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Old Feb 25, 12, 4:18 pm   #1
 
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Upgrade policy at JFK

According to GA at JFK, the upgrade policy when economy is overbooked is according to booking class, and no consideration is taken regarding to passengers with status.
Is that normal procedure with KLM, or is JFK different, or perhaps this GA uninformed?
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Old Feb 26, 12, 7:27 am   #2
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My experience of outstations is that upgrade decisions are usually validated by the station manager in person (or one of his/her assistants if he/she is not around). I think in most cases, these decisions are based on a mixture of booking class, status, PNR messages, and number of passengers on a booking. I think that any attempt to suggest that any of these aspects has 'nothing to do' with the decision is definitely a caricature but the order in which these elements are weighted can certainly vary. May I ask about the circumstances in which the discussion took place? Maybe the GA thought you were trying to get an upgrade and just wanted to 'get rid of you' by saying that your card didn't matter because of a low booking class? My interaction with airport staff friends in various airports (sadly none of which I tend to use a lot! ) is that they all keep repeating me that they hate it/feel embarrassed or annoyed when people ask them about/for upgrades so it wouldn't surprise me if many tried to cut these discussions short.
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Old Feb 26, 12, 7:35 am   #3
 
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KLM wrote me on facebook that the way to upgrade is entirely up to the GA, and there is no company policy regarding the matter

At AMS I've seen at checkin already a clear upgrade listwhich passenger coes first etc.
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Old Feb 26, 12, 8:05 am   #4
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I was under the impression that the upgrades are processed by the system. I will see if I can get any information on this.

Gajan
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Old Feb 26, 12, 9:28 am   #5
 
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I think we've gone through this very often on this Forum. And so far nobody has been able to provide insight to an upgrade policy. Even theories regarding this are always different and often even contra dictionary.

If I were KLM and have an upgrade policy, I would implement in a way that is unpredictable, to avoid people anticipating increased chances to be upgraded, and even worse expecting to be upgraded. That's bad for you business imho...

I doubt we'll ever find a system.
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I never expect or ask for upgrades, but I certainly enjoy them!
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Old Feb 26, 12, 9:35 am   #6
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OPUPS Aren't meant to be perks

UG's undertaken by KL for the purpose of not denying boarding, are not meant to be perks and it makes a great deal of sense that there's no particular order to them as long as the system used is basically fair.

Unlike USA domestic carriers which hand out UG's, European carriers are more cagey about it so as to protect their premium brand.

Whether KL chooses to OPUP a high fare bucket Y pax or a high status flying on a lower fare bucket or a couple on their honeymoon, so long as the decisions aren't based on improper considerations, it's a better business practice than creating yet another opportunity for people to game the system.
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Old Feb 26, 12, 1:59 pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gajan View Post
I was under the impression that the upgrades are processed by the system. I will see if I can get any information on this.

Gajan
My feeling is that upgrades are system-processed ex-AMS (for KL) and ex-CDG (for AF) but I think most outstations operate their own rules. I very very much doubt it is discretion of the GA though, pretty certain it is discretion of the station manager instead. GAs would have the 'physical' power to overrule anything at the gate but would undoubtedly need to justify any decision they make to the station manager and if they chose to go against the rules without having cleared it first I'm 99.99999% certain that they will be in huge trouble.
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Old Feb 26, 12, 4:16 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zembla View Post
If I were KLM and have an upgrade policy, I would implement in a way that is unpredictable, to avoid people anticipating increased chances to be upgraded, and even worse expecting to be upgraded. That's bad for you business imho...

I doubt we'll ever find a system.
What's wrong if a loyal frequent flyer knows that when a flight is overbooked he will be chosen to be upgraded?!
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Old Feb 26, 12, 6:27 pm   #9
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Originally Posted by ELAL View Post
What's wrong if a loyal frequent flyer knows that when a flight is overbooked he will be chosen to be upgraded?!
Because that loyal FF is less likely to purchase J if he thinks he has a good chance at a freebie. And, the only way to know whether he's got a good chance is if the carrier hands out the freebies to pax based on status.
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Old Feb 27, 12, 3:51 am   #10
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What's wrong if a loyal frequent flyer knows that when a flight is overbooked he will be chosen to be upgraded?!
Nothing 'wrong' if it were the case but the truth of the matter is that upgrade rules are far more complex and airlines typically tend to resent providing details that could then be held against them by some furious loyal frequent flyers who don't accept that someone with lower status than them has been upgraded (and by that I don't mean you specifically at all, but just some random proportion of us). Don't you think it is normal that an airline might choose to upgrade someone whose outbound flight was cancelled or whose arrival was delayed by a missed connection even if she or he has lower status than you or me? Or don't you think that if you or me were upgraded last week then maybe someone who is 'only' gold could get their turn this week even if our flight is indeed overbooked again?

I think it has all to do with two things: managing discretion and managing expectations: discretion because (at least European) airlines see no need to have a formal and transparent policy on opups and prefer to see them as 'free rewards' they can distribute as they say fit on the day. Expectations because your aim is to get people who are 'happy to have been upgraded' rather than 'unhappy not to have been' and if you do publish that you will automatically get the very angry plat/gold/silver customer coming to the gate to say 'I AM silver how COME you are not upgrading me??!' which I witness on about 80% of flights I take with any US airline. I'll add that I do know that the reason mentioned by OFTEN1 is, I know considered true by a vast majority of FTers which I entirely respect, but I personally don't buy it. To me, most people who want to fly J and have a chance to would buy a J ticket (or even more so have their employer do so) even ifthey knew their status would put them high up on the opup list, because it is incredibly difficult (impossible) to know in advance if opups will be done on a flight (even if it is zeroed out) and because we all know (unless anyone is totally dellusional) that a typical flight can have a lot of people with the highest status on and there will probably not be upgraded seats for everyone. This could of course be different in the context of 'space available' upgrades such as the ones US airlines operate on domestic flights, but I'm talking of opups here.
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Old Mar 1, 12, 6:06 am   #11
 
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I will add my 2 pence, having worked for both AF and KL.

There is in fact a *very* detailed boarding/upgrade/downgrade hierarchy in place at both companies, which takes into account fare paid, FF status, corporate contract and type of passenger (e.g., handicapped, UM, confirmed staff, etc.). These procedures are integrated with each company's own check-in system (Gaetan and Codeco), thus explaining why it is more "by the rules" at hub stations. At outstations, however, many flights are checked-in using another DCS (e.g., Deltamatic at some US stations...or even AF flights via Codeco in AMS and vv). Although using the "non-native" DCS gets the flight checked-in and dispatched, it doesn't have all the features of the native system and agents often need to manipulate the system to simply print a boarding card (this was my experience at JFK).

Outstations are often staffed with contracted personnel who don't have full understanding of the rules and follow direction from 1 or 2 managers who are trying to oversee not just the check-in and boarding, but also loading, cargo, catering, crew accommodation/transport, airport issues, etc,. He/she may choose to give a blanket directive for handling check-in to balance operational needs with business sense.

Although status is recognized, the corporate contract flyer is royalty. The contract flying makes up a big part of a route's profitability. I will say from my own experience working in a competitor's hub, it was nice to be able to extend an op-up to a traveler who was normally on the competitor's service, in an attempt to get them talking about AF and (possibly) opening the door for a sales contract at some point in the future.

Many frequent travelers know how the flight loads work. They know when to expect their free upgrade. Most were grateful when upgraded, but there were plenty who expected it and wouldn't acknowledge the gesture nor extend even a simple "thank you" when given a boarding card for J class.
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