United invited elite MileagePlus members running in the New York City marathon on a first come, first serve basis to join a fuel up dinner tonight — the night before the race — at Del Posto restaurant in New York for a special carbo-loading on Mario Batali specialties. Olympian Meb Keflezighi will be a special guest at the dinner.
This is tonight’s menu:
While the meal was free — in both miles and money — there was an opportunity to bid on guaranteed marathon entry packages that included a dinner invitation and access to United amenities for tomorrow’s race day.
United has a VIP race start tent tomorrow morning with special bib pick-up station to avoid lines and private bathrooms. They’re also providing personalized medal engraving, post-race massages, and snacks.
Here’s a video from last year’s station.
About the only thing United isn’t providing for members on race day is a guaranteed wakeup service. (Those who bid successfully on the package even get transportation to the race.)
To underscore how ubiquitous airline loyalty programs have become, united says that over one third of last year’s 50,000 race finishers were MileagePlus members. (That also speaks to the data matching capabiltieis of the programs as well…)
I love these things. Just like the United Chase lounge at the Short Hills, New Jersey each holiday shopping season there’s a way for programs to be relevant to members’ lives at special moments outside of their usual travel relationships. And a way for elite status to extend beyond the sky, leveraging the relationships of a major corporation. You fly in the sky and on the ground even if there are only a handful of flights in the world which are shorter than 26.2 miles.