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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:17 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Programs: Alaska MVP Gold, United Gold, Hilton Silver, Marriott Gold
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Alaska Upgrades - Upgrade Anytime - Never Happening

Alaska continues to frustrate me more and more with their lack of cohesive technology. I thought their system upgrades were going to make things better, but boy have I been wrong.

I am one of those people that is willing to spend "a little bit more" for full-flex upgrade anytime fares. I validate that it's a U fare for my elite status and pay the higher fare.

After paying, I try to upgrade - and am ALWAYS told that there are no available "upgradable seats", even though 5-7 are available for purchase. Once those become available, I would be able to immediate upgrade.

What Alaska has been doing, is holding excessive amounts of first class seats for sale, until about 48 hours prior to departure. When the upgrade inventory is released, guess what?

PRIORITY IS:

75K on Upgrade Anytime Fare
75K on Prioritize by fare class (discounts included)
MVP Gold on Upgrade Anytime Fare
MVP Gold on Prioritized by fare class (discounts included)
MVP on Upgrade Anytime Fare
MVP on prioritized by fare class (discounts included)

So I can be looking at a first class cabin pretty much wide open, and choose to book an upgrade anytime fare, assuming I have a solid chance at upgrading. Alaska holds the inventory so late, that the NORMAL status upgrades happen first, prior to any upgrade anytime fares. I feel bad for MVP's, because they will never seen upgrades again. MVP Golds are already missing most all upgrades now.

At the end of last year, as an MVP Gold on an upgrade anytime fare with 5 open seats 72 hours prior to departure - I not only didn't get upgraded... but while at the airport I had 18 people ahead of me. The agent was cool enough to look at the upgrades that had processed and confirmed people upgraded were not upgrade anytime fares, but just normal 75K's - through normal upgrade processes on discounted fares.

If this is the case, all upgrade anytime fare will do for you - is put you at the highest rank(s) of your Elite Status class. With the abundance of 75k's now, the Gold benefit is gone. I get upgraded more frequently on United (as a gold too) than I do on Alaska...... From the Portland market...

Alaska has been making questionable moves making me decide that I likely am going to switch to an alternative, which I have never ultimately wanted to do..:

1. The new "upgrade" path
2. Lack of partner network upgrades (u never get them on delta)
3. Turboprops are slower/louder/more turbulent than CRJ's (longer flights)
4. Common routes to SFO/SJC/Calgary/Vancouver use more CRJ's than 737
5. Food in first class is attempting to get "too fancy", in which everyone opts for the "safe" meal, leaving anyone beyond row 3 with no choice.
6. While some mileage redemption rates can be low, they're pretty much never accessible. You must use 2x to 3x the miles that you would on a United or former Continental.
7. Lack of destinations going anywhere eastbound, forcing partner connections only on Delta (and Delta sucks for the record.)
8. Getting shut out of terminals .. (Anyone else have to experience that some flights out of SFO from Alaska are now going out of International terminals?)
9. My in ability of a long time elite to get on the TSA list
10. Very poor/limited functional technology. (From iphone App to website)
11. No TV's in seats. Digi-players are OK, but if you're flying to DCA - it should have different content for different directions.
12. Never have I once been invited to the MVP Gold or other meetings.
13. If a travel department handles your travels and makes a minor change to "bundled" travel like a hotel (even though it doesn't touch your reservation or confirmation codes, it will reset your upgrade if you've been upgraded.)
14. Million-Miler requirements with Alaska are difficult. Connections requirements should be added or a lower tier of million-miler. If your preferred airlines (outside of DCA/ANC/ORD) are maximum 1000 mile opportunities, it would take you 1000 flights to achieve (and partner flights aren't included!).
15. I hate getting the "Credit Card" pitch on every single flight that is taken, usually at the highest possible audible level on the intercom.
16. The bait/switch with the BOA Alaska Airlines Card
17. Static fares for first class... ALMOST always...
18. Lack of an "economy plus" type functionality being adopted by other airlines.

While I may sound negative and bitter, I still like Alaska for other reasons.

1. Friendly people, all the time.
2. Comfortable/modern planes
3. In-flight Wi-Fi
4. Very quick/efficient service
5. Communicative cabin/pilots
6. Very good about avoiding turbulent areas
7. Almost always on-time
8. Take advantage of boarding earlier than scheduled
9. Usually no "flight" problems
10. Can switch flights quickly and easily (free for Elites)
11. Positive approach and contributions to the Northwest area

I am begging, pleading and torturing myself just trying to make Alaska Airlines work for me.... but they keep alienating me every chance they get. Since it's January, I just took my first two Alaska flights... but it's easy to switch.

