A Summary Of United Airlines Global Services Benefits

a person holding a credit card

As travel has gotten more stressful the benefits of elite status are even more valuable.  In some cases, what used to be free for everyone is now only free for those customers that fly most frequently.  I value my American Airlines Executive Platinum status more highly than any status I’ve earned, including 1K service with United Airlines.  However, Global Services is another matter.  For those not aware, Global Services is an invitation-only status level that United bestows on their best customers.

What defines a best customer?  Well, United doesn’t list the requirements for Global Services in writing.  My best friend accrued almost 300,000 Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) and just over $100,000 Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) and was invited for the first time.  There are notional reports of folks getting Global Services with a lot less travel than that.  It’s strongly believed that flights on United metal are the primary measuring stick, and that premium travel is much more highly scored.  I’m guessing here, but it’s safe to say that if you’re spending $50,000 or more on mostly full-fare coach and higher tickets, you’ve got a reasonable shot.

Why is Global Services so special?  Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

  • Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) on award flights.  This is a nice plus that you can still pick up with a credit card, but I’m assuming the CPUs for Global Services clear out of the PN bucket as opposed to RN.  In my general experience, PN has considerably more availability than RN or R.
  • Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs) on award flights.  Again, more flexibility to make sure you’re sitting up front on domestic flights.
  • Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) on award flights.  This is a big plus, especially considering that Global Services members will have the ability to clear out of the PN bucket.  That potentially means you can book a saver award ticket to Europe and upgrade to business class with a GPU at no cost (unless there are extra taxes/fees).  That’s a huge plus given the normal revenue restrictions for using GPUs.
  • Exclusive Global Services check-in areas at Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco (SFO) and Newark (EWR).
  • While Global Services doesn’t come with a United Club membership, you do get access to the premium arrivals lounges in Frankfurt (Lufthansa), London Heathrow and Zurich (Swiss) no matter what class of service you’re traveling in.
  • Priority boarding before all other elites on all United-operated flights.
  • Next flight guarantee for you and one companion when your flight is cancelled.
  • Tarmac transports in a Mercedes-Benz at Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO).  United monitors your connection time and picks you up at the gate if you have a tight connection.

A couple more benefits thanks to readers commenting on this post:

  • The ability to convert R inventory (an upgrade bucket) to IN inventory (saver business award).
  • An agent can force saver economy availability out of the T fare bucket when X and XN aren’t available.
  • A soft landing to 1K status if you don’t re-qualify for Global Services.
  • When the Global Services member is traveling on a revenue ticket, they can request a saver award seat in the same cabin for their spouse.

The Global Services welcome kit is a nice, upscale kit that introduces you to those benefits.  It also comes with customized luggage tags and beverage vouchers for use on those rare cases where you might find yourself in coach.


United Airlines Global Services

United Airlines Global Services

United Airlines Global Services

Global Services is a suite of benefits crafted to make the life of the very frequent traveler more tolerable.  From upgrade benefits to tarmac transfers, the process is very seamless.  I know a handful of Global Services members who all swear by the level of service they receive.

The chances I qualify for Global Services anytime soon are pretty close to zero.  But, if I did, the benefits I would enjoy the most are clearing upgrades out of the PN bucket followed closely by being able to use my GPUs on award tickets.  In the 3 years I was a 1K member, I was never able to use all of my GPUs because of the revenue restrictions (you’re required to buy at least a W class fare to qualify for an upgrade and can be waitlisted at time of booking).



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  1. There are other benefits as well. Economy awards can be “forced” open out of T inventory if X/XN is not available, for instance. Being guaranteed a seat on the next scheduled flight, even if it is already overbooked, if your flight is cancelled is also very useful. I used that one a couple times (and ended up drinking a bottle of your rum instead of taking the flight) to great benefit.

    1. I think you wore one of my bathing suits as well. The rum needed to be put out of its misery, which the team executed on well. Didn’t know they would force inventory out of T. That’s a pretty nice one as well.

  2. Based on one of my former bosses’s experience, who was both GS and AA Concierge Key at one point, GS provides more substantial/meaningful benefits than CK.

    Dedicated phone line and airport personnel (in gold tie/scarf) for assistance is a big plus.

    Access to UA GlobalFirst Lounges when flying BusinessFirst cabin.

    1. ptacha, everything I’ve heard about CK backs up your assertion. It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, but nowhere near as useful as GS.

  3. Eh from my experience United gives GS out to a bunch of execs at big companies. So I don’t really think of most GS of being particularly frequent fliers on United, its more just a status/bribe thing to keep them happy and sending business United’s way. Sure many may earn it, but many don’t.

    1. Based on what I was told, the number of non-flying GS is going down as they are reducing the number of GS membership they can hand out.

  4. Some other benefits:
    – Converting R inventory (upgrade) to IN (saver business)
    – Converting T to XN also applies to booking tickets for others (GS member does not have to be flying)
    – The first year you don’t requalify for GS you get 1K
    – GS agents watching your flights and proactively calling about delays (varies by airport)
    – GS agents meeting you at the gate to facilitate early boarding (varies by airport)

    Upgrades pulling from PN is a huge benefit, and also applies to using your upgrades for others.

    1. Thanks, Mike. I wasn’t aware of the R inventory to IN. Wonder if the 1K soft landing still holds now that they’re not as big a fan of soft landings.

