UA or EK? Global Services vs. comfort

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Garp74, May 26, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    Hello,

    In June 2013, I started a new job with $BIGEMPLOYER which has involved a LOT of travel, internationally and domestically. I have significantly long international travel to book for the fall, and I'm trying to decide if I want to try for Global Services on United, or stick to Emirates on long haul segments for the comfort. I have lots of segments which are no-brainers - United for some, Emirates for others. But there are two which I can't decide on.

    Flights under consideration:
    A) IAD -> Istanbul
    B) IAD -> Brisbane

    For A), my choices are ... unhelpful. I can:
    -book Turkish Airways directly for comfort and convenience.
    -call Emirates and ask them to find a way to book IAD->DXB->IST which the website refuses to book.
    -fly United or *A metal via Frankfurt
    -fly the A380 on Air France to CDG, then connect on.

    For B), my choices are more straightforward. I can:
    -book Emirates via DXB, and enjoy the A380 on the 13 hour leg to Brisbane.
    -book UA to SFO then Air New Zealand and its new J class to Brisbane. This route is a few hours shorter (but not by much).

    Some data:
    1) United in the last 12 months, starting June 3, 2013:
    • 158,777 BIS miles
    • 264,514 Award miles
    • Current FY14 PQDs: $27,864
    2) Emirates in the last 12 months, starting June 3, 2013:
    • 62,875 BIS miles
    • 68,226 Award miles
    3) Total of all airlines in the last 12 months, starting June 3, 2013:
    • 240,144 BIS miles
    • 377,688 Award miles
    I have Platinum with American, Platinum with United (!), and Gold with Emirates.

    Some considerations:
    I kind of like the idea of making Global Services with United, as it means more upgrades will clear for me on IAD<->SEA segments, and I'll have higher priority when I use award miles to upgrade from J to F on international segments. I also like the white-glove treatment you get sometimes at the foot of the aircraft - handy for tight connections (though I'm pretty good at not booking tight connections; I'd rather sit in the airport for a 7 hour layover than run to make a short connection).

    At the same time, I promised myself when I started flying again that I wouldn't get sucked into the mileage game too deeply. I have a large enough travel budget that I can afford to eschew some of the benefits of mileage consolidation by virtue of booking full-fare business (and sometimes first) class internationally. Turkish Airways is supposed to be pretty good. The mileage doesn't do much for me, if anything, but it's a direct flight to Istanbul. Emirates is a great airlines to fly - blowing United out of the water on food, comfort, service, and hard product. But again, the miles are of limited utility to me. I basically have to save them to bring the wife along, or I can use them to upgrade to First for the fancy schmancy stuff.

    I have a trip in late November to Mauritius, and I'd like to bring Mrs. Garp along. That will require plenty of miles to have her fly business with me. To assist, I have about 80,000 UR sitting in my Chase account. I currently have a balance of 125,000 or so reward miles with United, and all 68,226 reward miles with Emirates. I think this is easily an EK trip, as EK flies the most direct route: IAD->DXB->Mauritius. And it's an A380 from DXB->Mauritius. So I do want to make sure I have enough miles to bring her along.

    So with all that said... what would you do? Would you keep spending on United and work towards Global Services? Would you stick to the original plan, which is to eschew the mileage game and just book the most direct and/or more enjoyable journey? Would you purposely book as much as possible on EK to try and make Platinum, which is quite a good tier to be (it's similar to Global Services in terms of at-the-aircraft pickups and white glove treatment)?

    Any and all thoughts welcome.

    Yes, I understand I'm spoiled. No, I'm not apologizing. I'm just trying to make intelligent travel decisions, and right now, I'm finding myself unsure of what to do. I appreciate your advice.

    Thanks!
    Garp74
     
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  2. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    I thought about this more after I posted. Maybe the question I'm struggling to answer is as simple as: Do I want to be GS? I don't enjoy United but I'm stuck on it for South America and Europe flights, plus all my IAD<->SEA legs. Would being GS overcome my disappointment at being on UA? I'm not sure. Maybe only I can answer that.
     
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  3. HubletUAFlyer

    HubletUAFlyer Gold Member

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    gs is never guaranteed...as an invitation only level with no published criteria...you can't bank on achieving gs.

