Old Nov 8, 19, 9:08 am
  #1  
findark
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
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[Limited Test] UA Preparing to Sell E+ at Booking as Separate Cabin (like DL C+)

Update
United has confirmed that they have filed these fares "as a very limited test in a small number of markets that displays EconomyPlus as a booking option during shopping to allow customers to easily shop and compare different seat offerings". Ostensibly "EconomyPlus continues to be a part of the Economy cabin and is not a separate fare." (This is true with the current technical implementation.)


(Reposting as a new topic since I think this is big news - props to jsloan for originally catching on to this in Fun with Fare Classes)

Summary
United filed a bunch of fares on domestic routes on Monday morning which represent the ability to purchase Economy Plus at booking as part of the ticket class. This was done with no announcement and this fact has not yet been advertised on the United website, so I'm still calling this "unconfirmed" but you can book these fares right now if you know how to search for them. They are priced as a fixed differential to Economy (so they are probably more or less than a specific E+ on a specific flight, and it can be worth pricing both ways, although I generally expect the ticket-at-booking solution to be a little more expensive) and book into B class, and so are eligible for 150% PQM (travel by 31 December) and Instant Upgrades for elites (for now, anyway). These have been filed in select domestic markets only, and it is unknown whether UA will tweak the system or otherwise change the conditions prior to officially announcing this. They could also drop these fares as silently as they introduced them -- hence "unconfirmed" at this point

Mechanics
It looks like United is preparing to sell Economy Plus as a separate class of service rather than a seat selection fee. This is similar to the way Delta sells its Comfort Plus seats -- instead of paying a fee to choose a seat in Comfort Plus, they treat it as a separate class of service and you can purchase a ticket in Comfort Plus class (W or S booking codes) or upgrade to Comfort Plus via normal upgrade means (DL Plat and DL Diamond get currently last-seat-available instant upgrades to C+ on non-Basic Economy fares). On Monday 4 November, UA introduced a new set of fares into select domestic markets for this purpose (as of writing, I see them on LAX-ORD, EWR-ORD, SFO-EWR, LAX-EWR, but not e.g. SFO-IAD) which functionally allow you to purchase a ticket which "includes" Economy Plus seating as part of the tariff.

These tickets are filed as a Premium Economy type fare on the backend, but they will book into B class and therefore always into the Economy cabin. They seem to be piggy-backing on the code which allows true Premium Economy (O/A/R fares) which delegate to B class on non-equipped routes to choose Economy Plus seats for free. As of right now, there is no published policy about these fares, but they are live and can be booked. As a B class fare, they earn 150% PQM and are instant-upgrade eligible, in addition to allowing a Silver or non-elite to choose any Economy Plus seat free of charge. I would exercise caution when booking a fare like this right now since there is no policy or announcement, which means any of these features could change without notice and without any compensation ("hey I read findark's article on FlyerTalk" is not going to get you far when arguing for a refund).

Pricing
These fares are filed as fixed-differential fares, usually down to K (so there is no differential to G). Each fare carries the standard dual-inventory check with its secondary code. The net effect is that the "Economy Plus fare" (B) is always available at a fixed difference to the current lowest Economy price, just like Basic Economy and First Class fares (prime inventory allowing). Despite being filed as Premium Economy type fares (ZZP), they are filed in parallel with true domestic PE fares for p.s. routes and carry a different branded fare designator of 'P' (in seventh position) -- true domestic differential PE fares are type 'O'. Here is an example of the W4/Q fare family filed on SFO to EWR illustrating the pricing (lowest P added in for contrast):


Code:
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cxr     Basis      BC  Cbn    Price   Tp  AP  Min  Max   Days    Rf  
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 UA  WAA4AQBN       N   Y    $280.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQDN       W   Y    $315.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQPN       B   Y    $444.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQON       A   W    $514.00  OW  14                      N
..
 UA  VAP30UPN       P   J    $694.00  OW  30                      N

As a typical example, the base of the fare family is WAA4AQDN, which will retail for $329.30 a/i.

Basic Economy is available for a difference of ($35), and Economy Plus for $129, while true Premium Economy is an extra $199. Business on p.s. routes remains non-differential with an advertised $708.30 price for P fares.

How to Book
Right now, United has not announced or otherwise surfaced these fares. However, they are currently an option for booking if for whatever reason you want the upgrade priority, extra PQM, or E+ access for the price. You can price one on united.com by doing an Advanced Search for B class fares -- this will pretty much always be the least expensive B fare. Note that while these will confirm into B inventory, like any differential fare the price is dependent on the lower secondary inventory check and they are not refundable or other things you might associate with a "traditional" B fare. Note that these are only in some domestic markets, so if you don't see any discount B fares when doing your search, your market is probably not valid yet. And finally, a repeat of my caution -- UA has simply published some fares, not made a press release, so any of this is subject to change without notice even if you have already purchased one of these fares!

Last edited by findark; Nov 8, 19 at 7:52 pm
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