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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 10, 12, 7:30 pm
  #46  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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The PNR splitting is worse than it was at PMCO and it seriously needs to be rectified to at least act as it did then. With PMCO the system remembered that companions split deserved the benefits of traveling with you (baggage, confirmed standby, etc).

Now it's the wild wild west trying to get those benefits restored for companions:
http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/20899
ctownflyer is offline  
Old Apr 10, 12, 7:57 pm
  #47  
 
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I recall some strange (probably irrops) stuff last year. As a 2P once took 5 companions with me to Hawaii in E+ departure and all into first on the return. We didn't ask any questions.
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Old Apr 12, 12, 1:56 am
  #48  
 
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Originally Posted by kmfdm91 View Post
Absolutely...and imagine what it will mean next winter when a snowstorm hits ORD and passengers need to be re-booked, elites traveling with companions will now have two tickets to worry about...and the agents will have twice the work.

The call lines and agent queues in the airport are already horrible and the time it takes anyone (even PMCOers with knowledge of SHARES) to do anything is ridiculous. Multiply this by the number of companions on elites tickets and good luck...



-jeremy
I wonder if the uncontrollable auto-splitting occurs because the system was designed with the assumption that someone wants to be upgraded. We've thought of several instances where one would not want to be upgraded nor split from the rest of his or her party.

In 2010 or whenever it was that UA decided to adopt the CPUs, I remember that one had to call in to force the system to use an instrument to upgrade instead of waiting for a CPU. Or, you had to call in to cancel your CPU if it was to a crappy F seat, like on a 319/320 when you had a sweet E+ bulkhead or exit row seat. I recall agents capping on the software designers for assuming that there were never going to be cases in which people didn;t want the upgrade.

Anyway, whether that's true or not, the system as it stands now actually creates problems for customers, so it needs to be fixed IMO.
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Old Apr 12, 12, 1:24 pm
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by redwoman View Post
I wonder if the uncontrollable auto-splitting occurs because the system was designed with the assumption that someone wants to be upgraded. We've thought of several instances where one would not want to be upgraded nor split from the rest of his or her party.

In 2010 or whenever it was that UA decided to adopt the CPUs, I remember that one had to call in to force the system to use an instrument to upgrade instead of waiting for a CPU. Or, you had to call in to cancel your CPU if it was to a crappy F seat, like on a 319/320 when you had a sweet E+ bulkhead or exit row seat. I recall agents capping on the software designers for assuming that there were never going to be cases in which people didn;t want the upgrade.

Anyway, whether that's true or not, the system as it stands now actually creates problems for customers, so it needs to be fixed IMO.
I agree, and while this is just my opinion, I'd rather have the PMUA situation where you would call (or in best case: click on the website) and tell them that you do not want an upgrade for a specific segment.

The way it stands now where I don't think they could even NOT attempt an upgrade, but with the auto-splitting of itineraries is not acceptable. It's a horribly convoluted way at handling upgrades the way UA promised (which it still doesn't do) in the obviously vastly inferior SHARES system.

That said, these technical glitches will continue to happen and even if they do something for auto-splitting, I'm sure it will only raise more issues to other things, since it seems that with all of these modifications and amendments to their systems, the reliability drops.

-jeremy
kmfdm91 is offline  
Old Apr 12, 12, 1:32 pm
  #50  
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Originally Posted by kyte View Post
I recall some strange (probably irrops) stuff last year. As a 2P once took 5 companions with me to Hawaii in E+ departure and all into first on the return. We didn't ask any questions.
As 1P my family of 4 was treated to CPU on our Dec2010 flight to CUN.

I bet nobody has a problem with CPUs that covers every passenger on the record locator. But there is a big problem when your computer goes crazy and starts autosplitting records at T-24, upgrading 1 person, and the result is bad when the original seat (probably E+) is given away and worse for the return when everyone is now on a separate record for boarding group, checked luggage, etc.
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Old Apr 12, 12, 3:44 pm
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by kmfdm91 View Post
I agree, and while this is just my opinion, I'd rather have the PMUA situation where you would call (or in best case: click on the website) and tell them that you do not want an upgrade for a specific segment.
It was definitely possible with CO to call in and have them flag a segment as not to be upgraded. In fact, for a while (back in 2007-2008?), this flag could even be turned on and off via CO.com, but then the feature disappeared and never came back.

