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Wow - selling the upgrades at the gate so explicitly.

Wow - selling the upgrades at the gate so explicitly.

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Old Mar 20, 17, 9:40 pm
  #181  
 
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Originally Posted by mduell View Post
I'm pretty happy with discount F fares priced right around what the product is worth over discount Y.
This, and the right-sizing of planes, are the primary reasons that upgrade clearance rates are down. ToDs are, and always have been, a minor contributor, perhaps taking the last 1 or 2 seats out of 16 or 20. The fact that the person who is #1 on the upgrade list can see the seats disappear is, of course, disappointing for that flyer, and that magnifies the apparently effect.

CO routinely upgraded flyers because few people were paying the exorbitant amount they wanted for F. UA is not, because they're charging less, and so people buy what they have to sell. End of story.

The only problem I have with selling upgrades at the gate is that it has bad optics. People have already turned down at least one chance to upgrade by the time they get to the gate, and likely several. Selling that last upgrade or two probably isn't worth the ill will it creates for the flyers at the top of that upgrade list. UA would be better served to use sales techniques that aren't as in-your-face.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 10:32 am
  #182  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
The fact that the person who is #1 on the upgrade list can see the seats disappear is, of course, disappointing for that flyer, and that magnifies the apparently effect.

The only problem I have with selling upgrades at the gate is that it has bad optics. People have already turned down at least one chance to upgrade by the time they get to the gate, and likely several. Selling that last upgrade or two probably isn't worth the ill will it creates for the flyers at the top of that upgrade list. UA would be better served to use sales techniques that aren't as in-your-face.
After being #1/2 on the upgrade list AND applying RPU's on several of my last flights and not getting a single upgrade I politely asked an agent what was up. She was very nice and looked up my current flight info. She was surprisingly very specific but basically said the remaining F seats went to GS flyers and last minute buy ups. It is what it is but I agree it does "create ill will" for some of the UA better customers.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 10:51 am
  #183  
 
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Originally Posted by nomad420 View Post
After being #1/2 on the upgrade list AND applying RPU's on several of my last flights and not getting a single upgrade I politely asked an agent what was up. She was very nice and looked up my current flight info. She was surprisingly very specific but basically said the remaining F seats went to GS flyers and last minute buy ups. It is what it is but I agree it does "create ill will" for some of the UA better customers.
As I said, it's (understandably) disappointing for the person #1 or #2 on the upgrade list. However, I don't see much difference between selling ToDs during OLCI / at the kiosk and selling them at the gate except for the in-your-face nature of the latter. Either way, you weren't going to fly up front.

Now I, personally, am of the opinion that they should open more R space in advance, because they're risking losing your business to the competition. However, UA clearly believes that hub-based flyers value the schedule and convenience of the non-stop options they can provide, and that you won't bolt. The fact that you've flown more with them as your upgrade percentage has declined suggests that they're right. The only way that their policies will change is if people start booking away from them en masse.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 11:05 am
  #184  
 
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As stated earlier, I completely agree that the main (only?) issue is the optics and the fact that they are creating dissapointed elite members when a more efficient and transparent handling would solve these problems.

I'm buying up front most of the time these days. To me, depending on the equipment, I would pay $75 or so per hour difference. I'm finding that consistently.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 11:18 am
  #185  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Now I, personally, am of the opinion that they should open more R space in advance, because they're risking losing your business to the competition. However, UA clearly believes that hub-based flyers value the schedule and convenience of the non-stop options they can provide, and that you won't bolt. The fact that you've flown more with them as your upgrade percentage has declined suggests that they're right. The only way that their policies will change is if people start booking away from them en masse.
Couldn't agree more about the R space issue. Also the hub-based non-stop flights that UA provides to numerous cities out of SFO it is precisely the reason I fly UA. However, I must admit that I am watching closely the AS/VA merger. For my travel needs this could be a UA deal breaker. Plus being UA LT Gold I don't I don't need to chase the miles with them anymore.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Mar 21, 17 at 1:24 pm Reason: repaired quote
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Old Mar 21, 17, 12:56 pm
  #186  
 
