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Operational upgrades - how can you choose when to block them?

Operational upgrades - how can you choose when to block them?

Old Dec 31, 11, 6:46 am
  #1  
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Operational upgrades - how can you choose when to block them?

This is a topic that has been bothering me for some months now, but it came to a head this week with a somewhat unpleasant incident.

Those who have flown with me know that I am a very low maintenance traveler. With my noise cancelling headphones, an eye mask and a sleeping pill, I can sleep through pretty much anything short of a crash. I carry my own food and drinks on board, so I can live my flight pretty much independently of the crew enforced timetable for eating, sleeping, etc.. Indeed, I have spent many enjoyable 8+ hour flights without ever interacting with a single member of the crew.

I flew from India to Dubai earlier this week and onward to my final destination. As is customary around this time of year, the flight from India to Dubai was oversold. I had pre-selected my favourite seat on the 77W to ensure that I could maximise my sleep on this sector. At check-in, I specifically asked the check-in agent to ensure that I was NOT moved around due to the oversale. All was well, until I reached the jetway. There, a man was waiting for me (and a couple others) with a printed manifest and advised me that I had been moved to seat 7E, a middle seat in Business Class.

I do not fly in middle seats. Period. I do not enjoy the experience, and I will be damned if I am going to pay good money for an experience that I do not enjoy. Not in Economy Class, not in Business Class and not in First Class (not that First has any middle seats though). If the only available seat on a plane is a middle seat and my schedule is flexible, I will rather get off and wait for the next flight than fly in a middle seat.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. FOUR times this year, I have been involuntarily moved to a different cabin despite specifically having requested NOT to be moved at the counter and/or lounge. On each of those occasions however, I was able to swap with a member of my travel party who still held a seat that I was willing to fly in. Today, I had no such luck as I was traveling alone.

When I check-in and receive a boarding pass for a specific seat, I expect not to be moved from that seat without my consent for anything other than safety reasons. I am one of your most frequent customers, not some pawn to be shuffled around on your seatmap at the whim of a load controller. I have plenty of Skywards Miles in my account - if I wanted that Business Class seat, I'd have bought it or upgraded into it already. Please do not be so presumptuous to assume that I wish to be upgraded without the simple courtesy of asking me. I am more than willing to assist you with your oversale situation by accepting an involuntary move to a different seat, but only if that different seat does not cause me more inconvenience and discomfort. Moving me to a middle seat, even if it is a flat bed middle seat, causes me more inconvenience and discomfort.

Anyway, back to the narrative. The guy with the list seemed a bit flustered when I told him that I did not want 7E. He spoke to someone on a radio and then told me to go on board and take my original seat. So I did. Until 10 minutes later, one of the cabin crew comes up to me and asks to see my boarding pass. Which I show her. Alas, we have a seat dupe. Looks like the guy with the list didn't do anything other than pass the buck to the poor crew.

For the next 20 minutes, there was lots of hemming and hawing and calls back and forth with the Purser while they tried to resolve the situation. I refused to accept the new seat assignment and the gentleman with the seat dupe, after hearing that it was a middle seat, also refused to accept it. The SFS tried to get a bit assertive by saying that we would be offloaded if we refused to accept the new seat, but backed down when I said that I'd be happy to be offloaded and that they should start looking for my baggage if that was their decision.

Eventually, they started asking around the other passengers nearby if anyone was willing to swap seats. A young lad in row 48 aisle was willing and my seat dupe took his seat while I continued to stay in row 50. We pushed back a few minutes late as a result, but arrived in Dubai comfortably on schedule.

The entirely avoidable incident left myself, the other passengers and the crew in a poor frame of mind for the rest of the flight. There needs to be a better way for Emirates to identify which passengers are willing to be moved to accommodate their oversale situations rather than assuming that their most frequent flyers are willing/able to accept upgrades every single time.

Thoughts? Comments? Abuse?
B747-437B is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 6:59 am
  #2  
 
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As a high maintenance traveller who travels exclusively in Business Class on all international flights by choice, I sympathize with you ...I had a similar experience in reverse.

I was downgraded once and point blank refused to fly. I was so pissed off i swore i would never fly the airlibe (SAA) again and never will.

The reasons I refused where very similar to the ones you adduce above and hence I think your reasoning is impeccable!

OTOH 95 per cent of pax would view a middle seat in EK J as Pareto superior (as we economists put it) to any Econ seat. I therefore sympathize with the airline and it's confusion. clearly the logic is flawed But EK cannot admit it since it sells middle seats in J for more than any Y seat.
rathin100 is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 7:30 am
  #3  
 
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Look at it this way. Now that you have a seat in Business Class (which most people would consider is better than an economy seat), you have a higher bargaining power. Go to any one of 304 people in Y and ask them to switch seats with you. You essentially have your pick of seats, and that's hardly something to complain about. Maybe one day you'll get lucky and they'll upgrade you to an aisle seat in J.
ung1 is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 7:53 am
  #4  
 
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This is why EK need a formal process to deal with op-ups, not the random, hold your finger in the air to check which way the wind is blowing method they use now.

Lets assume that op-ups are handed out generally by status. So, you're a Gold, the load controller is furiously working the flight to accommodate as many of the Y oversales, and looks thru the manifest. Grabs all the Golds, then if thats not enough grabs some Silvers. I can assure you the check-in staff have no way of inserting a message into the system. It's all manual. You may as well given the agent your favourite chicken marsala recipe rather than ask not to be moved around due to oversales. Perhaps the only way to prevent this is to actually ask for the load controller and make him/her understand your request.

