should we switch to a different airline?

Old Jan 30, 12, 2:18 pm
  #1  
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should we switch to a different airline?

Hello,

confirming upgrades (systemwides) has become impossible even as far as 9 months in advance. we now have to pay the higher fare for just the privilege to get on a waitlist.

booking award tickets has also become impossible even as far as 9 months out unless you are willing to fly to Timbuktu if you really wanted to go to Europe.

is it just me or is this entire UA system falling apart? I am a 1K and MM.

would be curious to hear others' opinion on this and especially what other program to join. at this point, there is no benefit of sticking with UA it seems.

pmk
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Old Jan 30, 12, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by pmkuhn View Post
Hello,

confirming upgrades (systemwides) has become impossible even as far as 9 months in advance. we now have to pay the higher fare for just the privilege to get on a waitlist.

booking award tickets has also become impossible even as far as 9 months out unless you are willing to fly to Timbuktu if you really wanted to go to Europe.

is it just me or is this entire UA system falling apart? I am a 1K and MM.

would be curious to hear others' opinion on this and especially what other program to join. at this point, there is no benefit of sticking with UA it seems.

pmk
Unfortunately, I second the feelings of OP. I have been a loyal UA passenger since 92. (just reaching 1.2m miles) but the latest changes to the program attached to the constraints, limitations and conditions to awards/upgrades have really turned this upside down. Fact is I'm now dissapointed with the airline and the program.

Any suggestions on how to leverage my current status in order to match either with AA or DL will be appreciated.

Last edited by mitflyer; Jan 30, 12 at 2:51 pm
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Old Jan 30, 12, 2:51 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by pmkuhn View Post
Hello,

confirming upgrades (systemwides) has become impossible even as far as 9 months in advance. we now have to pay the higher fare for just the privilege to get on a waitlist.

booking award tickets has also become impossible even as far as 9 months out unless you are willing to fly to Timbuktu if you really wanted to go to Europe.

is it just me or is this entire UA system falling apart? I am a 1K and MM.

would be curious to hear others' opinion on this and especially what other program to join. at this point, there is no benefit of sticking with UA it seems.

pmk
Welcome to Flyertalk!

Flyertalk is more community than it is message board. We are here to support one another through FF talk. That said, I would recommend that you spend a little time getting the flavor of the board (rather than having a first post be a negative one).

That said, I have found that with creativity, there is almost always a way to get to your chosen destination on a confirmed upgrade or with miles. It can take a lot of legwork to do the research, and it may take connecting in places that don't always come to mind (like in Canada or Mexico).

If you post your date range, you may find people here who are willing to help!
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Old Jan 30, 12, 2:53 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by pmkuhn View Post
Hello,

confirming upgrades (systemwides) has become impossible even as far as 9 months in advance. we now have to pay the higher fare for just the privilege to get on a waitlist.

booking award tickets has also become impossible even as far as 9 months out unless you are willing to fly to Timbuktu if you really wanted to go to Europe.

is it just me or is this entire UA system falling apart? I am a 1K and MM.

would be curious to hear others' opinion on this and especially what other program to join. at this point, there is no benefit of sticking with UA it seems.

pmk
Here are some "highlights" you will get over at Delta:

1. Top tier (DM) requires 125k not 100k like UA
2. As a DM (top tier) I had far less domestic upgrades than on UA
3. Delta requires YBM to upgrade internationally with a SWU or miles. TATL = $2800-$3500 lowest and TPAC = $3500-$4800 lowest (not a joke...no matter what your status this is what you have to pay to "upgrade").
4. MM on Delta gets you nothing ..well ok, it gets you silver (like I said...nothing) and you get no SWU's
5. Awards on Delta can be had but for ridiculous amounts. Just tried to book BOS-HKG in J and it came back with 550,000 miles.

The grass is not greener over there anyway. I was a Plat for 6 years and then a Diamond since its inception (3 years) so I have a pretty major sample size to work with.

As a final data point I am still a Diamond on Delta and will be for another 2 years (rollover). I STILL am choosing to fly UA FWTW.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 3:41 pm
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Originally Posted by avidflyer View Post
Here are some "highlights" you will get over at Delta:

1. Top tier (DM) requires 125k not 100k like UA
2. As a DM (top tier) I had far less domestic upgrades than on UA
3. Delta requires YBM to upgrade internationally with a SWU or miles. TATL = $2800-$3500 lowest and TPAC = $3500-$4800 lowest (not a joke...no matter what your status this is what you have to pay to "upgrade").
4. MM on Delta gets you nothing ..well ok, it gets you silver (like I said...nothing) and you get no SWU's
5. Awards on Delta can be had but for ridiculous amounts. Just tried to book BOS-HKG in J and it came back with 550,000 miles.

