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United’s Global Services is one of the more mysterious status levels in the world of loyalty programs; it’s dedicated to high spenders, and unless you’re a member you can’t view the full list of benefits. However, thanks to some sources lucky enough to hold this status, TPG Contributor Vikram Birring is here with a rundown of the best Global Services perks. Read (and dream) on!
It may not be as mysterious as the Amex Centurion Card, but the invite-only United elite status known as Global Services is still shrouded in a fair amount of secrecy. What is clear is that it takes some serious spending to qualify; according to many sources, that means at least $50,000 in a calendar year to be considered for Global Services.
If you’re not a member of the club, you don’t have access to the full list of benefits. But today’s your lucky day: Thanks to some insiders, we’re sharing 10 of the best perks of this status below.
1. Create Your Own Award Availability
Most airlines have fares listed in buckets, and for United, XN is the code for elite Saver awards, which are economy award tickets booked at the lowest level of miles, and IN is the code for elite Saver business-class awards (in planes with two cabins), which are business class award tickets booked at the lowest level of miles. XN and IN are only available to those with elite status or certain United-branded credit cards like the United MileagePlus Explorer Card. If you don’t have an applicable credit card or elite status, you have less chances of being able to use your miles, as the respective codes for economy and two-cabin business non-elite Saver tickets are X and I. United controls availability as it pleases for each fare class level, but you’ll always see more XN or IN seats than you will X or I.
However, for those in Global Services, an award ticket can be created if there are seats available in the T and/or R buckets (though some reports state that R isn’t always guaranteed to work). To see what seats are available in what buckets, log in to your United account and turn on Expert Mode. Then, when you search for tickets based on price, you can see all the fare buckets and the number of seats in each bucket.
Note that this doesn’t mean those in Global Services can create an award ticket on any flight at any time, as United often chooses to leave T and R zeroed out. This tends to happen on high-demand routes where giving up free seats would not make business sense. Still, it’s a tremendous benefit and more times than not a T fare is available — and R at times as well.
2. A Super-Secret Phone Line with Extremely Helpful Agents
For most customers, calling United usually involves long hold times and responding to an automated voice. Once an agent is finally reached, chances are it’s someone from a large call center, who, though hard-working, tends to be a stickler with the rules.
Global Services members, on the other hand, have their own phone line, and hold times tend to be nonexistent. Also, the agents are based in the United States and are extremely helpful. They’re known to do anything in their power to help the passenger. If only this was the case for all United customers!
3. Upgrades to a Separate Fare Class
As stated earlier, United has a system of fare codes, and the fare code for upgrades for most customers is R. However, for those in Global Services, upgrades clear into the PN fare code. This means that Global Services have much better chances of upgrading than everyone else, though PN is not always available — particularly for flights with high demand.
Also, Global Services members can guarantee upgrades at time of booking if the PN fare code is available at that time. Finally, complimentary upgrades also book into the PN fare code at 120 hours before the flight; one non-GS companion on the same reservation is eligible for upgrade into PN as well. The exception is waitlisting, which puts GS members at the top of the waitlist and clear as soon as PN availability opens up, though our own Zach Honig wrote about a recent “surprise and delight” program that has been implemented for elites recently.
4. If the P Code is Available, an Agent May Put You in Business Class Within 24 Hours of the Flight
Sometimes, the P code (a business-class fare) is available, but PN is not. Within 24 hours, a nice Global Services agent may bump you into business class even though the PN upgrade code is not available. This is not guaranteed, but it’s a wonderful benefit when it happens.
5. Board First
Global Services members are invited to board before all other United customers, with the possible exception of those in the military. This may not be a real advantage, however, as there tends to be plenty of space in the overhead bins of first/business class, where Global Services members tend to travel. Plus, United boarding procedure tends to take about 45 minutes, so it could end up being unnecessary extra time for some — while for others it could be a head start on drinking on board.
6. Order Food First
Global Services (and generally 1K) members have their food orders taken first in premium cabins. This sometimes creates confusion, and at worst jealousy and tension from others in the cabin. However, Global Services members are the highest-priority United customers, and there are usually only two or three entrée types to order — with limited quantities of each — so giving first dibs on food orders is a small way of saying thanks from United. Also, as of January, Global Services (and 1K) members also get free food from United’s choice menu if sitting in economy, along with a free drink.
7. Access to Global First Lounge with an International Business-Class Ticket
United has 24 Global First lounges around the globe, and they’re usually restricted to those with an international first-class ticket. These lounges are sometimes in a different stratosphere than the average United Club (though they’re still hardly amazing). Typically you need to be booked in United Global First to enter, but Global Services members can enter with an international business-class ticket.
8. Mercedes-Benz Tarmac Transfer
This seems to be the most fascinating of all the benefits. If a Global Services member has an extremely tight connection, an agent will be waiting at the front of the plane to accompany the passenger and baggage into a waiting Mercedes-Benz, which will drive them directly to the waiting plane. This is the definition of VIP services.
9. Upgrade of Companion into Business Class with Paid Business-Class Ticket
One of the newest benefits is that if a Global Services member has a purchased business-class ticket, and a companion is in economy class, the companion will be bumped into business class (PN code) — so long as the member has the proper upgrade in his/her account and there’s availability within 24-72 hours of the flight. This is a great perk, as many Global Services passengers’ premium tickets are paid for by employers in the first place — and who wants to leave their companion in economy while they travel in luxury?
10. Exceptions, Overall Excellent Service
The biggest benefit to Global Services is the excellent service that is given to those with the status. They receive what can only be described as the royal treatment. Below, some examples:
- Have an extenuating circumstance? Your change fee may get waived as a one-time exception.
- Missed an evening connection? An agent will be waiting for you with transportation to take you to a paid hotel and will provide you with your boarding pass for your next flight in the morning.
- Lucky enough to check in an airport with a Global First check-in area? You can visit a dedicated check-in lounge, and you’ll be taken to the front of the security line.
- Irritated with a flight attendant or gate agent? Complain about it and he/she will be reprimanded by HR.
- Didn’t get the seat you wanted? Ask at the gate and you may be moved into it at some other lowly flyer’s expense.
- Irritated in general? A gate agent has the power to give you a $150 “goodwill” voucher.
The list goes on, but the reason why Global Services members are treated so well is because they are United’s highest-revenue customers. If you (and/or your employer) spend enough on airfare to earn this exclusive status, you’ll enjoy the best customer service, upgrade priority and other perks the airline has to offer.
Are you a Global Services member? Share your experience in the comments below!
The United Explorer card recently got some enhancements like 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on hotel stays and a $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee credit. With the current offer you'll earn 40,000 miles after you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
- 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- New! Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
- New! Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
- New! 25% back on United inflight purchases
- Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
- Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
- Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases