Details of Priority services for *G on UA

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by mattsteg, Nov 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    As someone who rarely flies UA, but may be able to cobble together A3 Gold at some point, I'm curious on the details of just what it gets me (and in the interim if there's anything beyond a free domestic bag that *S provides).

    Lounge access is pretty straightforward, clear, and spelled out by Star Alliance, so clear on that one. What I'm most interested in is what the specific details of what is provided in terms of priority boarding, checkin, security, etc.

    My specific interests:
    1) Priority Security line access - This is a big deal for me, and a simple question - what access do partner elites have to UA priority security?
    2) Details of UA priority boarding process - who boards when, and as a partner elite would I have access to "special carpet" boarding (i.e. can I wait until the nonelites are boarding, and then skip the line, as this is my normal preference). What does *S get here? I don't care too much about when in the priority queue I can board, but I care quite a bit about being able to linejump during nonelite boarding. Pretty much all documentation I see just gives the order or says "priority boarding".
    3) Details of what partner elites get access to priority checkin. Is there one priority checkin area or more than one?
    4) What of these can you drag a companion along with?

    http://www.united.com/page/article/1,,53754,00.html suggests everyone may get everything? If this is the case, is access so watered down to the point where i.e. priority security is worthless?

    My perspective here is coming from Delta, where 50k and above flyers on DL or partners (ST ElitePlus) have priority security and lounge access only on international itineraries. All elites and partner elites have priority boarding with linejumping, and some sort of priority checkin (low-level elites have their own semi-special checkin area at hubs, 50k and up gives access to biz checkin)
     
  2. snod08
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    snod08 Gold Member

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    1. If priority / elite access is available, then yes, you will get it as Star Gold
    You will board after military, first class, 1K, GS (dont remember who else boards before Star Golds).
    Star Silver are kind of the last on this list (just before general boarding).

    2. NO, you cannot use RED carpet on UA unless you are flying up-front or you are 1K / GS.
    3. Star Gold lanes marked for priority check-in. Sometimes the entry is manned by someone checking credentials.
    4. Companion can usually get priority check-in while with you. Priority boarding too.
     
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  3. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    UA doesnt really enforce the red carpet stuff. I've always boarded on the red carpet line because thats where most gate agents let all the elites on, including *gold.
     
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  4. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Priority Boarding on UA is: 1. GS/First Class 2. 1K's 3. Premier Exec / Star Gold 4. Premier / Star Silver

    *S (Premier) gets free checked baggage, free Y+ (important change coming next year as to when the y+ seat can be chosen for free), and some bonus miles (non-eqm of course)

    More details here, but most of this is changing and being renamed/rebranded for next year
    http://www.united.com/page/article/1,,53467,00.html?navSource=dropDown&linkTitle=elitebenefits
     
  5. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    What exactly in included in elite access or the rebranded premier access? UA doesn't make this clear, and seems to have different levels of it as well.
    This is (to me) a surprising and important weakness in UA's program. You really need to fly 100k plus a year to be able to jump the general line on UA? Maybe I'm spoiled, but I've come to expect this from DL, even when I was a 25k mile flier.
    Is it enforced consistently enough to be worthwhile? DL has dialed up their enforcement over the past year or so. Also, is there any Star Silver priority checkin?
    When you say boarded via red carpet, do you mean you just walked on the hallowed red carpet, or that you are able to board at your leisure and bypass the line if general boarding has commenced? To me, I do not really care what color carpet I tread on. What I do care about is not needing to wait in the general line if I am not around during elite boarding.
    I'd like to clarify that I am highly unlikely to earn any UA status anytime soon. I'll have partner *S and potentially *G status, but unless I do something like status match/challenge (and it's unlikely I'd complete a challenge) I will not have UA status. The information linked seems to primarily cover benefits given to UA elites, rather than partners.

    Also, regarding priority boarding, I'm more interested in who can bypass the main line after general boarding has started, rather than the order that people are called in. I'm not so much in a hurry to board as I prefer to avoid lines.

    With DL I hang out in the Skyclub, and leave for the gate to arrive around 17-20 minutes prior to scheduled takeoff in most cases. Normally this corresponds to sometime around the end of elite boarding or at the start of zone3 (general) boarding. If general boarding has commenced, I just skip the line and use the "sky priority" lane - the GA will take a break from general boarding to board me, and then resume general boarding. I'd like to know the minimum required to obtain this sort of process on UA - on DL any status or I believe partner status as well grants it. Is it really 1k status, and if so, does it appear that it will stay that way with the rebranding to "premier access"?

    http://www.delta.com/skymiles/about_skymiles/benefits_at_glance/at_the_airport/index.jsp lays out the DL process very clearly - is there not an equivalent page on UA's site?
     
