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Old Aug 3, 12, 3:59 pm   #1
 
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ZRH-SFO F/J awards question

I have been scouting awards from ZRH to SFO for some time in anticipation of my award booking next week.
I have noticed that the ZRH-IAD-SFO is the most readily available and the last to go. That is understandable as the IAD-SFO is in a domestic F.
However, I am puzzled by why the ZRH-LHR-SFO award is next to last to go (after the FRA 777/747 awards) and fairly easy to find.
As far as I can tell the LHR to SFO in the 777-200 has new F and J seats, yet nobody seems to want those.
Anything I am not seeing here? Any insight would be appreciated.
TIA
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Old Aug 3, 12, 4:24 pm   #2
 
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I'm not following ... you see award availability, but want to know why it is so?
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Old Aug 3, 12, 5:01 pm   #3
 
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SFO-LHR is 2 x daily and because LHR is not a hub, these flights are not perennially packed with connecting traffic like SFO-FRA for example. Often times this is the only award space available to Europe from SFO on UA when the flights to Chicago and Dulles are all zeroed out in the summer.

Keep in mind that they still do have an old config 777 in rotation on SFO-LHR so although the new config is pretty reliable, my last flight was showing old config until two days before departure.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 5:17 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by malgudi View Post
I'm not following ... you see award availability, but want to know why it is so?
What I want to know is why do people grab FRA - SFO flights faster than the LHR - SFO flights (UA, not LH) - as in - are those planes from FRA with better/newer F/J seats?
Obviously, if you are flying from FRA itself, then it makes sense; but there are people connecting from other parts of Europe (like ZRH) that have the option to connect in FRA or LHR and it seems that the FRA flights go first.
aussieinsf partially answered the question.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 5:39 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulchili View Post
I have been scouting awards from ZRH to SFO for some time in anticipation of my award booking next week.
I have noticed that the ZRH-IAD-SFO is the most readily available and the last to go. That is understandable as the IAD-SFO is in a domestic F.
However, I am puzzled by why the ZRH-LHR-SFO award is next to last to go (after the FRA 777/747 awards) and fairly easy to find.
As far as I can tell the LHR to SFO in the 777-200 has new F and J seats, yet nobody seems to want those.
Anything I am not seeing here? Any insight would be appreciated.
TIA
I have been watching award availability as well for SFO-ZRH flights for the future. I would never agree to go through LHR due to how large it is for walking since I have some mobility issues. Much prefer FRA if I have to connect. I flew AA last time (award gift from family in J) and connected at JFK. Not much walking and was very convenient but didn't like that it felt like I was taking 2 overseas flights in one day due to 3.5 hr delay at JFK. It was a very long trip as I prefer direct flights if at all possible.

My last trip through LHR on VS, in 2003, was my last. Won't do that again! The solid 25 minute walk to the concourse was a real killer for me. Also, the amount of people at LHR feels like NYE in Times Square with the crowds. Just not my cup of tea.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 5:56 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by DavisCalifJr View Post
I have been watching award availability as well for SFO-ZRH flights for the future. I would never agree to go through LHR due to how large it is for walking since I have some mobility issues. Much prefer FRA if I have to connect. I flew AA last time (award gift from family in J) and connected at JFK. Not much walking and was very convenient but didn't like that it felt like I was taking 2 overseas flights in one day due to 3.5 hr delay at JFK. It was a very long trip as I prefer direct flights if at all possible.

My last trip through LHR on VS, in 2003, was my last. Won't do that again! The solid 25 minute walk to the concourse was a real killer for me. Also, the amount of people at LHR feels like NYE in Times Square with the crowds. Just not my cup of tea.
I certainly agree with you about not wanting to connect in IAD or JFK - I want the T/A long flight to be in one segment (be it from FRA or LHR).
I am not as much concerned about the walking part (though I understand your point of view) - I am more concerned about having a good F or J seat on that long flight.
Of course, if an LX J award ZRH-SFO would be more of a reality instead of just a dream, that would be best
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Old Aug 3, 12, 6:23 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulchili View Post
I certainly agree with you about not wanting to connect in IAD or JFK - I want the T/A long flight to be in one segment (be it from FRA or LHR).
I am not as much concerned about the walking part (though I understand your point of view) - I am more concerned about having a good F or J seat on that long flight.
Of course, if an LX J award ZRH-SFO would be more of a reality instead of just a dream, that would be best
If you're flying F, then it isn't too hard to find space on either FRA-SFO or LHR-SFO. C award space is much, much harder to find, especially on FRA-SFO.

