Old Feb 14, 13, 12:01 pm
Join Date: Jun 2006
Programs: Various
Posts: 6,438
Originally Posted by cdepks View Post
Can you elaborate more on why UA is so bad? I rarely flew them, but never had any issues, I am considering the jump too for *A reasons to Europe...
I'm not the original poster, but I think I can respond to this. I'm in PIT, and switched over to UA in the beginning of 2008, when I felt that US routes and benefits were going downhill. (I had been with US for 8 years before that, earning anywhere from GP to CP during that time.) Not to threadjack, but this might be useful to others considering making the jump to UA.

For the first ~3 years, UA was great. I made it up to 1K (=CP) level and stayed there, and I felt incredibly valued as a FF. Both when UA used 500-milers for upgrades and when they went to unlimited upgrades, I sat up in the front easily 90+% of the time. Moreover, my companions were also upgraded at the time window, and I had instruments (tons of CR-1s & 6-8 SWUs each year) that I could use for upgrades for my family on long-haul domestic (like to Hawaii) and international flights.

However, after the merger, IME, the following happened:

1) UA started flying more RJs to PIT from ORD, and more props (vs RJs) to IAD. Not my favorite kind of planes, and a degradation in upgrade availability.

2) The fare differential for upgradable international flights increased. To use a SWU - now a GPU - requires a minimum fare class. That used to be on the order of ~$100 or so. For US-Europe flights (in general) that has now increased by a LOT. (It can still be reasonable on US-Asia flights, depending on the route.) Since you aren't guaranteed that the SWU will clear, this is a more expensive gamble.

3) The frequency of my complimentary domestic upgrades decreased. I started getting upgraded only 50% of the time, and most of those only cleared right before boarding, rather than in advance. That change in the upgrade window meant that I had to haunt the gate, rather than stay in a club or something. Also, it means that my companion no longer inherits my status for an upgrade clearing, which generally means that the companion doesn't clear at all.

4) The availability for instrument-based upgrades went downhill. It used to be that with a little advance planning, you could find R-space (upgrade space) a few months in advance. That has not completely disappeared, but it is much sparser. Also, there has been a big decrease in the number of CR-1s/RPUs (regional instruments) that you can earn. It used to be an easy 8 per year for a 1K, and now it is 4.

So, if you are used to sitting up front on US, especially as a mid-level flyer (GP or PP), you will not have the same experience on UA. As I said above, as a 1K, the highest tier (except for purely revenue-based elites, the GS), I had less than a 50% success rate. My husband is a GP, and he can count his upgrades on 1 hand. UA greatly emphasizes selling upgrades rather than giving them to elites (much more so than US, IMHO), and often targets those offers at non-elites specifically. If you search the UA thread for "TOD" or "HOD" you will find numerous examples of this.
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