GS United's secret airline club

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by 8MiHi, Aug 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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  2. downhillcrasher

    downhillcrasher Gold Member

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    Pretty poorly written, IMO. Makes it sound like you get secret lounges and a mercedes to meet you at every connection.
     
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  3. brodyf

    brodyf Gold Member

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    Don't you?
     
  4. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    WSJ doesn't publish real secrets. The article is sponsored by United.
     
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  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It certainly reads that way, except that they did a bad job in terms of writing good things without making the non-GS feel like they're unworthy. It was definitely an interesting piece, though if I were UA I'm not so sure I'd be happy about it.

    There are also the accuracy issues, like GS doesn't actually get in to the GFLs all the time for free nor do they always get the car transfers. :oops:
     
  6. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    "Compared with other United elite fliers, Global Services members get ... more access to United's airport clubs, including its Global First lounges, which are typically reserved for fliers holding international first-class tickets."

    I think that reads pretty clearly that the club is not exclusive to GS, but also includes intl. F passengers.

    "Mr. Harteveldt said that generally just 3% to 5% of participants in frequent-flier programs qualify for some level of elite status."

    That's certainly a surprise to me. It seems that more than 5% of UA pax are at least silver just from looking at the upgrade list for almost any flight I have flown. Perhaps that was a reference to all airlines, not just UA. I know that the percentage of elite pax in Latin America is pretty small.

    As a 1K, I didn't feel a bit slighted by the article. I also read nothing that implied the Mercedes ride was all that common. The GS program has to be very exclusive by its very design, and many of its services limited to only high volume airports.

    The only thing I found surprising about qualification was that the woman in the photo qualified with a mere 180,000 miles. Those must have been some very high priced miles. 180,000 is a lot of miles, granted, but it's only 50% more than the paid miles I fly these days. I don't even aspire to ever be GS, yet if my award redemption flights are counted, I don't miss that mark by much. Realizing that I'm comparing apples and oranges, it just doesn't seem like enough flying to meet the ostensibly high bar that must be set to justify the program's existence.
     
  7. mgrepo

    mgrepo Silver Member

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    I don't think GS is all that it is played up to be. I had an IRROPS yesterday from SFO-FRA (almost a 3-hour mechanical delay). Once we took off, I emailed GS to see what my options were (there was wifi on the plane!). I never received a response. I checked my itinerary later in the flight and I had been rebooked to the next available connecting flight to take me to Copenhagen. However, at landing, I was not met by any agent, so I headed for a service center. There was no United person at the counter. The LH person sent me to another service center to get assistance. The next stop told me what gate to go to for the flight. I had to wait until the gate was manned an hour before departure to talk to someone. It was not seamless. LH said the rebooking was not done correctly and they had not received the proper e-ticket information from UA for the rebooked flight. Ultimately, LH said they were going to get me onto the flight (I was originally booked in business class on the original flight and F on the UA flight) without any of the ticketing information (although they did have my ticket number) and would take it up with UA later. I'm not sure where the GS value-added was, especially since I know there is a GS team at FRA.
     
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  8. okrogius

    okrogius Silver Member

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    The percentage is out of all United fliers, not flyers on a given flight, so that's in the right ballpark of single digit percentages. (Presumably the number can vary whether you consider a person who took a flight with you x year(s) ago a customer or not. I.e. Is the percentage out of all people to ever fly on united, out of all flyers within the last year, etc.) The average portion of elites on a given flight is of course much higher - probably around 20-30%. Just the the non-elites are likely on their once-per-year flight whereas elites tend to be on many flights by definition.

    As far as GS qualification - it's not a high mileage club. There are certainly people with more miles, but I'd guess 180k is higher than the average GS mileage. Consider what's the profit margin on the fares you buy versus full fare (even corporate discounted).
     
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  9. HubletUAFlyer

    HubletUAFlyer Gold Member

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    I don't know that I'd agree with you on that one. Of the gs folks I know, most are well north of that number. I'm personally notching up over 300,000 bis miles annually.

    I felt the article was pretty uninformative
     
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  10. Counsellor
    Original Member

    Counsellor Gold Member

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    That's one way to do it. A friend of mine is UGS and has been for some years, yet still is not a Million Miler (although he's getting there).

    His employer flys him Business Class or better (usually paid Business Class is sufficient; about half the time -- and particularly on long hauls -- he gets upgraded to the pointy end anyway), and he travels regularly from his base in the US to Asia and Europe on business.

    I suspect there's a sliding scale of some sort that takes into consideration both frequency and price of flights. Probably also history as well.
     
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  11. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    As long as you don't make me reveal the airline involved I do have some factual information. One major international airline has slightly more than 23% of all passengers originating in Brazil as Elite members. That is not unique passengers but the mean percentage of passengers per flight that are Elite members of their own program or another in their alliance. Obviously, there are a small number of Elite passengers who are almost commuters. I have no data on the actual discrete passenger count. This airline is an international one, thus their typical stage length ex-Brazil is in excess of eight hours.

    From related data that I have seen I am confident that:
    is in the general range of reality. Keep in mind that many general members of all programs rarely fly at all and others were once active and no longer are. Based on the data I have seen I'd expect that typically somewhere between 25-30% of all members are actually active.
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The airlines are not too shy about describing the sizes of the groups in that way. At an event in 2011 executives from UA and DL commented on the size of their elite pools/revenue splits. This is what I wrote about it then:

    If we accept the 70mm size sometimes mentioned for the MileagePlus program then the "small six-figures" number is somewhere well below 1% of the membership.
     
