Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

Wow - selling the upgrades at the gate so explicitly.

Wow - selling the upgrades at the gate so explicitly.

Reply

Old Mar 26, 17, 11:59 am
  #226  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: FLL/LAX/YYZ/TPE
Programs: CO Platinum 1K, United 1K, SPG LT Platinum, National Executive Elite, Platinum TSA Hater
Posts: 32,853
Originally Posted by findark View Post
Well no, presumably you're flying 100k a year because those planes are also taking you somewhere you want/need to be
Nope, I am flying 100K a year to maintain status as I've been doing for 15+ years from Continental onwards. I don't need to fly 100K, I choose to fly 100K by doing additional discretionary travel. Actually, ALL of my air travel save for maybe 10 trips a year is discretionary. I don't travel because I need to, I travel because I want to.

I don't want to single you out on this, and I understand your point, but especially from the perspective of a UA stockholder, I think it's important not to lose sight of that.
I honestly don't care about stockholders. Additionally, the most successful companies and executives in the service industry put stockholders last - after employees and customers. Stockholders are along for the ride, they don't get to drive, nor do they add any value to a mature company past its IPO. I invest in multiple companies - and I expect product and service companies I invest in like McDonalds and Coca Cola to take care of customers first, then customers take care of my revenue expectations and ongoing dividends.

Many other industries make do with no loyalty program at all, and manage to keep customers by offering a quality product at a favorable price compared to the competition.
Actually most companies selling to consumers have a loyalty program of one type or another - and when companies are selling identical products at identical prices and offer comparable service, a loyalty program is the only remaining differentiator.

Loyalty programs can be helpful in driving some decisions, but I hope nobody is suffering an inferior schedule, worse product, etc. in return for some perceived loyalty benefits. Presumably there's a reason you chose UA in the first place, and it wasn't "FFP program so good I'll fly a terrible airline just to get it". And when DL or SY F is ~$25 more than UA Y, I fly the other airline instead of relying on my benefits, because no upgrades are not a sure thing.
I chose Continental and stuck with them specifically because of their loyalty program, as a differentiator over Delta where I was a former Platinum until Leo Mullin took over and destroyed a perfectly good airline.


I firmly believe there's been no systematic evidence to suggest that (1) is true. By and large it seems that both elites and non-elites are given upgrade offers at checkin which are roughly equal to the route fare differential [nb. this is not the close-in fare difference].
There is substantial evidence gathered for many years, both pre and post merger that show specific examples of Elites and Kettles getting different upgrade offers. This issue existed at Continental first, and migrated to the combined company post-merger.
bocastephen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 12:13 pm
  #227  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: wandering expat
Posts: 37,422
Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
There is substantial evidence gathered for many years, both pre and post merger that show specific examples of Elites and Kettles getting different upgrade offers. This issue existed at Continental first, and migrated to the combined company post-merger.
I personally witnessed such a situation. Myself and three colleagues were flying DCA to SJO through IAH. Three of us were MP members, the fourth was not. We were all flying on the same fare. On our return SJO-IAH leg, at check in, the non member got an UG offer and the 3 MP members got nothing.
halls120 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 3:09 pm
  #228  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 8,275
Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
Nope, I am flying 100K a year to maintain status as I've been doing for 15+ years from Continental onwards. I don't need to fly 100K, I choose to fly 100K by doing additional discretionary travel. Actually, ALL of my air travel save for maybe 10 trips a year is discretionary. I don't travel because I need to, I travel because I want to.
If your discretional travel is being done so that you maintain 1K status, and not because you wanted to go somewhere on holiday (so essentially a mileage/status run), that puts you in a tiny minority of flyers.

Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
I honestly don't care about stockholders. Additionally, the most successful companies and executives in the service industry put stockholders last - after employees and customers. Stockholders are along for the ride, they don't get to drive, nor do they add any value to a mature company past its IPO. I invest in multiple companies - and I expect product and service companies I invest in like McDonalds and Coca Cola to take care of customers first, then customers take care of my revenue expectations and ongoing dividends.
Sure, but in the end stockholders want to company to do well. I meant it simply in trying to separate the direct impact to us (less free stuff from UA is bad), versus the impact to UA's business at large, where "give less free stuff to customers" is (at least to me) not an immediately obvious downside.