So I assume it must still be possible for competent res agents to do this at the new UA...
JonIND is offline  
Old Apr 12, 12, 4:30 pm
  #52  
 
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I did not notice it last week, but today when I checked in online, I was asked if I and/or my wife wanted to be upgraded (same PNR) and when I clicked yes for me...it gave me the option of adding wife as companion. I am now #1 on upgrade list and wife is #2. It will be interesting to see what happens on return as I chose not to auto-check-in.
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Old Apr 12, 12, 4:58 pm
  #53  
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Originally Posted by lax2010 View Post
I tested this during the first week post 3/3 and it still worked like PMCO. Has any definitely confirmed with real experience that upgrade on PNR if two us now based on status of the highest level FF?
Hi lax2010, this wasnít working correctly just after 3/3, but, it has since been fixed.

Originally Posted by petesamprs View Post
Ok, I'm traveling to EWR-MIA saturday morning with (pregnant) wife and two kids under 4, all currently assigned to adjacent E+ seats. I'm 1k and the other 3 have no status. As of now, 6 seats available in F (F6) so how do I make sure I do NOT get upgraded.
Hi petesamprs, at any point in time, you can call Reservations and they can add an indicator that designates you do not want to be upgraded (albeit, our call volumes are still higher than normal). That said, in this scenario, the system that processes upgrades in advance would skip your reservation anyway since you are a party greater than 2. Once you check in, it will ask you who you want to designate as your companion. If you select someone, you and that person would be split from the others in your party. If you donít want to designate anyone, you will all stay together. For now, Iíd also recommend that you opt-out of auto-return check-in when prompted.

Shannon
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Old Apr 12, 12, 5:30 pm
  #54  
 
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Hi petesamprs, at any point in time, you can call Reservations and they can add an indicator that designates you do not want to be upgraded (albeit, our call volumes are still higher than normal). That said, in this scenario, the system that processes upgrades in advance would skip your reservation anyway since you are a party greater than 2. Once you check in, it will ask you who you want to designate as your companion. If you select someone, you and that person would be split from the others in your party. If you don’t want to designate anyone, you will all stay together. For now, I’d also recommend that you opt-out of auto-return check-in when prompted.

Shannon
Thank you very much! It is great to hear from the company on a topic rather then to try our best to speculate based upon FTers voluntarily reported data. Sometimes the guessing based upon data works, sometimes it doesn't, so thanks very much for giving us the official answer.

Last edited by Xyzzy; Apr 20, 12 at 1:30 pm Reason: Fixed UBB code
redwoman is offline  
Old Apr 12, 12, 5:49 pm
  #55  
 
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Does this only happen when you have uncleared upgrades? My only UDU experience since the merger had me clearing at the windows and we were not split at any point.
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Old Apr 12, 12, 7:04 pm
  #56  
 
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Originally Posted by unavaca View Post
Does this only happen when you have uncleared upgrades? My only UDU experience since the merger had me clearing at the windows and we were not split at any point.
I think it happens at T-24 when the uncleared list is transferred. The upgrades page on the website talks about what happens after T-24. I think if you clear before that, they won't split.

Despite being a 1K, I have received a CPU only once since 2010! So, I have never personally experienced the reservation split.
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Old Apr 13, 12, 12:09 am
  #57  
 
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Originally Posted by UA Insider View Post
Hi lax2010, this wasnít working correctly just after 3/3, but, it has since been fixed.



Hi petesamprs, at any point in time, you can call Reservations and they can add an indicator that designates you do not want to be upgraded (albeit, our call volumes are still higher than normal). That said, in this scenario, the system that processes upgrades in advance would skip your reservation anyway since you are a party greater than 2. Once you check in, it will ask you who you want to designate as your companion. If you select someone, you and that person would be split from the others in your party. If you donít want to designate anyone, you will all stay together. For now, Iíd also recommend that you opt-out of auto-return check-in when prompted.

