What Is United Airlines Global Services Status?

What Is United Airlines Global Services Status?

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There’s a lot of intrigue surrounding airline invitation-only elite status. I’ve written about American Concierge Key status and Delta 360 status, and in this post I wanted to take a look at United Global Services status. What is the status, how do you earn it, what are the benefits, and how many members are there? I’ll share everything I know…

What is United Global Services status?

Global Services is United Airlines’ invitation-only elite status. Aside from lifetime status (which I’ll cover below), there are no published ways to earn this exclusive tier. Most members have to qualify for Global Services status year after year.

In addition to offering the highest priority for just about everything at United, Global Services status also offers better “soft” treatment with the airline.

Global Services is United’s invitation-only elite tier

How do you earn United Global Services status?

There’s only one published way to earn Global Services, and that’s through United’s Million Miler program. If you earn four million lifetime miles with United MileagePlus then you get lifetime Global Services status, and you can even share that with a companion.

Admittedly this is a very high threshold, so you’d have to be loyal to United for a long time to earn that (for example, you’d need to fly 100,000 miles per year for 40 years). I’d guess that only a small minority of Global Services members have earned status this way.

The much more common way to earn Global Services status is through an invitation, using unpublished criteria:

  • Some of United Airlines’ biggest spenders can be invited to Global Services; the requirements vary based on the market you fly out of, but generally expect that you won’t be invited if you don’t spend $50,000+ per year with the airline
  • United Global Services status is sometimes gifted to those who have a lot of influence over the travel of others, or those who sign a corporate contract with United
  • United Global Services is sometimes given to celebrities and other “important” people, where United wants to make sure they have a good experience when they travel with the airline.

Note that if someone earns Global Services status and is also at least a one million miler, they can nominate a companion to also be Global Services for as long as they have status (this is different than four million miler status, where you and a companion get the status for life).

Global Services status requires lots of spending

What are the benefits of United Global Services status?

Perks for United Airlines Global Services members include the following:

  • The highest upgrade priority for United flights, as complimentary upgrades start clearing 120 hours out (compared to 96 hours out for Premier 1K members)
  • The highest priority for standby, sold out flights, waitlisted upgrades, award flights, and more
  • Access to special upgrade inventory when using upgrade certificates, which other members don’t have access to
  • Access to special Global Services check-in facilities at major hubs
  • Priority boarding ahead of first class
  • Special treatment in the event of irregular operations, with first priority for rebooking
  • Mercedes-Benz tarmac transfers at major hubs with a tight connection, though this isn’t guaranteed
  • A dedicated 24/7 Global Services hotline and email address for flight assistance
  • United Club access, even when just traveling domestically (though no guests are allowed)
  • Access to the United arrivals lounge in London, Lufthansa arrivals lounge in Frankfurt, and SWISS arrivals lounge in Zurich, when arriving same day on United

I find it interesting that Global Services members don’t get access to United’s Polaris Lounges. Admittedly most Global Services members are probably traveling in business class on long haul flights anyway, but still…

Global Services members may receive tarmac transfers

How many United Global Services members are there?

Airline elite status can be a bit of a you-know-what measuring contest, and people are always curious about how many members there are in a particular elite tier. Since Global Services is primarily invitation-only, the airline is also tight-lipped about how many Global Services members there are. All we can do is speculate… and there’s a lot of speculation out there.

For example, when this question was asked on Quora, someone deduced that there were 20 million MileagePlus elite members, 40,000 Premier 1K members, and 2,000 Global Services members. All of those numbers seem way off to me. I’d guess there are way fewer elite members, way more Premier 1K members, and way more Global Services members.

This is purely speculation on my part, but I would guess that there are somewhere around 15,000-25,000 Global Services members. For context, I’ve speculated that there are somewhere around 15,000 American Concierge Key members (and we know for a fact that there were at least 11,300 members in 2019), so why do I think there are more United Global Services members?

  • In general, United is a more global airline than American, and it’s much easier to earn Global Services flying long haul than short haul; heck, pre-pandemic, Apple bought 50 business class seats per day on United between San Francisco and Shanghai
  • Global Services members who have any sort of lifetime status can nominate someone else to be Global Services, so that also increases the number of members significantly

If anyone has any theories or thoughts they’d like to share, I’d love to hear it (and if anyone has any inside info they want to share anonymously, that would be great too). It’s possible I’m totally off, but I’m just sharing my best educated guess.

