Saver Biz (I) vs Econ and miles upgrade (PZ)

Old Apr 27, 19, 2:28 pm
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When (if ever) does waitlisted IN / I get a business class seat before a waitlisted PN / PZ? Do you have to wait until you're at the airport to get the PR-1 status? But by that point, an upgrade sweep might already have run and given the waitlisted seat to someone with an instrument for PN or PZ.

In general, when looking at fare classes is the following generally correct? (e.g. for international Econ -> Biz or Biz direct booking).
Z >= ZN >= P >= PN >> PZ >> (generally much grater) IN >= I (Has anyone ever seen this not hold up, in more than a trivial I >= IN case?)

1) I want to confirm that it's generally (always?) easier to book an econ ticket with $$ and then upgrade to biz with miles than it is to book directly into I / IN?
2) Confirming that high PN close to a flight is a good indication that PZ may open up later? (But on the other hand, high PZ is not necessarily an indication that IN will open up).
3) In general, if you're on a waitlisted saver biz (IN), are you more or less likely than a waitlisted PZ to get the seat?

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 27, 19 at 3:19 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
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Old Apr 27, 19, 3:05 pm
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Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
In general, when looking at fare classes is the following generally correct? (e.g. for international Econ -> Biz or Biz direct booking).
Z >= ZN >= P >= PN >> PZ >> (generally much grater) IN >= I (Has anyone ever seen this not hold up, in more than a trivial I >= IN case?) ...
Those are safe assumptions

Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
1) I want to confirm that it's generally (always?) easier to book an econ ticket with $$ and then upgrade to biz with miles than it is to book directly into I / IN?
"easier"?? The first guarantees a seat on the plane (in economy) and you can waitlist, so less manually checking. While general PZ > I/IN, they are separate inventory. With waitlisting, there will potentially be a greater chance of others ahead of you PZ waitlist. The "net" cost for Economy+mileage+copy upgrade is generally higher than a mileage IN award (depending on how you evaluate your mileage value).

Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
2) Confirming that high PN close to a flight is a good indication that PZ may open up later? (But on the other hand, high PZ is not necessarily an indication that IN will open up). ...
yes but no guarantees

Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
3) In general, if you're on a waitlisted saver biz (IN), are you more or less likely than a waitlisted PZ to get the seat?
Less likely would be my speculation
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Old Apr 27, 19, 3:31 pm
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Waitlisted I/IN is treated as displaced premium pax at the airport and will clear ahead of PN/PZ ... before then, PZ/PN will clear ahead of I/IN. I'd recommend to check in at T-24 when waitlisted for I/IN since this seems to trigger the change.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 8:27 pm
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FWIW, the one time Iíve attempted this, I cleared right after T-24 and my boarded pass said PZ.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 10:35 pm
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I never knew that you could waitlist for I/IN. How does this work? Do you still pay for a coach seat with either miles or money and get a full refund on the coach seat if your upgrade clears?
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Old Apr 27, 19, 11:53 pm
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
Waitlisted I/IN is treated as displaced premium pax at the airport and will clear ahead of PN/PZ ...
I really don't think that this is the case. It may have been true several years ago, but I don't think it's true now. There are just too many counterexamples. I believe that I/IN and PN/PZ are now treated equivalently -- it's just going by status. Now, if you're looking at a CPU-eligible flight, I/IN will be near the top of the waitlist because it's ahead of non-GS CPU. But for a non-CPU eligible flight, there's just not really any reason to believe that this is the case.

Originally Posted by phkc070408 View Post
I never knew that you could waitlist for I/IN. How does this work? Do you still pay for a coach seat with either miles or money and get a full refund on the coach seat if your upgrade clears?
If you can find saver economy, you can call to waitlist for saver business by paying the miles for saver business. If the waitlist doesn't clear, the difference in miles will be redeposited. Don't call it an upgrade -- say that you want to waitlist for business. You can only waitlist for flights operated by UA.

