See if you’re eligible for a United Global Services status challenge

Aug 12, 2020

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Last week, United surprised its most profitable passengers with another year of perks, extending their beloved Global Services status through Jan. 31, 2022. Now, the airline is offering “GS” to another group of flyers — those who qualified for the tier last year, based on their flying in 2018, but didn’t make the cut again for 2020.

Before you get too excited, know that you’re going to have to spend quite a bit to meet the requirements — $12,000 on United and United Express flights within 90 days, calculated based on fare and carrier-imposed surcharges. Adjusted for 12 months, that’s a whopping $48,000 in United flights — a figure that might otherwise qualify you for Global Services the old-fashioned way, but — given that requirements aren’t published — that’s never a guarantee.

You can enroll by calling your current Premier phone number, or emailing If you’re eligible for the challenge, you’ll receive a link to a registration page where you can choose the start date for your 90-day travel window.

Global Services members receive top priority for upgrades, including to the Polaris business cabin when applying PlusPoints or a MileagePlus upgrade award. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Global Services members receive top priority for upgrades, including to the Polaris business cabin when applying PlusPoints or a MileagePlus upgrade award. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Given where fares are at the moment, it’s going to take a lot of flying to pull this off — or, if you’d prefer, overpaying for tickets by booking a higher fare class. The good news is that United is being especially flexible about your start date — you can begin the challenge as late as Jan. 1, 2021, or even backdate it to July 1, 2020, which could make sense if you’ve managed to fly a significant amount during the previous six weeks.

If you’re starting from scratch, Global Services hopefuls may decided to chose United’s priciest domestic routes instead of international routes, which remain largely out of the question at the moment thanks to drastic schedule cuts and border rules and restrictions that apply to Americans. The premium Newark (EWR)-San Francisco (SFO) route can be booked on most dates for $896 round-trip in business class, though only $876 of that will count towards the challenge. Even then, however, you’d need 14 round-trips to meet the $12,000 requirement.

Even domestically, travelers also have to factor in mandatory quarantines in place at a handful of U.S. destinations — three months of weekend trips to the remote Northern California coast may sound lovely to a New Yorker, but unless the quarantine requirement is lifted, you’ll need to spend all of your time in quarantine when you return back home.

As valuable as Global Services perks can be — including United Club access on all itineraries, beginning this January — it’ll likely be more difficult to take advantage in 2021 as it has in past years given the ongoing decline in business and leisure travel and fewer flights to choose from. That said, for travelers certain they’ll be able to benefit, and those with a significant amount of premium travel planned by the first quarter of 2021, it could be worth reaching out to United to enroll.

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