I think perhaps a difference is that I really am less loyal. I have my 1K because I happened to fly 100K PQM on UA, and that was because UA happens to have a vastly superior schedule to any other airline ex-SFO. If I moved to an AA or DL hub, I would probably move my business as well. For flight segments where I could buy tickets for substantially less on OAL, I would fly OAL. Yes, it helps that I was making 1K regardless, but in the end it's transactional. I put a price on how much 1K is worth to me, and in turn UA is losing revenue (via handouts) in exchange for my extraneous business. I really don't think that the business case for UA is as clear cut as we try to make it.

Perhaps it also helps that I usually fly paid F. Status does make me select UA when I have two or more equal options (e.g. SFO-NYC), but I also know that I can fly another airline with no status at all and still have a perfectly fine experience. On the other hand, UA GPUs have saved me thousands on overseas holiday travel. So it's also hard for me to feel like the FFP is completely worthless.

Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
There is substantial evidence gathered for many years, both pre and post merger that show specific examples of Elites and Kettles getting different upgrade offers. This issue existed at Continental first, and migrated to the combined company post-merger.
Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
I personally witnessed such a situation. Myself and three colleagues were flying DCA to SJO through IAH. Three of us were MP members, the fourth was not. We were all flying on the same fare. On our return SJO-IAH leg, at check in, the non member got an UG offer and the 3 MP members got nothing.
As a scientist, I have to say this is not rigorous. It's influenced in the extreme by selection bias, where you cherry-pick a few examples of this occurring from a large dataset. I would posit instead that the "black box" of the TOD offer spits out a lot of random noise, and you can choose a few anecdotes to support whatever you want. In contrast, I have watched SFO-IAD at-purchase offers print at $249 for both non-status and 1K pax in similar circumstances. And the largest wealth of data we have (in the TOD thread) shows that by and large people get offers roughly equal to the route fare differential, with little impact based on their status.
findark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 3:30 pm
  #229  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: wandering expat
Posts: 37,422
Originally Posted by findark View Post
As a scientist, I have to say this is not rigorous. It's influenced in the extreme by selection bias, where you cherry-pick a few examples of this occurring from a large dataset. I would posit instead that the "black box" of the TOD offer spits out a lot of random noise, and you can choose a few anecdotes to support whatever you want.
I'm not suggesting it is anything but what I witnessed. On one day, on one flight, the non member got an upgrade offer at check in and the three non members traveling on the exact same fare as the nonmember didn't get an offer.
halls120 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 5:31 pm
  #230  
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: NYC: UA 1K, DL Platinum, AAirpass, Avis PC
Posts: 4,455
Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
DL flies WAS-West Coast non stop? Since when?
Off topic for this thread, but you can chime into the debate here:

http://renespoints.boardingarea.com/...ending-worthy/

They had loaded into the schedule prior to the policy change.

Originally Posted by entropy View Post
UA flies hardly any non-hub routes, so why would it be "easier" if you're flying from a spoke into a hub rather than the other way?
Think of a Sunday PM / Monday AM - Thursday PM pattern...

Let's say you're PHX based.

I'd bet less elite mix PHX-ORD than ORD-PHX on a Monday AM, where the Chicago based elites are starting their workweek and heading out.

But we aren't privy to any of the numbers to really say either way.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Mar 26, 17 at 10:44 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
cerealmarketer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 6:06 pm
  #231  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: wandering expat
Posts: 37,422
Originally Posted by cerealmarketer View Post
Off topic for this thread, but you can chime into the debate here:

http://renespoints.boardingarea.com/...ending-worthy/

They had loaded into the schedule prior to the policy change.
Thanks for the pointer - glad to see more nonstops from WAS.
halls120 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 6:26 pm
  #232  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Houston
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, DL 1MM, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold
Posts: 110
Originally Posted by findark View Post
As a scientist, I have to say this is not rigorous. It's influenced in the extreme by selection bias, where you cherry-pick a few examples of this occurring from a large dataset. I would posit instead that the "black box" of the TOD offer spits out a lot of random noise, and you can choose a few anecdotes to support whatever you want. In contrast, I have watched SFO-IAD at-purchase offers print at $249 for both non-status and 1K pax in similar circumstances. And the largest wealth of data we have (in the TOD thread) shows that by and large people get offers roughly equal to the route fare differential, with little impact based on their status.
And the topic of this particular thread is about GAs announcing offers to upgrade to F over a PA system. Sounds like a general offer to me. No mention of the offer being "for you kettles out there" or "for anyone that is not a MP elite member." So it's not discriminating against elites. Anyone that wanted it could buy it.
Boiler84 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 26, 17, 7:37 pm
  #233  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: SFO
Programs: AC S100K, A3*S, SPG Gold, CC Gold, HH Diamond
Posts: 27,907
Originally Posted by N104UA View Post
I fly from DEN often and have never heard this, although usually F is full on most flights I see. However there is nothing wrong with this, UA is in the business to make money, also I wonder what status #1 on the list had, if it was a 1K maybe be mad but if it was a Gold or Silver I think UA should do this. Also with someone saying they will switch loyalties, I am sure UA would find someone else to fill your seat with recent load factors, and in DEN your other choices are WN or F9 if you prefer most flights to be nonstop (on both of them everyone is in first class!). DL has publicaly said they want 80% of people in Front to be paying for that and I assume UA and AA want the same so saying you switch and in a year you will be making the same compliant on the DL forum.

Travel is the only business where people expect a free upgrade on something they purchase, when I go to Best Buy and buy a TV I can earn points but getting their "VIP" status doesn't allow me to upgrade my 55" TV purchase to a 65" TV for free because they have the 65" in stock. You should think of airlines in a similar fashion.

The foregoing being said I think UA could make some changes to acknowledge their Premiers, such as waiving co-pays for mileage upgrades so many hours prior to departure (5days for GS, 4 days for 1K, etc.).
I bet if I said I wanted to buy 100 TVs, they'd sell me the 65" for the price of the 55".

Originally Posted by prometa View Post
You hit the nail on the head by considering how a non-elite sees the price of these upgrades.

Let's say you're flying in E- with a middle seat and have a checked bag, with no status on United. You walk up to the kiosk to check in and it offers a $129 upgrade. If you take it, now you get:

-free checked bag ($25 savings)
-a much more comfortable seat (compare to the $49-79 cost of an E+ upgrade)
-group 1 boarding
-priority security
-priority baggage handling
-free drinks
-some kind of free food

If you were already considering an E+ upgrade to get out of the middle, taking the upgrade to F is an absolute no brainer.

Now, compare to the same situation for a UA Silver (my status level). I've already chosen my E+ seat at T-24, typically an exit row window. If I upgrade, I get:
-Group 1 boarding instead of Group 2
-Wider seat, with more space between me and my row-mate, but probably less leg room (a real consideration given my height).
-Free drinks
-Some kind of free food
I bought a relatively last minute LAX-SFO once. F was too much, so I bought Y.

Then I spent $39 on E+.

Then when I checked in, it offered F for $69. Which included a $39 refund.

E+ to F for an hour for $30? Done. And I was AC*G at the time, so had most of the Premier Access already.

Originally Posted by AirbusFan2B View Post
I'm an extremely experienced UA 1K traveler and well aware of the STATED policy as a 1K for 10 years, including the 'space available' language. I'm conversant in the published parameters that determine upgrade probability. That language has remained largely constant since the merger. But something else UNSTATED has changed. OP's report is clearly one such instance. The fact that UA will go to extreme lengths to reduce F inventory. My CPUs as a 1K went from 90% 5 years ago to 50% 2 years ago to now 5%. RPUs don't clear either. UA's STATED policy has not changed. What HAS changed is that UA is pulling out all stops to sell upgrades so that no space is available for Premier members. Only HVFs and GS get upgrades/upsells by and large.
I have a friend mid-air right now on EWR-SFO.

