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About to spend over $10K for next summer travel to Australia: do you see any risks?

About to spend over $10K for next summer travel to Australia: do you see any risks?

Old Aug 13, 12, 9:33 pm
  #1  
txp
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About to spend over $10K for next summer travel to Australia: do you see any risks?

Hi everyone,

I am within days of investing about $12K plus 160K miles for four r-t tickets in BF to SYD. Travel would take place in June-July 2013.

Given recent developments with UAL, I need to make sure that I understand the risks. I came up with an incomplete list of things that could go wrong, and I would appreciate your thoughts: in your opinion, how likely are each of the following?

1. A pilot strike or other labor conflict in effect at that time?
2. A substitution of the 747 with a 787 resulting in involuntary downgrades from BF to coach?
3. Continuing MX and reliability issues resulting in frequent flight cancellations?
4. UAL under chapter 7?
5. Anything else I could have forgotten?

I normally don't buy tickets that long in advance, but in this case I have to do it because of limited upgrade availability. The tradeoff is that a lot can happen with UAL between now and next summer. Normally I would not have thought twice about it, but these are not normal times at UAL.

Thank you all for your help on this.

Last edited by txp; Aug 13, 12 at 9:39 pm
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Old Aug 13, 12, 9:45 pm
  #2  
 
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route cancellations
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Old Aug 13, 12, 9:48 pm
  #3  
 
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i have taken the liberty of plugging your questions into http://decidefor.us/

Here are the answers limited to yes and no:

1. A pilot strike or other labor conflict in effect at that time? Unlikely
2. A substitution of the 747 with a 787 resulting in involuntary downgrades from BF to coach? No
3. Continuing MX and reliability issues resulting in frequent flight cancellations? The future is hazy. Ask again.
4. UAL under chapter 7? Maybe
5. Anything else I could have forgotten? No

you are welcome
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Old Aug 13, 12, 9:53 pm
  #4  
 
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While I truly appreciate your thinking-of-all-angles approach to this, I could name a lot more than that, not with just with UAL, but all airlines alike.

That's what trip insurance is for, I think, to help you out in case of any unforeseen circumstances. It's a lot easier said then done, but don't let this worry you so far out. And if it makes you feel any better, your flights will change probably at least a dozen times before that trip actually happens (or a few dozen if you booked this on DL). Check once every two months until about March and then keep checking monthly to see of any changes.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:07 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by edcho View Post
route cancellations
Flight cancellations on the route have been high. My SYD-LAX cancelled August 3, space for rebooking was VERY limited and I just needed one seat in business. Whole story here.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:18 pm
  #6  
 
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Originally Posted by txp View Post
Hi everyone,

I am within days of investing about $12K plus 160K miles for four r-t tickets in BF to SYD. Travel would take place in June-July 2013.

Given recent developments with UAL, I need to make sure that I understand the risks. I came up with an incomplete list of things that could go wrong, and I would appreciate your thoughts: in your opinion, how likely are each of the following?

1. A pilot strike or other labor conflict in effect at that time?
2. A substitution of the 747 with a 787 resulting in involuntary downgrades from BF to coach?
3. Continuing MX and reliability issues resulting in frequent flight cancellations?
4. UAL under chapter 7?
5. Anything else I could have forgotten?

I normally don't buy tickets that long in advance, but in this case I have to do it because of limited upgrade availability. The tradeoff is that a lot can happen with UAL between now and next summer. Normally I would not have thought twice about it, but these are not normal times at UAL.

Thank you all for your help on this.
Trip insurance is best advice you were given. Also, why not buy the tickets on a more stable airline?
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:28 pm
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by UNITED863 View Post
Flight cancellations on the route have been high. My SYD-LAX cancelled August 3, space for rebooking was VERY limited and I just needed one seat in business. Whole story here.
I'm not talking about the flights -- i'm talking about ending the entire route.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:40 pm
  #8  
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They're not going to downguage to 787, those birds are spoken for on other routes (we only know about DEN-NRT, but I'm sure UA has their plans for the other birds).