There's no "system" at this point.

As a comparison, United with all its failings, have the upgrade process down to a fine art. A computer controls the whole thing. Sure, an agent or controller working the flight can intervene/override, but most people let the system do its thing, and 95% of the time, things work.

UA base upgrades on fare basis, status and then time added to the list (if you are using a certificate or miles). On an op-up basis, its down to fare basis, then status then a range of other criteria should there be a tie.

B747, in your case, if you were on UA, you would simply inform the agent working the flight that you want to be removed from all upgrade lists or to be tagged NSFU (for this flight only).

Back to the EK issue though. Most newbies reading this thread might look at your post and think "what a pain in the bum this guy is - he would prefer to sit in Y than J, even though it is a middle seat"

If it was me, I would always take the J product, over the Y product. Although its never happened to me on any op-up.

I would admit that I am somewhat of a high-maintenance customer - but more so out of my home airports than anything else. Most of my recent J flights, I insist on the forward cabin, and either row 6 or 7 windows. If they dont have it, I wave my arms And I would never, ever accept the rear row of J. May as well then sit in Y (nearly).

I like this conversation. Because for the most part, I think anyway, a lot of people are going to be amazed that there are people out there who would prefer to fly coach rather than business - and that in essence, is the antithesis of everything that FT stands for

(Personally, I'd like to move this entire thread over to the BA forum for 48-hours and then watch what happens!)
eightblack is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 8:05 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by ung1 View Post
Look at it this way. Now that you have a seat in Business Class (which most people would consider is better than an economy seat), you have a higher bargaining power. Go to any one of 304 people in Y and ask them to switch seats with you. You essentially have your pick of seats, and that's hardly something to complain about. Maybe one day you'll get lucky and they'll upgrade you to an aisle seat in J.
I get upgraded to aisle/window seats in Business Class more often than middle seats (probably about a dozen times this year compared to only 4 times for the middle seat). And I'm happy to accept those as I view them as acceptable seats for me to travel in.

My point is that I shouldn't have to go to "any one of 304 people and ask them to switch seats". I already had a seat assignment for the seat that I wanted. Emirates took it away. Why the heck should I have to bear the brunt of their mistake to oversell Economy Class?
B747-437B is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 9:29 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by eightblack View Post
This is why EK need a formal process to deal with op-ups, not the random, hold your finger in the air to check which way the wind is blowing method they use now.
No, this is why EK needs to hire a competent revenue management team and ensure that the whole op-up fiasco doesn't keep happening. But that's another thread for another day.
B747-437B is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 1:17 pm
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When I first read the thread I checked if it was written on April Fools' Day. I bet most readers will not understand the "problem" that the OP experienced. For sure I don't.

Happy New Year, everybody!!! And may it bring all OpUps to me and not the OP!
CalFlyer is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 4:22 pm
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Would removing your Skywards number from the booking do the trick? It is quite easily to request mileage online after the fact. I assume you can go to the lounge just by flashing your card?
sadiqhassan is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by eightblack View Post

(Personally, I'd like to move this entire thread over to the BA forum for 48-hours and then watch what happens!)
Shall I post a link like Yahillwe did for your TR

I agree that there are few who would look on the situation the OP describes with much sympathy, however, given infinite legroom available in some Y seats (aisle/window) versus feeling sandwiched in a middle seat in J, I can see the reasoning to want to stay in Y.

Then there's also the issue of sleeping. As the OP describes, he conchs out near instantly. I don't... not even in J flat-beds. Therefore I would definitely take the J middle seat over the Y aisle for the added amenities and comfort (for me). All boils down to personal preference I guess.
evanderm is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 6:02 pm
  #10  
 
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Is it possible to decline an upgrade and get the original seat back? I am flying DXB-MRU in Y in April with a friend who has no status on EK. If I were given an opup to J, could I ask to be given back my original seat in Y? Or would I simply speak to the purser on board and arrange to swap?
JTXC is offline  
Old Dec 31, 11, 6:25 pm
  #11  
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I can't help but think that you are in the minority... and does seem strange the seat dupe passenger wouldn't want a business class seat rather than economy

my initial thought is they perhaps thought the middle seat was still in economy?

I have had a couple of unwanted upgrades, when traveling with friends who remained in coach.

always solved by offering my biz class boarding pass to the passenger sitting next to my friend. if necessary a quick word to the crew just to explain. never been a problem...
LHR/MEL/Europe FF is offline  
Old Jan 1, 12, 8:05 am
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You need to develop a severe case of claustrophobia - the sort that manifests in sudden hyseria if confined to places without easy egress. Like middle seats in J. Tell the crew you are prepared to risk it if they can cope with the consequences.



Originally Posted by eightblack View Post
(Personally, I'd like to move this entire thread over to the BA forum for 48-hours and then watch what happens!)
Ooh, please!!
Cheetah_SA is offline  
Old Jan 1, 12, 9:36 am
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Why not just get NSFU added against your name for any booking you make. Then you shouldn't have this problem again.

I'm sure many others would appreciate the upgrade.. They seem wasted on you.
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Old Jan 1, 12, 9:42 am
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I've copied and pasted into BA forum :-) let the fun commence!
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Old Jan 1, 12, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by MarkLHR View Post
I've copied and pasted into BA forum :-) let the fun commence!
Cheeky monkey, you!

and a blingtastic 2012 to everyone on the EK forum
Prospero is online now  

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