread out than relentlessly walk around looking for an available seat while pulling a carryon with one hand and holding a bowl of soup in the other.
Thanks Man! I just spit my clam chawda all over my lap top!
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Old Oct 4, 17, 7:47 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
For all its decline, UA GS is still an extremely valuable status, if only for the ton of upgrade instruments and award travel benefits that can save you money especially on leisure travel. If you're finding that, without really forcing it, your travel qualifies you for GS, I still think it's the best bet out there.
Sure, GS is the best that UA has, but when UA's product is slipping once again, why not look for the best option route by route? If I was spending the kind of money it takes to earn GS, I'd disregard status and select my flights according to who offers the best business seat and business experience available. UA's Polaris might be one of the better C seats out there, but the Polaris soft product is already slipping from what it was when first rolled out. While UA is far from the worst in that regard, they aren't near the top end, either.

I was a multi year 1K who finally walked away from the seeking status craze, and I haven't missed it at all.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 8:16 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
It's hyberbole like this that reduces credibility. Lounges, while sometimes crowded, are not more uncomfortable than the gate areas.
His statement is not hyperbolic at all IMO.

I travel through EWR quite a bit, and have found that the lounges there (especially since construction) are often standing room only crowded. When the lounge is like that, I often will go to find an empty gate or little nook out in Gen-Pop and be quite a bit more comfortable sitting on the one open barstool available at the EWR lounges.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 8:32 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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You referenced award tickets, but you did not mention whether or not you use your RPU's and GPU's for your family members. If you do, the value of these instruments alone is probably worth retaining GS. If you can secure $60K or so in UA metal spend to lock in GS, you might want to shift the remaining premium travel to carriers that will give you a better experience.
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Old Oct 4, 17, 8:42 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by nauce View Post
  • A person with the means to spend significantly on business/first class tickets each year. (~$40-$90k per year)
  • I use a lot of credit cards (SPG, UA, Alaska). Total spend on these is ~$50-70k a month.
With that kind of airline and CC spend, you can qualify for top tier (1K/EXP/DM) at two airlines. Why not split your loyalty between two of the above?
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