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-   -   Int'l Upgrade Policy needs review!! (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/northwest-worldperks/321129-intl-upgrade-policy-needs-review.html)

kyushuman May 14, 04 8:51 am

Can't believe I'm saying this but...NW should follow KL's lead
 
There is a thread in the KL forum talking about when people arrive at the Lounge in AMS, they have a process for same-day upgrades:
The pax just goes to the desk and ask about using miles to Upgrade. While the pax fills out an upgrade request form, the lounge calls the gate to see if there are seats in WBC.
If the gate gives the OK, the form is then faxed to the FD office, who then replies as to whether the pax has enough miles. Simple as that. Maybe 3-5 minutes.
The airline can say no if they have reason to, but then there aren't tons of empty WBC seats going out with 20 Plats in back wondering why they couldn't use miles to upgrade. As for "devaluation", while you could wait to get the seat at the last minute, the only way to guarantee yourself a seat would be to either buy a ticket outright or Rulebust.
So, as you can see, miles can be used up till the day of travel on KL, NW's closest partner. Why not on NW?

mdb May 14, 04 11:40 am

[QUOTE=IAH-OIL-TRASH]NW's policy is clearly stated regarding int'l upgrades. .........If they used miles or paid a bit extra for the upgrade, fine. I don't mind FAs taking up free seats, because they're underpaid to start with and it's a defined perk.
QUOTE]

But that is the point - NW makes it extreemly difficult to do this - even with "upgradeable" fares. Upgrading Intl. on NW is a nightmare and the reason stated "is not to diminish a premium product" - then they "give" the seats away to emplyees, friends and family....

dave_261 May 14, 04 12:30 pm

I certainly agree with the whole devaluation of WBC issue. If I paid $3,000-$8,000 to secure a WBC seat, I don't want to be sitting next to someone who paid $350 and scored an easy upgrade.

I am aware that there are international mileage upgrades from select fare classes, but having never tried to go this route, I can't speak to the difficulty of obtaining one.

My though comes about with all of the outstanding miles out there, and rampant complaints about the difficulty of using them, this seems to be an opportunity for the airlines to reduce the liability at no cost.

As has been mentioned in this thread, why let empty WBC seats go out when there are "revenue" (by way of reducing the mileage liability) opportunities out there?

Maybe it's just an elite perk, only available within 60 minutes of departure, that opens up some/all remaining WBC inventory for mileage upgrades for certain fare classes. Perhaps it would "cost" 25,000 miles or something like that (or even miles + cash). That way, NWA:
- Fills an empty WBC seat
- Makes an elite flier happy
- Opens up a coach seat so perhaps someone in the back has more comfort
- Reduces the mileage liability by 25,000 miles, which opens up more potential availability for other redemption opportunities down the road
- All this for a cost of about $25 in food and beverage that the WBC passenger will use

Just a thought...

fromYXU May 14, 04 12:42 pm

I have a Y-fare MSP-AMS-LIS in September. I upgraded to WBC using points on MSP-AMS leg, but can not right now for the return leg. All flights show: J9 C9 Z0 Y9!!!

You would think that I could upgrade at this point, but no availabilty. :confused:

Would be nice to have a way to do it.

Edited to add that this is not a $375 fare!

thecortex May 14, 04 12:52 pm


Originally Posted by dave_261
Maybe it's just an elite perk, only available within 60 minutes of departure, that opens up some/all remaining WBC inventory for mileage upgrades for certain fare classes. Perhaps it would "cost" 25,000 miles or something like that (or even miles + cash). That way, NWA:
- Fills an empty WBC seat
- Makes an elite flier happy
- Opens up a coach seat so perhaps someone in the back has more comfort
- Reduces the mileage liability by 25,000 miles, which opens up more potential availability for other redemption opportunities down the road
- All this for a cost of about $25 in food and beverage that the WBC passenger will use

Just a thought...

This seems like a reasonable proposal to me especially since it could be done discretely in the gate area by paging elite pax individually (by order of status/fare class) and giving them an upgrade opportunity. Even if it were only 50 % of unsold inventory it would provide considerable good will for the pax offered the upgrade (most I'm sure would choose to redeem the miles for an upgrade) while not excessively "diluting" the WBC product (by limiting it to elites on B fares or higher). Of course, this whole process would be helped by having an international upgrade waitlist which every other carrier seems to have - except NW.

