No meal, no upgrade

Reply

Old Mar 22, 19, 5:59 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: In between
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, SPG/Marriott Plat, Hertz PC
Posts: 540
No meal, no upgrade

Currently on UA817 AUS-EWR in F. As boarding was in progress, I overheard the FA telling the gate agent to not upgrade people because there werenít enough meals. I heard something along the lines of, ďThere are only 12 and not 14 so donít upgrade the last person.Ē The gate agent agreed and we went out with I believe 19/20 in F.

Now, if Iím #1 on the upgrade list and F goes out with an empty seat because of a meal shortfall Iíd be annoyed for a couple reasons: 1) the flight is longer than three hours so there is the hot food option from Y and 2) not everyone in F opted for the meal so the shortfall was irrelevant.

Having watched this in action, it seems like the FA and GA chose the laziest route available to them. Whatís the actual policy for such situations?
corbetti likes this.
timezone_trooper is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 6:17 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: London & Sonoma CA
Programs: UA 1K MM, Hertz PC, BAEC Silver
Posts: 7,840
Far better for the GA to call people on the waitlist to the podium and offer them the chance of an upgrade, but potentially without a meal. Then everyone's happy.
PTahCha, 1P, Spiff and 14 others like this.
lhrsfo is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 6:20 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: In between
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, SPG/Marriott Plat, Hertz PC
Posts: 540
Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Far better for the GA to call people on the waitlist to the podium and offer them the chance of an upgrade, but potentially without a meal. Then everyone's happy.
This all took place on board as the GA had come down to the aircraft.
timezone_trooper is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 6:35 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: PWM
Programs: UA Silver
Posts: 816
Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Far better for the GA to call people on the waitlist to the podium and offer them the chance of an upgrade, but potentially without a meal. Then everyone's happy.
There is a published procedure for upgrades so the seat should have gone to #1 , regardless of their appetite.
sexykitten7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 7:45 am
  #5  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: CT/NY
Programs: UA Platinum/MM, Marriott LT Titanium, Hyatt Discoverist
Posts: 4,289
Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
Far better for the GA to call people on the waitlist to the podium and offer them the chance of an upgrade, but potentially without a meal. Then everyone's happy.
This actually happened to me back in the days when e-500's were used. They asked me whether I still up want the upgrade, but there would be no meals for everyone. I turned it down.
PTahCha is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 8:39 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: none
Posts: 1,509
Originally Posted by timezone_trooper View Post
I overheard the FA telling the gate agent to not upgrade people because there werenít enough meals. I heard something along the lines of, .... The gate agent agreed and we went out with I believe ....

Now, if Iím #1 on the upgrade list and F goes out with an empty seat because of a meal shortfall Iíd be annoyed for a couple reasons: 1) the flight is longer than three hours so there is the hot food option from Y and 2) not everyone in F opted for the meal so the shortfall was irrelevant.
Bolding mine.

All that needs to be said.
Allan38103 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 8:45 am
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ORD
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 15,637
Originally Posted by sexykitten7 View Post
There is a published procedure for upgrades so the seat should have gone to #1 , regardless of their appetite.
I find this bizarre. #1 on the list should have been approached and told "we have a seat in first, but there may not be a meal. Of course, we'll bring whatever you'd like from the Economy menu at no charge." Why would anyone turn down an upgrade to first when there's no meal and then sit in economy when they'll bring you the same snacks in F you'd have to buy in Economy (Unless you're 1K or above). I don't see the logic.
milepig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 8:54 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: San Francisco, CA
Programs: NZ *E
Posts: 126
But what would most likely happen is some unfortunate customer paying for F but perhaps not with status on United (like me being NZ*G) would end up getting the short straw followed by United ending up giving out a customer service voucher
ExplorerWannabe and Spanish like this.
samjnz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 11:33 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: PWM
Programs: UA Silver
Posts: 816
Originally Posted by milepig View Post
I find this bizarre. #1 on the list should have been approached and told "we have a seat in first, but there may not be a meal. Of course, we'll bring whatever you'd like from the Economy menu at no charge." Why would anyone turn down an upgrade to first when there's no meal and then sit in economy when they'll bring you the same snacks in F you'd have to buy in Economy (Unless you're 1K or above). I don't see the logic.
I think we both agree. #1 should get the seat (with or without a disclosure). The upgrade isn't left to the GA's discretion like op-ups!

I can't tell from your tone whether you agree with me not but I don't have any likes
sexykitten7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 12:31 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Based in New Orleans
Programs: Everything I ever traveled on. But mostly USAir, Avis, and Hilton
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by milepig View Post
I find this bizarre. #1 on the list should have been approached and told "we have a seat in first, but there may not be a meal. Of course, we'll bring whatever you'd like from the Economy menu at no charge." Why would anyone turn down an upgrade to first when there's no meal and then sit in economy when they'll bring you the same snacks in F you'd have to buy in Economy (Unless you're 1K or above). I don't see the logic.
Here's the only problem with that. Typically, the FA will start at the front of the class and walk back, asking pax, in seat order what their meal option is. At some point, they will run out of allocations for the "better" meal choice, which means that passengers asked about a meal later in the process only have the less-desirable choice or nothing. So, you have a pretty high likelihood of getting the less-favorable option if you're in Row 6 versus Row 1, just based upon how the ordering/allocation process goes, and if there aren't enough allocations for meals for all F seats, then the folks queried last are simply out of luck. It's reasonable to assume that a full-fare F pax might be sitting in Row 6, which means that the upgrade, if seated in the first couple of rows is more likely to receive the meal than the full-fare in 6. So, in this case, allocating a seat via upgrade with the stipulation that "you might not get a meal" REALLY means, "if we seat you in F, it's likely someone in F won't get a meal because we did (and that's not necessarily you)".