    However if you are planning on spending north of $60k per calendar year you have a shot...but there are of course other factors to consider

    And yes...being gs makes UA bearable and in some cases enjoyable
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
  4. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I would definitely not try to do EK for the IST flight. That's 21 hours en route at best if you can get the connections to work (I did on some dates in Y with EK->QF codeshare; dunno if you can adjust that to work for your dates and premium cabins). The routing on *A via Germany or AF via CDG is going to be much, much shorter. And I cannot see the product being that much better as to justify so many extra hours of travel.

    EK Biz for IAD-(DXB)-MRU is 190k each if you can find saver inventory. It does not seem at all likely to me that you're going to generate another 310k+ points in the EK program to get to where you have enough to make that redemption (putting aside whether there is inventory or not). The EK program is really bad for award redemption, particularly aspirational ones, unless you're flying them a TON on paid long-haul premium cabin and even then it is not great. The product and the experience might be better than the legacy competitors but the Skywards program generally is not.

    I understand not wanting to have your decision be driven by the mileage programs so ignore that for a few minutes. Do you really think the travel experience will be that much better so as to justify the additional hours spent on a plane? From the itineraries you've described it is hard for me to believe it is.

    Finally, unless you fly UA metal to FRA (or TLV) and SYD for the two trips described I would trim back the GS expectations based on those fares. The long-haul spend on partner airlines - even LH as an A++ JV partner - is less likely to help you out on that front.
     
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  5. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    I have been flying long-haul almost every month for 9 years on Emirates and I only use miles for upgrades, never tickets.

    If your employer is paying for F tickets, the Gold is of little value but Platinum is fairly exclusive.

    As you mentioned, a longer layover is preferable to rushing for a tight connection and I would never opt to fly United if I had any other option.

    You will find the service on Turkish Airlines in general a very poor substitute for EK premium service, no matter how good the connection is :eek:
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
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  6. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    From what I've learned, the following criteria are what I'm using to judge my GS worthiness:
    - only B fares or above count towards GS. (It's possibly E fares or above.)
    - $30k is the minimum spend, and it must be on UA metal (again, B/E or above).

    Based on that, I'm confident I can make GS this year, as most of my spend is international D and J (though oddly, my GRU flight last week was a $9200 fare where one segment was Z?), and I have a ton more spend left - easily $50,000.

    Thank you, Seth, for the advice on IST. I don't know what to do, as our mutual friend says I will really not like AF, even on the A380. I have plenty of Emirates travel to Asia in the fall, so I'm just trying to map it out to ensure I don't accidentally short myself on Platinum (which as jonspencer notes, is an exclusive club). That's the only reason I might take IST via DXB.
     
  7. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    I think you're forgetting flying TK ( Turkish) and crediting to UA MP. I happen to do this.

    My motto is 2014 is to AVOID flying UNITED on overwater, intercontinental flights where possible. My UA flying is limited to intra US only.

    Unless you're trying to chase Global Services, I don't see the point.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
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  8. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    there is a mystery EK status above Platinum but I think you must be a sheikh or king or Howard Hughes :eek:

    supposedly there are only a few dozen members
     
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  9. HubletUAFlyer

    HubletUAFlyer Gold Member

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    You're off on the spend....
     
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  10. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Is DCA not an option? You could theoretically fly AS DCA-SEA, fly LA/AA to South America, as well as EK, fly a mix of AF/KL/AA/DL out of IAD to Europe, and credit ALL miles to AS.

    If you're flying paid J you're getting most of the benefits of status anyways. If all you're doing is using miles to bring the wife along, it seems to me you want miles that can be used in lots of different places, and you don't seem to enjoy your UA experience all that much...
     
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  11. Zomby Woof

    Zomby Woof Silver Member

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    You might want to consider the long term view of achieving lifetime status with UA. This could provide some tangible benefits for personal travel after your business flying days are over. For me getting to 1+MM and lifetime gold allows me to gift that status to my wife and get us the extra legroom of the exit row making those transcon flights somewhat bearable.
     
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  12. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Its called IO, stands for Invitation only.
    [​IMG]
    ( pic borrowed from eightblack)

    Perks include
    - Complementary Pick up and drop in a Range Rover, ex-DXB, From home to airport, airport to home and remote parking stand to airport. This is a higher standard than the usual car that EK uses.
    - Personal meet and greet ex-DXB ( with porter to help you with you bags), and escort though immigration / customs
    - Open up ANY award seat you want. This includes booking the entire F cabin on miles. [ I personally know an IO that did that ]
    - Clear upgrades on request at the time of booking, as long as seat available ( no waitlist, no capacity control)
    - The highest priority in rebooking. [ Sometimes the rebooking involves sending a bunch of IOs on an Emirates Executive A319 private jet ]
    - Invitation to Emirates sponsored events


    Believe it or not the spend requirement is not as high as one expects. About 250-300K AED on First and Business Class tickets may get Sky rewards attention.
    Thats north of 70,000 US dollars. Considering what First and Business Class tickets ex DXB cost......, a trip to Europe once a month should make one IO

    And no, there are more than a few dozen members.


    To the original poster : I think the biggest perk of Global Services is upgrades clear from PN and not R, which means you will always clear. That perk should not be underestimated.
     
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  13. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    How is it I can be jealous of a status I've only known about since I read this post 2 mins ago?
     
  14. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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    I will go to bed tonight and hopefully in my dream, I am part of the IO club. :)
     
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  15. Garp74

    Garp74 Gold Member

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    Status porn!

    Wow. Drawing upgrades from PN inventory is a huge advantage, and means I'll almost always clear IAD<->SEA based on my experiences the last 12 months.

    And tonight I'm booking an long-haul trip and again, totally torn. UA for GS or Emirates for comfort. #firstworldproblems :)
     
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  16. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    No getting to whine about UA GF if you pick them and the lure of GS, then. You had your chance to turn from the Dark Side of status... ;)
     
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  17. man on the move.

    man on the move. Silver Member

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    Don't forget sq for going to oz....
     
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  18. man on the move.

    man on the move. Silver Member

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    I am in the same game, but with sq for comfort. My plan will get me both gs and pps this year, so that's not too bad. I probably need two more round trips to get gs, one is next week, and mid July. And one segment to get pps, which will be in august
     
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  19. HubletUAFlyer

    HubletUAFlyer Gold Member

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    what's your spend and mileage YTD with united?

    Sent from my iPad using milepoint
     
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  20. man on the move.

    man on the move. Silver Member

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    Spend is about $30k so far, another 30k in next three months. Two trips to Asia and one to Europe so far, and planned to repeat in coming months. All biz first and global first - miles is about 50k, but that seems less important based on the people I work with gs seems to kick in around 6 long haul round trips.
     
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  21. man on the move.

    man on the move. Silver Member

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    The third trip will either be united or sing depending on where I am on he gs status.
     
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  22. HubletUAFlyer

    HubletUAFlyer Gold Member

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    I can't say for sure but your spend certainly is headed into the right range
     
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  23. Boraxo

    Boraxo Silver Member

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    I am not a big fan of UA these days but I like EK even less. They lie about their planes to the media (was not 100% horizontal lie flat for all flights to USA as reported in WSJ) - my seat was far less comfortable than UA. The food is atrocious unless you like spicy indian food (this was in C, can't imagine what was offered in Y) and worst of all the "Free" limo service never showed up for our return flight on either end. And the lounges in DXB are nothing special - very crowded - though obviously have better food than the horrid UCs. Personally I'd take UA on-board product - sad as it is - over EK any day. The only thing I like about EK are their overseas lounges - SYD was awesome and SFO is also pretty good. GS on UA is a gamechanger, and not something that should be easily discarded. It is light years ahead of 1K, particularly if you fly domestic USA.
     
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  24. Golfingboy
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    Golfingboy Gold Member

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    Or instead of using EK, use QR instead and credit everything to AA. Then the OP can use BA to IST and AS/AA/QF to BNE.

    My advice, drop GS from the equation and focus on schedule, convenience, amenities that are important to you and which airline does best in taking care of you and delivering what you need them to deliver.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2014
  25. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    All good points : I will agree about the indian food on EK. It seems that all I ever eat on Emirates is that g-d damn Chicken Tikka Masala. And yes, the seats and not fully flat, though they do throw in a "mattress" which makes it comfortable. Sort of like VS, great PR, not so great in reality. But I have to say, on board, the staff are not mean ( unlike United) and if I ring the call button for something (in between service) , the call is answered with some courtesy.

    The UA flight leaving Dubai leaves very late in the evening. Try asking them to save an entree to be eaten later, and see the expression that comes back on the FA's face. You won't ever have that problem on EK. That counts for something.
     

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