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Plan B for Standard BusinessFirst Award Travel

Plan B for Standard BusinessFirst Award Travel

 
Old Jan 2, 07, 1:10 am
  #1  
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Plan B for Standard BusinessFirst Award Travel

Here's a little trick which has saved my bacon at times. It's quite usefull... and suprisinlgly obsure, but thanks to help from CO (Insider) it came through for me. I hope it does the same for you too.

Happy New Year

J.Edward from ANC
Plan B:

There’s a often overlooked trick for BF reward travel (e.g. not an upgrade) which we as OnePass members can use to help secure the big seat for those international flights.

While this does not access some special uber-secret reward bucket, it will improve your chances for the snagging a BF seat as it allows you to standby at the airport on the day of departure for the front cabin.

Bear in mind, this does not give you a confirmed BF seat, rather it improves your odds at for snagging one and should only be used as a last resort. If you’re flexible and there’s a standard seat open on another date – or a partner – that you can travel on, go for it! Don’t assume this is a sure fire way to get your reward.

One more thing to bear in mind: this is an obscure rule and as such, airport frontline staff may not know what you’re talking about. If you are planning on doing this be sure you understand the mechanics of how this works and how to show the frontline staff the relevant information on it (more on this later).

Anyway, that said here’s how it works.

Overview: By issuing a standard BusinessFirst reward when no standard BF reward seats exist but standard Y reward seats are available, the customer (e.g. you) effectively become a displaced BF customer (as you have paid for BF but are not confirmed in it). As such, you are entitled to waitlist for the flight and standby at the airport for BF should your waitlist not clear.


Here’s what you need:
1. The required amount of miles for the BF reward (check CO’s reward charts)

2. Standard coach reward seats on the flight you wish to waitlist for

3. Luck

Here’s what you do:

Call into to the international rewards desk (option 6 from the elite line) and tell explain to them you’re looking for a standard BF reward. If there’s no space on CO, check the partners! and see if they can accommodate you. If and ONLY if they cannot, go to plan B.

For example let’s say you want to go from IAH to CDG in BusinessFirst.

But for whatever reason the partners did not work nor did other dates. Yet you do see standard award availability for coach on Continental for the dates/flights you want.

Call into Continental and tell the agent to redeem a BusinessFirst reward - in the case of North America to Europe to keep with our IAH-CDG example this would cost 100,000 miles - but to seat you in coach (this is why it is necessary to have a reward seat open at the standard coach level).

The miles (100,000) will be debited from your account and you will then be placed on a waitlist for BusinessFirst. (If you do not clear into BusinessFirst you will receive a mileage refund for the difference between BF and Y… more on this later)
At this point two things can happen:
1. You clear the waitlist no later than 24 hours before the flight.

If so, than you’re set! Enjoy your flight!

2. You do not clear the waitlist 24 hours before the flight.

Okay, so you did not clear before the flight but don’t start worrying yet as there’s still a chance you can at the airport.
How to standby at the airport for BusinessFirst:

Pay special attention to this part for precision is key to make this work.
Arrive at the airport early (e.g. 2 hours) and locate an international concierge at the checkin counter (if one cannot be found at the checkin counter than check in normally, procedure through security and locate one airside.)

Explain to the concierge that you are a displaced BusinessFirst customer and need to be placed on the standby list for BF.

Do NOT mention “upgrade” – as doing so will complicate the situation (remember, you’re not upgrading as you have already ‘bought’ a BF ticket.)

You should then be placed on the standby list and if there’s an open big seat before they close the door, you’ll get it!

…What to do if the concierge/Grey Coat/Gate Agents don’t understand.

As mentioned before, an agent can easily mistake a customer requesting to be placed on the BF upgrade list as wanting to upgrade (and we all know upgrades are not done on the day of departure) and if this is the case here’s what you do.

1. Tell the agent you’re not trying to upgrade, rather you’re a displaced BF customer.

2. Ask the agent to access the following code in Sonic “gg onestandby” and review lines 85-89 as they spell out the Reward standby policy.
If the agent states s/he cannot know for sure the miles were deducted from your OnePass account do this:
1. The reward ticket will have a fare basis (FS6* in our IAH-CDG example). Going into sonic and reviewing “gg FS6” will pull up the information on the reward (what we know as a Series 6 BusinessFirst reward)

*Platinum rewards are slightly different. The same standby rules apply but rather than the prefix “FS” it will be “DG” – so a IAH-CDG BusinessFirst reward issued from a Platinum account would be a DG6 award and reviewing “gg DG6” in sonic will reveal the award is a Platinum BusinessFirst reward. FWIW, lines 57-63 in "gg DG_" should spell out the standby policy too.

If this does not work, or the agent cannot pull up the information, have them call the reward desk as they will be able to confirm the ticket.
Should you not clear the international segment you will receive a refund in mileage and taxes (if applicable) for the difference between BF and Y. I *think* the refund is solely dependent upon the overwater flight... so if you clear domestically but fail to get the BF seat internationally you'll still receive a refund.
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Old Jan 2, 07, 5:27 am
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Thanks for sharing J.Edward. I remember you mentioning something similar to this at the CLE DO but since you speak a mile-a-minute I did not capture the whole plan .
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Old Jan 2, 07, 5:50 am
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This is very well written, and an excellent guide.

I do want to stress J.Edward's point, though, that doing this should be an absolute last resort. Always look at the partners to find a way to get there.

Check the partner networks yourself, and find possible routings (especially combinations of partners), and suggest them to the agent. Most CO agents will more easily waitlist you for BF than book you on a combination of carriers.
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Old Jan 2, 07, 7:40 am
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Well done J.Edward and excellent point Channa. Wjhile I do wish it were easier to check reward availability on partners from one source instead of many, I have absolutely no problem in calling the International Rewards desk and working with one of the great agents there to achieve my reward travel goals. 99% of the time they have been extremely helpful in patching together reward trips that combine CO and various partners.
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Old Jun 15, 07, 12:02 pm
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frustrating experience

Tried this for outbound flight from EWR-HKG. (return has standard BF available)

Read notes, from above, verbatim to CSR, she put me on hold, returned to tell me supervisor said this could only be done with EasyPass (125k o/w) not Standard (60k o/w) awards, and as such I should just take the EasyPass now or not bother.

Is this no longer available?

Last edited by FatManInNYC; Jun 15, 07 at 12:12 pm
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Old Jun 15, 07, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by FatManInNYC View Post
Tried this for outbound flight from EWR-HKG. (return has standard BF available)

Read notes, from above, verbatim to CSR, she put me on hold, returned to tell me supervisor said this could only be done with EasyPass (125k o/w) not Standard (60k o/w) awards, and as such I should just take the EasyPass now or not bother.
FatManInNYC,

To the best of my this is still valid. I'm calling in right now to see what's going on.

Update:

Good news; the feature's still there!

As long as there's standard coach availability one can do "Plan B".

Here are the reference instructions to the agent if s/he does not understand:
onewai in DRS and reference line 154
That should do it.

Last edited by J.Edward; Jun 15, 07 at 12:51 pm
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Old Jun 15, 07, 3:08 pm
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Excellent work, J. Edward! ^
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Old Jun 15, 07, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by FatManInNYC View Post
Tried this for outbound flight from EWR-HKG. (return has standard BF available)

Read notes, from above, verbatim to CSR, she put me on hold, returned to tell me supervisor said this could only be done with EasyPass (125k o/w) not Standard (60k o/w) awards, and as such I should just take the EasyPass now or not bother.

Is this no longer available?
But how was your award ticket done? Did you book EWR-HKG in coach and and HKG-EWR in Standard BF? If so, maybe that was the problem?
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Old Jun 15, 07, 5:21 pm
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Originally Posted by puddy View Post
But how was your award ticket done? Did you book EWR-HKG in coach and and HKG-EWR in Standard BF? If so, maybe that was the problem?
I think what happened was that FatMan wanted standard BF to HKG and while he was able to secure a seat for the return, only standard Y was open for the outbound. When he asked the agent about, for lack of a better term, "forcing" out a BF reward (which is essentially what plan B is) but having him seated in Y for the outbound the agent said it could not be done (or more specifically, it could only be done at the easy pass level).

My guess is that the agent did not have a firm grasp on the process as it's somewhat obscure. After I saw the post I called in myself to talk to an agent and at first he thought it could not be done but he double checked and then corrected himself...and helped me reference the instructions so that anyone else in a similar situation can quickly bring the agent up to speed on what needs to be done.

Last edited by J.Edward; Jul 24, 07 at 6:06 pm
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Old Jun 15, 07, 5:28 pm
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Great detective work J. !
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Old Jun 15, 07, 7:13 pm
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But one key point about "Plan B", as J.Edward describes, is that there must be standard economy award for that flight for it to work. You don't always get standard economy on 98/99 on the dates you want.
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Old Jun 15, 07, 8:36 pm
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Originally Posted by rkkwan View Post
But one key point about "Plan B", as J.Edward describes, is that there must be standard economy award for that flight for it to work. You don't always get standard economy on 98/99 on the dates you want.
OT: BJ *loved* your pictures! ^
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Old Jun 15, 07, 11:10 pm
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While J.Edwards detailed instructions are likely invaluable in executing on this option (I would call it Plan C or D, not B...), I thought it would be worthwhile to post the plain English version of this published benefit. I believe it's only valid for OnePass elites.

http://www.continental.com/web/en-US.../services.aspx
*******
Standby for International Rewards: Elite members who have redeemed an international reward in Continental Airlines premium cabins (First Class, Business Class or BusinessFirst) or in Copa Airlines Clase Ejecutiva cabin, but can confirm reservations only in Economy, may standby at the airport within two hours of departure. Elite members should simply notify the airport agent upon check-in. For unused First Class, Business Class or BusinessFirst rewards, the mileage difference between Economy and First Class, Business Class or BusinessFirst may be redeposited free of charge.

Mileage upgrade rewards are not valid for standby travel.
*****

Based on the OP, I'm sure they probably should have omitted the word "simply" in the benefit explanation.
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Old Jun 21, 07, 1:27 pm
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Status 'PR3' Versus 'PR1'

MY uncle on a BF award to HNL was returning (HNL-LAX-CLE-SDF). He was waitlisted for first for LAX-CLE and I instructed him to make sure he was still on the priority waitlist at the airport, with what I thought was status PR1 as I've seen in several threads. At the airport, they told him he was status PR3. He did eventually get moved up, but I'm curious if this is just the same status that all silvers have? Did the airport goof up? I have the same situation today as my aunt leaves. Hoping they get her in the proper status that will have at least a chance of clearing.
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Old Jul 12, 07, 6:31 am
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Is "Plan B" described here only for CO Elites?

I am about to ticket a Standard Business Award flight from MIA-NRT. I was lucky to get the overseas return as any award seats are scarce.

My question relates to the last domestic segment of the inbound flight which is only available in Coach. Can a non-Elite waitlist for a Business seat on an award ticket? The CO agent (very nice) I just spoke to says no.

Thanks and apologies for my clumsiness with the lingo.
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