    2. FWIW, there are definitely levels within GS and not everyone gets the meet-and-greet services. I’ve been told as much by a friendly GS rep when I was GS and they weren’t able to meet my arriving flight as they were busy dealing with higher value GSen.

      1. Seth, that makes sense, though I hadn’t considered it. I’m insanely curious to know how many GS members there have historically been year over year.

  5. Three additions:
    – Global Services members have access to Global First Lounges when flying Business class – an extremely valuable benefit where GF lounges exist (IAD, ORD, LHR, HKG, SFO, JFK)
    – Global Services members have access to Lufthansa First Class Lounges in FRA and MUC when flying Global First. It’s a bit of a token benefit since it’s so restrictive, but awfully nice nevertheless.
    – Global Services members are more likely to receive operational upgrades (though that’s of course not something to rely on.) And more generally speaking they do have upgrade priority, because typically PN > R, and it’s widely understood that PN clears ahead of R.

    And finally:
    “Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPUs) on award flights. This is a nice plus that you can still pick up with a credit card, but I’m assuming the CPUs for Global Services clear out of the PN bucket as opposed to RN. In my general experience, PN has considerably more availability than RN or R.”
    Technically, this isn’t exactly true. The bucket that you clear into is irrelevant. CPUs do not clear when/if R or PN are available. They clear when UA decides to clear them. That’s very different. There’s plenty of situations where R is available and yet CPUs won’t clear (but an RPU would.) The exact benefit is: GS clears ahead of 1K. But the bucket is irrelevant.

    1. Zach, no problem. Abbrevations:

      CPU: Complimentary Premier Upgrades
      PN & R: Those are fare buckets. You can see those using expert mode on UA.com. Let me know if you need help with that.
      GS: Global Services

  6. Another benefit – Although small, GS members get to select their in-flight meal first to ensure they get their pick.

    1. DES, you’re right. I had forgotten that one. In theory, 1K members are supposed to get to pick next (before any others) but I rarely saw that practiced during the 3 years I was a 1K.

  7. I had almost all of my Exec’s downgraded from GS to 1K yesterday. Needless to say, the emails asking me what happened flew in. Not much I can do since it’s pretty much a nod and a secret handshake that gets you in GS in the first place. From the looks of it, they are really cleaning their lists up this year. Quite possible they upgraded a few too many people last year 🙁

    1. Stacey, what kind of numbers did your execs have on UA metal as compared to previous years? I haven’t heard that they were looking to trim GS, but that could be the case. FWIW, there has generally been a “GS reconsideration period” at the end of January where you can state your case to retain GS.

  8. Another benefit – If the GS member is traveling on a revenue ticket, the GS desk can make a saver award ticket available in the same cabin for his/her spouse.

  9. I am Global Services Agent in Dulles Airport. There is nothing mentioned about our Mercedes-Benz tarmac transfers here in Dulles Washington International Airport. Actually, we are doing a Great job helping our GS customers get through their tight connections.

    1. I know this post is from some time ago, but I have referred to it several times and continue to find it very useful. I’m hoping Maro may see it. I am a longtime EWR based 1K now GS in 2017 for the first time. With regard to IAD transfers, is there any GS transfer program for flights arriving into DCA connecting in IAD?

  10. Ed, what a great, informative article! I found it in a search because I just made Global for the third time in about 12 years and wondered what was new. This is just my perception, but it seemed I was able to get in easier each time…with fewer base miles. Does that match up for anyone else? I did 160K miles last year on mostly full-price overseas business class flights. The tarmac mercedes option is amazing. I can now opt for tight connection flights that I would have previously passed over.

    1. Cindy, glad it was a useful article for you! Qualifying for GS has less to do with total miles and more to do with your mix of flights on UA metal, how much you spend and what city you’re based in. Any idea how many PQDs you had last year? And, what city are you based in?

      1. I’m based in Florida (no hubs here) and without looking back through Amex, I’d say the $ amount was between $30k-$40k

        1. Cindy, my guess is you would not qualify for Global Services on that revenue if you lived in a big hug like San Francisco. There’s notional evidence that’s it’s easier to re-qualify for GS than it is to qualify for the first time. My guess is if your spend doesn’t decrease you should be fine. But, I don’t think you have too much of a cushion. It will help for you to keep buying those business class tickets on UA metal as opposed to Lufthansa or other Star Alliance partners.

          1. I agree! After talking to other GS types, I’m not in their league with miles or $. Interesting that my non hub location helps a bit…

    2. I heard it was the top X% of customer spend for each international home airport. If it is true I would expect second tier airports are easier, where as if a hub is your primary there is more competition. It would be interesting to know the criteria.

      Either way, I am loving the GS benefits and it does motivate me to book United. I have booked Southwest and Delta because they offer direct flights where United doesn’t. I look at this very carefully now to try and book United if possible because I want to keep that GS benefit. So it works, retention and loyalty marketing at it’s finest!

      Also, I would add my favorite “low cost” benefit is getting my gate check bag first with my 1K handle wrap. Having to fly small commuters to hubs I have to gate check carry-on and love getting my bag first – little touches are so valuable. This benefit is golden, it makes me smile every time! United does a good job training their regional partners and crew.

      1. Audrey, congrats on GS. Nobody knows the exact qualifications of GS, but we’re fairly certain it varies by airport since it’s a percentage of the top revenue customers. Now, if only they’d figure out a way to treat the 1K passengers a bit better…..

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