If you have a mixed-cabin award -- e.g., domestic economy saver, international business saver -- you can waitlist the domestic segments for no additional miles, but you also won't get a refund if the waitlist fails to clear.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 7:57 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I really don't think that this is the case. It may have been true several years ago, but I don't think it's true now. There are just too many counterexamples. I believe that I/IN and PN/PZ are now treated equivalently -- it's just going by status. Now, if you're looking at a CPU-eligible flight, I/IN will be near the top of the waitlist because it's ahead of non-GS CPU. But for a non-CPU eligible flight, there's just not really any reason to believe that this is the case.
Trust me, I know this didn't used to be the case and you needed to convince a GA to put you on the priority list. Since about a year ago this has changed. Multiple experiences with my MIL flying on my miles w/ IN waitlisted. She has zero status on UA ... once she was checked in she was each each time either #1 or #2 on the list, often ahead of 40+. So the IN waitlist clearly put her ahead at the airport without any intervention. She was ahead of me as a 1K waiting for an upgrade on one of the flights.
Can't tell you the limitations, but in my experience the IN waitlist after check-in has put pax ahead for PZ waitlist. Frankly, that makes some sense because you have paid for IN and you are waiting for a seat ... but that is open to interpretation.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
In general, when looking at fare classes is the following generally correct? (e.g. for international Econ -> Biz or Biz direct booking).
Z >= ZN >= P >= PN >> PZ >> (generally much grater) IN >= I (Has anyone ever seen this not hold up, in more than a trivial I >= IN case?)
I have seen a lot more PZ = IN > I recently, but you general picture is correct.

Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
1) I want to confirm that it's generally (always?) easier to book an econ ticket with $$ and then upgrade to biz with miles than it is to book directly into I / IN?
It really depends on what you mean by easier. If you mean "strictly greater chance of flying in Business on a single flight" then yes, a miles+cash upgrade is "easier". However, compared to a Business award:

(a) Unless you wait for PZ space at booking, you will lock yourself into a particular flight and may be forced to fly in Economy; if you book a Business award you won't have the issue (unless you book Economy and waitlist)
(b) You can route Business awards overwater on partner metal; you usually can't do this with an MUA except for exorbitant rates
(c) Even at 2 cpm, buying Economy and using an MUA is usually substantially more expensive than booking a Business award; for US to Europe you're looking at either 40k miles (the balance) or $550 plus an Economy fare. A $250 h/r/t fare is breakeven at the relatively rich valuation of 2 cpm. If your Economy ticket is at W or S rates, you're paying far more for miles+cash.

Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
2) Confirming that high PN close to a flight is a good indication that PZ may open up later? (But on the other hand, high PZ is not necessarily an indication that IN will open up).
I don't think PN -> PZ is any stronger or weaker an indication of PZ -> IN. Both are indicators, but neither mean a strong likelihood of the next class opening up. GS upgrades are at least an order of magnitude easier to clear for this reason.

Originally Posted by bigwings8 View Post
3) In general, if you're on a waitlisted saver biz (IN), are you more or less likely than a waitlisted PZ to get the seat?
Substantially less likely. I tend to agree with jsloan that waitlisted IN segments, when handled correctly by the computer, list you in pari passu with the PZ waitlists - that is, mixed in by status and underlying fare. We still have insufficient data to prove this though. Before the gate, you are going to be behind both PZ waitlists and (usually) CPUs as well.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 8:53 am
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Originally Posted by cfischer View Post
Trust me, I know this didn't used to be the case and you needed to convince a GA to put you on the priority list. Since about a year ago this has changed. Multiple experiences with my MIL flying on my miles w/ IN waitlisted. She has zero status on UA ... once she was checked in she was each each time either #1 or #2 on the list, often ahead of 40+
I wonder if they haven't partially resurrected the behavior where the status of the person whose miles are being used carries over.

It doesn't make any sense for the priority to reverse itself at T-24. PZ is "ahead" of IN in the inventory pecking order, so to speak -- and, in fact, if they open PZ within T-24, people can continue to clear upgrades (ahead of someone waitlisted for IN) from the invisible list until the flight goes to gate control.

I contend that what you're seeing is further evidence that the gate list is sometimes being prioritized incorrectly, as opposed to proof that IN waitlists are supposed to be ahead of PZ waitlists at the gate.
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