  6. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    LOL.... I'm sorry but this thread just made me laugh. Ever since UA changed their boarding process a few months ago it's just a freaking zoo now. To the OP, it truly will be a different experiance depending on which gate you go to, there are so many variations of the boarding procedure now.

    You will hear a 90 second annoucement about the order of boarding. In this annoucement you will hear various types of precious metals, you will hear the word Star used repeatily followed by other words, then you will hear the word Premier used a bunch of times too. There will be about 20 different groups named in this 90 second annoucement and the agent really thinks everyone in these 20 groups know their boarding priorities. Then they open the gates and about 100 people rush to the front to get onboard.

    Just an incredible scene and only the strong will survive :p
     
  7. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    For the most part, I'm usually close by when they call 1P and *G so I dont know whats its like to board with the sheeple, or cut in front of the boarding process as an elite. A few times I was in F and wasnt at the gate at time of boarding I was able to go up to the red carpet and be let on ahead of everyone else. I haven't tried it traveling only on *G credentials ( I like to get on board ASAP, because 1. I HATE LINES and 2. many times I'm on ERJs or EMB's so overhead space is nice to snag early.

    I suspect that they would let you "cut" if you have status. Maybe ask the first time or 2 that you are on UA metal just to confirm. The problem with UA has become, as AZJohn put it, that there is no system wide procedure anymore thats enforced consistently. It feels like European Y boarding. Seems like there are several versions of boarding out there. Smaller airports, like me @ GRR, will call GS, First Class, PE and *G in one breath. In ORD, *G's get pushed back 3 or 4 levels. As they say around here YMMV (your mileage may vary), so the best advice I can give you, is dont expect anything. Its likely that what you're expecting, and what you will experience will be quite a bit different. After a few UA legs, you'll start to see what I mean!
     
  8. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Thank you. I had a few UA legs last week (will be enough to get to A3 *S in the short term - I get stuck on * flights maybe 6-10 segments that are at most midcons a year so *G status would probably require a specific effort to obtain. In general I put all my eggs in the DL basket as it's the only realistic game in town.) so I did get to watch some of the mahem unfold, and I do believe each segment boarded just a bit differently. I also understand smaller stations boarding differently - I've seen anywhere from all elites at once to the full boarding process at outstations on DL as well. I can only imagine the confusion of prioritizing elite boarding when 2 airlines with historically different elite thresholds are in the middle of merging.

    We at NW/Delta went through a similar stage of flux when the programs merged and the branded "sky priority" was introduced. Any idea what the process/rules have been historically in this regard, even if there is certainly no guarantee that they stay that way?

    To be honest I'm a bit amazed that, in such a competitive and copycat world, at least the official rules(to the best extent that I can tell and of course YMMV) give only 1ks and up what on Delta is available to all elites (even FO, which to hear DL people complain is the worst status across all US carriers) and all partner elites. To me, this is what priority boarding is all about - certainly separate the different levels as appropriate to prevent chaos, but as long as you're ahead of the sheeple and can skip to the head of the line as required it's all good. Missing the second half of that would be a significant devaluation - one I that believe was feared for Silver when Sky Priority branding was first introduced. Also, and this is very important, DL spells it out on their website that all elites board via sky priority.
     
  9. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    To be honest, John, even a clear description of how it used to be would be helpful to some extent. The impression that I am getting that Delta Silvers may get or have gotten previously a benefit reserved on UA for 1ks and GS absolutely baffles me.
     
  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    UA's policy used to be in line with what snod08 posted above and it was quite restrictive, probably the most of any carrier, for this sort of benefit. That is no longer the case.

    Now all elites - including partner *Gs - are permitted to board on the carpet. The boarding order is supposed to distinguish a bit between the various levels but most GAs make the announcements in quick succession such that it is less relevant.
     
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  11. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    OK, as 744 posted:
    But I'm unclear what happen in the past has anything to do with today (add military, CO elites, and a dozen different card holders, etc.).

    GS, FC, and 1K's boarded the red carpet lane (they are getting rid of the red carpet now, but not the lane). Then Premier exec boarded first from the other lane (non-red carpet but have no idea what this lane is now). Then from the same non-red carpet lane *G, and 2p's, then zones 1-4.

