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Operational Upgrades, or “OpUps” on International Flights: The Definitive Thread

Operational Upgrades, or “OpUps” on International Flights: The Definitive Thread

Old Feb 4, 01, 8:02 pm
Moderator: Travel with Pets
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2000
Programs: DL FO, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold
Posts: 11,981
Operational Upgrades, or “OpUps” on International Flights: The Definitive Thread

How many of you have received operational upgrades? What are your experiences and do you have any secrets or tricks to get them?
Are there certain routes where they happen more often than others?
RSSrsvp is offline  
Old Feb 4, 01, 8:14 pm
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 1,732
Funny story here.

I was flying to Amsterdam with a friend back in February. He was originating in BOS, and meeting me in JFK (where I was starting) and we were flying together to AMS.

I showed up at JFK, and knowing in advance that the flight was overbooked, asked to be put on the Operational Upgrade list. I was told that I was on a non-upgradeable fare -- which was true, I was in L class. I then explained to the woman that they were going to have have to bump some people from coach to BE, because coach was overbooked by 14, and BE had 11 open seats in it. She told me that it wasn't her concern, and that if I wanted to upgrade, I could pay the fare difference from L to Y ($1550 each in this case) for both me and my friend, and then use miles and/or a systemwide.

I told her that DL was going to have to upgrade someone for free, so she should count just getting the systemwide and/or miles as something good -- they'd at least be getting *something*.

She told me that it wasn't her problem, and asked if I wanted to pay the upgrade to a Y fare. I told her no, and she gave me my boarding pass.

When I looked at it, I noticed that I was in 12A, not 35D as planned. I was in the BE section. DL had already given me an Operational Upgrade. The ticket agent was a COMPLETE MORON. She should have looked at the reservation, seen I was in BE, and said something to the effect of, "Mr. X, we normally wouldn't do this, but since you're such a great customer, and someone has to get moved up...". That would have made me feel special. She could have even taken the systemwide I was offering, "upgraded" me, and I still would have felt special. Instead, she completely blew it.

Now comes the even more fun part. I mention the fact that I'm traveling with a companion on a linked record, and ask if he's in the seat next to me. She looks and tells me that he's still in row 35. But he's not a medallion, so there's certainly no way he can get moved up. It's his first time going to Europe, and I dont' want to leave him alone, so I ask her to take the upgrade back and give me back my seat. Of course, they can't do that -- it's already been given away.

Needless to say, I was rather miffed.
2 Many Miles is offline  
Old Feb 4, 01, 10:09 pm
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: FLL; DL PM
Posts: 161
2ManyMiles... What's your method to knowing that they would have to operationally upgrade someone on that flight if it was only oversold by 14. Typically the JFK-AMS flight is oversold by 30-45 seats in Y on a 76ER (at least thats what DL numbers for this week's flights are showing). Maybe the flight you were on just had a low noshow rate or were you able to find out number of pax already checked in for the flight? Anyway, congrats on the upgrade... hope the flight was good!
squinn is offline  
Old Feb 4, 01, 10:39 pm
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: atlanta, georgia (usa)
Posts: 330
Don't accept the first rejection. The last person you ask is the one who grants you the "V", or operational upgrade.
Half the time, it's a mistake; the agent overlooks the fare-basis as he/she looks at the wait-list you inquired about as your opening gambit.
Half the time, there is a wise old-hand who
sees there are empty seats up front and you've flown 15 segments in two months.
Total crap shoot. A light touch works best.
You could get a newly-minted agent who fears retribution, or you could luck out and get a veteran who knows they have a measure of discretion.
I've found luck with the pitch: "any 'platinum' possibilities this trip or is the front cabin sold-out?"
That phrase seems to leave the fewest options for the agent. They know that you know the request is off-the-books.
Good luck. About a 40% chance you'll score until the weather turns warm.
fannin is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 7:58 am
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Nashville -Past DL Plat, FO, WN-CP, various hotel programs
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Originally posted by 2 Many Miles:
Funny story here.