I’d guess there are 15,000+ Global Services members

What is United Chairman’s Circle status?

If you think United is tight-lipped about Global Services status, then wait until you hear about Chairman’s Circle. This is an extra-special invitation-only status that is typically given to people who have contracts that include at least $5 million in annual spending on United. Only one person at the company gets it.

At least that’s how it used to be, and the details here are very limited. I’d guess the number of members there is in the dozens…

Bottom line

Global Services is United Airlines’ invitation-only elite status. You can earn it either by being very loyal to United over the course of your life, controlling major travel contracts and having a lot of influence, or by spending a lot on United (think $50,000+).

Global Services comes with top priority for everything at United, and on top of that you can expect that the “soft” treatment will be much better as well.

To United Global Services members, what has your experience been with the status? And anyone want to guess how many members there are?

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  1. Jake Guest

    I fly 200k+ miles a year. I have done this on all the big 3, AA, Delta and United. From a business travelers perspective, United is abysmal! Old school business travelers like myself used to love Delta, but they have moved away from the business traveler model and to the leisure traveler. American has really stepped up and has put huge efforts in their first class domestic network. They are now the better airline for...

    I fly 200k+ miles a year. I have done this on all the big 3, AA, Delta and United. From a business travelers perspective, United is abysmal! Old school business travelers like myself used to love Delta, but they have moved away from the business traveler model and to the leisure traveler. American has really stepped up and has put huge efforts in their first class domestic network. They are now the better airline for business travel. Delta one is amazing but it's really only available on a small few routs. Meanwhile AA just announced their new Biz suites that include closing doors that are going to speed past Delta One in privacy and comfort. United meanwhile is just old trashy seats!
    Final assessment : If you're a biz traveler that prefers comfort, perks, service, use American. If you're a leisure traveler that likes quick easy connections(although they are facing lots of delays and missed connections) they have good connection system, especially on the east coast. If you're white trash that fly's spirit....you will love United!

  2. Archie Block Guest

    Have been a GS every year since it began in 2003, and am now a 4 million flyer with lifetime status. Still a valuable program, but benefits have been downgraded somewhat. Prepandemic, if I was on a paid international Business class ticket, I could have my wife travel both ways for 80k miles each way ( they would open up the inventory). Nowadays it is difficult to get ‘saver’ tickets, and they will only do...

    Have been a GS every year since it began in 2003, and am now a 4 million flyer with lifetime status. Still a valuable program, but benefits have been downgraded somewhat. Prepandemic, if I was on a paid international Business class ticket, I could have my wife travel both ways for 80k miles each way ( they would open up the inventory). Nowadays it is difficult to get ‘saver’ tickets, and they will only do it one-way if you can get them - other flight is at the exorbitant number of miles they are demanding nowadays for award flights.

  3. Anna Guest

    From the vast number of people I see boarding in the global services group, it is way more than an elite few. Just an observation from the group 1, first class boarding line

  4. SFHub Guest

    GS status has saved my bacon so many times in the 8 years that I have had it (including twice in the last 2 weeks). It isn’t quite what it used to be, but as someone that does 50,000+ PQP/year, the assistance with IRROPS and the ability for me to gift my wife GS status (I’m getting ready to hit 2M miles next year) has been wonderful.
    I agree with Jet-set that the best benefits are the ones he mentioned.

  5. shza Gold

    The biggest advantage to GS is that it is the only status that has any chance of being upgraded, at least out of hubs like SFO (and far from guaranteed there either -- I've had random weekday flights on narrow-body planes with 12 GS and 40+ 1Ks).

    I have not gotten a single comp upgrade and have only been able to use "plus points" to upgrade once since becoming 1K a couple years ago.

    1. Jerry Wheen Gold

      I have received a number of complimentary upgrades as 1K from 2007 onwards, including one (out of only two eligible flights) last year, though the percentage definitely has gone down.

      If you want to have a much better chance upgrading with Plus Points, fly Lufthansa instead of United. I've had a nearly 100% success rate (including 5 of 5 last year).

