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How would you design the upgrade process if you were in charge?

How would you design the upgrade process if you were in charge?

Old Apr 8, 16, 8:24 pm
  #1  
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How would you design the upgrade process if you were in charge?

If you were in charge of United, how would you operate the processing of upgrades (CPUs, RPUs, GPUs, etc).

I am looking for a discussion around what you believe would be the optimal procedure for processing an upgrade, not an upgrades never clear conversation, upgrades don’t exist, etc. Also, keep in mind that it has to make sense to the business as well.

I was thinking through the logistics specifically focused around the CPUs and TODs (I believe RPUs and GPUs should clear immediately if more than 50% of F is available at time of applying instrument).

With that being said, I understand why United would want to process TODs to generate new revenue; however, we have proof in many cases where they sometimes charge elites more than a non elite even on same fare classes. With that being said, UA has a tool already in place (current upgrade list) and why not expand that list (doesn’t have to be shown publically) where every passenger is ranked by elite status, fare class booked, and tie breaker as needed based upon check-in or time booked. From this, UA could set a base upgrade rate for say when <50% of F booked, 50-75% booked, 75-99% booked and base the upgrade (TOD) rate by distance (<500, 500-750, 750-1000, and so on) and also by if it’s a hub to hub route, international, etc. From this, they could use that list mentioned above, meaning if you are #1 on the list, your TOD would be the base upgrade cost (e.g. $59). As you continue to go down the list, you make it dynamic….so for passengers 1-5 on the list, they would be a $8 difference, meaning #2 on the list would be offered $67, #3 $75, #4 $83, #5 $91 to upgrade, and then for passengers say 6-20 difference between each spot drops to $6, so #6 is offered $97, #7 $103, and so on. Eventually 21-40 may be a $3 difference, and beyond #40 maybe $1 difference between each spot, meaning if you are say #80 on the ranking list, you would basically be offer an upgrade based upon this route and distance say for $199. In this situation, the elite wouldn’t be beat out, and more likely gives the elites a free chance of getting an upgrade unless that passenger at spot #80 really wanted to shell out a large upgrade fee because they already purchased a low fare class and also have no status with the airline. Obviously, if no one bites on the upgrade rates, then they would process the upgrades for free as they do in today's process (when the system works right). This basically still allows passengers to "jump the queue," but in this case, they have to pay more to jump ahead of the line (better than say #80 jumping ahead of #1 for the exact same $59 rate).

One may argue that it's kind of already this that in the way it's supposed to work that a low fare class should be paying more than say someone who booked a Y,B,M fare for example but it doesn't take into account elite status so that one time flyer could get ahead easily.

Thoughts?
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Old Apr 8, 16, 9:47 pm
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Sounds like a great way to over complicate everything. I doubt any airline would adopt such a complex upgrade system
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Old Apr 8, 16, 9:53 pm
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I think the biggest thing they can do is to show all upgrade-eligible customers on the upgrade list within their respective CPU window (i.e. within T-48 all Golds and above are shown on the standby list), and not reorder at the gate based on check-in time instead of ticketing time. That, and fix the bug where JN and TODs into R/RN/PN show as cleared upgrades. This should give more transparency into upgrades, regardless of how freely or not they are handed out.

From an RM perspective, I would hold one or two seats in the domestic F cabin to the gate unless purchased with an F (booking code) fare. That way there is a good chance of last minute F availability and if not, some elites get happy. I might be wrong here (don't really want to second guess strategies), but seems like doing this in lieu of far-out upgrades should be revenue neutral at worst.
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Old Apr 8, 16, 10:48 pm
  #4  
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If I were in charge, I would start by eliminating CPU. There go 99% of all the problems.
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Old Apr 8, 16, 11:01 pm
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You say you don't want a conversation about "upgrades don't exist" scenario but I think that is the real issue. Debating over what upgrade policy should be is pretty academic.

If I were an airline in a properly functioning market and with good management / strategic practices, my goal would be to aim to keep upgrades to as few as possible. Upgrades exist because the US carriers cannot get enough people to pay for the front cabins reliably.