... so I ask her to take the upgrade back and give me back my seat. Of course, they can't do that -- it's already been given away. Needless to say, I was rather miffed.
You could have EASILY sat in coach with your friend. Just go back and ask the guy sitting in the seat next to your friend if he would prefer your B/E seat. He would have moved so fast, you would forget he was even there. You don't need an agent to fix that problem.


NoStressHere is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 8:24 am
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: SAN Diego (Hillcrest); soon formerly LEXington, KY; otherwise around and about
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My wife and I got upgraded to Rome last February on LUser fares. No strategems or attempts, it was just dumb luck. The weather had been awful a few days before so many cancellations & rebookings. Plus a huge tour group was on the plane, and that seems to screw up the no-show prediction software.

Anyway, we were having the usual miserable experience at Kennedy, and were actually walking to the gate after the Medallion boarding announcement when a LONG list of names was called to the podium. Our last name starts with "D" so we were near the top of the list. I went over and they handed me new boarding passes for 7AB with only "We've changed your seat assignments" as a comment.

Gee, you'd think they'd at least take credit for doing a good!

Obviously, since coach was overbooked, they had to move SOMEBODY up front, and we were silvers at the time.

When they ran out of Medallions to upgrade, they also moved the organizers of the tour group up. I suspect after that they worked on a fare-paid basis.

BTW, the upgrade turned out to be REALLY useful, as the plane subsequently had a three hour mechanical delay.
LexPassenger is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 8:31 am
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: ny,ny
Posts: 395
i was flying back from jamaica last month.. after the missed approach on the way in we landed in atl for a connection to bos.. my girlfriend had to work the next day and i didn't have class until late in the afternoon.. got in and decided to try and use segements to upgrade.. she isn't a medallion but i'm a gold and figured it was worth a try.. we got to the gate and i just asked the agent if there were any seats available in first.. i told him i'd like to use segements to do the upgrade.. he asked me if i had the segements in my account, i told him that i did but my girlfriend didn't.. any chance he could just use my segements and upgrade her as well.. he said he could probably swing it this time.. upgraded us.. then i noticed a row of boarding passes at least a dozen long.. turned out the flight was oversold.. they bumped four other people up who were coming in late off of conections.. checked my account a few days later and he hadn't deducted any segements from it.. only wish it was a longer trip or in biz elite.. dl first on a short flight with no meal.. not too much nicer than a half empty shuttle flight on the 737-800..
juuceman is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 8:50 am
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Seattle WA, DL-PM
Posts: 456
This past Thanksgiving, my family and I were scheduled to return LGA-CHS in the evening. Between the weather and the usual LGA chaos, our flight was cancelled. (It was a comair flight on an RJ). I noticed the cancellation on the website in the afternoon, called SMS, and was told I had already been re-booked on LGA-ATL-CHS, and we were in F for LGA-ATL. I was happy. We were all originally on L-class tickets. We got the mileage credit for F. Many disgruntled passengers boarded and gave us quizzical looks as my four-year old was sitting in 1B drinking a juice...in a glass

biometrist is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 9:30 am
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: FLL - DL DM MM - HHonors Gold
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It's going back a few years, but my wife and I got operationally upgraded to first from business on MAN-ATL. Thing I'd used a SWU and WWU (World Wide Upgrade) for my wife from a bereavement coach fare. So we got a two class upgrade. It made for a very nice return to the US.
mikepa is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 9:58 am
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Location: San Diego, CA
Programs: Mr Hertz & I have an Understanding. ;-> HH Diamond. DL PM (woo... at least it's clearly earned!)
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We also got operational upgrades SAN-LEX on Christmas Day when our original flight was cancelled. We might have been able to upgrade anyway - we were on K fares - but our friendly SAN CTO agent said, "I'm not taking any chances" and reclassified us to F, just in case of another cancellation. No worry about 72 hours out, no 800MSUs deducted, we got the F mileage bonus, in case of another cancellation, we'd show as F, etc. Not a big deal, but it did make our Christmas stay in SD a tad less worrisome and more pleasant.

