Last minute flights = zero chance of upgrade

Old Aug 2, 12, 9:53 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Denver, CO - for now..
Programs: UA - Silver and dropping...
Posts: 80
Last minute flights = zero chance of upgrade

It really doesn't make any sense. Because of my job, I buy 99% of my tickets a day or two before departure. I am ALWAYS #1 on upgrade when I book 1 day before flight on United - however, I never get upgraded because of all the upgrades via the 72 hour upgrade block. By the time I book, first is already filled with lower tier/lower fare tickets.

So they charge me an UBER premium for flying last minute and I end up sitting in possibly the most expensive coach seat on the plane. Thanks for rewarding profitability United...

Awkward for United that when I do fly them, I remember why I stopped. You'd figure just once, that I'd be reminded why I used to fly United... but that hasn't happened in a while.
HeIsAudiHereUnlessHesFlying is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:16 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Arizona
Posts: 4,598
There was a fix in the works for this issue.
Centurion is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:18 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PDX
Posts: 2,284
I really think UA is missing a trick here. They should adopt the NOR-1 standby upgrade system like Hilton has to manage TODs. "If the seat is available, do you want to upgrade for $XXX?" Then offer a higher upgrade fee if they want a confirmed upgrade instead.

That would probably leave more last minute room in F for high-priced Y tickets, while still capturing paid upgrades if tickets such as the type you buy don't get purchased.
AeroWesty is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:22 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: IAH
Programs: UA GS, DL-FO, Hilton Gold, IHG Gold, Hyatt Somethingist, Marriott Platinum Premier Lifetime
Posts: 2,564
Originally Posted by HeIsAudiHereUnlessHesFlying View Post
It really doesn't make any sense. Because of my job, I buy 99% of my tickets a day or two before departure. I am ALWAYS #1 on upgrade when I book 1 day before flight on United - however, I never get upgraded because of all the upgrades via the 72 hour upgrade block. By the time I book, first is already filled with lower tier/lower fare tickets.

So they charge me an UBER premium for flying last minute and I end up sitting in possibly the most expensive coach seat on the plane. Thanks for rewarding profitability United...

Awkward for United that when I do fly them, I remember why I stopped. You'd figure just once, that I'd be reminded why I used to fly United... but that hasn't happened in a while.
If you are buying full Y tickets 1-2 days before departure you should be able to upgrade instantly if there are any seats available in F and you have any kind of premiere status. I find on most flights that at least one F seat is not given away with the CPU hand outs and gets filled at the gate.
Air Houston is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:28 pm
  #5  
Moderator: Mileage Run, United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: The City/Honolulu
Programs: UA 3MM; Hyatt Glob*****; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 14,326
Originally Posted by HeIsAudiHereUnlessHesFlying View Post
It really doesn't make any sense. Because of my job, I buy 99% of my tickets a day or two before departure. I am ALWAYS #1 on upgrade when I book 1 day before flight on United - however, I never get upgraded because of all the upgrades via the 72 hour upgrade block. By the time I book, first is already filled with lower tier/lower fare tickets.

So they charge me an UBER premium for flying last minute and I end up sitting in possibly the most expensive coach seat on the plane. Thanks for rewarding profitability United...

Awkward for United that when I do fly them, I remember why I stopped. You'd figure just once, that I'd be reminded why I used to fly United... but that hasn't happened in a while.
Your profile shows that you are Premier Exec which UA has mapped to 4th tier in the CPU upgrade scheme: GS>1K>Platinum>Gold>Silver>Dirt. As a 1K I often buy tickets at the last minute. Last week I bought a ticket the same day that I flew, about 6 hours in advance and I was #1 on the upgrade list with 1 seat remaining. I cleared at the airport less than an hour before the flight. Of course it is route dependent, but your chances of clearing with higher status is greater.
Pat89339 is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:38 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 5,819
Originally Posted by Pat89339 View Post
Your profile shows that you are Premier Exec which UA has mapped to 4th tier in the CPU upgrade scheme: GS>1K>Platinum>Gold>Silver>Dirt. As a 1K I often buy tickets at the last minute. Last week I bought a ticket the same day that I flew, about 6 hours in advance and I was #1 on the upgrade list with 1 seat remaining. I cleared at the airport less than an hour before the flight. Of course it is route dependent, but your chances of clearing with higher status is greater.
Was your ticket booked in Y?
LarkSFO is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:41 pm
  #7  
TA
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: if it's Thursday, this must be Belgium
Programs: UA 1K MM
Posts: 6,144
How do you know that F is being filled with upgraders in advance? The other threads in this forum seem to suggest that no one is getting upgraded at the 72 hour window, so which is it?

I would hazard a guess that actually a lot of those in F are paying for it (via full fare instant upgrades, or full F tickets). Of course, this depends on your route.
TA is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 10:42 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP, COdbaUA 1K, Hyatt Plt, Hilton GLD, SPG Plat50, Marriott Gld, Hertz PC, NEXUS/GE
Posts: 2,872
I did recently buy a ticket (LGA-DEN-SJC) <24h before I flew it. At the time, I figured I was not going to clear as F was looking pretty full. At the airport, I was #4 on the list as 1K (on I think a T fare), but I wound up being upgraded on the plane by the GA. It did make me think about the windows, but whether seats get held back is really a failing of revenue management, not the upgrade system itself. As a 1P, you're awfully low on the upgrade list (from speaking from experience last year).

Do you have any idea that you will need to be in a particular place at a particular time (and instead, these plans just occasionally change/fall through)? If so, since your company is willing to drop the money for full Y, could you book earlier (in full Y) and refund if plans change?