If you see a route where upgrades are rampant and we have to debate the particulars of how fliers should be allocated the F seats that couldn't be sold, there's a problem of:

-- over-gauging the aircraft type for the paid traffic
-- mis-pricing of the fare buckets
-- unwillingness of passengers to pay what it takes to operate the route profitably
-- operational failures exacerbating some/all of the above

Those issues would be better addressed to help UA fix things, I think....

Last edited by TA; Apr 8, 16 at 11:09 pm
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Old Apr 8, 16, 11:22 pm
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Shrink the size of the F/J cabin to match number of people who are actually willing to pay to sit in F/J.
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Old Apr 9, 16, 1:25 am
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Originally Posted by AltaBound View Post
Shrink the size of the F/J cabin to match number of people who are actually willing to pay to sit in F/J.
Amen AltaBound.....that and bring back the 500 mile certs....
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Old Apr 9, 16, 4:13 am
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Seriously...I will urge not to discuss this topic at all.

Regardless what is the end result of this discussion...any information from this thread, good or bad, can be used by UA to further devalue benefit.
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Old Apr 9, 16, 4:17 am
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Solution looking for a problem? Maybe not, but the best thing to do is to eliminate all free upgrades so it becomes clear to people that, if you want to sit in the front cabin, you should pay for it.
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Old Apr 9, 16, 5:52 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
If I were in charge, I would start by eliminating CPU. There go 99% of all the problems.
+1.

Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Solution looking for a problem? Maybe not, but the best thing to do is to eliminate all free upgrades so it becomes clear to people that, if you want to sit in the front cabin, you should pay for it.
As cosflyer says, bring back the 500 mile certs. Over on AA, I pay for certs and use them when I want to, and as such, I get upgraded far more often.
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Old Apr 9, 16, 6:31 am
  #11  
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Always thought something like this could work...

1. Eliminate CPU except for 1K / GS (makes status meaningful again)
2. Use 1 instrument to waitlist for space available on any fare class
3. Use 2 instruments to confirm on any fare class

Key features:

- Status determines upgrade order processing
- UA would designate a certain percentage of seats for every flight as available for upgrade (we can't take EVERY seat that's just not fair - thinking hub to hub here - need to let them actually sell some premium seats lol) that increases as departure date approaches.
- instruments > status for CPU. So for example, if a Platinum member waitlists with an instrument, they are ahead of any CPU regardless of status

Last edited by bmwe92fan; Apr 9, 16 at 6:44 am
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Old Apr 9, 16, 6:34 am
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Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
+1.

As cosflyer says, bring back the 500 mile certs. Over on AA, I pay for certs and use them when I want to, and as such, I get upgraded far more often.
I note a few things:
1) the posters referred to/quoted herein are FT members from 2002/2004/2005.
2) MANY of us who were MP and FT members from that "era" said: "CPU is gonna be a problem".
3) we were - almost unanimously- dismissed as crackballs, nuts, or just whiners.

We were, sadly, all correct with our predictions.

Dave
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Old Apr 9, 16, 7:11 am
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Originally Posted by bseller View Post
3) we were - almost unanimously- dismissed as crackballs, nuts, or just whiners.
We were, sadly, all correct with our predictions.
Of course, that ignores the fact that we are in fact crackballs,
nuts, and whiners

My own proportion of front-cabin flying hasn't changed much
until the last couple years, I think. I do feel sorry for all the
premiers and premier execs, though.
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Old Apr 9, 16, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by cosflyer View Post
Amen AltaBound.....that and bring back the 500 mile certs....
This !!!!!
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Old Apr 9, 16, 7:19 am
  #15  
 
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I don't see a problem with the current scheme. It just needs to work the way it's supposed to, 100% of the time.

Anyone who thinks the 500 mile certs will make them happier aren't recognizing the dynamics have changed, in my opinion. UA consistently offers cheap P fares and cheap buy ups. Although it would be fun to read the threads about how people have so many certs and can't ever use them.

The competition to use certs would be fierce now, with fewer seats. Not like 10 years ago.

There just aren't as many seats for CPU or instrument upgrades on most flights now. And CPU is a systematic way to fill those F seats on flights where people don't want to buy first or use an instrument, especially the shorter hops.

I'll ask the question. If the current CPU scheme worked exactly the way it was intended, all the time, what's so bad about it?
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