United Global Premier Upgrades to Become More Difficult to Use on Lufthansa

A United Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft on the tarmac in San Francisco in the morning to be used for flight 663 to Honolulu on January 2, 2013. Photograph by FlyerTalk member cxny1090. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by cxny1090.

Effective as of March 1, 2013, requesting a Global Premier Upgrade certificate for flights on aircraft operated by Lufthansa will become more difficult to use, according to FlyerTalk member UA Insider — also known as Aaron Goldberg, who is the senior manager of Customer Experience Planning at United Airlines.
When you request a Global Premier Upgrade certificate for use on a per-segment basis with Lufthansa, you will be asked to provide some additional information:
  • First and last name of the traveler who will be presenting the Global Premier Upgrade certificate to Lufthansa
  • Departure and arrival airports of the flight segment to be upgraded
  • Flight number and flight date
  • Confirmation number of itinerary associated with the segment to be upgraded — which can be the Lufthansa confirmation number or the confirmation number of another airline or travel agency you used to book your ticket

This information — with the exception of flight date — will be printed on the Global Premier Upgrade certificate before it is mailed to you. After that, the redemption process with Lufthansa remains the same as before.
As long as the name of the traveler and the flight segment remain the same, the Global Premier Upgrade certificates will be honored by Lufthansa — but on a space-available basis. However, it will be at the discretion of Lufthansa discretion to honor the upgrade should any other flight details change. Since this remains a per-segment upgrade product, United Airlines recommends printing Global Premier Upgrade certificates specific to each Lufthansa flight segment on which you want to upgrade on your full itinerary.
UA Insider claims that the lack of unique information pertaining to the current process of requesting a generic printed certificate from the MileagePlus Service Center and then presenting it to Lufthansa on the day of departure has made it difficult for Lufthansa to track usage of Global Premier Upgrade certificates, resulting in a agreement of certain modifications by United Airlines and Lufthansa which will allow both airlines to better understand where Global Premier Upgrade certificates is most used. “Ultimately, this information will enable us to strive for a more reliable, secure and seamless product experience in the future”, posts UA Insider.
Global Premier Upgrade certificates are earned by United Airlines MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program members who fly as passengers greater than 100,000 miles per year. Global Premier Upgrade certificates can be used to upgrade on international flights.
Many FlyerTalk members are angry and upset about this new policy, citing that this is a “serious devaluation” and a “terrible change”; and to do away with this option altogether instead of increasing the difficulty of taking advantage of it.
Some FlyerTalk members suggest doing away with paper altogether and converting the Global Premier Upgrade certificates to a completely electronic instrument instead — especially as the new policy change will supposedly significantly inconvenience MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program members who are based outside of the United States, partially due to a lack of priority shipping to Europe where FlyerTalk member rcs85551 had to wait “a whopping seven weeks” for his Global Premier Upgrade certificate to arrive in Germany where he is based.
That would make sense. I do not remember the last time I used a paper instrument for anything related to flight — other than a boarding pass, which are also electronic these days here in the 21st century.
Upgrading on Lufthansa from Star Alliance airlines based in the United States seem to become more and more difficult on flights operated by Lufthansa. Members of the US Airways Dividend Miles frequent flier loyalty program — which is also currently a member of Star Alliance — found out last month with apparently no advance notice or official announcement that award redemption in the first class cabin on Lufthansa aircraft became no longer available as of January 1, 2013.
Is the “game” over for some FlyerTalk members as a result of this new policy — or are FlyerTalk members “just too used to being over-entitled”?

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