They're not going to cancel down under routes. Just not going to happen.

MX, well that's another story.

But do agree about choosing another airline if you'r reallly concerned, unless you are sticking with UA and gaining PQMs. Of course if you're blending purchase and reward or using miles to u/g, that's another story.

And unless you're getting a good deal right now, prices may well drop in the future

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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:41 pm
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by txp View Post
Hi everyone,

I am within days of investing about $12K plus 160K miles for four r-t tickets in BF to SYD. Travel would take place in June-July 2013.

Given recent developments with UAL, I need to make sure that I understand the risks. I came up with an incomplete list of things that could go wrong, and I would appreciate your thoughts: in your opinion, how likely are each of the following?

1. A pilot strike or other labor conflict in effect at that time?
2. A substitution of the 747 with a 787 resulting in involuntary downgrades from BF to coach?
3. Continuing MX and reliability issues resulting in frequent flight cancellations?
4. UAL under chapter 7?
5. Anything else I could have forgotten?

I normally don't buy tickets that long in advance, but in this case I have to do it because of limited upgrade availability. The tradeoff is that a lot can happen with UAL between now and next summer. Normally I would not have thought twice about it, but these are not normal times at UAL.

Thank you all for your help on this.
Could you redeem your miles with Air Canada? If so book with them via YVR if your worried about loosing your seats due to involuntary downgrade. The only planes in AC's fleet capable of the SYD route are the 777's, specifically they fly the 77L down there.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:42 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by edcho View Post
I'm not talking about the flights -- i'm talking about ending the entire route.
Then you'd get your money back, even on a non-refundable fare.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:48 pm
  #11  
 
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OK, first things first: when talking about inter-hemisphere travel it's best to avoid pointless ambiguities like "next summer".

Originally Posted by edcho View Post
route cancellations
Incredibly unlikely, the SYD route is a huge cash cow for United.

Downgauge? Nah, not enough 787s to go around, and no trouble filling the 744s. You *might* see a 787 popping up on a direct MEL or BNE route eventually, but SFO-SYD and LAX-SYD are staying 744 'til the A350s arrive... which at present rates will be circa 2034.

Worst case scenario though, barring a complete collapse of the airline (unlikely at present) is that you get rebooked on another airline. Big whoop.

I'm also confused about your pricing. $12000 should get you two biz-class return tickets. 160,000 miles will get you one return first-class or two return economy-class, while return biz-classes will cost you 135,00 miles each. It doesn't seem to add up.
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Old Aug 13, 12, 10:49 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by txp View Post
5. Anything else I could have forgotten?
Mayan prophecy.
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Old Aug 14, 12, 12:26 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by edcho View Post
I'm also confused about your pricing. $12000 should get you two biz-class return tickets. 160,000 miles will get you one return first-class or two return economy-class, while return biz-classes will cost you 135,00 miles each. It doesn't seem to add up.
Mom and dad up front, offspring in the back?
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Old Aug 14, 12, 12:30 am
  #14  
 
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Originally Posted by rafi2k6 View Post
Could you redeem your miles with Air Canada? If so book with them via YVR if your worried about loosing your seats due to involuntary downgrade. The only planes in AC's fleet capable of the SYD route are the 777's, specifically they fly the 77L down there.
You'll be very hard pressed to get more than 1 or 2 seats in business / eco this late on AC. And if buying AC fares are much higher (generally, though if originating in the US this is not always true).
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Old Aug 14, 12, 12:34 am
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Originally Posted by atsak View Post
You'll be very hard pressed to get more than 1 or 2 seats in business / eco this late on AC. And if buying AC fares are much higher (generally, though if originating in the US this is not always true).
What do you mean by "this late", it's 11 months away, I don't think he'll be hard pressed to get the seats he wants.
Even if only a few are open now a more will open up.

+1 about the fare being higher but as you said, if he's starting his journey in the States then it may not be the case.
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