    2. shza Gold

      What's your home airport? My home airport is SFO, and my domestic flights are typically to EWR or through DEN. The upgrades do not happen for anyone other than 1-2 GS passengers (out of up to a dozen) on those flights. I've even had little SFO to SEA flights with 10 GS passengers on them and over 30 1Ks on them. The only real 1K benefits I've seen are (a) getting to pre-board, guaranteeing overhead...

      What's your home airport? My home airport is SFO, and my domestic flights are typically to EWR or through DEN. The upgrades do not happen for anyone other than 1-2 GS passengers (out of up to a dozen) on those flights. I've even had little SFO to SEA flights with 10 GS passengers on them and over 30 1Ks on them. The only real 1K benefits I've seen are (a) getting to pre-board, guaranteeing overhead space, (b) 3 checked bags per guest up to 9 guests for family ski vacations, and (c) extra points earning.

      Good to know on Luftansa. I flew ANA business HND-SFO in the Spring and couldn't use Plus Points to try and upgrade to First because ANA requires you be in specific fair buckets to even try to use PP. I'm expecting about 500 of them to expire unused at the end of the year.

  6. uaflyer Guest

    Data point. Tarmac transfer now in a Jaguar (no longer Mercedes)

  7. jetset Diamond

    One of the biggest set of benefits were not covered in this post but relate to so-called "unpublished" benefits. They're a bit odd because there are very specific rules governing their use and they are quite technical, yet United doesn't publish customer-facing rules.

    A few highlights:
    GS can create saver award economy space if there is T space available (I used this benefit many times in my 5 years as GS - savings aren't...

    One of the biggest set of benefits were not covered in this post but relate to so-called "unpublished" benefits. They're a bit odd because there are very specific rules governing their use and they are quite technical, yet United doesn't publish customer-facing rules.

    A few highlights:
    GS can create saver award economy space if there is T space available (I used this benefit many times in my 5 years as GS - savings aren't always huge but it adds up)
    Much less valuable - GS can create saver award business space if PZ is available (this is very rare - never availed myself of this perk)
    There are a number of situations where you can force otherwise waitlisted upgrades - for example if a GS purchases Business class tickets, you can confirm an upgrade for a travel companion on one segment (of a roundtrip) as long as there are 3 seats remaining after the upgrade confirms even if no upgrade space is available. This works even if the companion is booked on an award flight. Additionally, you can force a waitlisted upgrade if you are first on the upgrade list and there are 2 seats open after the upgrade when it is <72 hours out from departure.
    Finally, GS can use upgrades on award flights which I found pretty useful.

    Otherwise, for IRROPS support, GS used to be incredible but has fallen off in the last couple years. Back in 2018 I had a flight delay out of PHL. The GS agent blocked a first class seat on every flight to Chicago that day and told me to get on whichever boarded first. She even called me on my cell to give all of this information and found me in the airport to hand me boarding passes.
    This kind of thing basically never happens now and they are very stingy on blocking seats. I understand they sell a lot more first class now but this kind of treatment used to be a massive differentiator.

  8. David S Guest

    In the past an individual could attain Global Services with a United PassPlus purchase. I am not sure what the level is now, but when I had it, PassPlus purchase of greater than $50,000 got you Global Services.

    1. Brian Guest

      I just purchased a plus pass this week for $100,000 and was given global service status as one of the perks. I’m already 1K, so I’m interested to take advantage of the GS benefits. My flight tomorrow will put me over 1,000,000 miles so now I will be able to share that GS status with my wife. They don’t offer global services for a $50,000 plus pass purchase.

    2. JJ Guest

      You can get GS for $50k Pass Plus, but *only* if it is a pass purchased by an individual for family purposes. Although strictly against the TOC, with the $50k individual Pass Plus investment, you can book tickets for others -- but United will be checking periodically to make sure that it's people with the same last name or where they can otherwise tell it's close family relatives (e.g., frequently going on trips as a...

      You can get GS for $50k Pass Plus, but *only* if it is a pass purchased by an individual for family purposes. Although strictly against the TOC, with the $50k individual Pass Plus investment, you can book tickets for others -- but United will be checking periodically to make sure that it's people with the same last name or where they can otherwise tell it's close family relatives (e.g., frequently going on trips as a family unit together). If they see individuals booking for random, unrelated people, they will enforce the TOC and prohibit the passholder from booking for others.