All the more reason to request a Kosher meal if you're going to book as an F passenger. That meal then becomes tied to your record, and you'll always get it if they are capable of serving it on the flight.
mjcecil is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 12:40 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Washington DC, DCA
Programs: AAdvantage, DL Skymiles, United MP
Posts: 3,926
All the reason UA should move to a pre-ordering system like AA and (now) DL does.

UA should also have a chart distributed to FA's, with a list of F passengers who are paid F, CPU'd, and then OP-UP'd at no cost. The FA can then determine how to prioritize meal orders, based on status of payment towards the F cabin and elite status.

IMHO, a fair tiered level would be, for meal priority, from top to bottom:

-Paid F tickets (elites, then non-elites)
-TOD upfares (elites, then non-elites)
-CPU by GS, 1K, other elites
-Non-elite paying passengers who got bumped to F (due to oversales, etc.)
-Employees on free travel

Thoughts? That way, passengers who paid something tangible to get into the F cabin would get prioritized meals, then upgrades/non-elite bumps/employees on free travel gets the remaining choices (or, in this case, nothing). More fair that way, IMHO.

Originally Posted by mjcecil View Post
All the more reason to request a Kosher meal if you're going to book as an F passenger. That meal then becomes tied to your record, and you'll always get it if they are capable of serving it on the flight.
If I'm not mistaken, UA only offers special meals for 2000+ mile flights, so in this case, it wouldn't apply (AUS-EWR is less than 2000 miles).
MrAndy1369 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 12:43 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT
Programs: Delta SM, 1MM; Alaska Gold 75K
Posts: 21
On a VA/AS nonstop flight PSP-JFK in May of 2018, I was upgraded to the last remaining seat in First. Shortly before door closing FA announced that catering had "forgotten" to load food for First. She was very apologetic and approached each of us (Airbus configured for 8 in First) and asked what we would like so it could be obtained before being offered for sale in Y. A few people were unhappy, but she handled it well. Most requested only one item and a few nothing. When the food came, she offered those who had ordered a couple of items (in my case a cold turkey sub and the cheese plate). I have no idea if the gate agents knew about the catering issue as nothing was said when they offered the First boarding pass at the gate, but all in all seemed like a much better approach.
ExplorerWannabe likes this.
mrnewton is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 12:44 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: San Francisco/Sydney
Programs: UA 1K/MM, TK Elite, DL Gold, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Platinum, IHG Gold, Hertz PC, Avis First
Posts: 6,770
Originally Posted by MrAndy1369 View Post
UA should also have a chart distributed to FA's, with a list of F passengers who are paid F, CPU'd, and then OP-UP'd at no cost. The FA can then determine how to prioritize meal orders, based on status of payment towards the F cabin and elite status.
This is exactly what they do. The only difference is that UA's choice of order is different to your order - but obviously that's a decision they have made.
Often1 and chavala like this.
docbert is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 12:46 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Washington DC, DCA
Programs: AAdvantage, DL Skymiles, United MP
Posts: 3,926
Originally Posted by docbert View Post
This is exactly what they do. The only difference is that UA's choice of order is different to your order - but obviously that's a decision they have made.
What is their order? I thought UA did front-to-back even distribution for meal choices, or was I mistaken?
MrAndy1369 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 22, 19, 1:16 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Morris County, NJ
Programs: UA 1K/*G, Avis Pres, Marriott Plat
Posts: 1,573
Originally Posted by mjcecil View Post
Here's the only problem with that. Typically, the FA will start at the front of the class and walk back, asking pax, in seat order what their meal option is. At some point, they will run out of allocations for the "better" meal choice, which means that passengers asked about a meal later in the process only have the less-desirable choice or nothing. So, you have a pretty high likelihood of getting the less-favorable option if you're in Row 6 versus Row 1, just based upon how the ordering/allocation process goes, and if there aren't enough allocations for meals for all F seats, then the folks queried last are simply out of luck. It's reasonable to assume that a full-fare F pax might be sitting in Row 6, which means that the upgrade, if seated in the first couple of rows is more likely to receive the meal than the full-fare in 6. So, in this case, allocating a seat via upgrade with the stipulation that "you might not get a meal" REALLY means, "if we seat you in F, it's likely someone in F won't get a meal because we did (and that's not necessarily you)".

All the more reason to request a Kosher meal if you're going to book as an F passenger. That meal then becomes tied to your record, and you'll always get it if they are capable of serving it on the flight.
That's all well and good but it can be EASILY fixed ...

GA to FA: I know we're short on meals, but the guy in seat 3F said he'd take the upgrade without a meal anyway. Can you just grab him something off the economy cart? Kthxbye.

Done.

Bethune wrote about a similar situation in From Worst to First, where catering was a few meals short... Instead of holding the plane, the FA found a few business travelers who'd be willing to have a liquid lunch instead, and they took off on time.

This is the problem with having a "process" or "policy" for every little thing -- when everything has to be "by the book", you remove employees' freedom to solve problems creatively.
DenverBrian, HMPS, Kannai and 1 others like this.
dmurphynj is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread