Ever wonder why you never see any celebrities, politicians or mega-businessmen at the airport? It’s not because they fly private; that’s just not cost-effective. If they fly United, it’s because they are members of the ultimate elite flying club: United Global Services.
In this day and age, airlines are at war with one another to keep customers, especially high-end, loyal customers who spend significant amounts of money. Millions are being allocated for cabin renovations, lounges, and other perks, and United has started its Global Service Program, which promises to do almost anything for its members.
“If you need your luggage delivered, shirts pressed, or packages sent, we will do it,” Jennifer Dohm, the head of corporate communications told us. (Note: We filmed in July, and Dohm is no longer at United.)
On my way to Mongolia, I was offered the chance to check the service out for myself. I was met at Newark airport by an official greeter and whisked away to a private check-in room, where I was asked, “Is there anything else we can get for you?”
I decided to try and be as Mick Jagger obnoxious as I could be and asked for things like a card made of bacon for my dog Karl, who was furious I was once again leaving him.
“No problem. We will see what we can do.”
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Or how about a bag of just green M&Ms?
“That is no problem.”
Not kidding. They were willing to do anything.
Karl asking, “Where is my bacon, Mother?”
I was then sent to the front of the security line, whisked through, and taken to the lounge, where I was presented with a bottle of champagne. But the real perk came when it was time to board the flight. In order to avoid the crowds that come with trying to get from one end of the airport to the next, I was ushered onto the tarmac, put into a Mercedes SUV, and driven to my plane. I boarded early, and by the time everyone else started to board, I was tucked in with a drink and a movie.
It was heaven. The program made flying easy and seamless.
So how do you become a member of this elite club? According to the airline’s website, you must have 4 million miles to qualify - or be a “VIP” (read: Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie), but airline reps acknowledge they also take into account how much money is spent. Although they declined to say exactly how much one must spend, the figure is around $250,000 a year on flights.
I’m a long way from becoming a member, but every time I fly United now, I look out the window for a Mercedes on the tarmac and wonder, “Just who is on my flight?”
This article originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.