On a recent trip, a canceled flight led to long lines at service desks as a planeload of passengers tried to get their travel issues resolved. My experience, though, was completely different because my travel companion — the person who booked our tickets — had Gold Premier status with United Airlines.
Rather than waiting in line, we were offered specialized services by a representative with a tablet. We received upgraded seats on the next available flight and a simple form to fill out for reimbursement for the hotel we had to stay in.
This experience, while much more pleasant than what the general run of stranded airline passengers deal with, pales in comparison with the attention and care given to those who belong to United Global Services, an elite invitation-only club. Here’s how United Global Services works, the benefits it offers, and how to qualify.
What is United Global Services?
Other airlines offer elite designations for the most loyal — or highest spending — passengers, and United is no exception. United Global Services is an ultra-luxury elite status offered by United Airlines. In fact, the program is so secretive that few details about the status have been publicly released.
But according to reports, the only way to enjoy United Global Services is to be invited. When you belong to this exclusive club, you get the first crack at seat upgrades, easier rebookings, and even expedited (and sometimes luxury) transfers through airports.
Each year, United looks at how many miles or how much you’ve spent with the airline. There aren’t public guidelines that explain how to get accepted on a yearly basis, but reports suggest that you need to spend at least $50,000 or more on United flights each year.
This is a yearly status that must be renewed annually by invitation from United Airlines. The only way to reach lifetime United Global Services status is to have flown at least four million qualifying miles.
There are also reports that United grants this United Global Services to certain corporate partners, so company executives and other VIPs can get access to the benefits of the program.
TipNote that United Global Services isn't the same thing as United Signature Service, which is a paid airport assistance option for United customers that's provided by Global Airport Concierge. Some of the available airports with United Signature Service include Newark (EWR), London Heathrow (LHR), New York LaGuardia (LGA), and Frankfurt (FRA).
7 benefits of United Global Services
While United hasn’t released the specific benefits, and it’s difficult to confirm everything that’s included, there are some top-tier perks to achieving United GS status. Reports suggest that you can look forward to:
1. Upgrade priority
Looking to upgrade your seat? As a GS member, you get the first chance. If you’ve booked an economy class ticket, you can get bumped to the front of the waitlist for an upgrade, which could include a premium cabin seat on an international flight — all without having to book a business class ticket.
2. Companion status
If you have a significant other that lives with you and is also a United MileagePlus member, and you get your status through the Million Miler program, they can share your Global Services status level. They get their own credentials and don’t even have to be flying with you in order to reap the benefits. This benefit isn’t quite the same as a regular United status match, but it does benefit you and your significant other.
3. Special companion pricing when you buy a cash ticket
As a United Global Services member, you can get a lower-cost ticket for a companion when you pay cash for your own ticket. With this benefit, your companion can book their own fare at the saver award ticket level, getting a break on the cost. There are no restrictions on the class level of the ticket booked. It’s a great way to bring someone with you, no matter why you’re traveling.
4. Expedited check-in
Depending on the airport, it’s possible to get your own private check-in. There are dedicated check-in areas at Newark, San Francisco, and Chicago-O’Hare, designed to speed things up for Global Services members. On top of that, members get special access to the security line, allowing them to speed past everyone else — even in the TSA PreCheck line.
5. Priority boarding
With this status, you’re the first to board, no matter where you’re sitting. That means plenty of overhead bin space and a chance to get settled.
6. Special attention
United Global Services members get extra attention every step of the way when traveling. There are agents monitoring their flights so that they can help you make your connections. They will even meet you at the gate and whisk you away if you’re running short on time.
In fact, at some airports, you might not have to run through the airport. If you have a tight connection, you could get a tarmac transfer via Mercedes-Benz using the roadways between gates. This service is reportedly available at multiple United hubs, including Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), and San Francisco (SFO).
7. Dedicated phone line
You almost never have to wait on hold if you reach this status. A dedicated phone connects you to agents ready to help you with rebooking canceled flights and resolving other issues. Rather than waiting in line at a service desk, you can simply make a phone call.
Other ways to get elite perks on United
While United Global Services status is an enviable benefit, the average flier likely won’t reach it in their lifetime. However, there are ways to enjoy other elite perks on United, including free checked baggage or the Excursionist Perk. You might not be chauffeured to your next flight in a Mercedes-Benz, but you can still simplify air travel in other ways.
As a member of the MileagePlus program, you can achieve Premier status at Silver, Gold, Platinum, and even 1K. It’s also possible to get similar perks without Premier status if you have certain United co-branded credit cards. These would be some of the best airline credit card options if you are a frequent United traveler.