Originally Posted by TA View Post
How do you know that F is being filled with upgraders in advance? The other threads in this forum seem to suggest that no one is getting upgraded at the 72 hour window, so which is it?
I've stopped relying on CPUs and mostly burn RPUs for the flights that count (redeyes). Anything else is a pleasant surprise at this point.
FlyerChrisK is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 11:10 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: TPE LAS LHR
Programs: BA Meltdown soft-landed Silver, OZ♦+ (flying BR/UA), WoH♦, HH♦, Mlife Noir, TR 7*
Posts: 4,983
Originally Posted by Air Houston View Post
If you are buying full Y tickets 1-2 days before departure you should be able to upgrade instantly if there are any seats available in F and you have any kind of premiere status. I find on most flights that at least one F seat is not given away with the CPU hand outs and gets filled at the gate.
I certainly can't speak for "most" as sample size is small, but my personal experience includes trying to book on several flights out of IAH that have been completely full in F more than 24 hours from departure, including twice that I was actually trying to buy an F ticket. (In both those cases, I was able to reschedule my obligations and buy relatively inexpensive coach tickets instead, so this is CO's loss more than mine, I suppose.)
gengar is offline  
Old Aug 2, 12, 11:24 pm
  #10  
Ambassador: Alaska Airlines
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: PIT
Posts: 7,250
It is not always the free upgraders that are eating up F inventory. I have a six segment trip coming up in paid F that is 3 weeks out and half of my flights are already almost full in F (less than 4 seats left), so UA does a good job of selling F seats on some routes.

UA tries to hold back 1-2 seats until the gate before giving those away for upgrades, but there are plenty of walk up F fare customers, customers on fully refundable F tickets changing their tickets, and some higher tier elite members on Y fare switching flights and taking the last seat.

I have a SFO-IAD itinerary at the end of the month that is on a Saturday, and F inventory for 3/4+ of the flights that day is already well into the single digits. There are a bunch of 757s flying this route, but it is selling. I can't imagine a weekday flight on that route and it is a no wonder GS and 1Ks are almost always in Y. LAX/SFO/SNA-EWR is another route that is almost always full in F/C with paid customers.
golfingboy is offline  
Old Aug 3, 12, 2:11 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SF Bay Area
Programs: UA 1K MM, Marriott Life Plat, various others of little note
Posts: 2,657
Originally Posted by Centurion View Post
There was a fix in the works for this issue.
The fix being TODorama: "all kettles, all the time" aka the upgrade nazi . . . "no upgrade for you [over-entitled elites]!"
Boghopper is offline  
Old Aug 3, 12, 3:08 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: LAX
Programs: UA Silver, AA, WN, DL
Posts: 3,964
I think it is hard to get an accurate picture of how the high/full fare compares to the upgrades at the last minute.

For example, even though many times last minute fares are in Y/B/M or other higher tiers, it is also possible that last minute fares include the lower ones.

I typically see at least 1 or 2 seats available for sale in F, meaning it will convert over to either seat for upgrade or for TOD purchase.

That said, if you are buying a full fare or YBM fare, you should automatically get it.

However, if you fall into the lower fare bucket, and you are not 1K, you'll wind up being out of luck.

While it may or may not be fair to the last minute buyer, the system is currently set up so that only someone who buys a full fare will trump the elites with the complimentary upgrade (presuming space is available).

This involves a whole slew of things, from inventory/revenue management, to appropriate software algorithm, to controls at the airport, which, honestly, I don't know if UA (or other airlines for that matter) can figure out and make work 100% of the time.
luv2ctheworld is offline  
Old Aug 3, 12, 4:37 am
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Denver, CO - for now..
Programs: UA - Silver and dropping...
Posts: 80
Great points guys.

I'm going by the mobile app.. possibly not the most reliable source but on the upgrade list, it seems to show confirmed upgrades and upgrade wait list. My name is usually #1 but there are 7-8 confirmed/checked-in upgrades and status lists F class as FULL from the upgrade tab.

Today's flight is a Y fare. I believe I've just passed 100k this year (all domestic except for a jaunt to Ireland) but a small fraction of that has been on United. Just like social levels, I fear middle class is getting the hard squeeze. No place/value in MP for 50k-100k flyers..... (my level last year).

Hope this doesn't kick off a political/economical debate

Although I will say it's given me the opportunity to fly VA & DL for most domestic and am now using Porter for Toronto (something I never did as a UA loyalist before).
HeIsAudiHereUnlessHesFlying is offline  
Old Aug 3, 12, 5:01 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: ZOA, SFO, HKG
Programs: UA 1K 0.9MM, Marriott Gold, HHonors Gold, Hertz PC, SBux Gold, TSA Pre✓
Posts: 10,441
OP - which route do you fly?

I have a Premier Gold friend who always uses my miles for last-minute travel. In most of the case, he was cleared CPU for everything except ex-DEN.
garykung is offline  
Old Aug 3, 12, 5:46 am
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: LGA/JFK/EWR
Programs: UA 1K1.5MM, Hyatt Globalist, abandoned Marriott LTT (RIP SPG), Hertz PC
Posts: 19,730
Originally Posted by golfingboy View Post
It is not always the free upgraders that are eating up F inventory. I have a six segment trip coming up in paid F that is 3 weeks out and half of my flights are already almost full in F (less than 4 seats left), so UA does a good job of selling F seats on some routes.
"Good" is all relative when they're offering dirt cheap P fares on routes that cause the domestic F cabin to fill up a week+ in advance. So they're not going to get close-in A/F fares, and may lose people connecting to an int'l flight in C/F.
UA-NYC is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread