UA 916

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Old Oct 31, 18, 2:13 am
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UA 916

I'm booked on UA 916 AKL-SFO in a few weeks and noticed that it's practically empty in Y. My sister-in-law booked the same flight on another day, only 10 days before her flight, at a deeply discounted fare (WLG-AKL-SFO-YUL roundtrip for about US$1000) and it's similarly empty. In contrast, every single NZ long-haul to the states I've been on in the last 4-5 months has been full. Has anyone else noticed this pattern? I much prefer flying NZ and typically buy a Y fare that I upgrade to PE, or just buy a discount PE fare. But at such low fares I might not mind flying UA Y without the possibility of an RU or APD Upgrade, especially if I'd have 4 seats to myself...
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Old Nov 6, 18, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by smanch View Post
I'm booked on UA 916 AKL-SFO in a few weeks and noticed that it's practically empty in Y. My sister-in-law booked the same flight on another day, only 10 days before her flight, at a deeply discounted fare (WLG-AKL-SFO-YUL roundtrip for about US$1000) and it's similarly empty. In contrast, every single NZ long-haul to the states I've been on in the last 4-5 months has been full. Has anyone else noticed this pattern? I much prefer flying NZ and typically buy a Y fare that I upgrade to PE, or just buy a discount PE fare. But at such low fares I might not mind flying UA Y without the possibility of an RU or APD Upgrade, especially if I'd have 4 seats to myself...
@smanch

I notice 389 views of your post but no replies.....so far.

I just returned from a 6 sector extreme long-haul trip that included NZ 284, UA 917 and UA 916 (thus also through AKL twice), as well as SQ F and 2 AC transcons.

My UA 916 that departed AKL on Mon Nov 4 had 200 empty seats in Y (coach). It was just mind-numbing to see it as I walked from J through the cabins. J was about 2/3 full (of the 60 Polaris), Y+ (their weird version of PE) was about 2/3 full) but vast sections of the back 2 Y cabins were completely empty. However, an awesome bonus feature for those who were smart enough to think about this: "Y lie-flats" (think NZ SkyCouch without the extra part that completes the bed)

On NZ 284, J was almost full, perhaps 2 empty IIRC. Premium Economy was also almost full. Y was not completely full but I did see a number who bought the SkyCouch and were asleep.

I can't tell you why UA 916 was empty on my flight or others. Maybe, regardless of cost, there may be those who prefer to pay and fly NZ in Y on those flights. You would have to ask them. And I also assume perhaps NZ service and meals in Y are better than UA.

You could ask this question on the UA forum.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 12:49 pm
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200 empty seats... crazy. Talk about inefficiency!!

A big downside of UA916 for me is the early departure time; I end up hardly sleeping at all on that flight even when in Polaris. But I can't imagine that's contributing all that much to the totally empty planes. Weird.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 1:27 pm
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I've heard the flight loadings overall were never that great which is the primary reason the flight was pulled and moved to a seasonal route. Much like AA to LAX most Kiwis seem to prefer booking NZ.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 1:58 pm
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Wonder how their freight loads are? They may not care too much about the empty seats?
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Old Nov 6, 18, 2:01 pm
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Couple of years ago I flew J on UA between LAX and LHR and noticed the exact same thing looking back at Economy Plus and Economy. Feels like a trend, and it's surprising that UA doesn't pull some of its routes or at least reduce frequency.

In saying that, I might try to fly UA more when flying Y, as it sounds like a great alternative to NZ fully packed 10 abreast in a 777...
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Old Nov 6, 18, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by sbiddle View Post
I've heard the flight loadings overall were never that great which is the primary reason the flight was pulled and moved to a seasonal route. Much like AA to LAX most Kiwis seem to prefer booking NZ.
UA are back to year round but 3x a week off peak. They had a lot of award availability for Polaris on offer.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by trooper View Post
Wonder how their freight loads are? They may not care too much about the empty seats?
Exactly, but I didn't think to ask.


Originally Posted by smanch View Post
200 empty seats... crazy. Talk about inefficiency!!

A big downside of UA916 for me is the early departure time; I end up hardly sleeping at all on that flight even when in Polaris. But I can't imagine that's contributing all that much to the totally empty planes. Weird.
Yes, it was crew who told me about the 200 empty in the back and invited me for a walk to take a look. Crew were happy though, almost no work.

And since you mentioned sleeping, 917 to AKL was perfect and given UA food, I opted to sleep instead and that Polaris bedding gave me an outstanding 11 hours. Gel pillow is just fantastic. Sure, the NZ memory foam mattress is awesome. There are obviously also different seat and sleep format designs between NZ, AC, AA, and UA - all of whom I fly on Pacific and South Pacific routes.