Any Alaska Airlines experts know what the heck is going on with this airline?

While I complain, I love Alaska for
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Old Jan 11, 13, 2:40 pm   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shatterpdx View Post
Alaska continues to frustrate me more and more with their lack of cohesive technology. I thought their system upgrades were going to make things better, but boy have I been wrong.

I am one of those people that is willing to spend "a little bit more" for full-flex upgrade anytime fares. I validate that it's a U fare for my elite status and pay the higher fare.

After paying, I try to upgrade - and am ALWAYS told that there are no available "upgradable seats", even though 5-7 are available for purchase. Once those become available, I would be able to immediate upgrade.
I am very confused and if I am being obviously obtuse, I apologise. I have read the "How complimentary upgrades work" thread over and over and I have even asked similar questions on the newbie thread and the answers I get support what I have read. I understood that if an MVP buys a value or full flex fare they are eligible for immediate upgrade. The operative word being immediate. Assuming there is U space (which the OP says he checked before purchasing), then is he not then immediately upgraded? Why would one need to go on an upgrade waitlist? I am sorry, I'm really confused now as I thought I had this figured out. From the "How comp upgades work":

Originally Posted by "alaskaair.com
For Qualifying Fares: If you have purchased the qualifying fare for your Elite Level, you are eligible for an immediate upgrade. If an upgrade is available on your flight, you will be upgraded immediately. If there are no upgrades available for your flight, you will be immediately placed on the upgrade waitlist.

So does seeing the U not mean there are upgrades available, just that they are allowed? It matters to me because I would only buy that flight if I knew an upgrade was available. Does it not happen immediately? Again, sorry if everyone knows this but I have never seen this anywhere, and I have read all the info I could find on AS upgrades.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:09 pm   #3
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If you are:
1) an MVP, and
2) you buy a Y/S/B fare, and
3) there is U space at the time of purchase, then
You will be upgraded immediately. You must be the only person on your PNR to receive the complimentary upgrade.

If you are:
1) an MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K, and
2) you buy a Y/S/B/M/H (Value) fare, and
3) there is U space at the time of purchase, then
You will be upgraded immediately. You must have no more than 2 people on your PNR to receive the complimentary upgrade.

If there is not U space at the time of your purchase but you still meet criteria 1) and 2) for your elite status level, you go on the upgrade waitlist immediately and are eligible for any U space that becomes available (after those already on and above you on the waitlist have cleared of course).

You can always identify whether there is U space available by shopping for the appropriate upgrade fare: in the upgrade preference dropdown, select "MVP Upgrade" or "MVP Gold Upgrade" depending on your status level. A gold U will show up next to those flights that are upgrade eligible and have U space. If you see a U with a slash through it, it means that there is no U space available, but you can still buy the expensive fare to waitlist immediately.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:12 pm   #4
 
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Like finkface, I am a bit confused. (But that's nothing new!)

My understanding of your situation is, you buy a ticket having selected the MVP Gold Upgrade fare type. You find, after having completed the transaction, that you cannot upgrade into the F cabin as you expected you would be able to.

I made a dummy JNU-LAX rez and selected the MVP Gold Upgrade fare type. That brought up many available flights, many of which had the gold U at the right edge of the Flight Information box. Hovering the cursor over any old gold U brought up a small dialog box that said "Flight Available for MVP Gold Upgrade". If I had made a choice of flights that had these gold U's and, once the purchasing part was done, I found that I was not able to consummate the upgrade into F - I would be pi$$ed. That said, I have never had that experience before. I just always made sure to confirm that the upgrade was available with the cursor-hovering maneuver prior to completing the purchase.

I also noticed that some of the flights in my dummy rez had greyed-out U's with slashes through them. The dialog box for those U's said "Instant Upgrade Unavailable". That may be what's happening with you, but I can't imagine you would buy a ticket with a slashed U and then expect to get an instant upgrade after the transaction was complete.

