FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Michael Covey Managing Director, MileagePlus, United Airlines

Feb 1, 2023
January/February 2023

PHOTO: © BARRY BRECHEISEN

THE BASICS
Name: Michael Covey
Title: Managing director, MileagePlus
Company, city: United Airlines; Chicago, Illinois
First job: Re-shelving library books at age 13 for $4.15 an hour
Where to next: Singapore! I have never been there and I’m grateful Crazy Rich Asians is playing on our planes so I can know the top sites.

A LITTLE BIT MORE
What actor or actress would play you in a movie of your life?
Adam Scott. He seems down-to-earth with incredibly versatile acting skills. I have a connection to Parks and Recreation, and his acting in Severance was second to none.

What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t in your current industry?
I would be teaching French. In college I spent many hours studying 19th-century French literature, my major. I still read in French to keep up the skills, and now my daughter takes French in middle school, so I get to live that dream at home.

What is your favorite book, movie or television show?
I just reread Of Mice and Men, one of my favorites; a few of us in MileagePlus had a small book club to dig into the book’s themes. But my favorite book is The Power of One, historical fiction weaving the upbringing of a South African boy with the history of the nation. Reading it inspired an incredible trip to Africa.

What historical figure, dead or alive, would you love to have dinner with?
I would have dinner with Darwin and discuss what it was like when he traveled the world and landed in the Galápagos.

THE BUSINESS
What is your most recent project, and what was the inspiration behind it?
We recently launched and continue to expand Money+Miles, a new form of payment allowing MileagePlus members to combine a custom amount of miles with cash to pay for flights. The team created this to increase flexibility for redeeming miles and make booking with miles more accessible.

What is your favorite aspect of the job?
I have an incredibly diverse team. Some started careers on the tarmac, in medical software, in international research. Some have been at United for 10 years, some just starting. We include individuals from different countries, first-generation Americans and people with family in Chicago for generations. We have globetrotters and homebodies. Introverts and extroverts. I most enjoy coming together with our different perspectives to develop new concepts and ideas.

What’s the biggest business risk you’ve ever taken?
The biggest risk was adjusting how members qualify for Premier status in 2019, moving toward a revenue-based program, away from distance-based. I was hesitant at first, as no other major U.S. carrier made this big shift; however, it made sense because some members spent high amounts at United but didn’t fly far enough to earn status.

Who is someone you admire professionally in the travel industry?
I leave out United employees because I admire so many, especially those who shattered glass ceilings. I’ll keep this to a group: I really admire all the individuals working to make travel more sustainable.

AS A TRAVELER
Tell us about a travel nightmare: My first trip as a parent, I was unprepared to travel with a 2-month-old. I now pack an emergency outfit for every member of the family. I will let your imagination fill in the gaps.

Share a comical travel experience: As an airline employee, almost all travel is a bit comical, as you show up to the airport, bags in hand, ready for an adventure with no idea if you’ll make it onto a plane. My family of four was attempting to travel to Europe. After the first three flights didn’t work out, we crossed our fingers for the last flight to London. We were the last four to get seats, and the gate agents joked to “run and find any open seat.” It was my son’s first trip with a portable DVD player, and he watched it for all eight hours. When we approached London, he said it was the best plane ride ever. This was before screen time was a thing!

What is your preferred method of travel — planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships — and why? Planes, especially on award flights: a confirmed seat, cruising in the safest mode of travel at 550 mph to visit another country. Nothing beats saying, “Have a good weekend” on Friday afternoon and then Monday morning comes with a new stamp.

What has been the best example of customer service you’ve experienced during your travels? When I took my family to South America, a teddy bear was waiting for my son on the bed in our room. I’m impressed when companies take information they have about customers and use it to put a smile on a traveler’s face. Recognition goes a long way for me in terms of customer service.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed

Global City Guidebook: Rotorua

Located on Lake Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is a hot spot for volcanic landscapes, hot springs, outdoor recreation and Māori culture. If you are looking for a destination where you can spend most of your time outdoors, Rotorua is for you.

Hotel Indigo: The World’s Neighborhood Hotel

Part of the IHG Luxury & Lifestyle portfolio, Hotel Indigo is the world’s neighborhood hotel that celebrates how guests can discover, or rediscover, some of the most inspiring and culturally rich neighborhoods around the world. When staying at a Hotel Indigo hotel, it's not just about visiting a place — it's about being fully immersed in the neighborhood and wanting to take a little bit of it home. When traveling for business, Hotel Indigo offers a unique experience tailored to each location, making it the perfect choice to stay while traveling for work. With IHG Business Edge, travel managers have exclusive access to enticing perks, comprehensive travel metrics and carefully curated educational resources. It also includes a guaranteed discount on both business and personal travel for managers and employees, alongside an automatic upgrade to IHG One Rewards Silver Elite status after the initial IHG Business Edge stay.

Balearic Islands Tighten Tourism Laws

Spain’s Balearic Islands’ government recently announced tighter laws targeting excessive tourism. The new law bans drinking on public roads and prohibits shops from selling alcohol late at night. Tourists found breaking these rules could be fined up to €3,000.

NH Collection Debuts in Finland

The new NH Collection Helsinki Grand Hansa marks the brand’s latest property. Located in the center of the Finnish capital, the property combines two historically significant buildings, Hotel Seurahuone and Student House. The hotel features 224 guestrooms and suites, including a grand, 1,722-square-foot presidential suite.

Exclusive Savings: Cruise Along the Danube River with Global Traveler

Exclusive Sailing with Global Traveler

Global City Guidebook: Toronto

Toronto, Canada’s largest and most populated city, sits on Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. Ontario’s capital city, it boasts a skyscraper-crowded skyline dominated by the iconic CN Tower, but it also features many green spaces and 530 miles of the Bikeways Network. With 158 distinct neighborhoods, the city is known for its multiculturalism as well as being a world leader in technology, finance and entertainment.

Daily
Jul 11, 2024

Celebrate National Caviar Day at The Meritage Resort & Spa

Calling all caviar lovers! Celebrate National Caviar Day July 18 at the newly renovated Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, California. Sip delicious, handcrafted cocktails and indulge in a lavish, luxurious spread of the world’s finest caviar for the ultimate taste experience.

Extend Your Stay In Trendy Madrid

With its rich artistic and natural heritage, its outstanding transport network, the quality of its accommodation, its excellent gastronomy, and the passion with which the people of Madrid enjoy both the day and the night, the capital of Spain is one of the most attractive cities in the world.

Daily
Jul 11, 2024

Patrick Mouratoglou Partners with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón on Tennis Center

World-renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced a partnership with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón to debut the first Mouratoglou Tennis Center in Florida. The center opened in early summer 2024 boasting training camps, private lessons, leagues and retreats that deliver a premium tennis experience.