As for the 916 departure time, it's not an issue if perhaps you start out in AKL, I was connecting and this nonsense I went through in June and yesterday with the extra security at the gate (in that long walk to the satellite gates), plus my limited connection time, made it good timing and a cardio workout for me, but otherwise annoying.

BTW, prior to airport control, the UA 916 J seat map showed half empty cabins (2x 30 J). Some seats filled up at the gate as I was told empties would go to UA GS and UA 1K etc.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 3:32 pm
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You can thank the TSA for the secondary screening.

I really fail to understand how asking somebody whether they've packed their own bag and whether anybody else has touched my bag today ("yes multiple baggage handling staff at Wellington, Auckland domestic and Auckland international" seemed to be an answer he wasn't prepared for as he simply replied "oh") improves security. Given the calibre of the staff I'd highly doubt they've had anything other than pretty basic training for watching for abnormal behavior characteristics.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 3:36 pm
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UA916 and 917 definitely fill up in Y over the holidays. I've flown 916 in Y and those seats are tiny. The plane was absolutely brand new at the time, but it was still a very tight squeeze with poor food and drink options. NZ is a better option all over the plane (except true Polaris I'm assuming) unless you're completely assured of open seats either side of you.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 3:48 pm
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Originally Posted by sbiddle View Post
You can thank the TSA for the secondary screening........
I knew that from my adventure flying NZ to and from SFO/LAX in June. I recall the expression on the face of the NZ lounge agent as she explained it and the costs - not paid for by the U.S.


Originally Posted by sbiddle View Post
......I really fail to understand how asking somebody whether they've packed their own bag and whether anybody else has touched my bag today ("yes multiple baggage handling staff at Wellington, Auckland domestic and Auckland international" seemed to be an answer he wasn't prepared for as he simply replied "oh") improves security. Given the calibre of the staff I'd highly doubt they've had anything other than pretty basic training for watching for abnormal behavior characteristics.
Exaaaaaaactly. And this security theatre focusing on everyone and not possible threats is a waste of money and time. IMHO.

The 3rd party contract company had complete idiots on duty for my June NZ departure. They almost seemed panicked. Never a good sign - especially for those of us who go through security screenings in FRA, MUC, and even TLV.

On Monday, at least the young girl interviewing me, seemed to be paying attention to my answers.
She noticed on my BP that I did not have checked bags. So I had to explain that if you know what you are doing and especially as a business traveller, you do not check a bag. lol

She got hung up on why I was transferring in AKL from SIN to the US and then Canada. So I showed her my photos from SIN and my SQ F Suite and explained MRs and flying with miles and the bottle of Dom.

I think she now regrets her choice of job.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by 24left View Post

The 3rd party contract company had complete idiots on duty for my June NZ departure. They almost seemed panicked. Never a good sign - especially for those of us who go through security screenings in FRA, MUC, and even TLV.
Yip the questioning in those places is completely different. It's a bit like actual CBP questioning - they're looking for things that these people aren't and often asking the same question twice.

Getting rather OT but while I've never been to Israel I was sitting at a cafe in Budapest right next to the initial security screening point for check-in for one of the Israeli airlines there. The level of questioning about luggage, reasons for travel and so on was pretty intense - and that was just the guys doing this questioning before you actually even got to join the check-in queue!
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Old Nov 6, 18, 4:55 pm
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The questions are not important. Rather, they are designed to simply start a conversation. Some of the security types believe that those who have some evil motive will start sweating, stammering, not meet the questioner's eye and so forth. Whether that is all valid is a matter of debate, but has little to do with the empty seats on this flight.
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Old Nov 6, 18, 5:15 pm
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Well, perhaps not.

Maybe NZ to the Excited States of America is just that much better in Y, so as to allow people choice. OP asked an interesting question, and it would be interesting to be able to survey pax as to why they would fly NZ over UA, even if UA was cheaper and the cabin was empty.

P.S. While flying NZ to and from AKL is awesome, flying via the U.S. is not. The NZ flight from YVR is expensive and so on.
.

Last edited by 24left; Nov 6, 18 at 5:20 pm
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Old Nov 6, 18, 6:43 pm
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Originally Posted by sbiddle View Post
You can thank the TSA for the secondary screening.

I really fail to understand how asking somebody whether they've packed their own bag and whether anybody else has touched my bag today ("yes multiple baggage handling staff at Wellington, Auckland domestic and Auckland international" seemed to be an answer he wasn't prepared for as he simply replied "oh") improves security. Given the calibre of the staff I'd highly doubt they've had anything other than pretty basic training for watching for abnormal behavior characteristics.
yes I agree the whole process is an absolute joke - I was marked SSSS so missed all that last trip, and had the swabs and bag search which is probably a more useful exercise - albeit it was done with typical Kiwi casualness
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