Shannon

Ok....but here's the situation I ran into. I called UA today because I asked about the splitting and was told "oh that doesn't happen anymore" just check-in because the upgrade will process and even if one of you gets upgraded you'll stay on the same PNR. I check me and my wife in, it adds us as #1 and #2 and exactly 5 mins later I get upgraded and she doesn't. She now is #1...which makes sense. Except in doing so it split her off into a new PNR. So what that in essence did is when the upgrade sweep happened for our return flight on Monday it upgraded me but it didnt upgrade her because the system now only sees her as Silver, rather than my 1K status. So essentially she's screwed out of the upgrade because by the time the silver upgrade windoe rolls around everyone else will clear.

I have an issue with the posted benefit saying "If the companion is a Premier member, the upgrade will be processed according to the highest Premier status level in the reservation." If only one of us can be upgraded on a flight then fine it is what it is....but don't screw us over on the return portion. There should be some way to link the reservations together other than the GA added a companion at the airport with my status....then at that point why bother booking PNR's with two people on them if its just going to decrease or screw up upgrade chances.
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Old Apr 13, 12, 12:21 am
  #58  
 
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I traveled in January on PMCO CDG-EWR-PDX with my wife and 3 year old. Arrived at check-in and had to spend a full hour arguing with the agents that we should be able to check in 9 bags (5 at 70 pounds) despite the fact that we were not on the same PNR even though the tickets had been purchased together. I talked to three agents, two supervisors and the station manager -- finally they agreed the wave the charges.

Arrived at EWR, and had been upgraded for the flight to PDX. Luckily my original seat in 4A was still open so I sat there instead.

Hate this policy.
noah is offline  
Old Apr 13, 12, 1:00 am
  #59  
 
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Originally Posted by UA Insider View Post
Hi lax2010, this wasnít working correctly just after 3/3, but, it has since been fixed.
Shannon
It is nice to learn that the problem has been fixed but it costs me two upgrades for both me and my companion because I was stubborn and insisted of testing the upgrade system the first week post 3/3! Is UA Insider going to hand out apology cards for all those 3/3 system conversion victims? :-)
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Old Apr 13, 12, 12:40 pm
  #60  
 
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Originally Posted by qukslvr619 View Post
Ok....but here's the situation I ran into. I called UA today because I asked about the splitting and was told "oh that doesn't happen anymore" just check-in because the upgrade will process and even if one of you gets upgraded you'll stay on the same PNR. I check me and my wife in, it adds us as #1 and #2 and exactly 5 mins later I get upgraded and she doesn't. She now is #1...which makes sense. Except in doing so it split her off into a new PNR. So what that in essence did is when the upgrade sweep happened for our return flight on Monday it upgraded me but it didnt upgrade her because the system now only sees her as Silver, rather than my 1K status. So essentially she's screwed out of the upgrade because by the time the silver upgrade windoe rolls around everyone else will clear.

I have an issue with the posted benefit saying "If the companion is a Premier member, the upgrade will be processed according to the highest Premier status level in the reservation." If only one of us can be upgraded on a flight then fine it is what it is....but don't screw us over on the return portion. There should be some way to link the reservations together other than the GA added a companion at the airport with my status....then at that point why bother booking PNR's with two people on them if its just going to decrease or screw up upgrade chances.
Absolutely agree.

United promises to do upgrades with companions a specific way, yet do not comply with their own stated policy. It's that simple. Plus, the way they 'chose' (got stuck with since they are using SHARES) to do it is a complete cluster and relies on way too many systems to process this fake 'waitlist'.

That said, I'm sure UA Insider or any of the e-mails with the state of the merger won't bring this to light, and most of the people who fly on UA are completely unaware of this...sad.

In addition, I can assure you that regardless of how many upgrades are outstanding, SHARES will still split out your itinerary into separate PNRs upon check-in.

Recent Case:
JFK-IAD-ORD-NRT-SIN (in K). My wife (Plat) and I (1K) were cleared on the only two-class plane that we were eligeable to upgrade for in advance, yet upon check-in, we got split into 2 PNRs. Then an MX hit our RJ from JFK-IAD, the JFK RCC agents spent over 30 minutes getting BOTH of our itins to LGA and more issues happened at LGA trying to check a bag...but regardless, we had no outstanding upgrades, were cleared in advance and still were split, which led to trouble.

Thanks UA for this great system and set of policies that you don't implement. This and a lot of other things is giving more business to your competitors from me!!!

-jeremy
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