Paying For Chance Of System Wide Upgrade (SWU)?

Old Nov 8, 11, 10:30 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 3
Exclamation Paying For Chance Of System Wide Upgrade (SWU)?

Last year on Continental I could use systemwide upgrades without restriction (space available).

This year I tried to use one to fly between Hong Kong and Chicago on United, and found I must pay approximately twice the lowest economy fare available from CO for my ticket to be in the right class to be eligible for an upgrade to business. This was not the case last year on CO.

I paid an extra $900 to be eligible for the upgrade, and now I am waitlisted, and have been for a couple of weeks). There is no guarantee that I will be upgraded so, if I am not, I have paid an extra $900 for the chance of being upgraded.

My suggestion is that others who find themselves in a similar position, call Continental/United and ask if the extra money they paid on booking will be refunded if the upgrade does not go through.

CONCLUSION: Free SWUs are not free, and attempts to use them could double the price of your economy class ticket.
frontierorbital is offline  
Old Nov 8, 11, 10:37 am
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Chicago, IL USA
Posts: 186
I've written 1K desk about this numerous times over the last 18 months to no avail. I just posted my most recent letter to them and the 1K response. I couldn't even confirm a SWU from ORD-Moscow in February even when I gave a week either direction for flexibility. The 1K agent told me that on some flights, there was not a single seat sold--in other words the C cabin was empty, but that all upgrades were "waitlisted". I've outlined my other failues under SWUs--basically no confirmable space at booking anymore. Be sure to write and complain--not sure it will do any good, but the higher price + the gamble is just a disingenuous way of raising fares for a suboptimal product (coach)--and for their best passengers....
PPM is offline  
Old Nov 8, 11, 11:38 am
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Vxj, SE/Washington, DC
Programs: AA ExPlat, UA 1K (2MM)
Posts: 1,158
Yah, this is the new UA, we were waitlisted for 3 months NRT-BKK finally cleared, BKK-NRT-IAD been waitlisted now 4 months.

UA charges SO much more for W I've decided NEVER to waste my money for it... I figure day of they're more likely to sell me a C seat for $650ish and I'll fly 1-way guaranteed in C and the return in Y.... NEVER again going to pony up $$ in advance to for a chance at C, because they'd rather get someone to pay $900 for W+ and then sell C to other people for $650, they look at it as win-win, because they don't own a loyalty matrix at CO.
zabes64 is offline  
Old Nov 8, 11, 12:56 pm
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: DAY
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; Marriott LT Plat Premier (+AMB); Amex MR; Chase UR; Hertz PC; Global Entry
Posts: 7,425
SWU is the new UDU + you have to pay extra $ to even be eligible for consideration. If they can snag $ or miles at any time before departure, the loyalty earned SWU is worthless.

Nice way for Inventory Management to gut a 1K benefit without even having to make an announcement about it.
goodeats21 is offline  
Old Nov 8, 11, 1:00 pm
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: London & Sonoma CA
Programs: UA 1K(until 2021), MM *G for life, Hertz PC, BAEC Silver
Posts: 8,094
There are so many threads about this but the bottom line is that it's only worth paying for W if the premium is very low. Over the summer, when S fares dry up, this is possible - and perhaps over Christmas. The rest of the time, forget it.
lhrsfo is offline  
Old Nov 8, 11, 1:55 pm
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kirkland, WA
Programs: AS 75K,AA Plat, UA Gold 1.6MM, Hilton Dia, Marriott Tit, Hyatt Glb, Accors Plt, Natl Exec, Hertz 5*
Posts: 3,656
Yes, please do write to 1KVoice about this, especially if you do not clear. Please document the lowest fare available and the difference you paid for the W fare buy-up, that way you can make a formal request for the refund of the difference if you do not clear. I was compensated based on my specific situation, you may be eligible as well.

If you are denied compensation then send a last chance email to [email protected] describing this as an unfair business practice and request a refund again before taking it up with various consumer protection agencies.

We all really need to stand up against this.
dmodemd is offline  

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