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

Best Option for weekly commute Burbank-Palo Alto (Calif)

Best Option for weekly commute Burbank-Palo Alto (Calif)

Old Jun 13, 19, 7:09 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 13
Best Option for weekly commute Burbank-Palo Alto (Calif)

I recently got an assignment in Palo Alto that I will need to fly into most weeks for the next year or so. I am currently UA Gold based in the LA area with BUR as my preferred airport. This assignment will easily push me into Plat and potentially 1K. I'm trying to min/max upgrades on this assignment and looking for feedback before I start booking. I see three routes:

1. Fly BUR-SFO on the 738/A319.
2. Fly LAX-SFO on the 739s
3. Switch to Alaska on BUR-SJC

#1 offers limited competition and staying away from LAX; but only 28 J seats daily to go around
#2 offers much better scheduling opportunities and much higher volume of J seats; but much more competition
#3 is the most convenient airport combination and probably the least competition; but I would have to start over on an unknown airline (never flown Alaska before)

I'm guessing the most convenient flights on LAX-SFO will have stiff competition even as a 1K? Is it even worth it to look at LAX flights?
Seph87 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 19, 7:21 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 9,521
On my own money, I would fly WN on BUR-SJC. For a regular intra-California commute, I just don't think the hassle of getting to LAX and/or SFO is really worth it. BUR-SFO had a lot of CR2s also, not sure to what degree that will permanently stay away.

BUR is going to be the easier upgrade, but the schedule is poor compared to LAX. Not sure I see that much value in a sub-500 mile CPU.. you'll spend more time getting to/from the airport than on a plane anyway.
chrisl137, dilanesp and TXJeepGuy like this.
findark is online now  
Old Jun 13, 19, 7:54 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by findark View Post
On my own money, I would fly WN on BUR-SJC. For a regular intra-California commute, I just don't think the hassle of getting to LAX and/or SFO is really worth it. BUR-SFO had a lot of CR2s also, not sure to what degree that will permanently stay away.

BUR is going to be the easier upgrade, but the schedule is poor compared to LAX. Not sure I see that much value in a sub-500 mile CPU.. you'll spend more time getting to/from the airport than on a plane anyway.
Good points, thanks. I'm used to flying LAX-EWR so the thought of (relatively) easy upgrades made me greedy. You're right that the convenience of BUR/SJC is probably worth more than a free upgrade on a 1 hour flight.

My only concern is after this assignment I will probably end up flying back to NYC again, so the potential 1K status would help with LAX-EWR a ton. Not to mention status on Alaska or Southwest wouldn't be of much use in that situation other than for personal flights. I'll have to map it out but I think the sweet spot might be BUR-SFO so I can maintain my status with UA for future assignments.
Seph87 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 19, 8:05 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Programs: UA 1K 1MMer & LT UC (when flying UA); Hyatt Credit Cardist; HHonors Gold; Marriott Gold via UA 1K
Posts: 6,332
If I were in your situation, for a weekly commute, if I lived in the San Fernando Valley I would do BUR-SFO in a New York minute. Even the pain of a CR2 pales in comparison to the pain of sitting in rush hour traffic on the 405 trying to get from LAX to North Hollywood.
SS255 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 19, 8:13 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 9,521
Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
Good points, thanks. I'm used to flying LAX-EWR so the thought of (relatively) easy upgrades made me greedy. You're right that the convenience of BUR/SJC is probably worth more than a free upgrade on a 1 hour flight.

My only concern is after this assignment I will probably end up flying back to NYC again, so the potential 1K status would help with LAX-EWR a ton. Not to mention status on Alaska or Southwest wouldn't be of much use in that situation other than for personal flights. I'll have to map it out but I think the sweet spot might be BUR-SFO so I can maintain my status with UA for future assignments.
I would just make sure you do the math on status though; a weekly round trip BUR-SFO for all 52 weeks of the year will still not earn 1K. Palo Alto is about half as far from SJC as SFO, but admittedly both are an absolute disaster to reach in traffic, and both are seriously lacking in their Caltrain connections.
findark is online now  
Old Jun 13, 19, 8:20 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 13
Originally Posted by SS255 View Post
If I were in your situation, for a weekly commute, if I lived in the San Fernando Valley I would do BUR-SFO in a New York minute. Even the pain of a CR2 pales in comparison to the pain of sitting in rush hour traffic on the 405 trying to get from LAX to North Hollywood.
In that case it would be a no-brainer. I actually live a bit more central to both airports in Fairfax. On a good day I can get to LAX in about 35-40 mins, on a bad day, well....we all know how that goes. BUR is more consistently around 30 mins unless the 101 is really screwed.

I would avoid the CR2's at all cost since I am 6'5" and can be relatively flexible with my schedule. I would rather buy a J ticket with my own money on a mainline flight than travel for free on a CR2.
Seph87 is offline  
Old Jun 13, 19, 9:00 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,849
Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
This assignment will easily push me into Plat and potentially 1K.
How are you doing on PQDs? It takes a lot of LA-Bay Area flights to get to $15K in fares, especially if your schedule is regular enough that you can book in advance.

Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
3. Switch to Alaska on BUR-SJC
Avoiding SFO is a huge win if you would actually like to get where you're going on time. Delays at SFO are legendary.

Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
My only concern is after this assignment I will probably end up flying back to NYC again, so the potential 1K status would help with LAX-EWR a ton.
Not really. As a 1K, you'd get four RPUs plus at least 6 GPUs. While those can all theoretically be used on LAX-EWR, if you're flying at peak business times, you'll find the certificates almost impossible to use.

Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
Not to mention status on Alaska or Southwest wouldn't be of much use in that situation other than for personal flights.
Alaska operates both LAX-JFK and LAX-EWR, although admittedly not as frequently as UA does.

IMO, there are two questions to ask. 1 - would you reach 1K? (Platinum is not better enough than Gold to matter), and 2 - could you use your GPUs? There's a massive thread about GPUs being relatively useless; for the long-haul markets where you'd really want to use them, they can't be used on the least expensive fares, and they often fail to clear. Are you able to travel midweek to take advantage of available upgrade space? Can you be flexible in terms of schedule, stops, and destination?

If the answer to both of these is yes, then UA might make sense. If not, I would strongly recommend Alaska. MVP Gold 75K is an excellent status level.
chrisl137 likes this.
jsloan is offline  
Old Jun 13, 19, 9:29 pm
  #8  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS MVPG75K; Marriott Titanium; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 40,879
Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
so the potential 1K status would help with LAX-EWR a ton
I assume you mean the free drinks in economy. If you're counting on upgrades, suggest you recalibrate.

And if you choose to fly UA in/out of SFO, suggest you also factor in the cost of a UC membership, so you have a comfortable place to wait out the delays.
Kacee is online now  
Old Jun 14, 19, 8:58 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Programs: UA 1K 1MMer & LT UC (when flying UA); Hyatt Credit Cardist; HHonors Gold; Marriott Gold via UA 1K
Posts: 6,332
Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
In that case it would be a no-brainer. I actually live a bit more central to both airports in Fairfax. On a good day I can get to LAX in about 35-40 mins, on a bad day, well....we all know how that goes. BUR is more consistently around 30 mins unless the 101 is really screwed.

I would avoid the CR2's at all cost since I am 6'5" and can be relatively flexible with my schedule. I would rather buy a J ticket with my own money on a mainline flight than travel for free on a CR2.
Ah, OK....Right! I assumed you lived in the Valley. Fairfax presents its own traffic challenges, but if you'll regularly be going against traffic over Laurel Canyon to BUR, I think that BUR has the edge over LAX (as long as you can avoid the CR2's ). I don't know how far ahead you'll be booking these itineraries, but you also have the option of flying out of LAX if upgrade chances look better for any particular flight. And if you're not parking at the airport, you can fly out of one airport and into another.
SS255 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 11:01 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: MCO
Programs: UA GS 1MM ★G | DL Silver | Marriott LT Ti | Hilton ♦ | Hertz PC | Global Entry TSA Pre
Posts: 2,641
Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
Good points, thanks. I'm used to flying LAX-EWR so the thought of (relatively) easy upgrades made me greedy. You're right that the convenience of BUR/SJC is probably worth more than a free upgrade on a 1 hour flight.

My only concern is after this assignment I will probably end up flying back to NYC again, so the potential 1K status would help with LAX-EWR a ton. Not to mention status on Alaska or Southwest wouldn't be of much use in that situation other than for personal flights. I'll have to map it out but I think the sweet spot might be BUR-SFO so I can maintain my status with UA for future assignments.
P.S. flights (EWR/BOS-LAX/SFO) are next to impossible to upgrade, even on off days (Tu/W/Th/Sa) as 1K, and even as GS I have been #1 on the upgrade list a few times this year and not cleared as people buy up or SDC to zero out the inventory. It's very tough, and a stroke of luck to clear generally. 1K will serve you better if you are flying a lot of destination routes - locations that are not UA hubs. For instance, getting upgraded flying a hub to GRR, DTW, MSP, MCO, MIA, BOS are far easier than upgrades on hub-hub routes on UA.
jjmoore is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 1:30 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 4,356
Originally Posted by Seph87 View Post
I recently got an assignment in Palo Alto that I will need to fly into most weeks for the next year or so. I am currently UA Gold based in the LA area with BUR as my preferred airport. This assignment will easily push me into Plat and potentially 1K. I'm trying to min/max upgrades on this assignment and looking for feedback before I start booking. I see three routes:

1. Fly BUR-SFO on the 738/A319.
2. Fly LAX-SFO on the 739s
3. Switch to Alaska on BUR-SJC

#1 offers limited competition and staying away from LAX; but only 28 J seats daily to go around
#2 offers much better scheduling opportunities and much higher volume of J seats; but much more competition
#3 is the most convenient airport combination and probably the least competition; but I would have to start over on an unknown airline (never flown Alaska before)

I'm guessing the most convenient flights on LAX-SFO will have stiff competition even as a 1K? Is it even worth it to look at LAX flights?
Do you really value first class over, say, exit row window that much on any 737? For a 1 hr flight? I think you have more legroom in the exit row... it seems strange to optimize on upgrades for that short flight.
VegasGambler is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 1:58 pm
  #12  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.85MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 47,244
Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
Do you really value first class over, say, exit row window that much on any 737? For a 1 hr flight? I think you have more legroom in the exit row... it seems strange to optimize on upgrades for that short flight.
Maybe legroom is not the reason for valuing the front cabin. Each of us have different parts of the overall experience we value.
WineCountryUA is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 4:18 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 4,356
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Maybe legroom is not the reason for valuing the front cabin. Each of us have different parts of the overall experience we value.
Hey, I love F and I especially love F on UA.

I'm just questioning the prioritization for such a short flight. Certainly, we each prioritize things differently, so there are no wrong answers, but it's worth asking.

Personally (and, again, there are no wrong answers -- I'm not saying that anyone else should prioritize the same way that I do) I would prioritize avoiding LAX and minimizing time in Bay Area traffic.

It's also worth mentioning that if you status match to AS you will get gold status (no challenge), a minimum of 1,000 (rather valuable) RDM per segment, significant flexibility as long as you don't buy basic economy (all change fees waived, and co-terminals valid for SDCs, giving you 3 airports on one end and 4 on the other), and significantly easier upgrades (as compared to UA on those routes). F service on UA is generally better, though AS has more pitch.

Personally, I generally prefer UA to AS for their network, first class service and first class hard product (when lie-flats are available). For shuttling around the west coast, though, I feel that AS is superior. They have a better west-coast network (more small airports) and no airline earns miles like AS when flying on cheap economy tickets.

Another option (not mentioned in the original post) is JetSuiteX. However, the commute from OAK or CCR to Palo Alto and back may offset the convenience in this case -- especially during rush hour times.
VegasGambler is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 4:43 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: San Francisco
Programs: UA GS, UA 1MM, Hilton Lifetime Gold, Marriott Gold, Hertz Gold
Posts: 1,942
Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
Hey, I love F and I especially love F on UA.

I'm just questioning the prioritization for such a short flight. Certainly, we each prioritize things differently, so there are no wrong answers, but it's worth asking.

