Global Services

Thanks for the car ride, United.

I felt like an imposter.

I’d been upgraded on my flight home from a press event in London to tour the new Star Alliance Terminal 2 at Heathrow – and United’s new lounges there – and, unbeknownst to me, someone at United had added the Global Services code to my reservation.

That program is invitation-only and offers upper echelon travelers special treatment and services. And while I’m special, of course (my mother taught me that…) and old enough now to have flown on enough purchased tickets on United to get million mile status, I’m certainly not permanent Global Services program material.

But, I can see the appeal.

A Global Services rep with my name on a sign met our flight when it arrived in San Francisco.

“Am I in trouble?” I asked. (“Someone’s dead,” I thought)

“Certainly not,” she said. “I’m here to greet you as a Global Services customer and get you to your next flight. We have a car waiting.”

I tried to tell her I really wasn’t a Global Services customer, but she was having none of that.

So I went along with the fairy godmother service and got escorted through several lines, out a door leading to the tarmac and into the back seat of an SUV – a Mercedes-Benz SUV – that drove on the tarmac to take me to the connecting terminal for my flight home to Seattle.

Along the way, I learned that United started this Global Services perk a few weeks ago in San Francisco after rolling it out in Chicago, Houston and Newark Liberty Airport and that usually the ride is offered to Global Services customers with very close connections.

I had about a hour between my flights so wasn’t feeling stressed about getting from one terminal to another, but if the flights were tight (and I was used to being treated special) I can see how this service would endear an airline to a high-value customer a bit more than, say, a free drink or a personalized luggage tag.

So I did enjoy the ride and – just like a real Global Services customer, my escort assured me – I did get my picture taken with the car there on the tarmac.

United car service