Here are some of the ways to access perks that can boost your ability to earn rewards and earn award travel faster.
Premier Silver status
Requirements: 12 Premier Qualifying Flights (PQF) and 4,000 Premier Qualifying Points (PQP) or 5,000 Premier Qualifying Points alone, with a minimum of four segments flown on United or United Express
Premier Silver benefits include:
- 7X miles per dollar on United, United Express, and select partner airlines
- Complimentary checked bag in economy (up to 70 lbs)
- 3 complimentary checked bags in premium cabin (up to 70 lbs each)
- Priority check-in
- Priority security screening, if available
- Priority boarding (Group 2)
- Complimentary access to Economy Plus (at check-in) or preferred seating (at booking)
- Complimentary Economy Plus for travel companions (up to 1)
- Preferred seating for travel companions (up to 8)
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades (day of departure)
- Discounted membership to CLEAR Plus ($149)
Premier Gold status
Requirements: 24 PQF and 8,000 PQP, or 10,000 PQP alone, with a minimum of four segments flown on United or United Express
Gold status benefits include:
- All Premier Silver benefits
- 8X miles per dollar on United, United Express, and select partner airlines
- Complimentary checked bags (up to 2) in economy (up to 70 lbs each)
- Priority boarding (Group 1)
- Complimentary access to Economy Plus (at booking) or preferred seating (at booking)
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades (48 hours)
- Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
Premier Platinum status
Requirements: 36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP alone, with a minimum of four segments flown on United or United Express
Premier Platinum benefits include:
- All Premier Gold benefits
- 9X miles per dollar on United, United Express, and select partner airlines
- Complimentary checked bags (up to 3) in economy (up to 70 lbs each)
- Complimentary Economy Plus for travel companions (up to 8)
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades (72 hours)
- 40 PlusPoints
- $50 discount on United Club annual membership
- Better award availability in select premium cabins
Premier 1K status
Requirements: 54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP alone, with a minimum of four segments flown on United or United Express
Premier 1K benefits include:
- All Premier Platinum benefits
- 11X miles per dollar on United, United Express, and select partner airlines
- Priority boarding (Pre-board)
- Complimentary Premier Upgrades (96 hours)
- 280 PlusPoints
- 1 free drink and 1 snack in Economy
- $100 discount on United Club annual membership
- Complimentary Clear Plus membership
United℠ Explorer Card
With the United Explorer Card, you get some of the benefits available at the Premier Silver level and even receive Priority boarding — something that’s normally not available until you reach higher tiers with the regular Premier program. Some of the benefits of the United Explorer Card include:
- Two United Club one-time passes when you open the account, and at your cardmember anniversary
- Free first checked bag for you and a companion
- Priority boarding
- 2X miles on dining (including eligible delivery services), hotel stays (when booked with the hotel), and United Airlines purchases and 1X miles on everything else
- Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
The card comes with an annual fee of $95 (waived first year). This is a much cheaper and easier way to get access to a few perks without meeting the flying requirements of the Premier program. And, thanks to the bonus miles, you can earn award travel quickly.
Can Global Services members use United Club?
Yes, according to reports, Global Services members receive lounge access to United Club locations. Note that this complimentary access doesn't extend to United Polaris lounges, which requires travelers to have a ticket booked in a higher fare class, namely a business travel ticket. Similar to other frequent flyers, GS members need an applicable boarding pass to gain access to Polaris business lounges.
Is Global Entry the same as Global Services?
No. Global Entry is a program run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, allowing you to speed through customs upon returning to the United States. You must apply for Global Entry through the U.S. government.
How many United Global Services members are there?
That information isn’t publicly available. However, it’s a very exclusive club and you can only join after receiving an invitation from United.
Can spending on United co-branded credit cards help me reach Global Services status?
Spending on your credit card does not earn PQDs. However, with certain credit cards, you can receive elite perks that make travel easier — even if it isn’t membership in this secret club.
Chances are, most regular travelers will never be invited to receive United Global Services status. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel with some measure of style. If you’re loyal to United and fly somewhat frequently, it’s possible to earn a few extra perks and upgrade your travel experience. While you won't get Global Status with your credit card purchases, there are plenty of reasons to use a co-branded card. Simply compare offers to find the best travel credit card to meet your needs.
Best Rewards for United
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United℠ Explorer Card
Earn 60,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
$95 (waived first year)
2X miles on dining (including eligible delivery services), hotel stays (when booked with the hotel), and United Airlines purchases and 1X miles on everything else