UA Upgrade Availability Tool

Old Apr 1, 2013, 1:05 pm
  #1  
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UA Upgrade Availability Tool

I got really fed up with going to the United website over and over again, selecting various dates, and then clicking "advanced search" and "MileagePlus Upgrade Award" only to find out that nothing was available on that date. So I wrote a tool that allows you to scan a range of dates and find the flights that have upgrade availability (R fare class). If you're a 1K'er like me and you generally end the year with unused systemwides (sorry "Global Premier Upgrades"), this may help.

I'd be interested in any feedback or improvements. All the code is on Github, so feel free to modify or fork.

http://unitedupgrades.com
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 1:59 pm
  #2  
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Question

Welcome to FlyerTalk. Thanks for looking for ways to make travel easier for all on UA.

The site does require an email address to send the results to, but, and I may have overlooked it, I don't see a privacy policy. Can you let us know what that is so we can be sure this is in keeping with our own rules?

Thank you!

l'etoile
UA moderator
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 2:35 pm
  #3  
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Thanks l'etoile. I've posted a link to the privacy policy. Here it is as well http://unitedupgrades.com/static/privacy.html

It asks for your email address because it can take a long time for United to return the results (especially when searching for multiple weeks of availability), so it emails them to you instead of waiting. We don't do anything with the email addresses other than email you the results (and log any errors). All of the code is open source and on github as well for inspection.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 3:44 pm
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This is awesome. It looks like you are scraping united.com's one way advanced search w/award availability - are you concerned they will discover that and start blacklisting your ip?

I guess the beauty of open source is that if they do that people can just run it locally

EDIT: Also, it looks like you have your nginx config in the repo. There's nothing too scary in there other than the username on the server, but you may want to take it out as it doesn't really add anything to the value of the project and if you accidentally forget it's in the repo and put something in there you don't want public that could be bad
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 3:48 pm
  #5  
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awesome!!! you rock!
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 3:56 pm
  #6  
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This tool is likely to be short-lived, as UA (and most other airlines) are becoming increasingly aggressive about shutting down screen-scraping tools such as this one.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 4:01 pm
  #7  
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just used it twice. wow - saved tons of time. i hope this lasts.

PS - how does UA know someone is screen scraping? doesn't it just run a search so they see a search run, but i'm not technical but i don't get how they know the screen was scraped.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 4:14 pm
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Fundamentally the tool will likely drive more traffic to united to buy tickets (to use up upgrades) rather than hurt them, so blocking it (theoretically) wouldn't be in their best interest. But we know UA doesn't necessarily do what's best for customers and revenue.

Should they decide to blacklist IPs, that's fine. That's why I put the code on github so you can still run it from your computer. Otherwise, it looks like a webkit-based browser to UA.

If you paid the money to SABRE for their API, you could directly search for R/RN fare class seats (that's what other, non-free, tools actually do). So there's a number of ways around UA should we have to go that route.

@IADOrange - thanks will do.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by iflyuaaa
PS - how does UA know someone is screen scraping? doesn't it just run a search so they see a search run, but i'm not technical but i don't get how they know the screen was scraped.
UA "sees" a browser accessed the website, but that's not what would pull up a red flag - it would be a ton of traffic all coming from one IP. For instance, from your home computer, if you started looking for upgrades on your browser ALL THE TIME (think hundreds of times a minute), UA would probably eventually figure out you weren't just searching for your own good and would block you too.

Originally Posted by polastre
If you paid the money to SABRE for their API, you could directly search for R/RN fare class seats (that's what other, non-free, tools actually do). So there's a number of ways around UA should we have to go that route.
Actually, I believe UA blocks access to SABRE for R/RN buckets. That's why expertflyer and kvs couldn't access inventory when UA took away expert mode. I'm not sure if they have some understanding with UA regarding this, though.

Last edited by iluv2fly; Apr 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm Reason: merge
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 4:36 pm
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Originally Posted by polastre
Fundamentally the tool will likely drive more traffic to united to buy tickets (to use up upgrades) rather than hurt them, so blocking it (theoretically) wouldn't be in their best interest. But we know UA doesn't necessarily do what's best for customers and revenue.
The airlines seem to like to control this information, and I'm guessing they have their reasons. Like, for example, trying to push people into standard awards, maybe?
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 5:02 pm
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I nominate the OP for 'best first post on FT.' EVER.

Impressive. ^
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 5:16 pm
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emmm!! I tried with three different browsers, and the from and to lines have no fields for input,

Clicking the search, the screen does not react.

Am I missing something, so I did a plug-in????
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 5:24 pm
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WOW!

I don't remember my first post, but whatever I said pales in comparison to this. It works great and is very impressive!
You, my friend, are a hard act to follow.
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 5:32 pm
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Very cool! I would be most concerned about the creators mileage plus account however - Doesn't the system have to authenticate to see availability, or is it using a bucket specific search?
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Old Apr 1, 2013, 5:34 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by takeahike66
emmm!! I tried with three different browsers, and the from and to lines have no fields for input,

Clicking the search, the screen does not react.

Am I missing something, so I did a plug-in????
The From/To lines are loaded using Javascript, so make sure Javascript is enabled in your browser and wait for the page to load (if you're on a slow connection, this can take a while, sorry). I recommend Firefox or Chrome, not IE.
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