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  13. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    If she flew 180,000 miles on full-fare F, C and/or Y tickets, then it makes sense. Note in the article the guy who flew 200k and is only 1K. He might fly on a bunch of W or lower fare buckets.
     
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  14. Captain Oveur
    Original Member

    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    That's something, if you haven't already, you should take up with United. If you're GS, and especially if they screwed up your ticket like that, someone should know.....that's just not right.
     
  15. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Also note the pic that WSJ used. I only saw 2 Benzes, and if I am not mistaken they only have two at ORD. Nice photo op though.

    Clearly copying LH, right down to the type of the car.
     
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  16. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Little discussed is the people who got comped GS, based on "influence" who are not C level executives but rather have media/on-line/tobb influence.

    For example, on TOBB, certain moderators for a certain international US based carrier got comped status (invite only) based on their role as TOBB moderator. I confronted SanDiego1K about this, she denied this (and tried to brush it off)
    Whatever. One of the moderators at this forum on the TOBB I know travels on 0.05 mile fares and would no way quality traditionally.

    Note : This is not TOBB so I think I can safely speak my mind
     
  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The only comp I'm aware of for FT mods was a hotel status, not from an airline.

    Sure, but when making claims such as this it would be good to have the facts to back up said claims.
     
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  18. HeathrowGuy
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    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

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    If United gave any TOBB mods GS status the exec who approved such should be immediately defenestrated. Not merely fired.
     
  19. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Many GS folks fall neither into C level exec nor influence categories.
     
  20. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    I said "an international US based airline". May not may not be United. With all the M+A there's not many left. Anyway, I'm appalled that such behavior was allowed to continue. This adding to the fact that the mods over at TOBB have been there for like forever.

    SanDiego1K should sack/fire all of them and start afresh, IMHO. The "corruption" and various other factors led to me almost permanent voluntary retirement from TOBB

    Back to original topic.....
     
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  21. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    I'm not bothered by who gets GS and who doesn't. 1K is good enough for me, and if it isn't someday, I'll make the appropriate adjustments in my flying habits. GS numbers are so small, the likelihood of any of us being affected by them on a regular basis is pretty insignificant.

    If they ever give me GS status, it will probably go unused, as I will probably die of a heart attack upon reading the invitation.
     
  22. Steve GadFly
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    Steve GadFly Gold Member

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    I'm going to fly north of 200K this year and spend around $50K (there were previous years where I spent that much or more for 60,000 miles and 175+ segments) and I've never gotten it. I've been top-level on segments and/or miles every year since 2001. I was CO* when that existed and the drops I've had in spending were during the years that CO had the level above Platinum (I don't remember what it was called).

    I think the one factor that precludes me from getting GS is that all of my tickets are in Y (most on smaller planes) and are 99% domestic. There have been quite a few flights where I've paid about $1.00 per mile or more but they weren't to Asia...they were to CVG or ROC. I'm willing to bet that I'm one of UA's top "miles flown per dollars spent" customers....but still no love.

    Honestly, since I already bought a lifetime club membership, I don't fly on all that many upgradeable flights, and I don't care when I board as long as I get an overhead bin on the big-boy planes, the only thing I really want out of GS is the chance at getting a really good agent on the first try when batman goes bad with my attempts to fly back to EWR.

    Maybe this will be my year! :oops:
     
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  23. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Say what you want. I have massive ENVY when ever I pass the last door on the second level of EWR. The door says "Global Services". Instead of turning left at the door, I turn right, towards Premier Access (if flying domestic) or BusinessFirst (if ticketed at that cabin)

    The EVNY also applies to PMUA global services lobbies at ORD especially, with the line that lets out at pre-check.

    1K is no longer than special anymore, most PMUA flyers will attest to this. We could start a massive thread to add to the massive threads that exist on this subject
     
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  24. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    I will give you the envy bit. I think that is why we all watch TV shows about the rich and powerful and read every Friday the "Mansion" section of the WSJ. I certainly am never going to own a $25MM home in Palm Beach (nor do I want to) but it is fun to read about it and think "what if", isn't it? ;)
    Furthermore, if you don't think 1K is pretty special, then let me suggest that you fly peon class on another airline such as American. I had the pleasure of doing so this weekend. They treated me fine, but I was still a nobody, in boarding group 4 with a full Y ticket, and lucky enough to be given AA's equivalent of E+ only because the back of the bus was full (but still in a middle seat).
    I will take status any day over anonymity, and 1K is pretty good status to have on UA.
     
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  25. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    Becoming GS is more than just flights and while I think that money does count, there is still more involved. I know several GS passengers. One was a technical sales person for a very large corp. and he flew a lot of international F flights around the world. It was obvious that he would have qualified by spend alone, but more importantly, he was part of a large international corporation that probably did millions of dollars of business with UA. So he qualified from many standpoints, mileage flown, money spent and affiliation.
    Yet I think of GS more as an "in crowd" sort of thing rather than just the above. (My in-crowd reference would be akin to those in high school who were "cool" vs the rest of us). The cool people still get the perks. So my second GS person is a big time academic center researcher. His academic center is world renown in cancer research and probably spends multiple millions of dollars on travel each year. I suspect that he barely makes the 1K level of mileage (he told me he had to do a year end MR to get to 100K last year) and probably he does not spend any more than Steve does individually, but he is one of the "in-crowd" people, with an international reputation and an affiliation with an institution with a similar moniker and a lot of money flowing out of it's pockets for travel. So he becomes GS also.

    I have reached to conclusion that it makes no difference how much I travel or how much I spend on UA (I suspect that my total business with them may exceed 50K this year) I will never be a GS. I will also never be a jet fighter pilot, an astronaut or an Olympic competitor. I can live with it :)
     
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