What is Global Services?

If you don’t know, you should: it’s awesome (see this WSJ article and a hefty flyertalk thread from last year). However you earn it, it’s worth it — $50k Pass Plus membership, high-level of spend on premium flights (we’re talking usually $40k+ on Y+ fares), corporate contract deal, or whatever, if you live near a United hub it’s worth making the extra effort to land GS over 1K (FYI 1K status comes with a $25k Pass Plus).

Global Services has unique perks that set it head and shoulders above 1K and Platinum. First, half the plane isn’t GS, unlike 1K and Platinum, so you’re basically guaranteed your complimentary upgrade. Second, you get a discounted United Club membership and access to lounges even when you’re not necessarily supposed to according to the rules. Additionally, a handful of airports (Seattle included) have hidden lounges that only GS members can access, which while not particularly luxurious, can be fun to visit.

The tier really shines, however, when you are looking for upgrade and/or award inventory (you can get upgrade inventory converted to award ticket inventory), waiting for complimentary upgrades, or during IRROPs (irregular operations — cancellations etc.). Not only do I receive calls from the GS desk letting me know that my flight is delayed before the United app does, but they have done amazing things like automatically rebook me on new flights (in First, of course), giving me the option to take the new flight or wait. Land in LAX from SYD a bit early and want the last first class seat on the next flight to SFO? Done. Just booked a last-minute ticket and want your upgrade pushed through before the sweep, for that added peace of mind? Done. Can’t find award availability but see lots of seats available? Call the GS desk and see if they can work their magic. It hasn’t yet happened to me, but I’ve seen them hold flights for a few minutes for GSers on tight connections.

Coupled with the perks of a few rewards credit cards, Global Services simply can’t be beat in the US. I really don’t think there’s anything that’s as good on offer from any other airline — Delta 360 is too new to really know what value it adds, though I’ll admit to having my sights on it for 2015. Concierge Key might be considered AA’s equivalent, but that seems to be mostly for airport services, and it doesn’t provide the real perks that I expect from being a member of an airline’s most-valued club (lots of upgrades, magic inventory, pre-pre-boarding). Last I heard Concierge Key was available for “purchase” via a $30k investment in an AAirpass, which, if you hit that spend on AA, seems like a no-brainer.

Anyway, since the Global Services program is still a bit mysterious to those without GS status or GS friends, I thought I’d post the welcome kit for people to see.

So there you have it, the 2014 United Airlines Global Services Status Welcome Kit. I’m not sure if it was the luggage tag holders that I got in particular, but I was glad to see that this year’s have much thicker/stronger straps than last year – I think I lost both of mine off of checked bags last year. Other than that it’s your standard welcome letter, but with a touch of Global Services awesomeness 🙂

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