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How to improve upgrade rates on United - buy higher rate class?

How to improve upgrade rates on United - buy higher rate class?

Old Jan 9, 19, 2:55 pm
  #1  
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How to improve upgrade rates on United - buy higher rate class?

embarrassed to say I still donít understand upgrade strategies - I must be doing something wrong. I buy cheapest economy fare and hope for an upgrade. I usually end up first on the upgrade list - checked in full.

I am 1K with almost 2 million miles. In 2018 I had 115 PQS and 165k PQMs. I fly out of San Francisco.

would it help to buy one or two rate classes above cheapest? Any other strategies you recommend?

thanks!
steve

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Old Jan 9, 19, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by DeweyWhopper View Post
...with almost 2 million miles. In 2018 I had 115 PQS and 165k PQMs...
You're flying out of one of UA's busiest hubs with a lot of GS customers and 1Ks flying on last-minute fares. UA is right-sizing F cabins to paying customers, offering decent P fares, and monetizing remaining seats with buy-up offers. Upgrades aren't easily available anymore. 1K out of SFO? - you ought to be buying F fares (or YBM-up) or buying-up. I find the claim that you usually end up "first on the waitlist" statistically shaky.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jan 9, 19 at 4:13 pm Reason: unremoved snark
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Old Jan 9, 19, 3:06 pm
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Originally Posted by DeweyWhopper View Post
would it help to buy one or two rate classes above cheapest? Any other strategies you recommend?
Not in an expected value sense. If you are willing to invest additional funds in your travel experience, the money would be better spent purchasing selected trips in First outright. If you fly from a United hub on peak days and routes, you will not get CPUs pretty much regardless of what you do.
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Old Jan 9, 19, 3:20 pm
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Not in an expected value sense. If you are willing to invest additional funds in your travel experience, the money would be better spent purchasing selected trips in First outright. If you fly from a United hub on peak days and routes, you will not get CPUs pretty much regardless of what you do.
Yeah, you'll see a few more upgrades if you buy up to say Q fares, and more if you go higher, but the money would better spent on discount F (P and Z fares).
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Old Jan 10, 19, 11:40 am
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If you want F, buy F.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
If you want F, buy F.
^ This is pretty much it. Anything else is a roll of the dice. Across all airlines.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 12:11 pm
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Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
If you want F, buy F.
I think this might be a LITTLE oversimplified, although certainly the only way to reliably fly up front. If you fly out of a non-hub (or even a less vital hub) you'll have better chances, and certainly flying at off-peak times on off-peak days you also get much better success with upgrades. But the reality is that for many (possibly 'almost all') 1K-type frequent flyers, our schedules don't align well with taking flights at noon on Tuesdays.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 12:28 pm
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And peak times are only getting busier. I counted inventory on my upcoming SFO-DCA, and nobody in the front cabin is on lower than a C fare. 15/16 so far, and maybe 11-12 C fares and the rest in full J. (nb. I guess it's possible they offered better married inventory for inbound long-haul connections, but those are already more revenue than a domestic C fare anyway.)
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Old Jan 10, 19, 1:55 pm
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A 1K out of SFO on cheap fares is chicken feed. Resign yourself to the back of the bus. Lots of GS sit in the back out of SFO and probably on higher fares (else they probably wouldn't be GS).
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Old Jan 11, 19, 7:56 am
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Originally Posted by ljwobker View Post
If you fly out of a non-hub (or even a less vital hub) you'll have better chances
I have seen this statement a lot here--if you fly out of a non-hub you have better chances of an upgrade. But due to UA's hub-spoke model, you're always either flying to a hub or from a hub, so this non-hub idea is non-existent, except perhaps for a few leftover flights from previous era hubs like CLE or maybe some of the Pacific flights that don't connect to domestic hubs. Obviously hub-hub flights are the worst from an upgrade perspective. But the "less-vital" hub is an interesting idea . . . which are the hubs with less elites and higher upgrade chances? Seems like SFO, ORD and IAH would be the first tier UA hubs so the worst for upgrades. So maybe IAD and LAX are better? I have had good success out of IAD with Gold and Platinum, or at least better than some people complain about here, with maybe 25-50% of my CPU opportunities being successful.
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Old Jan 11, 19, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by gandalf29 View Post
I have seen this statement a lot here--if you fly out of a non-hub you have better chances of an upgrade. But due to UA's hub-spoke model, you're always either flying to a hub or from a hub, so this non-hub idea is non-existent, except perhaps for a few leftover flights from previous era hubs like CLE or maybe some of the Pacific flights that don't connect to domestic hubs
No, it's definitely extant.

Two reasons: 1 - non-hub residents are much less likely to be flying hub-hub than hub residents, and hub-hub are the most difficult upgrades. 2 - non-hub residents are often traveling the exact opposite schedule of hub residents, so they're taking flights that are relatively less loaded.
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Old Jan 11, 19, 8:33 am
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Originally Posted by gandalf29 View Post
I have seen this statement a lot here--if you fly out of a non-hub you have better chances of an upgrade. But due to UA's hub-spoke model, you're always either flying to a hub or from a hub, so this non-hub idea is non-existent, except perhaps for a few leftover flights from previous era hubs like CLE or maybe some of the Pacific flights that don't connect to domestic hubs. Obviously hub-hub flights are the worst from an upgrade perspective. But the "less-vital" hub is an interesting idea . . . which are the hubs with less elites and higher upgrade chances? Seems like SFO, ORD and IAH would be the first tier UA hubs so the worst for upgrades. So maybe IAD and LAX are better? I have had good success out of IAD with Gold and Platinum, or at least better than some people complain about here, with maybe 25-50% of my CPU opportunities being successful.
I think what's meant by non-hub is something like STL-ORD, or ORD-STL where you're heading from/to a hub. Decent upgrade chances on those routes- I know I've done that run and have had a good degree of success. Mainline aircraft out of a hub to another major airport can be difficult, but CRJ700s to/from smaller non-hubs generally do have good chances.
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Old Jan 11, 19, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by ljwobker View Post
I think this might be a LITTLE oversimplified, although certainly the only way to reliably fly up front. If you fly out of a non-hub (or even a less vital hub) you'll have better chances, and certainly flying at off-peak times on off-peak days you also get much better success with upgrades. But the reality is that for many (possibly 'almost all') 1K-type frequent flyers, our schedules don't align well with taking flights at noon on Tuesdays.
Sensible assessment @:-)

Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
If you want F, buy F.
I think I have heard that one before ....
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Old Jan 11, 19, 8:50 am
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For all of the reasons given, the simple fact is that SFO (and surrounding) are packed with people who fly paid F either because they personally fund it or because it is part of their deal or contract. Just look to the premium TCON services offered by AA & DL as well and you can see that even plain old domestic F does not cut it.
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Old Jan 11, 19, 12:39 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
No, it's definitely extant.

Two reasons: 1 - non-hub residents are much less likely to be flying hub-hub than hub residents, and hub-hub are the most difficult upgrades. 2 - non-hub residents are often traveling the exact opposite schedule of hub residents, so they're taking flights that are relatively less loaded.
Also, 3- UA's hubs are also ultra-premium O&D cities, so hub-hub routes on UA have a heavy loading of premium O&D traffic.

Originally Posted by findark View Post
And peak times are only getting busier. I counted inventory on my upcoming SFO-DCA, and nobody in the front cabin is on lower than a C fare. 15/16 so far, and maybe 11-12 C fares and the rest in full J.
And they sold the last seat for full fare. Economy is also just strong - not looking forward to the new Amazon HQ.
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