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Risk of no status paid F being downgraded for status upgrader?

Risk of no status paid F being downgraded for status upgrader?

Old Nov 16, 15, 5:29 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: LAX
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Risk of no status paid F being downgraded for status upgrader?

Hi everybody!

I need to fly from LAX to ITO by the end of the year. The only carrier that offers a non-stop flight is United. All the other carriers are either LAX to HNL to ITO or LAX to OGG to ITO. All of my friends have told me to avoid United and just fly the carrier that has the inter-island business for a more pleasant flight experience.

The last time I flew on a commercial flight was in 1974 from LAX to HNL on United in first class. I was minor at the time on a family vacation. Back then, flying first class was a nice, pleasant experience. It seems that times have changed for the worse over the past 40 years, especially at United on domestic first class.

A friend told me about FlyerTalk and I have been avidly reading the various threads to learn as much as possible about the booking/boarding/flying process. I cannot imagine the ordeals that some of you FlyerTalk frequent fliers have been put through. Thank goodness in advance that I don't have to fly often.

There have been several threads recently about passengers booked in the first class cabin being downgraded at boarding time into the Economy/Coach cabin.

I had been planning on flying (first class cabin) LAX to ITO by booking a P or Z fare. I have no status and I would pay using cash, no miles, etc. The several recent downgrade incidents have given me pause about booking on United.

I have watched the United Flight Status & Information for flight 1004. There is a tab that shows United First Upgrade Standby List. Sometimes there are only 3 or 4 on standby into First Class. Other times I have seen 11 or 12 folks on standby into First Class. Several times I have seen some of the standby folks not get upgraded (I assume no seats were available) and get left behind in Y? You can see this after the flight has taken off if folks got upgraded or not.

There seems to be a lot of Golds, Plats, 1K's, Star Alliance, Global Services, etc fliers and let's not forget the FAM passenger from time to time.

So my question is that if there are more status upgraders wanting to move up into the first class cabin than seats available, could I be downgraded to the regular economy/coach cabin since I bought a P or Z fare and have no status?
TimeWarp is offline  
Old Nov 16, 15, 5:42 pm
  #2  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Welcome to FT!, TimeWarp
Originally Posted by TimeWarp View Post
... So my question is that if there are more status upgraders wanting to move up into the first class cabin than seats available, could I be downgraded to the regular economy/coach cabin since I bought a P or Z fare and have no status?
No -- paid fare wins over status. Downgrade of a confirmed passagner is exceptionally rare and I have never heard of a paid fare for a upgrader. I have had many hundreds of upgrades and have never been downgraded -- while it can happen, it is very, very rare.

In the case of FAM, which UA can not control, UA will give preference to a paid fare over upgraders.

I would have zero concern in your case.
WineCountryUA is offline  
Old Nov 16, 15, 6:06 pm
  #3  
 
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...and despite the numerous discussion re. downgrades, they are actually pretty rare (a single downgrade can generate pages of discussion here). I have never been downgraded in the years since the merger and that's probably 75-100 flights between the Mainland and Hawaii, most up front, and most w/ upgrades. I have only witnessed one involuntary downgrade and that was a United employee who was moved back on a IAH-HNL flight. She accepted the downgrade very graciously. Hawaii flights, heading for a leisure destination, tend to have a much smaller percentage of Premiers on board than a lot of other routes.

Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Nov 16, 15 at 6:14 pm
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Old Nov 16, 15, 6:15 pm
  #4  
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The chances of being downgraded are extraordinarily small.

However, given how relatively short the flight from LAX - ITO is, consider strongly whether F is worth the large difference in price. Frankly, I find coach to be just fine for flights from SFO to the islands. YMMV

Have a great time on the Big Island!
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Old Nov 16, 15, 6:17 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
I would have zero concern in your case.
Ditto. It happens very, very, very rarely.
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Old Nov 16, 15, 6:52 pm
  #6  
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Low but non-zero.
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Old Nov 16, 15, 7:18 pm
  #7  
 
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There's a discussion over at AA forum about 12 of 16 F passengers being moved back to coach on a A321 (non-neo) to Hawaii for weight and balance issues due to a lightly populated economy section. Luckily, I haven't seen that on a UA plane to Hawaii (yet).

Post #340 (page 23) by MauiOC, with a lot of interesting follow-up discussion:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...idated-23.html

Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Nov 16, 15 at 7:28 pm
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Old Nov 17, 15, 5:54 pm
  #8  
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Many thanks for the quick replies from all you hardcore veteran fliers.

The discussion on the AA forum regarding the downgrade on the A321 is a real eye opener for me. I would have never thought about weight and balance issues for the aircraft. It's a real shame the way those passengers were treated by AA.

The UA flight 1004 uses a 737-800, which I guess is a stretched version. Hopefully this aircraft's weight and balance issues are not sensitive as the A321.

Since this is only a 5 hour flight, I might have to think about an E+ seat rather than flying in the F Cabin. I guess it all comes down to perceived value for my dollar.

I'll be flying after Thanksgiving and before Christmas and when I return I'll post my experience. Thanks again!
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Old Nov 17, 15, 7:55 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
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Reading long threads here on FT about horrible downgrade experiences (no doubt real) can give a false impression of how likely they are (very unlikely).
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Old Nov 17, 15, 8:28 pm
  #10  
 
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Welcome to FlyerTalk, TimeWarp! Yes, involuntary downgrades are very rare. If it happens to you, you are entitled to downgrade compensation. But you have (almost) nothing to worry about, so please enjoy your trip and let us know how it goes!
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Old Nov 17, 15, 9:47 pm
  #11  
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Welcome. Your knowledge of terminology, acronyms, and the general process is oddly remarkable for not having flown commercially in 40 years. I am not sure whether to commend you for your research or be skeptical.

The pessimist in me is hard to ignore.
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Old Nov 17, 15, 9:50 pm
  #12  
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Barring irrops, your chances of being downgraded for an upgrader are nonexistent. Some GAs may consider a discount F fare a "Y fare with a complimentary upgrade," which is IMHO utterly incorrect and would constitute deceptive marketing practices on UA's part (in every regulatory sense!). But even that would only come into play in the case of a flight cancellation.
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Old Nov 17, 15, 10:00 pm
  #13  
 
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I've never paid for F and I've only been downgraded twice. Once was when they switched planes and a row of seats disappeared. I was seated in the last row which did not exist on the new plane. I don't know if they really downgraded everyone in the last row (including paid F) or went by status. This can be avoided by not sitting in a row that may not exist on alternate planes if there is an equipment switch.

The other time, the plane was "decomitted" and when they reloaded everyone, I guess I was downgraded, though they were able to get me into an empty F seat. I assume they would have prioritized paid F.

Remember they have to refund the fare diff to a paid F customer where for a regular customer, it's just the standard downgrade compensation (usually less).

The only other case i have observed a downgrade is in IRROPS where the flight is cancelled and book you on another flight where F is full and there are no other flights with F. Not much can be done there although I have observed someone take the next day's flight just to preserve F rather than sit in Y to get home ontime.

So basically, you have nothing to worry about unless the weather is bad
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Old Nov 17, 15, 10:44 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Originally Posted by TimeWarp View Post
...Since this is only a 5 hour flight, I might have to think about an E+ seat rather than flying in the F Cabin. I guess it all comes down to perceived value for my dollar.

I'll be flying after Thanksgiving and before Christmas and when I return I'll post my experience. Thanks again!
Good luck, whether you go F or E+. Since it sounds like you really don't fly all that often, hopefully this one will be fun and uneventful.
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Old Nov 17, 15, 11:27 pm
  #15  
 
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While likely true about being rare, when it happens to you, it stings! Just happened to me on Sunday (11/15) - IAH-ORD. I used an RPU to upgrade. I received initial confirmation, and received 2nd confirmation after aircraft was downgraded to A319. Only when I was boarding did the gate agent revoke my seat in 1A and told me I was now in Economy. Not fun, not cool...downright sucked.
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