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Upgrade Shenanigans? [Consolidated]

Old Mar 20, 2024, 7:10 pm
  #271  
 
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I had my first taste of Shenanigans today. I was Number 1 on the upgrade list with one seat open in United First and this had been the case for about 12 hours.

About 30 minutes before boarding, suddenly somebody else was upgraded ahead of me. Since I was standing near the desk I heard some consternation about this (mumble mumble upgrade) so I (or rather my wife) decided to ask and lo and behold they had upgraded someone lower down on the list! They apologized, said it was a mistake, upgraded me and issued my boarding pass.

I then saw the unlucky fellow be called up and have his upgrade revoked. How does this happen?

The gate agents apologized again as I was boarding.

Curious, I approached him after the flight and he told me he got the text message saying he was upgraded. He was surprised because he was 3rd on the list, he thought maybe somebody didn't turn up. He said he did not ask for the upgrade.

Later at a United Club I asked about this and they were mystified too, they said it should all be automatic.

Any theories as to what happened? From now on I am taking screenshots of the waiting list if I'm in danger of being upgraded, in case someone gets added ahead of me. Then at least I have proof.
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Old Mar 20, 2024, 8:55 pm
  #272  
 
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Originally Posted by rbakker

About 30 minutes before boarding, suddenly somebody else was upgraded ahead of me. Since I was standing near the desk I heard some consternation about this (mumble mumble upgrade) so I (or rather my wife) decided to ask and lo and behold they had upgraded someone lower down on the list! They apologized, said it was a mistake, upgraded me and issued my boarding pass.
Interesting and concerning

Originally Posted by getagb
Today at 1:04PM I was #1 on the upgrade list with 1 seat open. 10 minutes later, the person who was #2 was upgraded ahead of me. Is this shenanigans or possibly a buy-up? I think a buy up wouldnt appear on the upgrade list.
Maybe this too was indeed Sheenanigans then and not a buy-up as suggested?
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Old Mar 20, 2024, 9:50 pm
  #273  
 
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I'm no expert but it certainly looks to me that what getagb experienced was not a buyup. The same thing happened to me. I complained and it was reversed. I asked the guy who got upgraded and he said he didn't ask or pay for it. On the Upgrade screen it looked just like getagb's experience.

If it was a buyup then I doubt it would show as an upgrade.

I'm going to be doing a lot of screenshots from now on.

Later on I asked a (seemingly knowledgeable) United employee about this and she suggested that the gate agents had a hand in this. But I think it was just a mistake.
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Old Mar 20, 2024, 10:09 pm
  #274  
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Originally Posted by rbakker
.... If it was a buyup then I doubt it would show as an upgrade......
But we have many reports (by the upgrader) that it does at times
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Old Mar 20, 2024, 10:21 pm
  #275  
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Originally Posted by rbakker
If it was a buyup then I doubt it would show as an upgrade.
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
But we have many reports (by the upgrader) that it does at times
Yes, I have seen it several times when I've bought up.

But it sounds like that does not explain what happened here. Pretty much impossible to draw conclusions without knowing the precise details, though it's always possible it was just a flat out system error.
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Old Mar 20, 2024, 10:22 pm
  #276  
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Originally Posted by rbakker
.... (seemingly knowledgeable) United employee ...
Airport personnel may think the understand the process but the likely have less insight then we on FT have

Originally Posted by rbakker
....she suggested that the gate agents had a hand in this. ...
Certainity some of that occurred in the past but with the visible upgrade list, it is too possible to get caught.
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Old Mar 20, 2024, 10:47 pm
  #277  
 
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I'm struggling to see what happened in my case. Maybe the gate agents had a nice chat with the guy in third place before I arrived at the gate and decided to upgrade him for no apparent reason?
He said he didn't ask for it and only knew when he got the text message. Maybe the United system is glitchy. That same day I got refused access at a United Club also for no apparent reason (but that's another story in another thread). Or maybe the two are linked! No, probably a coincidence.

If this happens to anyone else, it might be a good idea to go ask the upgradee what happened, in a friendly way. Their seat number is right there on the screen.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 12:20 am
  #278  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Certainity some of that occurred in the past but with the visible upgrade list, it is too possible to get caught.
Yeah I believe the incidence of Shena on UA is about as close to zero as you can get. Other US airlines it's more prevalent.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 12:48 am
  #279  
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Originally Posted by rbakker
I'm struggling to see what happened in my case. Maybe the gate agents had a nice chat with the guy in third place before I arrived at the gate and decided to upgrade him for no apparent reason?
Or perhaps he was actually first on the list and you were not.

