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Pay to Jump to Front of Alaska First Upgrade List at Gate?

Pay to Jump to Front of Alaska First Upgrade List at Gate?

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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:14 pm
  #1  
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Pay to Jump to Front of Alaska First Upgrade List at Gate?

Can you pay at gate to jump the First Upgrade List and get upgraded to First? YES!
As long as you got cash, your status, fare code and date of purchase do not matter on Alaska. This make me to rethink the value of MVPG 75K.

My wife and I are MVPG 75K and we usually purchase our tickets months ahead of flights with most Premium and First seats still in tack. We are routinely the first and second on the First upgrade list and are very often upgraded.
Lately, while at the gate, I notice other passengers lower on the First Upgrade List gets moved up ahead of me and gets upgraded before I am upgraded. Then last night at SFO, I finally saw it.

10-15 minutes before boarding and I notice someone move up ahead of us with two First seats available. I went up to the gate counter to check on the upgrade, I notice two guys at counter, one trying to keep a low profile and pay for something with one agent while the the other guy was trying to tell the other agent that they can't do what they are doing because it is unfair to MVP on the First upgrade list. I realize that I was being squeeze out of an upgrade. I protested to no avail. The gate agents and the supervisor did not take any action to rectify the situation except to ask for my email for possible followup. The lack of action to rectify the situation, let me to believe that these $$$ for upgrade is sanctioned by Alaska which was confirmed when I called customer care. If $$$ for upgrade is true, why bother paying higher fare for the same flights or enduring extra connections or long layovers in order to re-qualify for that MVP Gold or 75K.

My understanding of the First upgrade process is once at the gate, upgrade is processed according to First upgrade list. If my understanding is not correct, please correct me and advise what is Alaska's First upgrade process and priority?

Last edited by dayone; Dec 12, 18 at 6:22 pm Reason: Remove bold formatting.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:21 pm
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Is the OP claiming that the GA was taking cash bribes to move certain customers to the top of the upgrade list? Or was something official being done, even if it was sneaky, such as (for example) paying to upfare in order to move to the top of the list based on fare class? Could you have simply witnessed upgrades being purchased at the gate? Could the customers (I'm assuming that they weren't nonrevs) have been using some sort of upgrade cert, perhaps as part of a corporate travel contract (and not available to the general public or even most elites) or issued as part of a VDB? And was there literally a handover of cash (paper money), not a credit card?
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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:22 pm
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This simply isn't true. It may have happened, but it is not policy.

You cannot buy your way ahead of people with status. You can ask to have your name added to the upgrade list. They will add you to the end of the list. If availability remains when they get to you, you then have the option to purchase an upgraded seat.

I used to do this all of the time. My name was always added to the end of the list. Occasionally, they would look and see that so many MVP+ members were on the list that is wasn't even worthwhile to add my name.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:37 pm
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Unfortunately this has been happening here and there for a couple of years. It got really bad at one point, but seems to have subsided except for some isolated incidents.

Official policy (subject to change of course) reported previously on FT is that the GA is supposed to clear the upgrade list first, before offering seats for sale on a paid upgrade.

OP, which flight from SFO was this?
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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:41 pm
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OP is half correct.

If the upgrade processor stalls (which occasionally happens), U space can remain available while elites are still on the waitlist. Anybody running OLCI or Kiosk check in will see an "upgrades available" box under these circumstances.

In the past, MVP and higher could just "snipe" that upgrade space as the system wouldn't charge them the upgrade fee. But now the fee seems to apply to everyone (U space was available on one of my recent flights despite having 30+ people on the waitlist and it showed me paid upgrade options).

Where OP is incorrect: this is contrary to the current AS policy on this matter but not all gate agents understand this.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 3:42 pm
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Yeah, upgrades are absolutely not supposed to be sold if there are any remaining elites on the list. There are two issues that may have impacted you in prior situations: first, that if U space is only trickling out one at a time for some reason, any elite/companion couple at the top of the list is going to get skipped for the first solo traveler on the list. The second is that there's a known bug with the upgrade processor such that it'll leave people in Y despite open U space but allow anyone checking in online to claim the space (whether paid or as a complimentary upgrade).
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:18 pm
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Bad choice of word, no cash and a bribe. The customer used a credit card. The customer was way down on upgrade list, but I did hear one of the agent telling the agent who accepted credit card that she should not have done what she did.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:21 pm
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Originally Posted by mk112002 View Post
Bad choice of word, no cash and a bribe. The customer used a credit card. The customer was way down on upgrade list, but I did hear one of the agent telling the agent who accepted credit card that she should not have done what she did.
This provides clarification and puts what happened in line with what others have stated. It was simply the gate agent going against policy. Certainly not good, but not unheard of.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by mk112002 View Post
Bad choice of word, no cash and a bribe. The customer used a credit card. The customer was way down on upgrade list, but I did hear one of the agent telling the agent who accepted credit card that she should not have done what she did.
It sounds like a former VX employee who cant get over the fact their airline is dead and there is a comp upgrade process now. Reporting it is really all you can do. Maybe complain on social media that you witnessed agent selling upgrade when there were still people on the upgrade list. My last situation looked like Shena(nigans) quit Delta and started working for Alaska but that was truly an issue with upgrade list display.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:33 pm
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that’s what I thought. If anyone with no status or lower status can pay to move to the top of the upgrade list to grap available First seat, what’s the use for Gold or 75K? And according Alaska customer care as of this afternoon, I was told in no uncertain term that this is the policy by D***

unfortunately, it is true. Since this has been happening to me more regularly, I have carefully documented the situation. The customer was outside of top 10 on the upgrade list ~15 minutes before boarding. ~5 minutes later, he was moved to the top of upgrade list and ~ 2 minutes later he was upgraded. The only person upgraded at that moment.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:38 pm
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Originally Posted by mk112002 View Post
Since this has been happening to me more regularly, I have carefully documented the situation. The customer was outside of top 10 on the upgrade list ~15 minutes before boarding. ~5 minutes later, he was moved to the top of upgrade list and ~ 2 minutes later he was upgraded. The only person upgraded at that moment.
This is unfortunate and wrong; you are certainly right to complain. All I can do is provide the counterpoint that I have tried to get to the top of the list many times, at different airports, and was never placed above anyone already on the list.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:49 pm
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I thought I knew upgrade process, but I think my understanding maybe outdated. It is why I posted here. What is the Alaska’s official policy on upgrade?
My wife and I are 75k and there other 5 other 75k/Gold/MVP on the list. So there were plenty 75K for the two First seat.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by mk112002 View Post
I thought I knew upgrade process, but I think my understanding maybe outdated. It is why I posted here. What is the Alaska’s official policy on upgrade?
My wife and I are 75k and there other 5 other 75k/Gold/MVP on the list. So there were plenty 75K for the two First seat.
When there are multiple people in the same elite tier, they look at specific fare class.
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Old Dec 12, 18, 5:16 pm
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Both my wife and I are on revenue ticket and I have been constantly monitoring Expertflyer for U release, but there were none at all upto boarding. Also, if we were skipped for any reasons, the third, fourth........ should have been upgraded instead of the guy who wasn’t on the first page of upgrade list (first 10).

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Old Dec 12, 18, 5:43 pm
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Originally Posted by mk112002 View Post
I thought I knew upgrade process, but I think my understanding maybe outdated. It is why I posted here. What is the Alaska’s official policy on upgrade?
My wife and I are 75k and there other 5 other 75k/Gold/MVP on the list. So there were plenty 75K for the two First seat.
Good timing, we just had some clarification today over at a different thread: Upgrade Queue

And, welcome to FlyerTalk!
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