      By contrast, a business needs to invest at least $100k to get one free GS spot, but business accounts have the flexibility to book tickets for anyone, with no requirement that they be personal relatives of the account holder.

  9. Rumrunner Guest

    Not UAGS myself, but when I worked pax service for a major European Star Alliance carrier the GS members were always our second most demanding passengers (the first being UA and US *Silver members). I’ll never forget one UAGS demanding that he and his family be upgraded from Economy to Business and he be upgraded to First (bypassing Business), and whenever someone pushed back he would wave his UAGS card and say “Do you know...

    Not UAGS myself, but when I worked pax service for a major European Star Alliance carrier the GS members were always our second most demanding passengers (the first being UA and US *Silver members). I’ll never forget one UAGS demanding that he and his family be upgraded from Economy to Business and he be upgraded to First (bypassing Business), and whenever someone pushed back he would wave his UAGS card and say “Do you know what this is? This is equal to your own top tier status, so do your job and upgrade us.” Yeah, no.

  10. Paul Guest

    Hi,

    I had a funny experience learning about global services. Like you, I heard rumors for years but no information about global services. This is until I met my wife. Her family is all over united. It turns out that my father-in-law and a few of my brothers-in-law are global. They started a corporate contract with United, I believe, for 100K$. Because of this, I and another brother-in-law were gifted platinum status, and three other...

    Hi,

    I had a funny experience learning about global services. Like you, I heard rumors for years but no information about global services. This is until I met my wife. Her family is all over united. It turns out that my father-in-law and a few of my brothers-in-law are global. They started a corporate contract with United, I believe, for 100K$. Because of this, I and another brother-in-law were gifted platinum status, and three other family members were given gold. My father in law was given a quote on how much each membership cost, and he could decide how to split it amongst the family. For example, he could gift a companion global and two other people P1k. Or break it down further and give membership to more just on a lower tier. I know a lot more information, and I'd be happy to add it if Ben needs it.

  11. Klaus Guest

    Global Services may access Lufthansa’s First Class Lounges in MUC and FRA

    1. jetset Diamond

      This is no longer a benefit - hasn't been for several years at least.

    2. Dov Guest

      Even more than “several years at least.” I had GS status back over ten years ago and was on an SFO=>FRA=>BRU itinerary (the SF0=>FRA was in UA First Class, upgrade) when I was met by a UA GS representative who accompanied me to the LH First Class Lounge where we were both told in no uncertain terms that LH simply didn't allow UA GS access to “their” First Class lounge.

  12. ScottS Member

    Had GS for 1 year (2017). Was doing a lot of flying from SEA at the time. Back and forth to MUC and quite a bit of domestic flying. Don't think I was even close to near the $50k threshold on spending for 2016, but I did have a lot of J flying that year. I had been slowly progressing up the ranks from Silver to 1K the years prior, so I don't know if...

    Had GS for 1 year (2017). Was doing a lot of flying from SEA at the time. Back and forth to MUC and quite a bit of domestic flying. Don't think I was even close to near the $50k threshold on spending for 2016, but I did have a lot of J flying that year. I had been slowly progressing up the ranks from Silver to 1K the years prior, so I don't know if that had anything to do with it. I think I just got lucky. Of course, 2017 was the year I was full time in Munich for my job, so I didn't see much in the way of benefits, except *A Gold. We did get to use the check-in desk at SFO once and board first (which my wife hated doing, but she did it because I wanted to.) The only other benefit I saw was we had an award flight from SYD-MUC on Air China. About 3 months before departure, Air China canceled the SYD-PEK leg. I called the GS desk and the lady couldn't have been nicer. At the time, there was 0 award availability from SYD-MUC left. She opened up UA metal SYD-LAX-IAH-MUC to get us home. We did a bit of an impromptu round-the-world flight as we had previously flown MUC-AKL on Thai.

  13. M. Casey Guest

    a “you-know-what” measuring contest - truer words!

    I also have used the term, “gifted” status, on an online forum and got a beat down from those that have “earned” it somehow. This was way in the past when UA did not offer 4MM, lifetime GS. The term “gifted” came from the sales department nominations, or status given by the loyalty executives within the company.