Can you clarify if this was the process you've been following?
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:18 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shatterpdx View Post
15. I hate getting the "Credit Card" pitch on every single flight that is taken, usually at the highest possible audible level on the intercom.
Completely agree with you on this front. It's embarrassing when traveling with friends or colleagues to whom I have sung Alaska's praises when the FAs make the same tired and sales-y pitch on every flight. It is way too long and too loud. It disrupts conversation. And that "special" offer is a lot less special when it's been available for years. I'd be okay with it if they had a rule about making the announcement only on ex. Seattle/Portland flights (for example) so as to limit the number of times the average passenger has to listen to it on each round trip.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:30 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baliktad View Post
If you are:
1) an MVP, and
2) you buy a Y/S/B fare, and
3) there is U space at the time of purchase, then
You will be upgraded immediately. You must be the only person on your PNR to receive the complimentary upgrade.

If you are:
1) an MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K, and
2) you buy a Y/S/B/M/H (Value) fare, and
3) there is U space at the time of purchase, then
You will be upgraded immediately. You must have no more than 2 people on your PNR to receive the complimentary upgrade.

If there is not U space at the time of your purchase but you still meet criteria 1) and 2) for your elite status level, you go on the upgrade waitlist immediately and are eligible for any U space that becomes available (after those already on and above you on the waitlist have cleared of course).

You can always identify whether there is U space available by shopping for the appropriate upgrade fare: in the upgrade preference dropdown, select "MVP Upgrade" or "MVP Gold Upgrade" depending on your status level. A gold U will show up next to those flights that are upgrade eligible and have U space. If you see a U with a slash through it, it means that there is no U space available, but you can still buy the expensive fare to waitlist immediately.
Thanks, Baliktad. That is exactly what I understood. In fact, your generous answers to other questions that I have asked on this same topic were Part of what I based my knowledge on. So my question is the same: if U was available when the OP bought his ticket, why then did he not get his immediate upgrade? What happened there? Why was he even on a waitlist for upgrades (which was why he is upset with AS and how they prioritize those waitlists)? That's why I am confused and want to understand so I don't make the same mistake.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:31 pm   #7
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For customers with your spending patterns, AS is the wrong airline for you if upgrades is what you really want.

Sorry.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:35 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
For customers with your spending patterns, AS is the wrong airline for you if upgrades is what you really want.

Sorry.
Now I am really confused. I don't understand what this means.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 3:53 pm   #9
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Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
Now I am really confused. I don't understand what this means.
Most airlines have expanded inventory for customers who buys expensive fares [usually refundable fares] or gives them top priority for upgrade. Basically, the gist of this gripe here is that the OP buys the expensive fares expecting to get top or near top priority as it is published as "instant upgrade" fare. Now, he learned that 75Ks on instant and NON-instant fares have top priority once we are inside the upgrade window [120 hours out]. Therefore, your instant upgrade fare is worthless in some ways. As matter of fact, MVP who books an instant upgrade fare before the Gold has the priority.

This also speaks true for Golds who purchase full Y fare 40 hours before departure who will end up BELOW all elites [possibility including DL elites as we are not clear about when AS adds DL elites to the upgrade list]. Yes, a Gold on Y fare booked 24 hours out will be below an MVP on G fare.

AS's system prioritizes upgrades based on time added to waitlist NOT fare class or status when it comes to MVPs/Golds/DL Elites.

On other airlines, status then fare class will dominate the upgrade list, not time added to the waitlist.

All of this assumes U space was never available from booking until getting the upgrade at the gate.

OP, your general understanding is accurate, but your upgrade priority list is wrong. Please refer to this thread How Complimentary Upgrades Work for more information on how upgrades work on AS.

ETA: I wouldn't be surprised that down the road, AS will add fare classes to the upgrade prioritization, however, such feature will not change customer spending patterns that much [I think, as often those customers who purchases last minute fares will still buy last minute fares no matter how the program is designed]. So, is it worthwhile for them to pour in the energy, funds, and resources to implement this into the upgrade program coding? Only those that have access to customers spending patterns, market research, and works in IT will know
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Last edited by golfingboy; Jan 11, 13 at 4:31 pm.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 4:05 pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
Most airlines have expanded inventory for customers who buys expensive fares [usually refundable fares] or gives them top priority for upgrade. Basically, the gist of this gripe here is that the OP buys the expensive fares expecting to get top or near top priority as it is published as "instant upgrade" fare. Now, he learned that 75Ks on instant and NON-instant fares have top priority once we are inside the upgrade window [120 hours out]. Therefore, your instant upgrade fare is worthless in some ways. As matter of fact, MVP who books an instant upgrade fare before the Gold has the priority.

