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United’s Global Services, introduced around 2003, is an unpublished, invitation only level of status in the United MileagePlus® Premier program that is designed to reward its most profitable customers with an exceptional level of service.
While United doesn’t publish a specific list of benefits for Global Services, there are some that have been publicly disclosed, while others are more ad hoc that we detail below.
How to qualify for Global Services
This is probably the most opaque part of the Global Services program.
There are no published qualification requirements but generally people who qualify…
- Spend a significant amount of money on United operated flights relative to other Premier level fliers (some think this means $50,000 or more per year, but it varies)
- Concentrate much of that spending on full fares (Y/B in Economy, F/J/C/D in Business / First Class)
Some members qualify with less of the above via…
- Influencing a significant amount of corporate travel spending
- Being a relatively large spender in a home airport with a unique competitive situation
- Having flown over 4 million lifetime miles on United and receiving lifetime Global Services status
- Being designated as the annual companion of a lifetime Global Services member
Even with those guidelines, nothing is set in stone, as a variety of factors are used which constantly change to determine Global Services eligibility.
Invitations to Global Services are sent early each calendar year.
What are the possible benefits?
Global Services members get the base Premier level benefits of the status level they qualify for (which more often than not is Premier 1K) and in addition to those benefits, they have been reported to receive these additional benefits, though since they are mostly unpublished they may change at any time:
Highest priority on lists for Complimentary Premier Upgrades, trumping 1Ks and all other Premier members. One exception is if a Premier member buys a high Y/B/M fare and gets an instant upgrade to First Class, while a Global Services member is flying on a discount fare. Global Services members get upgraded into the ‘PN’ fare bucket at their upgrade window, which tends to be more generous than the ‘RN’ bucket used for other elites (read more about United fare codes here).
Expanded upgrade inventory for upgrading with miles / certificates. Global Services members get to upgrade into the ‘PN’ fare bucket when upgrading from Coach using miles, Global Premier Upgrades, or Regional Premier Upgrades. This fare bucket ties more closely to actual revenue ticket availability than upgrade / award inventory for non Global Services members, which comes out of the ‘R’ bucket.
Award ticket upgrades. Global Services members have the ability to upgrade award tickets with their Regional and Global Upgrade certificates.
Saver awards for companions. If you’re flying on a paid premium cabin ticket, you can bring along a companion for the Saver level number of miles, even if Saver awards aren’t available on that flight.
Access to Global First Class lounges. When flying on a Business Class ticket, Global Services members can use the United Global First Class lounges, which are typically reserved for passengers in Global First on 3 cabin planes. The lounges are available at San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Chicago, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and London Heathrow.
Priority boarding. If you fly United a lot, you hear this whenever the gate agent makes the boarding announcement. Global Services members get their own private boarding time, just before 1Ks, First Class, and other priority travelers board.
Private check-in. At Newark, Chicago, and San Francisco airports Global Services members get to use a private check-in facility with a door that opens to the very front of the priority security line. Los Angeles will be getting a Global Services check-in lobby when renovations of that terminal are complete.
Priority check-in. At airports without a Global Services facility, there are often counter positions assigned to serve Global Services members first.
Mercedes Benz transfer. United will pick some Global Services members with tight connections from the jetway in a Mercedes Benz to reach a connecting flight. This is available at all U.S. hubs (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, Denver, Washington Dulles, and Houston).
First meal choice. When sitting in First or Business Class, Global Services members have top priority for getting their choice from the menu.
Priority reservations. Global Services members get top priority when calling United reservations, and have typically been handled by agents dedicated to serving Global Services customers.