It's very frustrating to not be upgraded on an eligible international fare and then watch deadheading pilots and cabin crew jockey for non-rev WBC seats at the gate.

mdb May 14, 04 12:55 pm


Originally Posted by fromYXU
I have a Y-fare MSP-AMS-LIS in September. I upgraded to WBC using points on MSP-AMS leg, but can not right now for the return leg. All flights show: J9 C9 Z0 Y9!!!

You would think that I could upgrade at this point, but no availabilty. :confused:

Would be nice to have a way to do it.

Edited to add that this is not a $375 fare!

.... it may not open up until 2-3 days before - and that is ok - but sometimes they won't do it and the seat goes empty - happened to me in Jan - 4 unused seats!! ...and I had a "b" upgradable ticket and plenty of miles!!!

fromYXU May 14, 04 12:59 pm


Originally Posted by mdb
.... it may not open up until 2-3 days before - and that is ok - but sometimes they won't do it and the seat goes empty - happened to me in Jan - 4 unused seats!! ...and I had a "b" upgradable ticket and plenty of miles!!!

I believe that Y upgrades from Z, (B upgrades from I) so should happen much sonner than that. I just worry that I already lost out.

MSY-MSP May 14, 04 1:08 pm

My biggest gripe with the NW upgrade situation occured to me recently when I was in AMS returning to the States via DTW. I called NW reservations and found out there were 3 empty WBC seats, and coach was oversold by 20. I was on an upgradeable B fare that cost well more than 375. I asked if I could get an upgrade using miles and reduce the liability of an oversale by 1 (hey that would be 1 less IDB or VDB issued) Was told by the res agent that they couldn't do it, but to ask at the airport. Went to the airport, and asked the KL agent the same questions, and was told that KL does not do day of departure upgrades, which, as a previous poster stated is absolute bull. Anyway I keep trying, even once getting to the agent at the gate and asking about a mileage upgrade to help them out. I even told them I would call NW in the US on my mobile to help arrange this. They wouldn't do this. They kept asking for volunteers to give up their seats. Anyway they were still doing this when I boarded and took my seat in Y. Eventually they closed the doors, and left with 3 empty WBC seats. I found out from the flight crew that they ended up issuing 10 IDB and 3 VDB and had 7 no shows. (I don't know where they got this info from) this made no sense to me. I am sure that there were other elites on the flight with upgradable fares, that could have used miles to upgrade, thus freeing 3 seats and reducing the IDB's by 3. But they didn't and left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I am trying to help them.

The way I see it in this situation is as follows if NW had done the upgrade:
1) NW reduces its mileage liability by 30000 miles, net cost ~$25 for the upgrade, possibly more depending on drinking habits :D
2) NW doesn't issue an IDB, value on that ~$200, maybe more, this I am not sure of
3) NW gains extra goodwill, by having a happy FF in WBC, and a happy Pax in Y who at least has a seat.

sllevin May 14, 04 1:21 pm


Originally Posted by fromYXU
Problem with this is that ultimately WBC will fill up with non-revs, which is the same, to me, as devaluation of the product.

Given the difficulty we've had trying to find upgrade availability, I really don't think that's happening most of the time on either the Asian or European networks.

For example, SFO-NRT looks like:

5/15 (a saturday, no less!) J0 C0 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/16 J0 C0 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/17 J2 C0 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/18 J3 C1 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/19 J3 C1 Z0 Y4 B2 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/20 J6 C2 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/21 J6 C3 Z2 Y1 B1 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0

Doesn't look like much employee class to me.

Steve

fastflyer May 14, 04 1:23 pm

I am surprised at this policy. I thought Delta's policy was tough, but this is absurd! At the very least they should sell these seats at the gate for a premium over coach to generate some revenue. ($500 to upgrade based on a waitlist of elites, for example) To give premium seats to employees when they could be creating revenue is hardly good value for the owners -- the shareholders.

Yes, gate-sale upgrades does cause the premium product to suffer some devaluation, but revenue is king. Many airlines use yield management to sell out their premium cabins, so upgraders are not even an issue (nor are employees sitting up front -- this sends the wrong message to the paying passengers).