This also speaks true for Golds who purchase full Y fare 40 hours before departure who will end up BELOW all elites [possibility including DL elites as we are not clear about when AS adds DL elites to the upgrade list]. Yes, a Gold on Y fare booked 24 hours out will be below an MVP on G fare.

AS's system prioritizes upgrades based on time added to waitlist NOT fare class or status when it comes to MVPs/Golds/DL Elites.

On other airlines, status then fare class will dominate the upgrade list, not time added to the waitlist.

All of this assumes U space was never available from booking until getting the upgrade at the gate.

OP, your general understanding is accurate, but your upgrade priority list is wrong. Please refer to this thread How Complimentary Upgrades Work for more information on how upgrades work on AS.
Ah, I get it. But that still doesn't explain why, if the U was available, he didn't get his immediate upgrade. Is it the timing? Between hitting the 'choose flight' button and moving on to the next screen, all of the U space was alloted because he was T-120 or whenever? That sounds a bit unlikely and it sounds like this is a recurring problem for him so I doubt that's it. Why didn't the system upgrade him immediately if U was available? That is what is supposed to happen.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 4:21 pm   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
Ah, I get it. But that still doesn't explain why, if the U was available, he didn't get his immediate upgrade. Is it the timing? Between hitting the 'choose flight' button and moving on to the next screen, all of the U space was alloted because he was T-120 or whenever? That sounds a bit unlikely and it sounds like this is a recurring problem for him so I doubt that's it. Why didn't the system upgrade him immediately if U was available? That is what is supposed to happen.
I think the OP is choosing flights where it wasn't available... but thinking that the anytime fare gave him/her a higher priority when upgrades DID come available... and generally speaking, thats how it works.

However, in a market that is heavy with 75K flyers, that priority doesn't give you nearly as much insurance.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 4:27 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by missydarlin View Post
I think the OP is choosing flights where it wasn't available... but thinking that the anytime fare gave him/her a higher priority when upgrades DID come available... and generally speaking, thats how it works.

However, in a market that is heavy with 75K flyers, that priority doesn't give you nearly as much insurance.
I think that's probably it as well. Or he was looking at the wrong U, by choosing to look at all upgrades, not just the one specific to his status level.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 4:34 pm   #13
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Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
I think that's probably it as well. Or he was looking at the wrong U, by choosing to look at all upgrades, not just the one specific to his status level.
There is only one U. The different in "U"s you are seeing is for different upgrade avenues [MVP via Y/YAS fares, Golds via H+, Mileage, and Guest Upgrade], but they all book into the same U bucket. If U is not available for Guest Upgrade Certificates, then the Gold U or the Teal U will not be available as well. So, if a Gold sees the Gold U then an MVP will see a teal U, both of them can confirm the upgrade as early as booking. Since the OP is a Gold, the OP is eligible to upgrade via all avenues granted he meets certain fare class criterias for each upgrade avenue.

Bottom line, if you see the slashed U next to the flight information in the flight search, there is no U available.
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Old Jan 11, 13, 4:39 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
There is only one U. The different in "U"s you are seeing is for different upgrade avenues [MVP via Y/YAS fares, Golds via H+, Mileage, and Guest Upgrade], but they all book into the same U bucket. If U is not available for Guest Upgrade Certificates, then the Gold U or the Teal U will not be available as well. So, if a Gold sees the Gold U then an MVP will see a teal U, both of them can confirm the upgrade as early as booking. Since the OP is a Gold, the OP is eligible to upgrade via all avenues granted he meets certain fare class criterias for each upgrade avenue.

Bottom line, if you see the slashed U next to the flight information in the flight search, there is no U available.
So it's sounding more and more like the U wasn't available when he booked. Can the OP clarify?
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Old Jan 11, 13, 5:01 pm   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shatterpdx View Post
So I can be looking at a first class cabin pretty much wide open, and choose to book an upgrade anytime fare, assuming I have a solid chance at upgrading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finkface View Post
So it's sounding more and more like the U wasn't available when he booked. Can the OP clarify?
I think it's pretty clear from the OP's post that there wasn't U space at booking, but the OP was assuming (wrongly) that a mostly empty F cabin meant that U space would be released before the regular upgrade window. I, for one, would never buy the instant upgrade fare if I didn't see the U - too much of a gamble (and usually an expensive one at that).
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