As Ive mentioned before there are definitely at least two lists, because I have seen the app and the website differ for the same flight at the same time, and not in a way that could easily be explained by eventually-consistent data sources. And if there are two lists, then we really have no visibility into it whatsoever. Maybe you were first on the list that doesnt count, and he was first on the list that does count. Theres simply no way to know.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 12:59 am
  #280  
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Originally Posted by rbakker
I'm struggling to see what happened in my case. Maybe the gate agents had a nice chat with the guy in third place before I arrived at the gate and decided to upgrade him for no apparent reason?
He said he didn't ask for it and only knew when he got the text message. Maybe the United system is glitchy. That same day I got refused access at a United Club also for no apparent reason (but that's another story in another thread). Or maybe the two are linked! No, probably a coincidence.

If this happens to anyone else, it might be a good idea to go ask the upgradee what happened, in a friendly way. Their seat number is right there on the screen.
Almost 20 years ago the fabulous MsHalls120 and I were traveling IAD-LHR. At check-in, I was surprisedly upgraded to J, but she was not, as she had no status. We went through security, and then to the UC. After getting settled, I walked over to the gate and explained to the GA that I'd like to let my wife sit in J and I'd take her seat in coach. The GA said that would be something I needed to take up with the Purser. Back to the lounge, we eventually headed back to the gate, and heard the GA asking for MsHalls120. She went up and came back with a smile and an upgrade.

Sometimes being nice pays off.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 5:12 am
  #281  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan
Or perhaps he was actually first on the list and you were not.

As Ive mentioned before there are definitely at least two lists, because I have seen the app and the website differ for the same flight at the same time, and not in a way that could easily be explained by eventually-consistent data sources. And if there are two lists, then we really have no visibility into it whatsoever. Maybe you were first on the list that doesnt count, and he was first on the list that does count. Theres simply no way to know.
Actually in this case there was a way to know. The gate agents said I was ahead on the list. The guy himself said I was ahead of him on the list. Unless there's a secret list somewhere that nobody can see? That would be spooky.

My guess is a programming bug.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 8:51 am
  #282  
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Originally Posted by rbakker
Actually in this case there was a way to know.
No, there isnt.

Originally Posted by rbakker
The gate agents said I was ahead on the list.
They agreed with you. Doesnt make them right.

Originally Posted by rbakker
The guy himself said I was ahead of him on the list.
He was presumably looking at the same list that you were. Or, theres some exploit to get yourself higher on the list, and he didnt want to be found out.

Originally Posted by rbakker
Unless there's a secret list somewhere that nobody can see?
Well, given that I am 100% certain that there are at least two lists, whats to say that there arent three? Or, more to the point, whats to say that there arent two, but you, the gate agent, and the guy who got upgraded were all looking at the wrong one? And yes, I understand how ridiculous this sounds, but Im telling you that I saw somebody who was like 7th on the apps list be #1 on the websites list and get the upgrade. Since that day, I havent trusted the lists much at all, which is sad, really.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 9:52 am
  #283  
 
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Originally Posted by rbakker
If this happens to anyone else, it might be a good idea to go ask the upgradee what happened, in a friendly way. Their seat number is right there on the screen.
This happened to me once. Mid-flight I felt a tap on my shoulder and some guy standing there says he was #1 and this was supposed to be his seat. Would I mind explaining how I got upgraded ahead of him?
I stared at him for a few seconds before putting my headphones back on and ignoring him. The FA told him to return to his seat.
So no, I dont think its a good idea to disturb a total stranger to satisfy your curiosity. Youll only make an arse of yourself.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 10:06 am
  #284  
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Originally Posted by chavala
I dont think its a good idea to disturb a total stranger to satisfy your curiosity...
Yeah - any issue on has should be taken up w/ FA or GA.
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Old Mar 21, 2024, 10:18 am
  #285  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan
Oh, absolutely. There are two reasons the upgrade list is public: (1) to prevent shenanigans by gate agents, and (2) to encourage people either to aim for a higher status or to purchase F outright / purchase a buy-up.
and (3) to keep people from bugging gate agents.

I swear in the CO days, before the app was a glimmer in anyone's eye (anyone remember pda.continental.com?) up to 30% of a GA's workload pre-boarding could be summarized as "Will my upgrade/standby clear?" (Some of the old CO outstations still have the refrigerator clips adjacent to the podium where proactive gate agents would print and post the ranked list of NRSAs for that flight; don't believe that ever included revenue upgrades though)

Granted back then the odds even for a silver weren't generally terrible, but I'm convinced, originally, more than #1 or #2 this is the reason UA exposed this info
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Last edited by lincolnjkc; Mar 21, 2024 at 10:25 am
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