united 727 United starts selling one time access to elite level check in, security, and boarding

United Airlines, intent on proving that anything — anything — is for sale, is starting to sell a package of elite-esque services for $25 a pop.

Premier Line” is the latest in the “Travel Options by United” series of a la carte services available for purchase. Premier Line, starting at $25 per passenger each way, will let passengers:

  • check in at the (generally shorter) business class line;
  • use the (generally shorter) elite/first class security line;
  • board in Seating Area 1, earlier than non-elite coach passengers.

Notably not included: Economy Plus seating.

Once again, United proves that it is willing to sell its lower-level elites down the river. Fly 25,000 miles, and you’ll still have to compete with those willing to pay a handful of bucks. Awesome.

There’s nothing that was once only available through loyalty which can’t be bought for one-shot cash payments. Nothing. They’ll sell you Economy Plus. They’ll sell you early boarding. They’ll sell you bonus miles. It’s all for sale.

On the flip side, United is offering infrequent travelers the opportunity to pay a little extra to get a little more service. Is it worth $25?

So, is this a slap in the face of lower-tier elite members, or a brilliant business decision? Hit the comments. Weigh in.


pixel United starts selling one time access to elite level check in, security, and boarding

21 Responses to “United starts selling one-time access to elite-level check-in, security, and boarding”

  1. John at voyagers.typepad.com Says:

    I can see the $25 being worth it if I were travelling with kids (although I’d balk at paying the fee more than once if they were travelling on their own tickets), or if I were wrangling an unusually-shaped piece of hand luggage like a computer or something.

    Other than that? I’d gladly pay $25 for access to the lounge on a one-off basis in those rare instances where I’m flying outside my normal airline partnership.

  2. Mark Ashley Says:

    Alas, John, lounge access isn’t included in that $25 fee. They’ll demand an extra $50 for a day pass. At that point, Priority Pass starts getting interesting.

  3. Cranky Flier Says:

    We’ve been talking about this over on Cranky Flier as well, and there’s a lot of disagreement. I personally think it’s diluting the elite experience, and there’s not much left that’s reserved for elites only these days. Others disagree completely and say it’s good that everyone has the option. It’s definitely a divided issue!

  4. Anonym Says:

    I think $25 is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much for extra 0-15 minutes of my time and a tiny bit less annoyance.

    I don’t think this is “competing with elites” as very few people will ever buy this….

  5. Simon Says:

    There really is just no reason left to become a frequent flyer with United anymore.

  6. Ken Says:

    Hey, Mark. Just used your link to go to the Priority Pass website, and it links to the UK site. What’s interesting is that at the current exchange rate of about 1.48, the per-visit cost of L15 ($22) in the UK program is now cheaper than the $27 for the US program. The join fee is a wash at L69 ($102)vs. $99. But then I guess you’d need a UK mailing address.

  7. santaclarite Says:

    Why don’t they put lower level elite status on sale, and for the fools who earn it by travel, report the nominal value to the IRS on a 1099?

  8. FreqFlyer Says:

    It’s $25 per PERSON… so a family of four would cough up $100 for the privilege of the elite security and zone 1 boarding.

    Do you really think the security line monitor and gate agents at boarding are really going to enforce the no companion rule?

  9. Mark Ashley Says:

    FreqFlyer — Indeed, since generally only one member of a party has to have the gold boarding pass in order to use the security line or board with group 1, then perhaps there could be some “leveraging” of fees going forward…

  10. matt Says:

    not sure i agree or disagree, but people may be willing to pay the $25 to board earlier and get a better shot at the now overcrowded overhead bins. it’s cheaper than checking a bag and at a crappy airport like o’hare the business class line can save you 30 to 45 minutes in security…

  11. John Nash Says:

    IMHO this is indeed a continued dilution of the elite status. Furthermore, for United to suggest that attaining Seating Area 1 status is a benefit is a misnomer, as Seating Area 1 is really Seating Area 3 (2.5 at best) with Global Service/First Class and PremEx/Gold going #1 and #2 before Seating Area 1.

  12. Jared Rice Says:

    I’m currently a 1P w/ UA, and the trip I’m currently on will push me to 1K (just in time, and ONLY because I just got credit for all of those devalued sub-500 mile trips – other MP members should check their accounts). I’ll only really see this at the security line, but it will dilute status a touch, IF anyone actually buys it. As a soon-to-be 1K, I have every intention of sending in piles of complaints, if they don’t enforce the requirement that everyone in a party that wants it buys it; hopefully their boarding passes will be clearly marked in a way that distinguishes them from actual 2P’s…

  13. How about buy on board Says:

    How about the ludicrous “Buy on Board” program. Fly from IAD to LHR and you get free food, flight time just over 7 hours. Fly from ORD to HNL and you have to buy your food, flight time 9 hours. Where is the logic? The whole system continues to amaze me at the antiquity of rules, fare structures and fees, and we consumers are just stuck to put up with it.

  14. Patrick Says:

    What if UA were literal in their labeling of their “trip enhancements” and just called the whole package “dignity” and charged 100 bucks for the kind of treatment we used to get five years ago?

    I’m a 1K with United and this leaves me feeling like a big fool. UA is more than willing to sell my place in line. What won’t they do to devalue my loyalty?

  15. Adam Says:

    I’m a 1K who isn’t requalifying for 1K next year (will be a 2P or whatever the Premier Execs are called). And now I feel less bad.

    Especially after experiencing the actually tasty food and fine customer service on Asiana and other non-UA carriers *in Economy Class* this past year. My goodness. If elite status on United continues to mean less and less AND if I get treated more respectfully and more promptly on other carriers, even without status…

  16. Tino Says:

    The magic decoder ring:

    1K = Premier Executive 1K
    1P = Premier Executive
    2P = Premier
    3P = Premier Associate (the gifted status)

    These are the codes which UA uses internally, and you’ll find these codes on your boarding passes. (I think. Been a while since I looked.)

  17. Adam Says:

    Yeah, and since I’ve been a 1K for nearly a year now (and a 1P for a year before that), I really should have my nomenclature straight.

    Then again, perhaps I can be forgiven, given how lamely and mathematically-challengedly United has named 1K ;)

  18. Tino Says:

    For real. I guess it should be 100K? What woudl that make the 1Ps and 2Ps? ;)

  19. Adam Says:

    Not quite sure, Tino, but one thing’s clear: there’s all together too much P associated with United :)

    (on a more serious note, why not just call the levels bronze, silver, and gold? Or for uncreative literalists, “High Status” “Higher Status” “Highest Status” (though I guess that’d count out GlobalServices peeps, right?)

    Any way you look at it, though, the level designations are confusing. Then again, I guess this is the least of United’s worries right now.

  20. Twitter Trackbacks for United starts selling one-time access to elite-level check-in, security, and boarding | Upgrade: Travel [upgradetravelbetter.com] on Topsy.com Says:

    [...] United starts selling one-time access to elite-level check-in, security, and boarding | Upgrade: Tra… http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/2008/12/10/united-starts-selling-one-time-access-to-elite-level-check-in-security-and-boarding – view page – cached United Airlines, intent on proving that anything — anything — is for sale, is starting sell a package of elite-esque services for $25 a pop. Premier Line — From the page [...]

  21. upgradetravel (Mark Ashley) Says:

    Twitter Comment

    @BudTravel Is this really new? They’ve been selling access like this for a while, at least since December. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

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