No upgrades cleared on that flight, according to the public list.

He was offered a buy-up for a couple hundred dollars.

So I tend to agree.

Another time I was flying SFO-SNA, and at check-in (T-24), no offer.

While walking to the gate (T-50 minutes), I was offered to buy one of the two seats for about $100. The one upgrade sat beside me. 4MM, GS for life. For all I know, #2 on the list was GS too.

I normally buy F when I book domestic flights. But with United, I don't even bother, because I know I can get it way cheaper at check-in.

So yeah, good for revenue.
canadiancow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 27, 17, 3:55 pm
  #234  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: COS
Programs: UA Plat/1.5MM, SPG P100, Marriott LTP(P, coming to you in Jan '19), Hertz Prez, CBP GE, et al
Posts: 1,766
Are TOD reflected as upgrades at the gate and on the app? Just watched UA289 (DEN->AUS) board, and 19 of 20 seats reflected as successful upgrades.
CCIE_Flyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 27, 17, 4:10 pm
  #235  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 8,275
Originally Posted by CCIE_Flyer View Post
Are TOD reflected as upgrades at the gate and on the app? Just watched UA289 (DEN->AUS) board, and 19 of 20 seats reflected as successful upgrades.
Only if they rebook into an "upgrade" fare class: R, RN, PN, JN. I tend to find they usually don't.
findark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 27, 17, 5:26 pm
  #236  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: ORD
Programs: UA Silver, Marriott Titanium/LT Platinum, Hilton Gold, AA Platinum
Posts: 4,213
Originally Posted by halls120 View Post
I'm not suggesting it is anything but what I witnessed. On one day, on one flight, the non member got an upgrade offer at check in and the three non members traveling on the exact same fare as the nonmember didn't get an offer.
Right, no one here knows when and why it happens, but it happens. I've personally seen it twice when traveling with a non-status companion on the same fare. I have no idea if it's on purpose or some type of bug, and I'm not sure how much I really care since in most cases I wouldn't take the bait at the price offered the non-status passenger. But if it's on purpose, I think it's a really bad way to do business...upset your most loyal customers in order to entice new repeat customers I assume.
JBord is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 27, 17, 7:47 pm
  #237  
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Honolulu / DC
Programs: UA 1K mm / AA EXPPlat / Marriott Lifetime Plat , Hilton Diamond (dropping to gold for 2017)
Posts: 767
Buy up offers with CPU lists in double digits are probably just the new reality...at least the aggressive P fares provide an option. But....it is infuriating to hear a buy up announced by the GA when you have a pending uncleared RPU or GPU as part of a multiple leg itinerary (meaning it is spent whether or not you clear).
cmculp is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 27, 17, 10:36 pm
  #238  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: LAX
Programs: UAL 1K MM, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 434
So sad watching my 1K status mean less and less year after year
Lani1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 8, 17, 1:12 pm
  #239  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Programs: United
Posts: 2
I believe (I want to believe) that these sales are when it's expected that there will not be many or any elite upgrades in line. I checked my girlfriend into her IAH to GDL flight at the airport and they asked for $77 for a business class upgrade. OK, no problem.

There were about 7/14 unoccupied seats on that flight. Plus she was delayed 7 hours...so it gave her access to the United Club to wait. And saved her (me) $25 for checked baggage.

In my opinion it was a deal.
Dan Garcia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 9, 17, 6:18 am
  #240  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 679
Originally Posted by Dan Garcia View Post
I believe (I want to believe) that these sales are when it's expected that there will not be many or any elite upgrades in line. I checked my girlfriend into her IAH to GDL flight at the airport and they asked for $77 for a business class upgrade. OK, no problem.

There were about 7/14 unoccupied seats on that flight. Plus she was delayed 7 hours...so it gave her access to the United Club to wait. And saved her (me) $25 for checked baggage.

In my opinion it was a deal.
It has been many years since I've seen more seats in first available than elites on an upgrade list.
gold23 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread