b777a340fan
Topic Author
Posts: 674
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 12:42 am

Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Sun Aug 30, 2015 9:52 pm

I am a MileagePlus Premier Silver member and don't understand what the benefits are exactly when it comes to free upgrades and how it pertains to when I fly on another Star Alliance member.

As a MileagePlus Premier Silver member, do I get to check-in at priority desks on other *Alliance members? Do I get free Biz/First class upgrades? I understand I get upgraded to free economy plus (woopeedo!) on the day of the flight, if they are available, but I thought I heard you could get upgraded to Biz/First class seats? Maybe I'm wrong. It'd be nice to know which benefits transfer to when you're traveling with another *Alliance airline.

What is the deal with the upgrade list that I see on the screens by the gates? Are those free upgrades? How do you get on that list? Do they pay for the upgrades or are they free?

I feel like mileage plus programs all around are such scams. My company and I spend extra to get privileged status on the airlines, but when it boils down to it, you don't get much for what you pay extra. I recently read an article that stated UAL only really cares about its Global Services members, a designation that appears to be random and without specific criteria. It's a "mystery" club, lol.

[Edited 2015-08-30 14:56:18]
 
dumbell2424
Posts: 925
Joined: Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:45 pm

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:08 pm

Your alliance benefits are outlaid here:

http://www.staralliance.com/en/benef...tatus-benefits/gold-silver-status/

Individual airlines can bestow additional benefits for silver but that is up to the operating carrier and not the programme carrier.

The only guaranteed star silver benefits are:
Priority Reservations Waitlist
Priority Airport Standby

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
As a MileagePlus Premier Silver member, do I get to check-in at priority desks on other *Alliance members? Do I get free Biz/First class upgrades? I understand I get upgraded to free economy plus (woopeedo!) on the day of the flight, if they are available, but I thought I heard you could get upgraded to Biz/First class seats?

You can get upgraded on UA shorthaul only. Longhaul and other airlines will be a rare op-up (operational upgrade).

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
What is the deal with the upgrade list that I see on the screens by the gates? Are those free upgrades? How do you get on that list? Do they pay for the upgrades or are they free?

Those are for people who are in Coach who get put on the upgrade list when first is full at check-in. If someone misses their flight, then #1 (usually) will get that now empty seat.
 
IPFreely
Posts: 2334
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RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:52 am

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
I recently read an article that stated UAL only really cares about its Global Services members, a designation that appears to be random and without specific criteria. It's a "mystery" club, lol.

If you're looking for upgrades you are not a candidate for global services. The first criteria to being invited to the "mystery club" is to fly business & first class by paying full fares, not with free upgrades.
 
blueflyer
Posts: 4080
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RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Aug 31, 2015 7:44 am

Quoting b777a340fan (Thread starter):
I feel like mileage plus programs all around are such scams. My company and I spend extra to get privileged status on the airlines, but when it boils down to it, you don't get much for what you pay extra.

In general, frequent flier perks and benefits are inversely proportional to the health of the economy. The easier it is for airlines to sell seats, the less efforts they make to reward their frequent fliers. The worse the economy, the longer the red carpet. Consolidation in the industry doesn't help either. With only three major players left, what are your options? You may switch to American out of disappointment, but United is banking on the fact an AAdvantage member will make the opposite move.

Finally, Premier Silver isn't as exclusive or difficult to reach as you might think. On key hub routes, half the plane is at least Premier Silver. Some of my colleagues who fly United almost exclusively in paid business to/from Europe renew their Premier Silver status before they need to buy chocolates for their spouse on Valentine's Day. It takes me a little longer because I don't fly United as much.

You don't need Global Services to get United's attention, but don't expect more than a token appreciation until you get to Premier Gold, or Premier Platinum even. And yes, you'll be able to check-in at the business class desk, and even visit a lounge...

[Edited 2015-08-31 00:46:58]
The Trump/Johnson special relationship: Special people on both sides of the Atlantic
 
UALFAson
Posts: 1005
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:41 pm

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Aug 31, 2015 3:42 pm

I was Premier Silver for many years until last year. The benefits are more the little things, and actually pretty decent considering how relatively easy it is to hit Silver status, as blueflyer noted:

--priority check-in counters, mostly helpful for delays or irregular operations
--free checked bag
--priority security access (may or may not be a benefit depending on your hometown airport)
--priority boarding, so you get access to overhead bin space first
--access to window and aisle seating with no fee

Although you can't reserve Economy Plus seating until 24 hours before travel, it was pretty rare that I couldn't get a seat in that section, thanks to UA allocating a much larger percentage of their Y cabin to extra legroom-seating compared to AA or DL.

For the record, Global Services is an invitation-only segment of Mileage Plus for extremely high-spending frequent flyers and certain corporate and VIP clients. Rumor is their average spend is more than $1 million. Like any company in any industry, UA wants to give their highest-revenue customers special treatment. You spend that much money on air travel and I bet it won't feel as much of a scam.
"We hope you've enjoyed flying with us as much as we've enjoyed taking you for a ride."
 
Brick
Posts: 1661
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RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Aug 31, 2015 4:18 pm

Quoting UALFAson (Reply 4):
For the record, Global Services is an invitation-only segment of Mileage Plus for extremely high-spending frequent flyers and certain corporate and VIP clients. Rumor is their average spend is more than $1 million. Like any company in any industry, UA wants to give their highest-revenue customers special treatment. You spend that much money on air travel and I bet it won't feel as much of a scam.

I made GS in 2009 with domestic only, short segment travel booked mainly in the upper fare classes, but never in full Y. My total spend that year was a little over $40,000. I had a few years before and after 2009 that had the same level of spend, but they were for more flights at lower fare classes. I think the key for me getting it GS in 2009 was the number of B and M fares I had that year.

Now, I'm just a lowly Silver which to me has pretty much no benefits. My home airport does not allow *S to use priority check in or the premium security lines. E+ is never available for my booked flights when OLCI starts. Upgrades? Forget about it. Last Friday I was on a M fare ORD-DEN and I was #47 on the upgrade list (752 equipment).

I did get an operational upgrade to business class last week on a LH FRA-KWI-DMM flight, but that's the only "love" I have received this year with *S status.
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
 
b777a340fan
Topic Author
Posts: 674
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RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:37 pm

Thanks! I am still wondering though what perks you have with OTHER airlines in S* by virtue of being a Premium Services Silver Member. Can someone please explain?
 
Brick
Posts: 1661
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 1999 11:08 am

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:45 pm

Simple: Nothing. Nada. Jack.

It will print on your boarding pass that you have *S status, but you get nothing regarding priority check-in/security line/seating/boarding on other Star Alliance airliners. LH is really good about following the proper status pecking order regardless of "home" airline program when operational upgrades are processed. I don't know about AC or other Star Alliance airlines however.

To be fair, United doesn't give any perks to *S members from other airlines, so it seems to be a tit-for-tat.
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...
 
frostyj
Posts: 1786
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RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:33 am

I am nearly a premium member too and I am also really confused as to what I can do with my miles/economy plus.

This whole PQM thing is really confusing also.

Quoting IPFreely (Reply 2):

Well I am going to book return Business Class this summer coming. I've been looking at earning miles and the chart provided is confusing.

I got some miles last year and all that I got was the distance of the flight but this chart says 'Base fare'?
https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/Marketing/CustComm/Promotions/Pages/united.aspx

[Edited 2015-09-02 01:35:54]
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UALFAson
Posts: 1005
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2004 2:41 pm

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:39 pm

Quoting Brick (Reply 5):
I made GS in 2009 with domestic only, short segment travel booked mainly in the upper fare classes, but never in full Y. My total spend that year was a little over $40,000. I had a few years before and after 2009 that had the same level of spend, but they were for more flights at lower fare classes. I think the key for me getting it GS in 2009 was the number of B and M fares I had that year.

Interesting. Without divulging too much proprietary information, I read an internal employee newsletter that included a feature on the Global Services program, which is where I got the information that I posted, although even it did not outline specific criteria.

Separate from that article, I have heard rumors that Mileage Plus members in smaller cities may be invited to join even if they don't make the spend of folks in bigger cities (don't know if that's your case) or if they work for certain VIP companies, etc.
"We hope you've enjoyed flying with us as much as we've enjoyed taking you for a ride."
 
blueflyer
Posts: 4080
Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:17 am

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:49 pm

Quoting b777a340fan (Reply 6):
Thanks! I am still wondering though what perks you have with OTHER airlines in S* by virtue of being a Premium Services Silver Member.

Well, it's not nothing, nada, or jack, but one of their not-so-distant cousins.

If you're on standby at the airport or you're on the waitlist for a flight that is fully booked, your name will go on the list below passengers with status on the operating carrier and Star Alliance Gold members, but above status-less passengers. The standby list is moderately useful if you're stuck at an airport due to some sort of disruption in normal operations. As far as priority reservation, I've never had any need for it, and I don't know anyone who ever did. Even on very last-minute trips there have been other options.

There's an unofficial benefit I can think of. If the operating carrier needs to do an operational upgrade, Star Silver usually puts you on the list ahead of the status-less passengers once again.

Quoting frostyj (Reply 8):
I got some miles last year and all that I got was the distance of the flight but this chart says 'Base fare'?

Delta and United have decided to reward their passengers according to how much they spend, not how far they fly. They don't want to be in the business of handing out buckets of miles to people whose life goal is to fly halfway around the world for $50 anymore.
Base far is the fare paid minus taxes and fees. The number of miles you get is a function of the base fare paid.
The Trump/Johnson special relationship: Special people on both sides of the Atlantic
 
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einsteinboricua
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RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Sat Sep 05, 2015 4:13 pm

It looks like being Silver (whether with United or any other major US carrier) can be described with the following analogy:
Silver is to Elite as Y+ is to Premium.

You get the feeling that there's something more but in reality you're not getting all that much, which begs the question: is it even worth it?
"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
 
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foppishbum
Posts: 848
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2006 12:20 pm

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:26 am

Quoting b777a340fan (Reply 6):
I am still wondering though what perks you have with OTHER airlines in S* by virtue of being a Premium Services Silver Member. Can someone please explain?

I'm a Premier 1K with United.

Basically, as a Premier Silver member, you don't get any perks on other Star Alliance partners. You don't start to get perks flying on other Star Alliance partners until you reach Premier Gold (which is equivalent to Star Gold status). Upgrade-wise, don't hold your breath...I didn't start getting upgraded until I reached Premier Platinum and it was only on United flights. I think I was upgraded once on a US domestic flight as a Premier Gold. I flew a few times on Lufthansa as a Premier 1K and tried to use a Global Premier Upgrade certificate to waitlist for an upgrade but it did not clear. That was the third time I tried it on Lufthansa.

There's a lot of rules and process very detailed about Complimentary Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades. You will definitely get more information on those things on www.flyertalk.com

As for being loyal to United, I was told by a few flight attendants that they only pay attention to Premier Platinum or above (Premier 1K and Global Services). Seriously...I didn't really feel anything different than a non-elite until I reached Premier Platinum.
TPE X LAX X NYC :airplane:
 
whiskeyhotel
Posts: 304
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2004 5:46 am

RE: Understanding UAL's MileagePlus

Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:50 pm

Quoting UALFAson (Reply 9):
Interesting. Without divulging too much proprietary information, I read an internal employee newsletter that included a feature on the Global Services program, which is where I got the information that I posted, although even it did not outline specific criteria.

Separate from that article, I have heard rumors that Mileage Plus members in smaller cities may be invited to join even if they don't make the spend of folks in bigger cities (don't know if that's your case) or if they work for certain VIP companies, etc.

There are lengthy threads each year on FlyerTalk discussing GS requalification. Although qualification thresholds are not published, an easy rule of thumb from those threads (hundreds of data-points annually) is $50,000 in spend (on United) and 100,000 butt-in-seat miles (on United) is virtually guaranteed to qualify someone for GS, whether they live in a hub city or an outstation.

GS is also regularly given out as a comp as part of certain corporate contracts, including to certain execs and corporate travel planners (who are usually managing a travel budget that runs into the millions annually).

CO's former Chairman's Circle program was also brought over to UA after the merger. It is invitation only, public details are limited, and discussion on frequent flyer forums (FWIW) indicated that it is not the sort of tier that even a very HVF GS can expect to be invited to . . . reserved for Fortune 500 CEOs that UA has contracts with, former UA/CO top brass, and the like. Rumored to require board-level approval to mint a new Chairman's Circle member.

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