    But to get back to maybe what I think is your critical question:
    I have no idea what a "A3 Gold" is really, but think if it's a star alliance gold card, you get to board with all the other *Gold and everyone else that has some type of shinny card from the non-red carpet lane. If you want to "skip the line" or "linejump" the non-elites, go for it. But as I tried to explain (and maybe what you saw) it's a cluster ___ !
    Basically at some gates it's any kind of "elites as well as semi-elite" passengers all board at one time.

    Will things change for the better over time? I sure hope so ;)
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    All elites use the carpet now.
    It is and the OP will be in the elite "scrum" though officially there are supposed to be several levels of boarding within that group.
     
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  13. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    No wonder it's a freaking disaster :eek:

    I'll be honest, I don't hang around after they start boarding but just seems like such a mess and the sad part is it didn't use to be and there is no reason it has to be :confused:
     
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  14. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    My wife was flying ua couple of weeks ago and using a mobile bp, when she was boarding, she asked the gate agent if she'd like to see her bmi *gold card prior to scanning her phone since she wanted to prove she could board early. The ga said doesn't matter, I don't care who boards when..... Nice huh???
     
  15. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    Military boards I believe after gs and F WHEN the gate agent remembers to include them. I don't recall hearing the boarding called for credit card holders...maybe with silvers? I'm usually down the jet way at that point.
     
  16. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    I totally believe you on this :(
     
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  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Uniformed military boards first, before GS and F and...
     
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  18. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    thanks for correcting. wasnt 100% sure.
     
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  19. Infinite1K
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    Infinite1K Silver Member

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    The first and only place (so far) that I've heard the Credit Card Mileage Plus Explorer holders getting a "shout out" during the boarding process was of all places, Tokyo Narita on the UA NRT-ICN flight.
     
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  20. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Thank You Seth, for understanding my question. I realize it's complete chaos at this point, but it's helpful to get an idea of where I will stand. Where to partner *S fit into all of this? Are they allowed (in theory or practice) to use the carpet to cut in line as well?

    I certainly did not expect this thread to get quite so chaotic!
     
  21. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    its not complete chaos. you asked a lot of questions at once, and several people tried to help.
     
  22. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I meant more the lack of any semblance of a well-defined boarding order at this point in the transition to the merged airline. This led to a number of conflicting answers, all of which I greatly appreciate receiving - both for the datapoints and also to reinforce the YMMV message. I do admit having the priority boarding order recited multiple times did provoke a tad bit of frustration on my part, as I don't really give a rip about the order.

    Having a multi-step process to board different groups of elites in turn is important, to avoid complete chaos. I just don't particularly care where I am within that group (as I said, I prefer to time my gate arrival for late in the elite boarding or early in general boarding). As long as I'm somehow separated from the general masses it's all good here - with the scrum described above, I'd hold back even if I was at the gate.
     
  23. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yes. They will be amongst either the last or second to last group included in the priority calls and once general boarding has begun they can continue to use the line.

    And, speaking of NRT, I was there on Friday and it was pretty entertaining at boarding. The gate lice effect was strong, with about 50 folks lined up well before boarding was called. A young woman tried to split the scrum into F/GS/1K and C/1P/2P. One guy was getting mad at her because he was being moved to the "wrong" side of the line even though it was clear all the elites were going to be boarding before anyone non-elite; apparently he was really worried about the carpet. :rolleyes:

    Once they sortof got that figured out they announced boarding: GS and military. Me and the one other GS had to fight through now two lines to get on board. It was pretty insane.

    And I blame the passengers and the gate lice effect - as well as the GAs not doing anything to discourage it - for the problems, not the announced boarding orders. That said, when the GAs go through so quickly it is pretty much pointless. I still struggle with the fact that a plane in the USA takes 2-3x longer to load than one in Asia. Same plane, same number of passengers, 2-3x longer. I watched ANA board a 100% full 767 starting 15 minutes prior to scheduled push-back and they still pushed early while also processing my VDB.
     
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  24. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    That pretty much makes my day.

    I just don't get the gate lice effect, especially with elites. I can see where people would be anxious to be near the front of the general line, but does the front vs. the back of elite boarding really matter that much?
     
  25. Lufthansa Flyer
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    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    thats the thing. UA does have an order for boarding, but you are right re: confusion because the order/policy for boarding is interpreted differently by gate agents, and why so many variations in our answers!
     
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