Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan - The New Upgrade Debacle
Feb 25, 04, 10:08 am
Well I have had my first experience with the new "simplified" fares and the new upgrade policy. I had been holding out hope that the new fare structure for the 14-21 day advance purchase period would allow fare types where I could upgrade, but no.......
I've booked a trip between LA and SEA two weeks out and the reservation engine that I'm required to use came up with a V fare going one direction and a Q fare going the other, hence I can upgrade one direction but not the other. Last week when I did a couple of test runs, I came up with H fares going both ways (which would have qualified) so, I'm not sure what's simpler about the fares - - it seems to me they've changed some of the fare codes and rules around but the confusing smorgasbord of fare types is still out there and it continues to change week to week based upon what other airlines might be doing.
So, here I am a loyal AS flyer, flying twice a week, not going out and looking for deeply discounted fares, but taking whatever the reservation engine comes up with going a couple of weeks out (which is how far in advance I normally book) and I feel like I'm getting screwed. I really don't want the hassle of checking to make sure I come off of a pre waitlist (and since upgrades are going by fare paid, rather than time of booking my V fare might not ever get me a seat in F).
I've seen a couple of comments regarding the negativity on the Board here lately, and I know my posts have not exactly resonated positives, but good gravy: I'm truly disheartened with the changes I've seen over the last year and being someone who spends five plus hours every week in AS metal, I'd honestly expected to be treated better.
It makes me wonder what AS/AAG leadership is thinking.
Feb 25, 04, 12:53 pm
Alaska seems to have an antiquated and perhaps overly "romantic" view of business travel ... while perhaps the majority of last minute tickets purchased at the higher fare levels are for business, most business travel these days isn't last minute. Businesses now try to plan travel in advance and buy advance purchase tickets for one overriding reason -- to save money on travel. Alaska's effort to get advance purchase business travelers to buy more expensive fares than really necessary to get to their destination is already being noticed and stomped on. Hard.
I work with quite a few companies and am familar with many of their travel policies. Several have explicitly mentioned Alaska's new scheme and stated that they will audit every ticket purchased on Alaska. If a more expensive fare is purchased than the lowest available for the itinerary, then *the traveller will be responsible the difference*.
And to stop people from holding back on their plans and buying last minute tickets (hoping for an upgradable fare to be the lowest available), one company restricts any last minute tickets to be bought on Southwest for most routes unless otherwise approved. At another company, your last minute ticket will be on an airline that has a "First Class" cabin, but the company will select the airline and they purposely moved AS to the bottom of the list of possibilities because of the new scheme.
All these companies allow their employees to accrue and keep mileage earned for business travel. Employees are also free to use their mileage, status and upgrade certificates to upgrade their business travel. However it is against the policies of all these companies to have the company pay more for a ticket than it has to just so you can have a chance at an upgrade.
While I work with these companies, I don't work for them -- I can arrange my own travel and decide what fare basis to purchase. That leads into Alaska's other big problem with it's so called First Class. The product and service have declined to the point of just not being worth it anymore.
Alaska's "First Class" is no longer an incentive to me to either pay or fly more on Alaska to sit in it.
[This message has been edited by Quokka (edited Feb 25, 2004).]
Feb 25, 04, 2:33 pm
I just completed a Sun-Tue SEA-LAX-SEA roundtrip on AS on I think a W fare (was $320) paid for by my employer.
I was able to snag the last free First seat at checkin for the $50 on the 737-900 (second time on a 739, both in First) and yes, the service is certainly not what it used to be (my last AS flight was SEA-LAS-SEA in First in October 2000). But for $50, it beat sitting in back. Plane was 100% full, though we must have had two misconnects cause 1AC went out empty and they were booked (I was in 1F and could not get any other seat, but I wanted Row 1 so I was happy).
Coming home, she was again at 100% so no upgrade available. Was a 739 and I was in 22C. Have to say that the 739 is a comfortable plane as AS flies it. Lot better than a UA 733/735 or 752. Not Economy Plus legroom, but still I could stretch and flex my legs so for two hours, even packed, it was not that bad.
While I have sworn off AS for personal flying in favor of UA, I will probably be flying them for business (going to ANC in April and AS is $185 web special vs. $300 for UA). I'm glad to see that at least the 739s (and I assume the 73Gs) will be comfortable enough in back if I can't score a same-day upgrade (I'll cough up 20K miles for First to and from ANC as soon as I book).
And who knows, I may make MVP then I can gripe about the new changes in here with the rest of you. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/biggrin.gif
Feb 25, 04, 6:48 pm
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by SEA_Tigger:
Was a 739 and I was in 22C. Have to say that the 739 is a comfortable plane as AS flies it. Lot better than a UA 733/735 or 752. Not Economy Plus legroom, but still I could stretch and flex my legs so for two hours, even packed, it was not that bad. I'm glad to see that at least the 739s (and I assume the 73Gs) will be comfortable enough in back if I can't score a same-day upgrade</font>
Coach on the 739s and 73Gs is pretty comparable (same seat design and enlarged overhead bins). There are two exit rows on the 739 vs. one (super roomy) exit row on the 73G. Avoid row 7 on the 73G (bad legroom) and 6ABC (bulkhead) on the 739 (all 739s will eventually feature a mid-cabin lav btwn First and coach).
I find a coach aisle seat on an AS 737 to be OK comfort-wise. There is a little more legroom than with UA E- (and CO, DL 737/57s for that matter). I also like MD-80s (towards the front) due to the 2x3 and 18" wide seats.
Feb 26, 04, 1:16 am
I just flew SEA-ANC today, and due to a change of plans yesterday, I lost my confirmed seat in first. There were absolutely no F seats to ANC all day long today. I did not clear the waitlist and flew in coach, but here's the amazing thing: They did the 1st class pre-board and then all the MVP Golds. There were approx 10 MVP Golds that were in line to sit in coach (I was among that second group called). I find this rather amazing. Demand far exceeds supply which is quite elementary here, but it proves that AS needs another level. A platinum level is sorely needed. The ranks of Gold are too crowded, and I think there should be a differentiation between a 100K plus flyer (I am one--though soon to be former) on AS and a 50K flyer.
I will add that first class is most definitely not worth 20K. The product and the legroom is horrible compared to a CO 757 flight in 1st a few days ago. I also think AS should have four rows in 1st on all 3hr+ flights. They've raised the *price* of the cabin, so how about making some seats actually available. For there not to be even one 1st class seat available (for anyone, even walk-up purchasers) in a market for nearly two solid days in late February (not X-mas or the summer travel)to Anchorage...?? I thought that was one of the major purposes of instituting the new system--to open up availability to late purchasers.