The grass is not greener over there anyway. I was a Plat for 6 years and then a Diamond since its inception (3 years) so I have a pretty major sample size to work with.

As a final data point I am still a Diamond on Delta and will be for another 2 years (rollover). I STILL am choosing to fly UA FWTW.
+1. I came over to UA after 2MM on DL. Avid is spot on.

UA is not as good as it used to be but my SWUs still clear 95%+ of the time even if it is not at ticketing. I try to fly mid-week which helps. On award tickets, there is pretty good availability close in so you might want to try that rather than booking 9 months out. No one likes the uncertainty, but I find if you just ignore it, things usually work out pretty well.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 3:53 pm
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Originally Posted by pmkuhn View Post
booking award tickets has also become impossible even as far as 9 months out unless you are willing to fly to Timbuktu if you really wanted to go to Europe.
I've always wanted to see Timbuktu.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 4:09 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by zrs70 View Post
Welcome to Flyertalk!

Flyertalk is more community than it is message board. We are here to support one another through FF talk. That said, I would recommend that you spend a little time getting the flavor of the board (rather than having a first post be a negative one).

That said, I have found that with creativity, there is almost always a way to get to your chosen destination on a confirmed upgrade or with miles. It can take a lot of legwork to do the research, and it may take connecting in places that don't always come to mind (like in Canada or Mexico).

If you post your date range, you may find people here who are willing to help!
ZRS70, well appreciated comments. i am more curious as to how many others are having the same issue.
unable to get systemwide upgrades confirmed is true for LAX/SFO to SHA or PEK. also for SFO-FRA or any other transatlantic to FRA. Last year ORD-FRA and IAD-FRA was still somewhat open.
as for timeframe: on the transatlantic routing there seems no early inventory on the UA900/UA901 flights so i was going to switch to connections but found those to be only available on a very sporadic basis.
I am currently looking for SAN-FRA-ATH in late september.

pmk
PS: have been a long time visito/reader of FT but just not a 'signed in' member.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Passmethesickbag View Post
I've always wanted to see Timbuktu.
Me too! But the only airline that flies there is Air Mali, and they're not even in Star Alliance.

If you fly to Lisbon, though, you can pick up a TAP flight to Bamako-Sénou and from there to Timbuktu. Your only other Star Alliance option to Bamako seems to be Ethiopian, which is probably inefficient unless you're coming from Asia; though on the upside they give full MP miles on all but the very lowest fare codes (unlike TAP where you'll need W or higher).

And they haven't had an accident in (just) over two years!
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Old Jan 30, 12, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by pmkuhn View Post
i am more curious as to how many others are having the same issue.
Mine have all cleared the past couple years, though mostly to Europe, not Asia. Some at booking, some a couple days later and some just a couple days before the trip. But they all cleared. It is very much a YMMV situation.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 4:30 pm
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The SWU situation is very very spotty. I have always preferred doing SEA to LHR via SFO, but attempts to find availability (with an extremely competent and friendly CSR on the 1K phone line) failed, and by moving dates around we could grab two rt tix via IAD. Not sure if those 777s have the new configs or not; I discovered that the CO767s IAH-CDG were not the new seating.

My sense is that the new management is far less invested in keeping elites happy; they are looking for $$$ results in the immediate near term. With the airline consolidations, perhaps they reckon we'll have nowhere to go.

Flyer 420
in Seattle
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Old Jan 30, 12, 4:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Flyer420 View Post
My sense is that the new management is far less invested in keeping elites happy; they are looking for $$$ results in the immediate near term. With the airline consolidations, perhaps they reckon we'll have nowhere to go.

Flyer 420
in Seattle
But what they don't realize is that if they devalue the programs, a lot of people will just stay at home and/or do business by phone. I fly a lot but only because with UGs and Awards I can sit in the front of plane at a reasonable price. If I had to the pay the published fares, I would sit in the back but cut my travel by probably 75%.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Flyer420 View Post
My sense is that the new management is far less invested in keeping elites happy; they are looking for $$$ results in the immediate near term.
And I'd argue they're looking for both.

