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The stupid PNR auto-splitting at T-24 needs to stop

The stupid PNR auto-splitting at T-24 needs to stop

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Old Jan 12, 20, 3:04 pm   -   Wikipost
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What is this whole PNR auto-splitting thing about?
First, you need to realize there are two separate upgrade waitlists. There's the advance upgrade waitlist, which runs periodically from your applicable upgrade window until about four hours before departure, and the airport waitlist, which is manually cleared by the gate agents about 30 minutes before departure.

The first waitlist can handle an elite and a companion automatically. If you're next in line for an upgrade and there are at least two upgradeable seats available, you'll both get the upgrade.

The second waitlist (the airport one) can only handle upgrading one traveler on a PNR. If there is more than one person in your reservation when you check in, you'll be asked if you want to either split the reservation if waitlisted for CPU or stay on the same reservation and decline being on the gate waitlist. For supported waitlisted upgrades (GPU. RPU or Miles) you will not be asked and it will split (without choice) at check-in.

Next, you need to be familiar with United's "auto-check-in" feature. If you select this option when you check in for your original outbound flight (depending on how you check in, it may automatically default to selecting this), then shortly after 24 hours before your return flight segment, you'll automatically be checked in and boarding passes will be electronically delivered to you. discontinued

If you opt for this and the system automatically checks you in, and if you have two people in your reservation, the system will automatically split your reservation. You and your companion will now be on two separate reservations, and you'll be waitlisted for an upgrade and your companion won't.


Why might splitting be bad?
If your companions are not elite, they will no longer qualify for the elite benefits they inherited from you. That means no free baggage (including credit card companion bag benefit), no Economy Plus seating access (although they won't be booted out of E+ if they're already seated in it, barring irregular operations), no Premier Access, and potential issues in irregular operations as a result of being on a separate reservation (they may be rebooked on a separate flight from you without agent intervention). If you have TSA pre-check your family traveling with you on the same PNR can use the precheck line - which they cannot do if you split. And if you are traveling with children <18 and they are split into a different PNR they will become "unaccompanied minors" which means you cannot check them in electronically and will have to stand in line to check them in with an agent at the airport.

On the other hand, splitting allows you (the elite) to waitlist for an upgrade. Although your companion won't be listed on the return, you can still list him or her as your companion upon arrival at the airport, in which case they'll be upgraded after all other elites in your elite tier. If the smaller baggage allowance is not an issue, this may not be a bad deal: you can usually bring friends and family traveling with you through the Premier Access lanes at check-in, security, and boarding without question.

What is the recommended practice?
  1. If possible buy one-way tickets so that an auto-split won't affect your return resevation.
  2. If you have 3 or more persons flying in your group and want to upgrade everyone, consider splitting into 2 groups (i.e. 2+1, 2+2) and using RPUs to upgrade the group with the non-elite. You can then roll the dice on CPU for the elite+1, assuming you don't mind the risk of traveling in separate cabins.
  3. Wait as long as possible to check in for your return flight. If you check in and opt to stay together, a "do not upgrade" flag will be entered into your reservation, and you'll no longer be listed on any upgrade waitlist (advance or airport).
  4. When you finally do check in, make a decision: are you okay with the second traveler losing some elite benefits and having at least one of you sit in F, or do you need to remain on the same reservation? Decide whether to split accordingly.
  5. If you split, talk to an airport agent upon arrival at the airport and have them add your companion to the upgrade waitlist.

Oops, I did the wrong thing. How do I recover?
If you split and didn't want to, it's too late. Think carefully before splitting. Split reservations cannot be re-integrated.

If you checked in early and didn't split, you can always call in and have your check-in canceled (as if you'd never checked in). At this time, ask to have the "do not upgrade" flag removed from your reservation. You can then either attempt check-in again and this time split (if you want) or do the recommended thing and wait until as late as possible before checking in.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 1:27 am
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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Here's my take on the split PNR issue. Its idiotic, but you can skip it by not selecting the option. It still appears to put you on the UG list. After an issue with a split PNR last week with a GM colleague who was traveling with me, I opted against that selection when talking to Mr. Chicken at LAX on my Easter weekend trip with my GF to KOA. It didn't split our PNRs and our UGs still cleared at the window.

Originally Posted by aacharya View Post
The system asked me specifically if I wanted to split for upgrades. Are you positive you didn't see that before clicking through?
This is the problem. It doesn't tell you on the app that you are splitting anything.

Originally Posted by DeaconFlyer View Post
Don't use auto-check in.
Auto-check in isn't really the issue.

Originally Posted by entropy View Post
Why? because CO's vastly inferior SHARES system can't handle >1 person on a record for EUA purposes.
Yep.

Originally Posted by twoaisleplane View Post
Wasn't aware of this. Does the system still split the PNR if both passengers have been upgraded prior to T-24?

And after the split, does the non-elite passenger still get placed on the upgrade list? If so, is it based on the status of the elite member?
It does split them. This happened to me and my colleague just this past week. Colleague is a GM and I'm a 1K. Upgrade on the outbound cleared 3 days ahead (why only 3 is beyond me), split after the app asked me if I wanted upgrades requested.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 10:47 am
  #17  
 
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Originally Posted by N1120A View Post
Here's my take on the split PNR issue. Its idiotic, but you can skip it by not selecting the option.
What option should I skip? I used OLCI and it never asked to split pnrs.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 11:06 am
  #18  
 
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I have not discovered any way to skip this annoying and,in some cases,unsafe process. Whenever I (1K) have someone with less or no status on the same PNR (my 80 year old disabled father, for example), the system will split the PNR no matter how/where I check in. This happened to my 1K sister(upgraded before T-24) and her four year old(left in coach) last week as well and took a 30 minute wait in line at LAX to resolve.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 11:14 am
  #19  
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Originally Posted by DeaconFlyer View Post
Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
Anyone else know how to trick this stupid system into not splitting?
Don't use auto-check in.
Can you explain how? Checked in on the app on Friday - only ever saw the ability to uncheck the box for this option after I was checked in, and when it gave me choice of how I wanted BP (just started another thread on this -, but since it showed up here...). When I unchecked it and selected mobile BP, it still checked me in at T-24 for the return.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 11:46 am
  #20  
 
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Originally Posted by awerdna2002 View Post
I know that calling and telling UA doesn't do squat...
My experience too. I've tried.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 12:36 pm
  #21  
 
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I really don't like this auto splitting either. On 4/6 JFK-SFO the a GA calls my name, tells me to stick around because they may need my coach seat and could bump me up to C.

I asked about my wife (Mrs. Pemabuk is Platinum to my Gold, this is not an UDU flight anyway) and the GA says, "I can't tell you anything about your wife, I can only talk to you about your reservation. Do you want the is UG or not, we can go on to the next person..."

So I tell them, sure, I will take it if it's available. I acknowledge this is a minor inconvenience but I just don't like the fact that our reservation suddenly becomes two and depending on the GA it's difficult to coordinate.

On the plus side, we both ended up getting a comp bump up to C, me in row 8 and Mrs. Pemabuk in row 11. A little onboard juggling and we sit next to each other, and all's well that ends well I suppose.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 1:18 pm
  #22  
 
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I don't use the App to check-in, I always use the web site. App has way too many limitations. Upon check-in the web site asked me if I and my wife (she is now 1k because of the AWESOME new MM benefit) wanted to be placed on upgrade list when I checked in online and my son, traveling with us on same PNR, his name wasn't on there. I declined the upgrade, we had a row in e+, good enough for me. And that seemed to work on IAD-BOS on Friday. Returning home Saturday it asked me nothing,I had printed my return BPs on the Chicken at IAD on Friday. I checked the App and was not on upgrade list but at airport the back of the plane (757) must have been full because all 3 of us got an op-up at the gate as we were boarding so I am assuming we remained on the same PNR since they knew there were 3 of us traveling together. As an aside, gate check-in at 5AM on this flight looked like a clown car of GAs as it took 5 agents to check the flight in, 5 agents!!, I thought the second largest UA expense was employees, sure doesn't seem the new system is saving any money there.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 3:20 pm
  #23  
 
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I can (barely) tolerate the other downgrades, but the splitting of PNRs is going to force us to fly another airline. Wife and I are 1k; three year-old daughter is Platinum. Wife is travelling with my daughter tomorrow on same PNR when booked. She was upgraded via UDU. PNR was split involuntarily. Daughter is now #5 on upgrade list with F showing booked full. 1k desk can't do a thing about it Where do I begin with the expletives.
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Old Apr 8, 12, 3:25 pm
  #24  
 
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Didn't you read this thread, the split PNR is YOUR fault!

SHARES rebook -- and splitting PNR's

The combination of posts #33 and #37 clearly state that if you asked to be on the UG list, then you also asked for your PNR to be split. Clearly, you should know better.

Edit: Just re-read your post. You didn't ask to be on the UG, list and STILL got auto-split? Wow, I guess the paid spin-masters are working overtime on Easter Sunday to gin up a story for that one!

Last edited by hobo13; Apr 8, 12 at 3:54 pm
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Old Apr 8, 12, 8:41 pm
  #25  
 
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Hypothetical - I am on a long haul partner award itinerary, my first segment on UA from DEN to the international gateway - I am in Y class and am put on the gate upgrade list due to my Chase credit card - my companion and I will have our pnrs split for the remainder of the itinerary with award segments on partners?
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Old Apr 8, 12, 8:52 pm
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by 9elf S View Post
I can (barely) tolerate the other downgrades, but the splitting of PNRs is going to force us to fly another airline. Wife and I are 1k; three year-old daughter is Platinum. Wife is travelling with my daughter tomorrow on same PNR when booked. She was upgraded via UDU. PNR was split involuntarily. Daughter is now #5 on upgrade list with F showing booked full. 1k desk can't do a thing about it Where do I begin with the expletives.
Was your wife involuntarily UDU within the T-24hour window? Just curious and trying to get all the facts.