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Most of my desire for upgrades is on international travel, and I agree with those remarks about R space. I would buy more UA as opposed to OAL discount business class (primarily AF, but some BA and VA) if more R were available at booking. Presumably they believe that would not maximize their revenue, but given the number of open business class seats there often are at T-48 or so in my experience, I'm not convinced that their revenue management is properly judging that.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 2:41 pm
  #187  
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"I'm buying up front most of the time these days. To me, depending on the equipment, I would pay $75 or so per hour difference. I'm finding that consistently."
I fly a lot EWR-TPA-EWR. It is 997 miles and blocked at about 3 hours. I can virtually always buy up for $129 (OW). So, with a little math, 129/3 = $43. (approximately $50/hr.) This is what apparently UA values this at +/-. Seems that the reports for transcons at ~249 fit right in with this math.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 3:31 pm
  #188  
 
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Originally Posted by cerealmarketer View Post
Delta had big JFK, LAX, SEA plans before UA integrated. The UA reliability problems were gravy.

Why could they do it?

You pointed it out above.

Very high margin fortress hubs ATL, MSP, DTW, SLC that let them reinvest and take losses as they picked off pockets of margin from AA, UA, and AS.

Witness AA / Parker struggling to make a case for his yield matching DL's going forward. There's something more structural that happened than just UA tripping up, and part of it was DL's ability to come into non-fortress markets with essentially no premium traffic and pick it off with lower, reasonable premium prices vs offering a binary full fare / upgrade model.

The upside is DL having a harder time growing yields than it used to now that the low hanging fruit are picked.
Delta also have arguably had a better product than their rivals for a while now. Not by a huge margin, but not insignificant either. I think Delta is a good example of how it can pay off to create positive differentiation via service - as long as you can still manage costs.
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Old Mar 21, 17, 10:49 pm
  #189  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Now I, personally, am of the opinion that they should open more R space in advance, because they're risking losing your business to the competition. However, UA clearly believes that hub-based flyers value the schedule and convenience of the non-stop options they can provide, and that you won't bolt. The fact that you've flown more with them as your upgrade percentage has declined suggests that they're right. The only way that their policies will change is if people start booking away from them en masse.
I agree with this. I think UA should open more R space and do fewer CPUs in advance. This would help holders of instruments (mostly Plat/1K) feel like they have equity in exchange for their status, and I think it would be upgrade-count neutral for the most part. CPUs can be a handout at the gate after F SDCs and IRROPS changes have settled.

As said upthread, the big problem is TODs is the timing and the optics. I think the effect is somewhat nontrivial, but tends to get blown out of proportion, especially the almost completely unsubstantiated yet widely believed story that having status means that you get worse TOD offers (I don't book Y much but my offers have been consistent as I've bounced around status levels).
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Old Mar 24, 17, 8:58 am
  #190  
 
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The problem with all the upgrade selling is that when the instruments don't clear, there is no reason for anyone to fly UA past the status they aspire to. So in my case, it may end up costing UA the incremental $13k in flying that I can now plough into AA to reach EXP.

UA will never know what it is missing because they can't see the revenue they lose unless I am sending them receipts for AA bookings...which is far too cumbersome.

I can't be the only one who thinks that way. Question is...do others do the same if they are primarily AA or DL fliers at such a scale that it all cancels each other out.
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Old Mar 24, 17, 9:59 am
  #191  
 
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Originally Posted by AAExPlat View Post
The problem with all the upgrade selling is that when the instruments don't clear, there is no reason for anyone to fly UA past the status they aspire to. So in my case, it may end up costing UA the incremental $13k in flying that I can now plough into AA to reach EXP.

UA will never know what it is missing because they can't see the revenue they lose unless I am sending them receipts for AA bookings...which is far too cumbersome.