No sense in keeping an elite happy if they aren't positively contributing to the bottom line. Not suggesting they are deliberately giving elites the shaft, but it's in the businesses' best interest that they sell seats in the front of the airplane, and not give them away. I'm 1 for 4 on using instrument upgrades YTD and in the three I didn't clear the F cabin was sold out and no one was upgraded.

Can't really fault UA for having a product people will pay for.

Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
a lot of people will just stay at home and/or do business by phone. I fly a lot but only because with UGs and Awards I can sit in the front of plane at a reasonable price.
I, for one, would love nothing more than to not travel as much. Unfortunately it's not an option with my current position. Not really sure the subset of "voluntary/optional" business travel is all that high.
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Old Jan 30, 12, 5:09 pm
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Originally Posted by belynch View Post
I'm 1 for 4 on using instrument upgrades YTD and in the three I didn't clear the F cabin was sold out and no one was upgraded.

Can't really fault UA for having a product people will pay for.
Wooooow, you must really -but really!- have good information to know who pays and who's upgraded on each flight! Sorry Mate, but I question the validity of your statement....unless you work for UA that is. If this is the case, why would you pay for your tickets.

And as for the value of the product, I'm pretty well off and I've never encountered value for money in paying for a first class ticket (i.e. $12,000 R/T to Europe) vs the gazillion opportunities to do something more useful with it down on planet earth.

Last edited by mitflyer; Jan 30, 12 at 5:15 pm
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Old Jan 30, 12, 5:13 pm
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Originally Posted by belynch View Post
And I'd argue they're looking for both.

No sense in keeping an elite happy if they aren't positively contributing to the bottom line. Not suggesting they are deliberately giving elites the shaft, but it's in the businesses' best interest that they sell seats in the front of the airplane, and not give them away. I'm 1 for 4 on using instrument upgrades YTD and in the three I didn't clear the F cabin was sold out and no one was upgraded.

Can't really fault UA for having a product people will pay for.



I, for one, would love nothing more than to not travel as much. Unfortunately it's not an option with my current position. Not really sure the subset of "voluntary/optional" business travel is all that high.
There is no equilibrium in a competitive market, where the carriers get high yields in the premium cabins at full fares. At current pricing, the margin ratios are much higher in the premium seats so if you have high yields, competitors will increase premium seating capacity and drive yields down. The only way airlines can keep these seats full is by reducing standard premium fares or by price discrimination where they use their FF programs to effectively offer discounts. They make more money through price discrimination so that's why the FF program will stay and be reasonably attractive regardless of what the competition does.

It doesn't take that much of a change in flying to dramatically impact the carriers' bottom lines. Most people aren't so price sensitive that they will reduce their flying by 75%, but even one less trip a year on average will kill a carrier, and this impact is amplified when you are talking about FFs where because of W fares, etc, the margins are higher than average.

The airlines used to be exclusively focused on maximizing revenue/margin per flight. They now realize that this changes customers behavior and hurts them over the long run so they need to focus more on maximizing revenue per customer.

Last edited by 5khours; Jan 30, 12 at 5:47 pm
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Old Jan 30, 12, 5:52 pm
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
There is no equilibrium in a competitive market, where the carriers get high yields in the premium cabins at full fares. At current pricing, the margin ratios are much higher in the premium seats so if you have high yields, competitors will increase premium seating capacity and drive yields down. The only way airlines can keep these seats full is by reducing standard premium fares or by price discrimination where they use their FF programs to effectively offer discounts. They make more money through price discrimination so that's why the FF program will stay and be reasonably attractive regardless of what the competition does.

It doesn't take that much of a change in flying to dramatically impact the carriers' bottom lines. Most people aren't so price sensitive that they will reduce their flying by 75%, but even one less trip a year on average will kill a carrier, and this impact is amplified when you are talking about FFs where because of W fares, etc, the margins are higher than average.

The airlines used to be exclusively focused on maximizing revenue/margin per flight. They now realize that this changes customers behavior and hurts them over the long run so they need to focus more on maximizing revenue per customer.
not by 75% but easily by one or two trips. Many would be ok with either paying a slightly higher fare to get confirmed SWU OR waitlisting the SWU but the combination kills the attraction. Most FF have to travel but most FF also have at least a few trips a year that are 'so so requierd'. as longs as it is fun to travel, one can argue that it is ok to sit up there and get stuff done. if it is a pain (and it is a pain now) then we just do it less.
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