Selling upgrades instead of giving to Elites?

Old Aug 15, 2005, 6:00 pm
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Selling upgrades instead of giving to Elites?

While waiting for my flight to DCA this morning, the HP gate agent announced that there were a few FC seats available for $150 (ea). This struck me as odd as there was at least one Elite (myself) still with a coach seat. Any ideas as to why an Elite wasn't automatically upgraded?
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 6:03 pm
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Originally Posted by trplstx
While waiting for my flight to DCA this morning, the HP gate agent announced that there were a few FC seats available for $150 (ea). This struck me as odd as there was at least one Elite (myself) still with a coach seat. Any ideas as to why an Elite wasn't automatically upgraded?
This is odd. Did you immediately go up to the g/a asking? When you didn't get automatically upgraded, did you put yourself on the standby upgrade list?

I hope you got your seat in F!
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 6:12 pm
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Originally Posted by trplstx
While waiting for my flight to DCA this morning, the HP gate agent announced that there were a few FC seats available for $150 (ea). This struck me as odd as there was at least one Elite (myself) still with a coach seat. Any ideas as to why an Elite wasn't automatically upgraded?
At the airport you are not automatically upgraded just because you're an elite member and seated in coach, as you are supposed to be 1, 2 or 3 days prior to departure by the automated system.

If a first class seat is not available when you check in, you should ask at the airport to be put on the standby list. If I've checked in at the kisok or at the check-in counter (which I always do if I'm not upgraded in advance, just so I have additional opportunities to check for a seat that may have opened up) then I always check with the gate agent as well, just so they know I'm on the list and in the area. The minute an agent makes that announcement to sell open first class seats, I'd quickly get to him or her and remind them (before selling one) that you're on the upgrade list. If you're on the list you should definitely get the upgrade prior to it being sold to a non-elite at the gate.

Allegedly, gate agents receive a bonus for selling first class seats. (Perhaps a HP employee can verify if this is true). Unfortunately, if that is true, it gives them an incentive to attempt to sell the seats, rather than going to the standby list, even though it may well be against policy. Letting them know that I'm there and hoping for an open seat will usually prevent the sale from happening -- at least until the elites like me on the standby list have been cleared.
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 6:33 pm
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
If a first class seat is not available when you check in, you should ask at the airport to be put on the standby list. If I've checked in at the kisok or at the check-in counter (which I always do if I'm not upgraded in advance, just so I have additional opportunities to check for a seat that may have opened up) then I always check with the gate agent as well, just so they know I'm on the list and in the area. The minute an agent makes that announcement to sell open first class seats, I'd quickly get to him or her and remind them (before selling one) that you're on the upgrade list. If you're on the list you should definitely get the upgrade prior to it being sold to a non-elite at the gate.
The kiosk asked during check-in whether I wanted to be upgraded if a seat became available so I figured I was already on the list. My mistake. In the future I'll follow up with the gate agent upon arriving in the area. Thanks for the tip. (I waited in line this morning after the annoucement, but the seats were sold prior to my getting to the agent.)
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 6:38 pm
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the airlines are going belly up and they are doing their best to survive. I personally think that SEATS should NEVER be upgraded. SQ is a very good example. This maintains the quality of the product and long time survivability of airline.
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Old Aug 15, 2005, 7:11 pm
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Originally Posted by mrakant
the airlines are going belly up and they are doing their best to survive. I personally think that SEATS should NEVER be upgraded. SQ is a very good example. This maintains the quality of the product and long time survivability of airline.
That opinion won't be very popular in here. Granted there needs to be a balance, just ask Delta I bet they would love to have been selling F seats to generate revenue all along, now they may be selling them in BK court.

HP does a pretty good job of making as many seats as possible available to Elites while still allowing some to be sold for people that want to be able to buy them.

How would you feel if you were wiling to pay for an F seat and every time you went to book a last minute flight your airline of choice was sold out of F seats. It's good business to hold a couple back for sale....but just not too many

Last edited by SanDiegoShaun; Aug 15, 2005 at 9:49 pm
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Old Aug 16, 2005, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
At the airport you are not automatically upgraded just because you're an elite member and seated in coach, as you are supposed to be 1, 2 or 3 days prior to departure by the automated system.

If a first class seat is not available when you check in, you should ask at the airport to be put on the standby list. If I've checked in at the kisok or at the check-in counter (which I always do if I'm not upgraded in advance, just so I have additional opportunities to check for a seat that may have opened up) then I always check with the gate agent as well, just so they know I'm on the list and in the area. The minute an agent makes that announcement to sell open first class seats, I'd quickly get to him or her and remind them (before selling one) that you're on the upgrade list. If you're on the list you should definitely get the upgrade prior to it being sold to a non-elite at the gate.

Allegedly, gate agents receive a bonus for selling first class seats. (Perhaps a HP employee can verify if this is true). Unfortunately, if that is true, it gives them an incentive to attempt to sell the seats, rather than going to the standby list, even though it may well be against policy. Letting them know that I'm there and hoping for an open seat will usually prevent the sale from happening -- at least until the elites like me on the standby list have been cleared.
From what I have noticed, there seem to be 2-3 seats held out for last minute paid upgrades at the airport. The gate agents do get $5.00 for each upgrade sold.

You don't seriously fault the company for trying to maximize revenue with fuel prices the way they are, do you?
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Old Aug 16, 2005, 4:36 pm
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Originally Posted by hp_fa
From what I have noticed, there seem to be 2-3 seats held out for last minute paid upgrades at the airport. The gate agents do get $5.00 for each upgrade sold.

You don't seriously fault the company for trying to maximize revenue with fuel prices the way they are, do you?
That's a loaded question. I will address it as thoughtfully as I can.

When the policy of selling available first class seats up to 30 hours before departure came into being a while back, HP sent a communication to all elite members. It emphasized how the airline sincerely values its elite passengers and takes very seriously the first class upgrades that are an important element of the elite program. They told us that they will make sure that elite upgrades are processed before the remaining seats go on sale to non-elite members. Fair enough.

When they began selling first class seats at deeply discounted prices, they said they were mindful of this program's impact on the availability of upgrades for the airline's valued elite members and would be monitoring sales carefully in order to preserve this important elite benefit. They didn't say it, but at the same time they started holding back seats, usually two of them per flight, for sale to passengers who wanted to purchase first class tickets. That makes good financial sense -- they're trying to cultivate first class passenger business. As SanDiegoShaun pointed out above, they should have a seat available to sell them when they call.

However, selling a customer a first class ticket is very different than charging them a fee to upgrade their coach ticket on the day of departure in lieu of an elite member being upgraded. The latter is what they promised they wouldn't do.

To my knowledge, no communication has been issued saying, "Fuel prices are rising so all elite upgrade policies are being suspended and we will be selling the seats for whatever we can get. If we can't get anything, then we'll give the seats to our elite members, assuming we have the time to do so."

There are either policies for these matters, or there aren't. In this case, the frustration you are hearing is from people who are being denied the beneifts they've earned -- and been promised -- because a gate agent either wants to make $5 per upgrade, doesn't want to bother looking at the standby list, or doesn't know or understand the policy. In any event, the policy is not being followed.

If the policies have changed, then advise us all of that. Otherwise, rising jet fuel prices are not a blanket excuse for ignoring them.

hp_fa, believe it or not, many of us feel as though we are on the same side, here. We all very much want this company to succeed and many of us have been loyal customers through thick and thin. But just as you wouldn't want the company using rising jet fuel prices to justify randomly making up new rules related to your agreement with them, we don't either.

Last edited by AZ Travels the World; Aug 16, 2005 at 4:39 pm
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Old Aug 16, 2005, 6:59 pm
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At the risk of inviting flames, here's a different perspective.

Look at the P&L and Balance Sheets of the airline companies. This entire industry is at risk of one more single terrorist event. I can't think of any other industry in which almost every company is at risk of bankruptcy if only one madman is successful.

Several years ago I was running a company that was facing bankruptcy. I did everything I could to increase revenue and reduce costs. I alienated some of my "best" customers who were paying the lowest prices in favor of other customers who were willing to pay a premium for better service. That's exactly what HP and other airlines are doing.

It's just economic reality.
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Old Aug 16, 2005, 10:42 pm
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Not a flame, but my own 2 cents worth....

Originally Posted by willy-mac
At the risk of inviting flames, here's a different perspective.

Look at the P&L and Balance Sheets of the airline companies. This entire industry is at risk of one more single terrorist event. I can't think of any other industry in which almost every company is at risk of bankruptcy if only one madman is successful.

Several years ago I was running a company that was facing bankruptcy. I did everything I could to increase revenue and reduce costs. I alienated some of my "best" customers who were paying the lowest prices in favor of other customers who were willing to pay a premium for better service. That's exactly what HP and other airlines are doing.

It's just economic reality.
The economic reality is that the airline industry was dying before 9-11.
True, 9-11 seriously hurt the industry but the major airlines were already starting to hurt and were able to use 9-11 as a scapegoat excuse. Today, the driving force behind the airlines problems is the cost of fuel, not 9-11 after effects.

The legacy carriers refuse to admit that their business model no longer works today. Today's consumer is more price consious and has more information available to them before making purchase decisions. Yesterday's (high fare) biz traveller now knows just how much more they are paying for a their ticket than Grandma ... and they can now research different options to weigh less convienient itineraries versus lower costs. America West realized this, changed their model/fare structure and have been relatively successful at it even tho it cost them a favorable relationship with one of the better known legacy airlines.

Back on topic....
I agree with what I think is the majority opinion here....
There's nothing wrong with HP holding back Elite upgrades in an effort to sell a First Class fare . But if those seats don't sell, they should be offerred as an Elite upgrade before the Agents take the seat and sell an upgrade.

As previously mentioned, this is what we are promised by the rules of the FlightFund program. Offering a commision to Agents for upgrades is a direct conflict of interest with the FlightFund porgram rules. HP needs to decide what their policy is and then enforce it without providing an incentive for it to be violated.

Steve
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Old Aug 17, 2005, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by AZ Travels the World
However, selling a customer a first class ticket is very different than charging them a fee to upgrade their coach ticket on the day of departure in lieu of an elite member being upgraded. The latter is what they promised they wouldn't do

Well said AZ. ^

I think you did a great job of really explaining the root of the problem us elites are becoming frustrated about.

Hopefully a completely new and/or revamped merger motivated FF program will bring this to an end. Otherwise I've been getting used to 11 Bravo baby!
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Old Aug 17, 2005, 2:46 pm
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Originally Posted by mrakant
the airlines are going belly up and they are doing their best to survive. I personally think that SEATS should NEVER be upgraded. SQ is a very good example. This maintains the quality of the product and long time survivability of airline.
There's a delicate balance. Why sell an occasional $150 upgrade to the vacation traveler and tick off the elite flyers that spend thousands annually on HP? If the auto-upgrades were removed (through a FF policy change or squeezing out the seat supply) HP would alienate a good portion of its business flyers.

I wish someone within HP would take a long look at the upgrade process; it's full of errors and lacks common sense in some areas. These forums are full of stories where high revenue passengers had bad experiences.
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Old Aug 23, 2005, 10:52 am
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This may not be exactly on topic, but I have ocassionally booked (don't fly HP regularily) coach and waited for the "24 hour" purchased upgrade. When I phone around 24 hours, nothing is available, but if I phone back 6-8 hours pre-flight, I have been successful more often than not. I pay $50-$100 for the seats, but no miles or lounge perks.
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Old Aug 23, 2005, 3:07 pm
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Free upgrades for elites is the problem. A stupid policy. The benefit of elite status should be that you go to the top of the list of people waiting to pay a $150 increment to sit in first class. The elite benefit is still quite significant - the more-likely opportunity to sit in first class for the price of a deep discount coach plus $150.

HP should never have created an elite benefit that has the opportunity cost of reduced revenue. A policy that should be changed upon US aquisition.
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Old Aug 23, 2005, 3:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Colin
Free upgrades for elites is the problem. A stupid policy. The benefit of elite status should be that you go to the top of the list of people waiting to pay a $150 increment to sit in first class. The elite benefit is still quite significant - the more-likely opportunity to sit in first class for the price of a deep discount coach plus $150.

HP should never have created an elite benefit that has the opportunity cost of reduced revenue. A policy that should be changed upon US aquisition.
A stupid policy? Thats the only reason I switched to HP from UAL. I wouldn't pay $150 to sit in an old leather seat with cracker crumbs in it. Free ok....pay no way!
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