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American Airlines has Concierge Key and Delta offers Delta 360, but without question the most rewarding “unpublished” loyalty tier is United’s Global Services. While Premier 1K is technically United’s top-tier status, Global Services is actually a level above. The airline doesn’t publish eligibility criteria, though, and the benefits are generally pretty hush-hush, so we depend on the chosen few to uncover the secrets of this ultra-exclusive program.

Just as with all US airline status programs, the perks kick in once you achieve the required flying and spend. So if I hadn’t earned Premier 1K from my flying in 2016, I’d have it now, since I’ve reached the requirements for 2017. One thing that makes Global Services unique is the fact that there’s no way to know exactly what you need to do to get the nod from UA. That said, United has begun sending out invitations for GS this year, so if you didn’t make the cut by December 2016, you have another shot now.

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As the welcome email states above, members are “handpicked,” so it’s likely that this mysterious process is handled manually, rather than having Global Services elites selected using an algorithm.

We already know that United reserves Global Services for its top customers. And we’re not talking about the road warriors who fly constantly in discount economy or on upgraded tickets — invitations for GS go out to United’s biggest spenders. Someone who flies 300,000 miles in a year with a total of $30,000 in spend almost certainly won’t qualify, but a traveler who’s flying 75,000 miles on regular (non-discounted) first class, business and even economy fares with, say, $75,000 in spend, is probably a shoo-in.

Benefits include a separate check-in and security screening area at select hub airports, priority boarding and improved lounge access, but some perks are even more appealing, such as:

  • Expanded award availability (agents can book Saver awards using the “T” and “R” fare buckets)
  • Expanded upgrade availability (member upgrades clear into “PN” class, which is more readily available than “R”)
  • Companion upgrade benefits
  • Tarmac transfers for tight connections
  • Access to United’s best customer service agents, both at the airport and over the phone

We also have some clarity as to what type of spend is required to score an invite to this uber-select tier. Based on data points we’ve received, you’ll likely need to book higher fare classes for economy travel, but booking into discounted business and first-class fare class shouldn’t count against you — how much you spend on your ticket likely carries greater weight. That said, if you book full-fare tickets for work and discounted economy for occasional leisure travel, you could still get the nod as well. As for pre-tax spend with United, a bit over $60,000 in the first half of the year should do it, but that’s just based on data we’ve received.

That said, it wouldn’t hurt to gather some more data points. If you’ve received an invitation to Global Services in 2017, please tell us about your flying in the comments below!

Know before you go.

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