In terms of the seat, F on the old 777 is still a suite, although not as nice as new F and the old F suites are pretty worn and beaten up. C is the big difference, with lie flat on new 777s and barcalounger/cradle seats on the old 777. Lots of folks steer away from the LHR flight because of the risk of getting the old C seats.

If you had status and flexibility to make changes close in time without paying change fees, the best option is of course the nonstop on LX from ZRH-SFO. LX doesn't usually release award space in C or F until very close to departure dates, sometimes only a day or two in advance, or never. If it were me, even if I didn't have status I think the change fee would be well worth it if LX opened up C or F space on the flight I wanted.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 6:41 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulchili:19055718
Quote:
Originally Posted by malgudi View Post
I'm not following ... you see award availability, but want to know why it is so?
What I want to know is why do people grab FRA - SFO flights faster than the LHR - SFO flights (UA, not LH) - as in - are those planes from FRA with better/newer F/J seats?
Obviously, if you are flying from FRA itself, then it makes sense; but there are people connecting from other parts of Europe (like ZRH) that have the option to connect in FRA or LHR and it seems that the FRA flights go first.
aussieinsf partially answered the question.
people are able to connect in FRA much more readily than in LHR because of LH....So it drives up the demand for FRA flights...

Last edited by Cargojon; Aug 3, 12 at 10:24 pm.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 8:22 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by SFOTurtle View Post
If you're flying F, then it isn't too hard to find space on either FRA-SFO or LHR-SFO. C award space is much, much harder to find, especially on FRA-SFO.

In terms of the seat, F on the old 777 is still a suite, although not as nice as new F and the old F suites are pretty worn and beaten up. C is the big difference, with lie flat on new 777s and barcalounger/cradle seats on the old 777. Lots of folks steer away from the LHR flight because of the risk of getting the old C seats.
So, are you saying that if I fly out of FRA, in either F or C, 777 or 747, I am not likely to get the old seats but there is a chance out of LHR to get the barcalounger in C?
If so, that would explain why the FRA awards go before LHR.
BTW, these flights are not till next June/July - are the 777s out SFO to LHR likely to be fully updated by then (as in de-barcaloungerized )?
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Old Aug 3, 12, 10:09 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Paulchili View Post
So, are you saying that if I fly out of FRA, in either F or C, 777 or 747, I am not likely to get the old seats but there is a chance out of LHR to get the barcalounger in C?
If so, that would explain why the FRA awards go before LHR.
BTW, these flights are not till next June/July - are the 777s out SFO to LHR likely to be fully updated by then (as in de-barcaloungerized )?
In general, yes. Right now, you've got about a 75% chance of getting the new C seats on the extended range 777s that serve both LHR and from March through late October the second, later flight between FRA and SFO. UA operates a daily 744 between SFO and FRA, and you have a 100% chance of new C on that flight (assuming you don't get a cancellation). The 744 flights, UA 900/901, are pretty tough to score C award seats or R/RN upgrade availability in advance. Tends to open up somewhat closer in time, but you can't count on it. Your odds are slightly better in the summer time when there's less business travel on the route. By next June or July, your odds of getting new C on the 777 operated flights (either from LHR or the later flight from FRA) should be near 100% assuming UA doesn't halt its IPTE conversions. As of late, however, the pace of converting the last extended range 777s has slowed to a crawl.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 10:16 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paulchili View Post
So, are you saying that if I fly out of FRA, in either F or C, 777 or 747, I am not likely to get the old seats but there is a chance out of LHR to get the barcalounger in C?
If so, that would explain why the FRA awards go before LHR.
BTW, these flights are not till next June/July - are the 777s out SFO to LHR likely to be fully updated by then (as in de-barcaloungerized )?
Besides the FT community, I'm not sure how many people actively choose which routes to fly based on the probability of getting an old-config 777, especially on an award ticket. SFO-FRA has to support far more connecting traffic on either end than SFO-LHR (which has far less feed on the European side). This is likely the true cause of award demand (and limited supply, as UA/LH know they need to support revenue traffic on the route) than differences in hard product.
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Old Aug 3, 12, 11:56 pm   #12
 
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Thank you all for your replies and advice. The info does help.
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