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Hm. So even a GM on an award ticket can trump a 1k for upgrade

Hm. So even a GM on an award ticket can trump a 1k for upgrade

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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:25 am
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Hm. So even a GM on an award ticket can trump a 1k for upgrade

It's pretty well documented under the new-to-UA legacy CO system, a GM will get upgrade for cash offers that a 1k on PA1 upgrade wait list will not even get offered.

Today I was checking my kids in on award tickets and got an offer (that I accepted!) to upgrade my kids to the last 2 seats in F with me tomorrow for $109 on a 3.5 hour flight. The offer explained that there were 11 people on the upgrade list but that I could jump that queue for cash.

While I'm happy for my kids, I wonder how many times I have been/will be one of those 11 people who lost an upgrade to a general member, much less a GM on an award ticket.

If new UA is going to offer upgrades for cash, it should make the same (or better!) offers to those on the wait list as it does to GMs who are not on the upgrade list, rather than following the CO model of making such offers only to those not already on the wait list.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:36 am
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I don't mind that they sell upgrades. My biggest issue will be the fact that they do not offer the upsell to passengers already on the wait list for an upgrade. I foresee this becoming a very contentious issue.

UA would do themselves a big favor if they explained their rational for excluding elites from these offers. People around here are going to get crazy, perhaps including myself.

It's kind of pathetic, a pinch infuriating, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth about the brand, but I would like to understand.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:43 am
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Rationale (if any even deliberate) is probably that they want to sell to people more likely to pay incremental revenue, i.e. people who are not on the waitlist. People on waitlist probably aren't willing to pay for something they perceive they're about to get for free / would be upset at having to pay for a perceived entitlement.

Maybe also introduces a new flier to the desire to sit in first class and achieve long term status with the airline.

Just my guess -- or it could be as simple as, they don't code it correctly.


I guess the question is, "How often would you, already on the waitlist for free, pay extra to jump the line and get the upgrade?"
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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
It's pretty well documented under the new-to-UA legacy CO system, a GM will get upgrade for cash offers that a 1k on PA1 upgrade wait list will not even get offered.

Today I was checking my kids in on award tickets and got an offer (that I accepted!) to upgrade my kids to the last 2 seats in F with me tomorrow for $109 on a 3.5 hour flight. The offer explained that there were 11 people on the upgrade list but that I could jump that queue for cash.

While I'm happy for my kids, I wonder how many times I have been/will be one of those 11 people who lost an upgrade to a general member, much less a GM on an award ticket.

If new UA is going to offer upgrades for cash, it should make the same (or better!) offers to those on the wait list as it does to GMs who are not on the upgrade list, rather than following the CO model of making such offers only to those not already on the wait list.
This has happened to me many times in 2011, mostly on international flights. What really frustrates me is that they offer an upsell to someone who is a general member that paid less than half the ticket price I paid. When I asked about it once the gate agent told me that incremental $ trumps everything except GS.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by TA View Post
Rationale (if any even deliberate) is probably that they want to sell to people more likely to pay incremental revenue, i.e. people who are not on the waitlist. People on waitlist probably aren't willing to pay for something they perceive they're about to get for free / would be upset at having to pay for a perceived entitlement.

Maybe also introduces a new flier to the desire to sit in first class and achieve long term status with the airline.

Just my guess -- or it could be as simple as, they don't code it correctly.


I guess the question is, "How often would you, already on the waitlist for free, pay extra to jump the line and get the upgrade?"
My theory (and it's only my theory) is that CO did it that way to 'hide' the offers from elites on the UG list, so that they would not even realize that they were losing upgrades to GMs who were getting upgrade for cash offers. Because they would get very upset to realize that CO was selling 'their' upgrades.

My only evidence for this theory is that many legacy CO elites swear to this day that such offers never happen, or if they do it is rare and expensive.

Neither of these notions are correct.

Anyway, the cat's out of the bag.

They should make the same offers to those on the wait list as those not.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:52 am
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Originally Posted by anc-ord772 View Post
I don't mind that they sell upgrades. My biggest issue will be the fact that they do not offer the upsell to passengers already on the wait list for an upgrade. I foresee this becoming a very contentious issue.

UA would do themselves a big favor if they explained their rational for excluding elites from these offers. People around here are going to get crazy, perhaps including myself.

It's kind of pathetic, a pinch infuriating, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth about the brand, but I would like to understand.
On flights where elites comprise 1/3-1/2 of the pax, what exactly would be the effect of showing elites a check-in message saying "There are currently 63 people on the upgrade waitlist. Bypass the list by paying $225 to confirm a first-class seat"?
  1. Passengers would be happy to see the transparency. "Oh, that is a tempting offer, I am glad they are showing it to me and not just my non-status companions. I realize that I should prepare myself for a flight in coach and am grateful for the opportunity to enjoy Channel 9 and Economy Plus seats."
  2. Elite passengers would buy fewer UA trips. "Oh dear, I am not going to get upgraded. I should have chosen Virgin America. I will give them revenue next time."
  3. Elite passengers would buy the upsell. "This is wonderful! I will buy it and United will get even more revenue, hooray!"

Would you prefer "There are currently 63 people on the upgrade waitlist. Bypass the list by removing your frequent-flyer number from this reservation, then returning to this page to pay $225 to confirm a first-class seat, then adding your number to the reservation again"? That would require less change while remaining totally honest.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 9:56 am
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
It's pretty well documented under the new-to-UA legacy CO system, a GM will get upgrade for cash offers that a 1k on PA1 upgrade wait list will not even get offered...

...If new UA is going to offer upgrades for cash, it should make the same (or better!) offers to those on the wait list as it does to GMs who are not on the upgrade list, rather than following the CO model of making such offers only to those not already on the wait list.
Agreed.

While this topic has been brought up here, IMHO this specific aspect of "upgrades becoming harder" is worth separating out from the more general discussion and worthy of its own thread.

I posted in that thread (and others made similar suggestions):

In seemingly moving toward this cash-talks policy, perhaps UA will consider offering the same opportunity to all its customers. A sliding scale might even entice me, e.g. on the screen "As one of our highly valued 1Ks, you can purchase a guaranteed upgrade worth $150 right now for only $100."

No, I'm not completely joking - I'd at least like the chance.
Between this and the planned devaluation of Million Miles and Beyond benefits, it almost seems as if UA wants to enhance away my business.

I think you may well be on to something with your theory they're trying to "'hide' the offers from elites on the UG list." Apparently some of them haven't heard of FT. What other motive could there be? If they're trying to sell 'em, why not ask every potential customer?

The new UA is still advertising Regionals and SWUs as great benefits. Oddly enough (he said sarcastically), there's no disclaimer that a GM on an award ticket will have the ability to buy up and past the elite with an upgrade instrument.

Last edited by Fredd; Dec 25, 11 at 10:11 am
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Old Dec 25, 11, 10:09 am
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Originally Posted by kokonutz View Post
My only evidence for this theory is that many legacy CO elites swear to this day that such offers never happen, or if they do it is rare and expensive.
TODs have been documented many times over, even the most fervent CO lovers can't deny their existence anymore.

Just another sign of COdba UA unfortunately
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Old Dec 25, 11, 10:26 am
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What irks me about this is that they upsell for so little to the GM - $100 for a 3.5 hour flight is nothing in terms of the ill will toward the elite who will not get an upgrade. Let us be real the upgrade is one of the most valuable part of loyalty and if it becomes something that does not happen what is the point of being loyal? To me all the of the potential rationals defy basic sales - it is easier to sell to a loyal customer and have them remain a repeat customer than it is to sell to a new or infrequent customer. So an elite should be worth more than $100 - and an alienated elite could cost the airline much more in revenue. I have the same feeling about same day change fees (for lower level elites) and other nickel and diming strategies that make no sense in the larger scale - I can see how they benefit short term cash positioning - but not long term revenue.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 10:32 am
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As an elite, I think what would would be fair if they offered us access to upgrades with the same kind of priority as normal upgrades. In other words, as a 1K I would get notice of an upgrade purchase 100 hours before others. Or even 48 hours...whatever it is.

So at the same time it would be fair for UA to make more money...and also still provide us with preferred access to the upgrades.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 10:56 am
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Originally Posted by johnmont View Post
As an elite, I think what would would be fair if they offered us access to upgrades with the same kind of priority as normal upgrades. In other words, as a 1K I would get notice of an upgrade purchase 100 hours before others. Or even 48 hours...whatever it is.

So at the same time it would be fair for UA to make more money...and also still provide us with preferred access to the upgrades.
x 1000. The fact that a GM gets a chance to purchase an upgrade and those of us who have demonstrated long time loyalty to UA are cast aside is the one thing I simply do not understand.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 11:05 am
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Originally Posted by anc-ord772 View Post
I don't mind that they sell upgrades. My biggest issue will be the fact that they do not offer the upsell to passengers already on the wait list for an upgrade. I foresee this becoming a very contentious issue.
UA would do themselves a big favor if they explained their rational for excluding elites from these offers. People around here are going to get crazy, perhaps including myself.
It's kind of pathetic, a pinch infuriating, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth about the brand, but I would like to understand.
I have no skin in this game but I totally agree. It makes absolutely no sense to alienate your elites. What's even dumber is to think that UA elites won't find out about it.
Why not offer the upsell to elites as well? UACO would get the same upsell revenue anyway and it wouldn't piss off the elites.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 11:27 am
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And IF elites are offered an upgrade, it's at a substantially higher price-atleast IME. I'm usually always offered it when I'm booking (at the general "Premium seating" price) but on CO flights its substantially lower on TOD.

The upsells are annoying to say the least. The idea that tens of dollars of temporary revenue from a kettle is worth alienating your elites and diluting their upgrade rate is a rather interesting business strategy.

My hope is that now that there is a 100K tier with the new EUA system that it won't be as bad as PMCO has become. (i.e. me as a plat being #23 on the upgrade list on a V fare from EWR-SFO).

And yes, I paid $449 to upgrade IAH-SJC a few months back because my lower back hurt. I felt like a total sucker.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 11:27 am
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Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
It makes absolutely no sense to alienate your elites.
I think part (most?) of it is CO management's demonstrated view that elites should not be treated any differently than non-elites, and that all levels of elite are equivalent.
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Old Dec 25, 11, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
I think part (most?) of it is CO management's demonstrated view that elites should not be treated any differently than non-elites, and that all levels of elite are equivalent.
Cue dialogue from The Incredibles:

Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of. Our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: Which is another way of saying no one is.
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