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The best summer 2022 benefit of Premier 1K status — and it's not what you'd expect

July 12 2022
5 min read
UA Sunrise EWR
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With airline staffing shortages, packed flights and swarms of delayed jets, now is not the ideal time to fly.

Despite flying 11 times in June, I didn't get any Complimentary Premier Upgrades, which is arguably one of the most valuable benefits of my top-tier United Premier 1K elite status. Still, each time I deplaned — even on delayed flights — I found myself walking up the jetway as a "happier than ever" 1K member.

What's keeping me loyal to United if it's not the upgrades? Simple: expedited access to phone support.

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In a world where so much can go wrong every time I travel, the dedicated 1K phone line has been a lifesaver. It provides fast access to phone agents who can rebook flights, answer questions and otherwise get me out of a sticky travel situation.

Here's what you can expect when using the 1K line — and how it helps those with top-tier elite status weather the storm that is traveling in 2022.

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What to know about Premier 1K phone support

(Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Even when calling the 1K line during peak periods (think: thunderstorms and operational failures), anyone with Premier 1K status will be connected to a capable phone agent instantly. In my six consecutive years as a Premier 1K member, I've rarely had to wait more than 10 minutes to reach an agent.

Of course, the first agent you speak with may not be able to complete your request. Sometimes, the agent will have to reach out to a customer service lead or contact their rates desk for exchanges on partially used tickets. But even in these cases, frontline agents can hold your seats while contacting their superiors.

This can be extremely helpful during irregular operations. For example, I traveled between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Sydney Airport (SYD) a few years ago. We pushed back from the gate around 11 p.m. and waited on the tarmac until around 4 a.m., when the flight was ultimately canceled due to aircraft maintenance.

There were only about a half-dozen customer service representatives at that hour in SFO to rebook a plane of 250 passengers, which meant hours of waiting for the average traveler. Calling up the 1K desk, I was promptly connected with an agent who booked the last three seats in business class on the flight through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the following day.

Most passengers, except those in the front of the line, were rebooked on 30-plus hour itineraries through Asia since the United flights had been filled by those who could be helped first.

Related: How to quickly reach an airline customer service agent

What's unique about the 1K line

Because United has done an exceptional job at not keeping its Premier 1K members waiting to get connected to an agent, the phone line has become an invaluable benefit in a post-pandemic world.

When your flight is canceled, it is crucial you connect with an agent quickly, as how long it'll take you to get out on a different flight all depends on how fast you can get rebooked. If you have to wait in a long line (either on the phone or at an airport), alternative flight options may be severely limited by the time you are helped, which can have a significant impact on your travel plans.

Getting through to an agent quickly is the secret to mitigating travel interruptions this summer — and the 1K desk has historically offered me immediate support, without fail.

While most airlines have phone support lines for elites, the hold times with other carriers are often much longer than what I've experienced with United this summer.

For example, TPG points and miles editor Andrew Kunesh has regularly faced more than 45-minute holds this summer when calling the Delta Diamond Medallion line. Similarly, senior writer Katie Genter has frequently run into multihour holds when calling American's Executive Platinum line this summer. Both of these phone lines are Delta and American's versions of United's 1K line.

It may not always be the case that there are drastically different wait times between the three carriers, but for now, my own experience is keeping me loyal to United.

Related: Your ultimate guide to United Airlines partners

Bottom line

When something doesn't go as planned on your next flight (which is increasingly likely these days), it's imperative that you speak with someone as soon as possible to get rebooked on a flight that works for you. With United's Premier 1K phone line, I've had no trouble getting placed on a new flight when unexpected hiccups come up thanks to minimal hold times and prompt service from agents.

While I'm missing the larger armchairs and cold metal silverware of first class due to my lack of Complimentary Premier Upgrades this summer, I can rest easy knowing that I can quickly get through to a United agent whenever I need one. That peace of mind is worth a lot right now.

Featured photo by (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
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  • Terms apply.
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