    While there are always exceptions, the real road warriors are...

    a “you-know-what” measuring contest - truer words!

    I also have used the term, “gifted” status, on an online forum and got a beat down from those that have “earned” it somehow. This was way in the past when UA did not offer 4MM, lifetime GS. The term “gifted” came from the sales department nominations, or status given by the loyalty executives within the company.

    While there are always exceptions, the real road warriors are the 1K. They must meet the PQF & PQP to qualify. (Since the pandemic UA has changed this to a PQP only option 24K - that was only inclusive to the lower statuses). Receiving GS can happen even if you do not meet 54 PQF or 18K in PQP spending or any of the lower status benchmarks.

    The Chairman’s Club receives an invitation letter from C.E.O. Scott Kirby. It also includes anyone traveling on a “Make-a-Wish” journey.

    This article mentions the gate-to-gate transfers are done by a Mercedes Benz vehicle - which means, we are reading an old post. The current vehicle used is the jaguar EV.

  14. Roberto Guest

    Great informative series of posts of airlines' invitation status,

    Can you also do a series about all the big 5 hotel groups' invitation status
    Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Accor

    The niche luxury hotel groups
    MO, Rosewood, FS

    The superdeluxe niche hotel groups
    Aman One&Only, Nob, Soneva, Belmond

    Very aspirational and interesting to commit bookings

    1. JK Guest

      I would be very interested in knowing more about CX Diamond Plus, Emirates IO, does SQ have any tiers about PPS Solitaire? What about Air Canada or JAL? I know this would be a lot of work but am interested in knowing about foreign airlines also. Qantas' Chairmans Lounge has quite a bit of info published, was lucky to have a close friend having CL and they treat their members honestly like royalty, it was amazing how personalised and discreet the service was.

    2. Roberto Guest

      Indeed more information please about
      FlyingBlue Ultimate
      FlyingBlue Skipper
      FlyingBlue Club2000

      Word has it that those status can magically open AF First Class award AF/KL Business Class inventory!

      Interesting if rumors are true that Virgin Atlantic's invite status can also open AF/DL/KL award space now with JV

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

jetset Diamond

One of the biggest set of benefits were not covered in this post but relate to so-called "unpublished" benefits. They're a bit odd because there are very specific rules governing their use and they are quite technical, yet United doesn't publish customer-facing rules. A few highlights: GS can create saver award economy space if there is T space available (I used this benefit many times in my 5 years as GS - savings aren't always huge but it adds up) Much less valuable - GS can create saver award business space if PZ is available (this is very rare - never availed myself of this perk) There are a number of situations where you can force otherwise waitlisted upgrades - for example if a GS purchases Business class tickets, you can confirm an upgrade for a travel companion on one segment (of a roundtrip) as long as there are 3 seats remaining after the upgrade confirms even if no upgrade space is available. This works even if the companion is booked on an award flight. Additionally, you can force a waitlisted upgrade if you are first on the upgrade list and there are 2 seats open after the upgrade when it is <72 hours out from departure. Finally, GS can use upgrades on award flights which I found pretty useful. Otherwise, for IRROPS support, GS used to be incredible but has fallen off in the last couple years. Back in 2018 I had a flight delay out of PHL. The GS agent blocked a first class seat on every flight to Chicago that day and told me to get on whichever boarded first. She even called me on my cell to give all of this information and found me in the airport to hand me boarding passes. This kind of thing basically never happens now and they are very stingy on blocking seats. I understand they sell a lot more first class now but this kind of treatment used to be a massive differentiator.

3
jetset Diamond

This is no longer a benefit - hasn't been for several years at least.

1
Paul Guest

Hi, I had a funny experience learning about global services. Like you, I heard rumors for years but no information about global services. This is until I met my wife. Her family is all over united. It turns out that my father-in-law and a few of my brothers-in-law are global. They started a corporate contract with United, I believe, for 100K$. Because of this, I and another brother-in-law were gifted platinum status, and three other family members were given gold. My father in law was given a quote on how much each membership cost, and he could decide how to split it amongst the family. For example, he could gift a companion global and two other people P1k. Or break it down further and give membership to more just on a lower tier. I know a lot more information, and I'd be happy to add it if Ben needs it.

1
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