Another alternative is no upgrades at all. None. Also no employee or other non-revenue seating up front. None, never. Only paid business passengers. At least then they could claim to keep some exclusivity in the forward cabin.

Also, I believe the catering cost for a premium cabin meal (or two, depending on the flight) is more like $100, not $25.

mdb May 14, 04 1:47 pm


Originally Posted by fromYXU
I believe that Y upgrades from Z, (B upgrades from I) so should happen much sonner than that. I just worry that I already lost out.

You should be fine - they will open "z" seats about 1 week prior. I been down that road many times. If you have a paper ticket I wuld call and BEG before you leave, because they often will not do paper after departure.

fromYXU May 14, 04 1:50 pm


Originally Posted by mdb
You should be fine - they will open "z" seats about 1 week prior. I been down that road many times. If you have a paper ticket I wuld call and BEG before you leave, because they often will not do paper after departure.

Thanks. I figure seats would be available. The return flight is booked on Sept. 11th.

mdb May 14, 04 1:58 pm


Originally Posted by sllevin
Given the difficulty we've had trying to find upgrade availability, I really don't think that's happening most of the time on either the Asian or European networks.

For example, SFO-NRT looks like:

5/15 (a saturday, no less!) J0 C0 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/16 J0 C0 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/17 J2 C0 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/18 J3 C1 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/19 J3 C1 Z0 Y4 B2 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/20 J6 C2 Z0 Y0 B0 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0
5/21 J6 C3 Z2 Y1 B1 M0 Q0 V0 L0 T0 K0

Doesn't look like much employee class to me.

Steve

Not necessarily - my beef is when it does happen not when it doesn't.

If you looked at DTW-AMS in Feb it is a very different story...

wldtrvlr May 14, 04 2:35 pm

Employee U/G
 
Personally, I would rather sit by an employee that was upgraded as a perk than to sit by someone the worked the system to get an upgrade.

I would ask all of you that think the employees either dilute the product or dilute the earnings potential of the airline to think for a minute.

Think of your profession and a perk that is offered to you. Whether that be a company car, health insurance, an extra day off for your birthday, a christmas bonus or whatever.

Would you be as willing to give it your all, to do a good job with a good customer friendly attitude, if that perk was taken away, or "diluted". Perks are part of the benefits package. They are not an extra or an afterthought. How much more do you think NW would have to pay employees if they were not allowed free travel? How many of them would jump ship or do a poor job if the airline basically told them "We promised you space available seats, but we are diluting the program so that others can take those seats at the last minute and we won't have to give them to you."

Yes, the flyers pay the employees salaries. However, what makes more people leave an airline, poor service or not getting a free upgrade? I think service. U/G are nice and I will take one anytime someone wants to give me one. But I will fly another airline if the planes are full of grumpy employees that feel their company is screwing them.

I am sure that the WBC is as big a deal to most of the employees as it is to you. Except that they deserve it. When you signed up for WP you knew what the rules were. Therefore you agreed to the policy and do not deserve it. The policy has not changed in the recent past, nor do I expect it to change in the future. It has often been stated on this board that people fly NW for the Free Unlimited DOMESTIC upgrades, but if you do a lot of INTL travel you should pick another airline if upgrades are important to you. That is as plain as it gets. A few of the other airlines are now offering more domestic upgrades, but they still don't compare to the Availabilty on NW. You choose a program that fits your patterns the best. Not every program will match every other program exactly.

mdb May 14, 04 4:02 pm

wldtrvlr,

Im must beg to differ. Given the choice of serving a good customer vs an extra perk for an employee I would choose the customer. The customer is what keeps people employed, and loyal custmers are hard to keep, but easy to lose.

This is not a perk like a car - there is a choice with this situation - employee vs good customer. You are right the customer could go elsewhere, but I do not think it would be in the best interest of the airline.

As far as free travel goes - I am aware of this - my mother and grandmother both worked for PanAm and always flew "space available" "clipper class" when off duty.... but that was the days before Airline loyalty programs. The whole idea of an Elite status is a reward for customer loyalty and what better "thank you" for loyalty than a last minute Intl upgrade - esp on a ticket that is sold as "upgradable." ....and we are not talking free here - the ticket is not cheap, and miles need to be redeemed.


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