LexPassenger also got an operational upgrade last Tuesday, CVG-SDF. Our SAN-CVG flight was late enough we couldn't make our original connection. CRC in SAN said there was only one open seat in F on the rebooked flight, and one of us had to be waitlisted. Who would do which? Well, LexPax has more 800 MSUs than I do, so he took the F seat.

Happily, I cleared the waitlist, so we didn't have to flip a coin to see who'd actually go up front. The next day, we discovered that the CRC agent had given him an operational upgrade, without telling us that's what was going on, but of course I'd had my 800MSU deducted, so now he's got even more ahead of me. It truly doesn't matter, but he's very conscientious about such things even when he's not really serious.
GG is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 11:10 am
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: AVL
Programs: DL Flying Colonel, Hilton Diamond & a few other lower levls here and there
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So far this year on CO I have yet to get an operational upgrade. However, this tends to also be a tough time of the travel year for me to get them on DL as well (low season on my destinations at the moment.) On DL international, I tend to get operational upgrades about ½ the time when flights are overbooked by 30. When flights are overbooked by 40 or more, my success ran around ¾ . It also helps if you know the gate agents, as they still have some input into the decision of who gets moved up. The computer prints out a list of candidates, and then the agents usually go down the list, but sometimes you luck out. I have had a few “SGB” agents who have refused to move me up the list.

The List – The list I think is rated based on your status and price of ticket. I do not know how it works, but from my experience, PMs are always at the top, only out weighted by PMs on full Y or NonRev. From everything I have seen, MM seems to be the same as silver. While FC is really worthless, I have been moved up once as the agent told me there were several people on the list and based on the fact that I was FC, this told him I have been through the trenches and he gave the seat to me. A case where the agent over rode the list, although, I was on the list.

During the high travel season, I came to know several flights that would always wind up being oversold. While I did not go out of my way to book on these flights, I knew what might happen, the pros and cons. One time they moved me up (JFK/DUB) and when they were done, they had still not found enough seats. They offered to fly me J/F/F(JFK/London/DUB) to my final destination, along with $800. A total of a 3 hour delay, a bit of travel and I was wealthier and home.

Now if the seats in Biz/E are already full, there is not a prayer for you. As we all know DL claims all the seats are full. I have not found this to be the fact, although there are times when they are full. Good Luck!!

[This message has been edited by JRF (edited 02-05-2001).]
JRF is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 11:12 am
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: PARIS, France
Programs: Skymiles GOLD, Frq +, Klm GOLD, Miles & More, Priority Club, Marriott Rewards, MilleMerci (Avis FR)
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Was 3 years ago in CDG, leaving for CVG. The plane was full, I already boarded in coach, was not very happy with my seat, when, suddenly, I heared an attendant shouting my name. She told me that I was upgraded to let a seat free in caoch. I grabed my things quicker that you can even think at it, and was in 2B, if I remind correctly, far from the noise and the chaos.

Was never operationnly upgraded since this time. I was silver, and went gold after.
felis is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 12:04 pm
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 2
Does anyone know why Delta does not disclose who gets the "V" class upgrades? Is this top secret? I have seen GMs get upgraded before PMs. SMS agent with 15 years experience tells me the fare doesn't factor in. I strongly disagree. Anyone else noticing the lack of "V" upgrades this year?
frankm is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 1:21 pm
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 95
Frankm, I don't understand your question. I, for one, have not noticed any shortage of V upgrades, and I'm PM. Perhaps Russ can refresh our collective memory on this matter.
Clark Kent 2001 is offline  
Old Feb 5, 01, 1:51 pm
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: SAN Diego (Hillcrest); soon formerly LEXington, KY; otherwise around and about
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Posts: 2,976
V upgrades are domestic 800 milers to domestic first. X upgrades are to domestic BizE service. Neither of these is operational; you have to give up your points.

Including operationals, Vs & Xs, we are 19 for 20 on front cabin in the last two months as gold medallions.
LexPassenger is offline  

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