If this UDU is done at the gate, the GA usually would page your wife to confirm if she wants to be upgraded alone. At least that was what always happened to me.
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Old Apr 9, 12, 9:50 pm
  #27  
 
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Originally Posted by lax2010 View Post
Was your wife involuntarily UDU within the T-24hour window? Just curious and trying to get all the facts.

If this UDU is done at the gate, the GA usually would page your wife to confirm if she wants to be upgraded alone. At least that was what always happened to me.
UDU was before the 24 hour window, at around T-96 hours. In fact, the PNR was split with respect to the outbound flight. Today's flight was the return flight. I didn't notice the split PNR until after the outbound because either my daughter was upgraded on her own status before T-24 hours to the outbound flight or she was upgraded as a companion to my wife on the outbound flight at T-96 hours and then before the actual outbound flight the T-96 hour window hit for the return flight, thereby only upgrading my wife and splitting the PNR.

BTW, gate agent and ultimately the flight attendants were unhelpful. Basically, my wife had to ask the E+ passenger sitting next to my daughter to switch for her F seat. She refused because her five year old son was sitting two rows up, and she didn't want to be farther away from him by sitting in F. Makes sense, but what are the odds.

So, my wife asked the passenger sitting next to the five year old to take her F seat (which he did), so that the mom sitting next to my daughter could take his seat and sit with her son and my wife could take her seat and sit next to our daughter.

And we paid for the privilege to handle this mess.
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Old Apr 10, 12, 2:20 am
  #28  
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This is very scary as I will be traveling with my 2.5 year old daughter soon and don't want to beg fellow passengers to sort out a mess wholly created by UA.

Maybe time to alert the media and perhaps DOT.

Free upgrades are nice but it is not appropriate to split parents from children without consent and worse if there is no way to prevent the system from doing it without permission.

Maybe time to eliminate UDU. This doesn't happen on airlines where you must request an upgrade and pay with cash, miles or stickers.
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Old Apr 10, 12, 8:18 am
  #29  
 
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FWIW on PMCO they never auto-split PNRs. If you were with a group and wanted the upgrade, you had to split it yourself over the phone or on the website, with the full knowledge of the risks you were taking in the event of irrops.

This auto-split stuff is new. I'm sure it was in response to some constituency who complained about not getting upgrades when traveling with others, but this solution is clearly not workable with families. Sometimes we actually do need to sit in coach.
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Old Apr 10, 12, 8:29 am
  #30  
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Originally Posted by N1120A View Post
Here's my take on the split PNR issue. Its idiotic, but you can skip it by not selecting the option. It still appears to put you on the UG list. After an issue with a split PNR last week with a GM colleague who was traveling with me, I opted against that selection when talking to Mr. Chicken at LAX on my Easter weekend trip with my GF to KOA. It didn't split our PNRs and our UGs still cleared at the window.
EUA works if you're not split. It's the airport upgrade list that needs the list.

CO's systems are unable to add anyone to the airport upgrade list unless they're on their same PNR.

Even if travelling as (2) Elites of the same status, you still have to split t get on the airport upgrade list.


Originally Posted by PSU Mudder View Post
FWIW on PMCO they never auto-split PNRs. If you were with a group and wanted the upgrade, you had to split it yourself over the phone or on the website, with the full knowledge of the risks you were taking in the event of irrops.
This is purely a PMCO systems function, and they absolutely auto-split PNRs on PMCO -- I've had it done before. PMUA's systems did not need to split the record to add each pax to the upgrade list. UA could then upgrade one, both, or none of them while still keeping the record together.

I think we may be seeing more of this issue because 1) the UA flyers are not familiar with this SHARES limitation; and 2) We're seeing more companions on the same record prior to checkin because the new policy allows you to upgrade one (1) companion on the same PNR via EUA, so the need to split at checkin time is greater.

Originally Posted by Boraxo View Post
Maybe time to eliminate UDU. This doesn't happen on airlines where you must request an upgrade and pay with cash, miles or stickers.
That's a bit of a draconian response to a systems problem. PMUA's systems handled this situation just fine:

1. You would either both get the upgrade ahead of time or neither would (like on CO's systems today);

2. At checkin, you would both get on the upgrade list without a split (unlike CO's systems today);

3. If not upgraded prior to departure, all you had to do was alert the GA that you were together and did not want to separate (or they'd find out when they called you forward to alert you of the upgrade or possible upgrade).


The real problem is not UDU, it's the same as we've seen so many times already. SHARES is simply not robust enough to handle the needs of the business.

Last edited by iluv2fly; Apr 10, 12 at 8:37 am Reason: merge
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