I can't be the only one who thinks that way. Question is...do others do the same if they are primarily AA or DL fliers at such a scale that it all cancels each other out.
This makes sense, and your question at the end is a good one. I'd add on, after that cancellation effect, is the amount of revenue at risk here really all that significant? I understand it is on an individual basis, but I'm guessing its a relatively small group of people who meet the criteria AND decide to move on from UA after obtaining a high status.
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Old Mar 24, 17, 10:28 am
  #192  
 
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Originally Posted by Ber2dca View Post
Delta also have arguably had a better product than their rivals for a while now. Not by a huge margin, but not insignificant either. I think Delta is a good example of how it can pay off to create positive differentiation via service - as long as you can still manage costs.
DL doesn't really have a better product.. a very, very fixed fleet with horrible 717s, MD90s as well as ancient A319 and A320 from NW which many still need to be reconfigured and are currently falling apart. Domestic F meals are ghastly... seriously, packaged cookies for dessert, no warm bread, and no warm nuts?!?!?!!?
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Old Mar 24, 17, 10:54 am
  #193  
 
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Originally Posted by AAExPlat View Post
The problem with all the upgrade selling is that when the instruments don't clear, there is no reason for anyone to fly UA past the status they aspire to. So in my case, it may end up costing UA the incremental $13k in flying that I can now plough into AA to reach EXP.
Why would a person fly any airline to achieve a certain status if the person was not going to fly the airline after that status is achieved? Isn't the status, and essentially the money / time spent flying the airline, wasted in that case?

If there is a different airline that better meets the needs of that person (whether it is due to routes/schedules, fares, status benefits, or something else), just fly the other airline.

Originally Posted by AAExPlat View Post
I can't be the only one who thinks that way. Question is...do others do the same if they are primarily AA or DL fliers at such a scale that it all cancels each other out.
Looking at the DL forum, there are essentially the same complaints about lack of medallion upgrades and cheap upgrades offered for sale at the gate. People claiming they are leaving or threatening to leave DL as a result. I'd guess the rates are relatively similar. On pretty much all of my flights, the flight attendants announce that "this flight will be completely full . . . ", and it seems overall airlines are reporting high load factors. So seats are getting filled across the board.

A SFO-based UA flyer probably will get better DL upgrade rates ex-SFO than on UA. An ATL-based DL flyer will probably get better UA upgrade rates ex-ATL than on DL.
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Old Mar 24, 17, 11:08 am
  #194  
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In fairness, loads are irrelevant. Anyone can fill an aircraft if the fares are dropped enough. But, that isn't happening, so presume that PRASM is up.

The worst mistake the legacies made during the financial crisis was to keep drop fares and keep capacity up and then fill F with freebies.

Now, capacity is cut to match demand as demonstrated by PRASM. Either frequency or aircraft size, especially F seating, is cut.

But, it's hard to pull the benefit so it's still listed.

Maybe people ought to hope for another recession ?
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Old Mar 24, 17, 11:52 am
  #195  
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I'm curious what the nay-sayers think about what UA did to me last week...

I had an RPU applied on a 1-stop flight. It was two separate 2.5 hour flights. Segment A cleared right away--like 2 days after booking. Segment B was actually a little longer of a flight (by ~20 minutes or so).

As of the day of departure, there were 4 of 20 seats left open on Segment B. I was #1 on the waitlist from check-in to departure. I never moved from that #1 spot.

I did, however, receive an "upgrade this flight for $129" message, which I did not take. I stupidly thought I had a good chance (using an already-redeemed RPU).

So I blew an RPU on a single 2.5 hour flight, and UA undoubtedly sold out upgrades from under me on the other flight--heck, they even offered it to me with an RPU waitlisted and applied to my flights for that day.

I'm just checking--there are people here that think this type of behavior is okay? Just curious. Personally, I see a lot wrong with it--maybe it's just me.

I'll also add I'm a shareholder in UAL, with around 5% of my retirement portfolio in this stock--and I think this is wrong--not just to me, but to others that undoubtedly go through this on a daily basis as well.
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