I sat next to a several year 1K in C on ORD-IAD on a 767. He mentioned that he was connecting onto DXB and in coach for that leg. I told him GPUs were just deposited for those who qualified at the tail end and he should've used one for that leg. His response was: "What's that?"
He knew about mileage upgrades and how those required miles and money and mentioned his wife would never approve of him paying the copays for those. I told him GPUs were just like mileage upgrades, and he even asked if it required a cash copay to use those. I mentioned the W fare requirement but W fares aren't outrageously expensive and generally worth it. I educated him on the fact that he gets at least 6 GPUs a year and he should contact MP for a more detailed lecture on what upgrades he had available to him.
He then asked me how he ended up in C on ORD-IAD and I explained to him what CPUs were.
So how many 1Ks would u estimate have no idea what GPU/RPUs are?
Without flyertalk, I'd say most are pretty clueless. It takes a lot of energy and effort to learn all this stuff--fare buckets, upgradeable fares, etc. If you don't read FT and just read the UA stuff, it's pretty difficult. I had no clue what a 1K's perks were at all, let alone GS, until I read FT. Before that, I just wanted to get premier so I could get economy plus seating. Everything else was a big black box.
Once I read FT, however, I am wise to the ways of these frequent flier programs.
Programs: UA GS, AA PLT, Hyatt Platinum, Marriott Platinum
I have coworkers who didn't know until I told them that GPUs could be used for domestic flights and for friends and family. They were just letting the GPUs go unused because they don't travel internationally and thinking nothing of it.
2013 UA upgrade stats as GS: CPU: 18/22. CPU on Awards: 4/4. RPU: 2/2. GPU: 5/5. 50-seaters: way too many.
Programs: UA 1K & UC, HHonors Gold, Hyatt Diamond, Avis PC, AS, US, AA
About 7 years ago, I did my first trip to Australia. Flew QANTAS, because... well, I was going to Australia. And I grew up in Alaska, so I'd had an AS Mileage Plan account since I was 3 years old, and I knew I could get AS miles on QANTAS. About 15,000 as it turned out. Which, along with two or three trips back to Alaska, must have pushed me over 25K for the year.
Because, about 6 months later I get an envelope from AS informing me that I'm now an MVP member. With a new card that said MVP on it.
To which I said, "Huh, that's probably some sort of clever marketing thing," and threw the card away because the one I'd had 20+ years was still working fine.
I had absolutely no clue. I still believed there was no such thing as a free lunch. Had no idea why I was an "MVP", nor what it meant. And I didn't bother to look it up. Heck, I don't think I even flew AS for the next 12 months. Although I did redeem those 25K miles for LAX-SFO r/t on American Eagle*.
Obviously, at some point in the intervening years I read an article about MRs in the WSJ, got interested, discovered FT, and was born again. Hallelujah! But I suspect there the "accidental elites" like I used to be are more numerous than the FT types.
* Okay, that was an exaggeration. Even then, I wasn't that clueless. Close, though.
I have a colleague who is a MM and has been a 1K or GS for at least the past 7 or 8 years. He has never used a GPU/SWU. I was looking for a sponsor last year and asked him if he had a spare knowing he would. He confessed he had no idea how many he had or what they could be used for.
There are many frequent flyers who don't know much about the FFP they are enrolled in. It's understandable; they don't focus on the flying - they view it as a necessary part of the routine and pay no attention to it. They simply don't care to spend the time to learn the details of the program. I know several people who look at me in a clueless fashion when I ask them if they are using their upgrades (and they fly more than I do).
This reminds me of a guy I ran into at MTJ (Montrose, CO) a few years ago. He was getting ready to do a MR to Europe to make 1K... but was totally unaware of the systemwide DEQM available at that exact time--and which only required registration (it was free that time). And his wife was a GA at MTJ.
He had gone on about how hard it was to get those last 10k miles and that he was spending $$ to do a quick weekend in Europe to do it because that seemed the only way to get them in a short period of time... and didn't realize he could have gotten those 10k just by signing up for DEQM and doing a trip MTJ-DEN-IAD-xxx on the east coast, some of which cost a third what his European trip did.
Yesterday over Thanksgiving dinner, I met with a friend who is a prominent Harvard business school professor.
During the conversation, I found out that he is also 1K. Apparently, he travels on paid C fares to Asia and Europe. In a summer trip to PEK, he and his family were in economy, and he complained about how crappy UA's economy seats are.
So I asked: do you know that you can upgrade them using SWUs?
He said, "SWUs"? "What SWUs"?
I was speechless. So I asked him to email me his MP number.
Today, I set up his password at united.com, registered etc. Then I clicked E-Upgrade Summary.
5 SWUs expired on 2/1/2007
Total of 8 CR1s expired in 2007
In addition, he has 8 SWUs, about to expire in 12/31/2007 and 1/31/2008.
So I took over his MP account, become his manager, and booked a Christmas trip to Europe for his family of 4, and upgraded all.
Meanwhile, I looked at his itinerary:
he booked standard coach awards BOS-ORD-MCO (Ted), at 50,000 miles each. Total 200,000 miles. geez
I strongly objected this based on the value of 200,000 miles. Apparently this business school professor was convinced, and I canceled this crazy mileage award reservation for him. A nonstop ticket on JetBlue costs $300 or less. He saved 200,000 miles, enough to book 2 tickets in business class to PEK for summer 2008 Olympics.
I shall have some SWUs CR1s as commission next year based on my hard work, he agreed.
Robert Crandall on American Airlines: it's a great company that does important work. But airlines are not an investment.