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Interesting UG model at UA -- will DL roll out something similar?

Interesting UG model at UA -- will DL roll out something similar?

Old Sep 24, 19, 11:40 am
  #1  
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Exclamation Interesting UG model at UA -- will DL roll out something similar?

Thought this was interesting in UA's most recent press release regarding upgrades. They're doing away with Regional Upgrade and Global Upgrade Certificates and switching to a point system. Here's the link and an interesting video that accompanies it: https://hub.united.com/united-airlin...640576424.html

I wonder if DL will do something similar, or if it will stick to the RUC/GUC model. On the other hand, I'd rather DL fix how certs are handled, particularly with SDC...
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Old Sep 24, 19, 12:12 pm
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Interesting. My reactions are:
  • United mentions "discounted economy fares" require 2x the points for long-haul upgrades as "economy fares." It's not clear, but this could be a huge devaluation. Currently region and global upgrades on United can be used for any fare except Basic Economy. This seems to imply to me that there's a bucket of discounted regular economy fare classes (e.g., M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G) that would require 2x the points, and that only expensive full-fare (Y and B) can be upgrade for 40 points.
  • I'm sure some people will complain about an effective "devaluation" as more people try to skip the waitlist, but the option to use more points for a confirmed upgrade is something that a lot of people here in the Delta forum have suggested for GUCs out of frustration that GUCs go to waste.
  • I love the feature that you can request upgrades for all segments and only pay for the highest price segment that actually ends up clearing. I am always frustrated when using GUCs on Delta that I have to only request an upgrade for the long-haul segments until they clear and then call back in to apply the upgrade to the rest of then itinerary.
  • The ability to request all upgrades from the website and mobile app is a huge improvement over Delta's upgrade inventory roulette, but I think it was always straightforward to find upgrade inventory on United.
I honestly don't see Delta following United on this one, at least for a while. If anything, Delta is just going to sling SkyMiles upgrades more
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Old Sep 24, 19, 2:12 pm
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The biggest thing preventing Delta from implementing this is IT: I have zero confidence Delta could build and roll out a system like this, because it would require automating the upgrade process. Maybe they could slap it on top of the current paid upgrade system, which is a relatively recent investment?

I do think this has a major bonus: it takes Premium Economy cabins into account while preserving the core idea of certificate upgrades. Premium Select is a gaping hole in Delta's elite upgrade strategy, and I think that's an oversight - while I don't see Comfort+ as an upgrade, I *do* see PS as an upgrade, and being able to trade in some of my RUCs to gain points to spend on Premium Select for flights I can't go all the way to Delta One would be a fantastic benefit I'd value a lot.

The main concern is that implementing this system would take away the ability to upgrade with GUCs on V fares four times a year, though. If DL goes this direction, I hope they choose a point valuation that is neutral with the current system across all fare classes for the first year before they turn the inevitable screws.
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Old Sep 24, 19, 2:17 pm
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Here's the UA forum thread on this change, for the curious:

Introducing PlusPoints – New Upgrade Benefits for MileagePlus Premier Members

IMO the most important development from that thread that would be nice for DL to implement, and trivially too, would be to have a DL employee actively participating on FT... (I think UA Insider has always been around, but is not generally this active at least not recently)
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Old Sep 24, 19, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by rucksack View Post
United mentions "discounted economy fares" require 2x the points for long-haul upgrades as "economy fares." It's not clear, but this could be a huge devaluation. Currently region and global upgrades on United can be used for any fare except Basic Economy. This seems to imply to me that there's a bucket of discounted regular economy fare classes (e.g., M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G) that would require 2x the points, and that only expensive full-fare (Y and B) can be upgrade for 40 points.
The "discounted economy fates" are the five lowest (STLKG) which are current not eligible for global certificates at all (on long-haul routes), which is in contrast to DL/AA where global certs are good on any fare.

I feel like something in this vein is the inevitable future everywhere unless DL wants to make the whole-hog jump of Y->PE only for certificates and prohibit double upgrades, but I think we are years from anyone being brave enough to pull that one off. I agree with BenA that IT is a major barrier, and it remains to be seen how well even UA will cope..
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Old Sep 24, 19, 2:34 pm
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AC has been doing something like this for years, giving top elites some upgrade credits annually.
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Old Sep 24, 19, 6:01 pm
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One thing about the United system is you continue to earn points as you fly more - 40 plus points every 25,000 miles past 100,000

DL only gives you the plat anbd diamond choice and that is it - with UA you can continue to earn more certs or points after Dec 4
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Old Sep 24, 19, 6:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Hipplewm View Post
One thing about the United system is you continue to earn points as you fly more - 40 plus points every 25,000 miles past 100,000

DL only gives you the plat anbd diamond choice and that is it - with UA you can continue to earn more certs or points after Dec 4
This aspect of the program isn’t new for United, and American also allows you to earn additional Systemwide upgrades. However, it is a difference between American/United and Delta’s elite upgrade benefits. That and the fact that United and American’s upgrades can be used on others not flying with the owner of the certificate.
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Old Sep 24, 19, 7:06 pm
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Some good and some bad.

As noted above UA requires a minimum W fare for GPUs (no restrictions for RPUs) so this opens things up.

The most interesting thing to me is that the way I read this it actually gives PMs a pathway to an international upgrade with the points earned at the PM level
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Old Sep 25, 19, 12:07 am
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I don't think I will ever make DM, at least not at my current travel pattern, so never having the opportunity to earn GUCs is kind of a bummer for me. This UA program would effectively give me the option to have one long-haul international upgrade opportunity. That said, it doesn't look like Platinum UA members will be able to earn additional points without making it to 1K so my 40 points would basically be one one-way long haul upgrade for the year. While an international upgrade beats a regional one, I also feel like the 4 RUCs I get with DL beats one single upgrade. If I were to be at a level where DM/1K were attainable I think I would have more of a thought on this.

I do imagine a lot of 1Ks will be pissed that they're now also competing with Plats
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Old Sep 25, 19, 12:58 am
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Another interesting aspect about a points-based system is that it might encourage an airline to develop additional ways to earn such points -- exchange miles for points, credit card tie-ins, points for flying so many miles beyond hitting a certain status level, etc.

A downside would be that it seems inevitable that they will move to dynamic pricing for the upgrades, just as they have/are doing with mileage redemptions, or at least to more complex pricing, like with award charts for mileage redemptions.
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Old Sep 25, 19, 1:11 am
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I read OMAAT's evaluation of that change and have to say that I come to fundamentally different conclusions. I think the overall goal with these things is to flatten out the redemption value of such perks. There's still gonna be value, sure. But they're gonna prevent nerds like us from getting outsized value.

Of course, they are gonna make it look nice during the first year or so. That's completely analogous to what happens when a carrier gets rid of published award charts. Initially, you make it look good, make available a few sweet spots. Fast forward a year or two and you have people complaining on the forums why an award TPE-CDG costs 620k miles...
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Old Sep 25, 19, 11:02 am
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Originally Posted by gitismatt View Post
I don't think I will ever make DM, at least not at my current travel pattern, so never having the opportunity to earn GUCs is kind of a bummer for me. This UA program would effectively give me the option to have one long-haul international upgrade opportunity. That said, it doesn't look like Platinum UA members will be able to earn additional points without making it to 1K so my 40 points would basically be one one-way long haul upgrade for the year. While an international upgrade beats a regional one, I also feel like the 4 RUCs I get with DL beats one single upgrade. If I were to be at a level where DM/1K were attainable I think I would have more of a thought on this.

I do imagine a lot of 1Ks will be pissed that they're now also competing with Plats
Good point, although in the current United world, I believe UA Platinums only get 2 regional upgrades, wheres on the Delta side we get 4. So I would imagine if Delta followed suit, they would give enough points for two GUCs (half of the diamond amount) keeping things equal. I'm sure that'd be unpopular with DMs, but selfishly as a PM I would love to have 2 GUCs over 4 RUCs!

That being said, when I read the announcement from UA my first thought was the fact it will be easier for UA to devalue the points. So I guess its a double edged sword.
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Old Sep 25, 19, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by gitismatt View Post
I don't think I will ever make DM, at least not at my current travel pattern, so never having the opportunity to earn GUCs is kind of a bummer for me. This UA program would effectively give me the option to have one long-haul international upgrade opportunity. That said, it doesn't look like Platinum UA members will be able to earn additional points without making it to 1K so my 40 points would basically be one one-way long haul upgrade for the year. While an international upgrade beats a regional one, I also feel like the 4 RUCs I get with DL beats one single upgrade. If I were to be at a level where DM/1K were attainable I think I would have more of a thought on this.

I do imagine a lot of 1Ks will be pissed that they're now also competing with Plats
How many domestic upgrades can a UA Platinum get with those 40 upgrade points?

One international upgrade per year can work if something ends up clearing at the gate, but it's not very helpful if you want to pick flights with upgrade availability because buying business class in only one direction can be very expensive (combinability of fares rules, for instance).
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Old Sep 25, 19, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
How many domestic upgrades can a UA Platinum get with those 40 upgrade points?
I believe 2. 20 points each.
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