Personally (and, again, there are no wrong answers -- I'm not saying that anyone else should prioritize the same way that I do) I would prioritize avoiding LAX and minimizing time in Bay Area traffic.

It's also worth mentioning that if you status match to AS you will get gold status (no challenge), a minimum of 1,000 (rather valuable) RDM per segment, significant flexibility as long as you don't buy basic economy (all change fees waived, and co-terminals valid for SDCs, giving you 3 airports on one end and 4 on the other), and significantly easier upgrades (as compared to UA on those routes). F service on UA is generally better, though AS has more pitch.

Personally, I generally prefer UA to AS for their network, first class service and first class hard product (when lie-flats are available). For shuttling around the west coast, though, I feel that AS is superior. They have a better west-coast network (more small airports) and no airline earns miles like AS when flying on cheap economy tickets.

Another option (not mentioned in the original post) is JetSuiteX. However, the commute from OAK or CCR to Palo Alto and back may offset the convenience in this case -- especially during rush hour times.
Agree with much of what you state, having recently flown F on AS quite a few times (another story) I prefer AS seats which I fell are more comfortable and as you state greater pitch. Of course I'll take a lie flat any day over a seat for a TCON flight but apart from that I like the AS F product. Also post merger with Virgin AS opened up service to location that fit my business and personal travel needs. That was a real game changer for me. The AS FF program is very generous but do not hold the AS CC yet, probably will next year.

Off topic but as far as getting around the various Bay Area airports given the horrific traffic situation that is about to change soon with the arrival of Voom, they are backed by Air Bus and look like they are in the heli shuttle business to stay. I understand they will first like the Bay Area airports and with Sacramento and Santa Rosa to follow. Probably will look into pick up spots in Sausalito at the Heli port, Napa airport, and I suspect somewhere in the far East Bay.
nomad420 is offline  
Old Jun 17, 19, 6:56 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 9,521
Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
It's also worth mentioning that if you status match to AS you will get gold status (no challenge), a minimum of 1,000 (rather valuable) RDM per segment, significant flexibility as long as you don't buy basic economy (all change fees waived, and co-terminals valid for SDCs, giving you 3 airports on one end and 4 on the other), and significantly easier upgrades (as compared to UA on those routes). F service on UA is generally better, though AS has more pitch.
I don't think there is any real debate that AS has the best product in almost any cabin of a US airline, especially the FFP. The caveats in my mind are

(1) This only applies if you are flying within their network, which is still quite limited even after the VX acquisition.
(2) Not true on the small number of routes where they compete directly with regularly scheduled lie-flat aircraft
(3) This one is controversial, but for the non-status Y pax, I continue to think that WN is light-years ahead of any other airline, assuming competitive price and schedule. I still utilize them almost exclusively for intra-California travel.

Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
Another option (not mentioned in the original post) is JetSuiteX. However, the commute from OAK or CCR to Palo Alto and back may offset the convenience in this case -- especially during rush hour times.
Aren't there some semi-private options that fly to SQL? OAK at high commute is probably almost two hours; CCR is a good joke

Originally Posted by nomad420 View Post
Off topic but as far as getting around the various Bay Area airports given the horrific traffic situation that is about to change soon with the arrival of Voom, they are backed by Air Bus and look like they are in the heli shuttle business to stay. I understand they will first like the Bay Area airports and with Sacramento and Santa Rosa to follow. Probably will look into pick up spots in Sausalito at the Heli port, Napa airport, and I suspect somewhere in the far East Bay.
Until, and perhaps even if, they fly to PAO, getting to Palo Alto will be a disaster in traffic. When trying to drive to SFO from Palo Alto it could take me 30 minutes just to reach a freeway.

Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
Currently booked on SFO-IAH at 11:55pm Mon Nov 25, connecting to IAH-CUN at 8am.

I'm booked in S class. I can upfare to P for $239 (paid $662 RT; $901 for RT with outbound in P and same return -- my understanding is there there is no additional change fee for an upfare, so long as flights are not changed?) It's worth noting that SFO-IAH is on a 772.
I see you already did it, but $239 for a redeye into a lie-flat is a no-brainer!
findark is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread