International (TATL/TPAC) OP-UP vs. SWU

Old May 11, 12, 6:27 am
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International (TATL/TPAC) OP-UP vs. SWU

Hello FTers!

This is my first post, although I am an experienced DL flyer (DM, 1MM+, all real miles). My question was triggered by a recent TATL flight (May 7 JFK-SVO), and since I witnessed similar situations before too, I wanted to ask whether you see anything wrong with this picture or this is a SOP.

Was on a refundable B fare, listed for a PU503/SWU upgrade in Z. Everything was coded properly, I think (comp UG listed, Z waitlisted as a separate line). The flight looked pretty good, with some 10 seats or so open in the morning (4 pm departure; Expert Flyer showed J9C9D9I9S9 all the way to 5 min before the departure (have screenshots, have not figured how to post them yet). Got to the gate from my connecting flight only to find that there were 8 or 9 "UP" people on the screen, but I was not one of them. Asked a GA (who was mostly busy stamping boarding passes with DOCS OK stamp), was told that all upgrades were already processed, and if yours wasn't, means you were too low on the list. She did not want to check anything though, just told me that. I found it hard to believe given my fare and PU503/SWU, but so be it.

Turned out that Y was oversold and most people were OP-UPed, but not necessarily high status PAX (there were a couple of NRSAs, I think -- Russian-speaking FAs were very friendly with them and spoke in Russian; for sure a couple Medallion companions). When I checked the ExpertFlyer again, just a few minutes before the departure, BE seatmap was completely full, but J9C9D9I9 availability remained.

I know that formally I got what I paid for, but when I am paying $4K for a ticket, am a Diamond Medallion with nearly 200K real miles a year, and offer to use my SWUs, shouldn't I get the highest priority for an UG, definitely trumping OP-UPs and NRSAs? While OP-UPs may not be explicitly governed by any program rules, UG priority using SWU is, right?

As for witnessing similar things before, I was referring to "friendly" Russian-speaking GAs at JFK who always seem to favor their Russian buddies over everyone else (and I understand enough Russian to know what they are talking about). Also saw it on the return, SVO-JFK, flights: don't even know if official computer-generated lists exist there and/or status and fare matter at all. Knowing ground folks seems to be much more important than anything else. I don't want to accuse anyone of doing anything improper, but it looks .... unusual, at least to me (and no, I am not a suspicious or paranoid type).

Anybody else seen anything similar on other DL flights or this is a unique thing for this route?




Last edited by SoraAoi; May 11, 12 at 12:15 pm Reason: Got Expert Flyer screenshots
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Old May 11, 12, 8:05 am
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Sounds like you got hosed. I doubt there were nine or ten diamonds on upgradable fares ahead of you... and I don't think there are any others upgrade priorities that could be ahead of you (unless the people in the back were on business fares without seat assignments, but I don't think that's the case).

In an oversell situation, the passengers confirmed in Y but on the upgrade list should be processed first before op-ups. Usually this list is very small or even non-existent, because it can typically only be Platinum or Diamonds on eligible fares using SWUs.

Have you written Delta yet?
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Old May 11, 12, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by SoraAoi View Post
Hello FTers!

This is my first post, although I am an experienced DL flyer (DM, 1MM+, all real miles). My question was triggered by a recent TATL flight (May 7 JFK-SVO), and since I witnessed similar situations before too, I wanted to ask whether you see anything wrong with this picture or this is a SOP.

Was on a refundable B fare, listed for a PU503/SWU upgrade in Z. Everything was coded properly, I think (comp UG listed, Z waitlisted as a separate line). The flight looked pretty good, with some 10 seats or so open in the morning (4 pm departure; Expert Flyer showed J9C9D9I9S9 all the way to 5 min before the departure (have screenshots, have not figured how to post them yet). Got to the gate from my connecting flight only to find that there were 8 or 9 "UP" people on the screen, but I was not one of them. Asked a GA (who was mostly busy stamping boarding passes with DOCS OK stamp), was told that all upgrades were already processed, and if yours wasn't, means you were too low on the list. She did not want to check anything though, just told me that. I found it hard to believe given my fare and PU503/SWU, but so be it.

Turned out that Y was oversold and most people were OP-UPed, but not necessarily high status PAX (there were a couple of NRSAs, I think -- Russian-speaking FAs were very friendly with them and spoke in Russian; for sure a couple Medallion companions). When I checked the ExpertFlyer again, just a few minutes before the departure, BE seatmap was completely full, but J9C9D9I9 availability remained.

I know that formally I got what I paid for, but when I am paying $4K for a ticket, am a Diamond Medallion with nearly 200K real miles a year, and offer to use my SWUs, shouldn't I get the highest priority for an UG, definitely trumping OP-UPs and NRSAs? While OP-UPs may not be explicitly governed by any program rules, UG priority using SWU is, right?

As for witnessing similar things before, I was referring to "friendly" Russian-speaking GAs at JFK who always seem to favor their Russian buddies over everyone else (and I understand enough Russian to know what they are talking about). Also saw it on the return, SVO-JFK, flights: don't even know if official computer-generated lists exist there and/or status and fare matter at all. Knowing ground folks seems to be much more important than anything else. I don't want to accuse anyone of doing anything improper, but it looks .... unusual, at least to me (and no, I am not a suspicious or paranoid type).

Anybody else seen anything similar on other DL flights or this is a unique thing for this route?
Welcome to FT OP!

I agree with Victor you got hosed! However, DL's Op-up policy isn't necessarily published so we can't necessarily argue against that.

However, technically speak, SWUs only work with Z availability. Thus, if there was Z no availability in and it wasn't processed, you won't get the upgrades.

Many have said they won't purchase YBM tickets to use SWUs on unless there is Z class available and that is a good rule of thumb to follow.
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Old May 11, 12, 11:09 am
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OP, how do you know your SWU was properly coded? More often than not they are improperly coded.

Also, how were there comp UGs on a TATL?

Yet another example of why I never buy an M fare unless the Z upgrade is available at time of purchase and why I always ask for the ticket to be reissued at the time of purchase.
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Old May 11, 12, 11:17 am
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Originally Posted by EchoVictor View Post
Sounds like you got hosed. I doubt there were nine or ten diamonds on upgradable fares ahead of you... and I don't think there are any others upgrade priorities that could be ahead of you (unless the people in the back were on business fares without seat assignments, but I don't think that's the case).

In an oversell situation, the passengers confirmed in Y but on the upgrade list should be processed first before op-ups. Usually this list is very small or even non-existent, because it can typically only be Platinum or Diamonds on eligible fares using SWUs.

Have you written Delta yet?
No, I have not written DL yet. Don't really do that very often. I guess I should in case something was indeed wrong (and I think it really was GA'a fault, was lazy or, more likely, upgraded those who should not have been. For whatever reason).

Somewhat off the original topic, I was really surprised by several things on this flight. DL was normally flying 764 with flat beds on this route, but now it is an old 763!! For the last month or so. And this is a longer flight which usually has good paid J loads! What is the logic? They are flying the new planes on much shorter routes to Europe (like FRA, MAD, BCN, etc.)

I usually fly in business, and on many different airlines, but end up in coach every now and then too. Have not been in DL's Y for a while. Boy, it is really minimalistic! The food is pretty much not edible, the seats are not very comfortable at all, even in EC, and the service is really underwhelming. Would be nice to get at least a couple of rounds of water on a 10 hr flight. Not even that! I guess, it is normal these days, but I thought DL was tooting their horn about great Q1 performance, but how did it manage that? Definitely not through their customer care! I should have bought a cheapest T ticket and tipped a GA, and being a DM would have gotten an OP-UP easily!
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Old May 11, 12, 11:20 am
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Originally Posted by DHalltheway View Post
Welcome to FT OP!

I agree with Victor you got hosed! However, DL's Op-up policy isn't necessarily published so we can't necessarily argue against that.

However, technically speak, SWUs only work with Z availability. Thus, if there was Z no availability in and it wasn't processed, you won't get the upgrades.

Many have said they won't purchase YBM tickets to use SWUs on unless there is Z class available and that is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Z availability goes out the window once it goes to the gate upgrade list. Assuming properly transferred from the Z wait list to the airport wait list (a big if!), then the GA should clear you into open J seats as there's not really any more Z inventory at that stage.
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Old May 11, 12, 11:23 am
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Originally Posted by HongKonger View Post
OP, how do you know your SWU was properly coded? More often than not they are improperly coded.

Also, how were there comp UGs on a TATL?

Yet another example of why I never buy an M fare unless the Z upgrade is available at time of purchase and why I always ask for the ticket to be reissued at the time of purchase.
Well, I can only guess that they were properly coded: Z was waitlisted as a separate line before the confirmed flight, the DM upgrade was listed as usual to the right of the confirmed flight on the domestic portion.

There are no comp UG on a TATL as far as I know, I was referring to the domestic "feeder" portion (and I got the domestic upgrade).

Yeah, it was even higher than M, BEERT9, I think, the fully changeable/refundable B fare. A ticket I got a while ago and changed a few times. I would prefer not to buy a YBM either unless Z is confirmed right away, but sometime you have to do what you have to do, no choice.
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Old May 11, 12, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by DHalltheway View Post
Welcome to FT OP!

I agree with Victor you got hosed! However, DL's Op-up policy isn't necessarily published so we can't necessarily argue against that.

However, technically speak, SWUs only work with Z availability. Thus, if there was Z no availability in and it wasn't processed, you won't get the upgrades.

Many have said they won't purchase YBM tickets to use SWUs on unless there is Z class available and that is a good rule of thumb to follow.
Thank you for the welcome.

Doesn't gate upgrade list get prioritized the same way, i.e. high BEERT (one tiny step down from YEE) and SWU should put you pretty much on the top of the list? Same thing as when Z/G is not available on a domestic flight, you normally still end up at the top of the gate list, right?

Last edited by SoraAoi; May 11, 12 at 11:33 am
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Old May 11, 12, 11:32 am
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Originally Posted by mtkeller View Post
Z availability goes out the window once it goes to the gate upgrade list. Assuming properly transferred from the Z wait list to the airport wait list (a big if!), then the GA should clear you into open J seats as there's not really any more Z inventory at that stage.
Yeah, exactly, that's what I thought - and it should have put me very high on the list, right? I have no reason to think it was not coded properly. More likely that the list was run by the GA to clear those that s/he wanted instead of those that should have been. It is much easier to do on the INTL flights: the GAs have a LOT (like limitless) discretion especially when Y is even slightly oversold, and hence an enormous potential for abuse ...
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Old May 11, 12, 12:13 pm
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I fly this route a couple of times each year and most recently returned from SVO the last Friday in April (prior to the holidays). Both on this return and one this past fall, I was on a B fare and at the time of booking J9 was showing with Z0.

Also, I have only flown 763's on this route - no lie-flats yet.

In the fall, with three days to go and J6 showing, my Z upgrade loaded.

On this past trip, J dropped to 0 a few days after I booked and hovered between 2 and 5 on in the two weeks before departure. Most likely because of the holidays, it was not looking good so about ten days out I switched my return from SVO-JFK to SVO-PRG-JFK (in BE). Boy am I happy I did. I still was wait listed for SVO-JFK and since both SVO departures were within 15 minutes of each other, figured I could see what would happen the morning of departure and switch back if Z loaded.

Suffice it to say, that Z did not load and as a PM with but a few seats remaining, the GA noted that I was most likely not going to clear as I was too far down the list. So I kept my connection via PRG.
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Old May 11, 12, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by avflyer View Post
I fly this route a couple of times each year and most recently returned from SVO the last Friday in April (prior to the holidays). Both on this return and one this past fall, I was on a B fare and at the time of booking J9 was showing with Z0.

Also, I have only flown 763's on this route - no lie-flats yet.

In the fall, with three days to go and J6 showing, my Z upgrade loaded.

On this past trip, J dropped to 0 a few days after I booked and hovered between 2 and 5 on in the two weeks before departure. Most likely because of the holidays, it was not looking good so about ten days out I switched my return from SVO-JFK to SVO-PRG-JFK (in BE). Boy am I happy I did. I still was wait listed for SVO-JFK and since both SVO departures were within 15 minutes of each other, figured I could see what would happen the morning of departure and switch back if Z loaded.

Suffice it to say, that Z did not load and as a PM with but a few seats remaining, the GA noted that I was most likely not going to clear as I was too far down the list. So I kept my connection via PRG.
Getting a confirmed alternative routing was smart, of course, especially given the time of the year (May holidays are a big deal in Russia).

At least there was a list (sounds like the GA was referring to one). That's already encouraging. As long as Y is not oversold and GAs don't have a carte blanche, it may actually work as intended.

Last edited by SoraAoi; May 11, 12 at 1:42 pm
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Old May 11, 12, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by SoraAoi View Post
Getting a confirmed alternative routing was smart, of course, especially given the time of the year (May holidays are a big deal in Russia).

At least there was a list (sounds like the GA was referring to one). That's already encouraging. As long as Y is not oversold and the GA did not a carte blanche, it may actually work as intended.
I wouldn't count on the list being fully functional as others have noted first hand experience in preferential play. I know the flight was full so encouraging me to keep my actual routing might have been a plus. That said, with J levels low to begin with and the potential for a few DMs snagging any available seats, the decision was easy for me.

That said, in light of other comments about what might happen once it gets handed over to gate control, I will plan future travel in a similar manner if Z does not clear prior to arriving at the airport. I can't imagine sitting in Y that long. As you point out, even with EC it's still too much time with limited personal space.

Now if you end up doing the same one day (and the PRG upgrade seems relatively easy to get), note that check in for SU to PRG is out of Terminal F. It's a decent walk and leave yourself enough time because the GA working the check-in never had to process a SVO-PRG-JFK before. Had I not insisted it could be done, she would have just checked me into PRG where I would have had to collect my luggage and re-check in again ... something not possible in the 1:15 layover.

I persisted it was possible and she ran off to a nearby office where someone showed her what to do. She was extremely proud to show me that not only did the luggage tag now read JFK but that in addition to my SVO-PRG boarding pass, she also handed me my PRG-JFK boarding pass. Pins and needles for a moment there but in the end all was good.

The only downside is that they do not honor the 70lb luggage limit for the SVO-PRG leg and you fly that leg in Y. The good news, at least for me was that upon arriving in PRG, we parked right next to the DL gate.
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Old May 11, 12, 2:10 pm
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Interesting thread... something I've seen (well, suspected really) was happening.

A related topic: I've been cleared via SWU at the gate a number of times only to discover OP-UPs happening all around me. It's one of those situations where you can't really complain because you got what you paid for (high $ ticket and surrender of SWU) but geez, if I'm gonna get bumped anyway it would be nice to let me hang on to my precious SWU!

Like the OP, I have to take the M+ fare / no Z gamble sometimes. Usually works out but I've been caught short a couple times - where they couldn't even squeeze me into EC even though I paid 3x what my seatmates paid. Kinda puts me in a mood, ya know.
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Old May 11, 12, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by avflyer View Post
I fly this route a couple of times each year and most recently returned from SVO the last Friday in April (prior to the holidays).

Also, I have only flown 763's on this route - no lie-flats yet.

In the fall, with three days to go and J6 showing, my Z upgrade loaded.

On this past trip, J dropped to 0 a few days after I booked and hovered between 2 and 5 on in the two weeks before departure. Most likely because of the holidays, it was not looking good so about ten days out I switched my return from SVO-JFK to SVO-PRG-JFK (in BE). Boy am I happy I did. I still was wait listed for SVO-JFK and since both SVO departures were within 15 minutes of each other, figured I could see what would happen the morning of departure and switch back if Z loaded.

Suffice it to say, that Z did not load and as a PM with but a few seats remaining, the GA noted that I was most likely not going to clear as I was too far down the list. So I kept my connection via PRG.
I have yet to fly the new 763 period but am presently booked on a 764 SVO-JFK for 10/4 and will be very frustrated and looking for alternatives if they change this back to the old 763 which I flew 5/11 SVO-JFK. In 2012 alone, I already survived the old 763 for IST and will do the same soon for ATH.
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Old May 11, 12, 7:45 pm
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OP, you got totally hosed, and I will also call Shenanigans on this one by the GA.

Absolutely, definitely, 100% call and write to Delta about this. It is unacceptable that they did not follow SWU airport standby procedure. As a DM using an SWU on a B fare, you would certainly be in the top couple on the list. The proper upgrade list was obviously ignored by the GA and they provided op-up to inappropriate pax. If it can be confirmed that there were NRSA given op-up ahead of you, then that is grounds for termination.

Its extremely upsetting and unfortunately, but JFK seems to be among the worst locations for GAs ignoring the rules for things like this.
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