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united gets into a twitter dispute over passenger seeking free upgrade to E+

united gets into a twitter dispute over passenger seeking free upgrade to E+

Old Sep 18, 19, 7:06 pm
  #1  
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united gets into a twitter dispute over passenger seeking free upgrade to E+

https://www.yahoo.com/news/no-cant-move-empty-extra-162754552.html

United pushed back hard against this passenger, who tried to shame the airline for not allowing him to move into empty E+ seats for free.

I think UA is right and the passenger is wrong.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:12 pm
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Indeed. Some guy with more free time than grey cells ...
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:12 pm
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
I think UA is right and the passenger is wrong.
Gee, I've never heard that opinion on FlyerTalk.

There's a frequent poster on this forum who loves to say "Analogies never work," and I have to say he has a point.

UA wants you to pay for E+. This is just corporate policy; the airline doesn't give FAs much discretion.

If you book a Toyota rental car but they happen to have a Lexus on the lot and it's the slow season, there's actually a good chance a strategically phrased request to upgrade will land you a complimentary upgrade. This is also corporate policy; local managers have the discretion.

In many sports stadiums I've booked cheap seats and then moved to better seats when it was clear they'd be vacant. I have never been confronted about this.

Bottom lines is the norm varies by industry. UA was wrong to make the analogy in their Twitter post, but the passenger didn't have grounds for complaint, either.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:17 pm
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Those are both true, but they are also different. Your being given a Lexus doesn't injure anyone who paid for the Lexus. But taking a seat in E+ makes that section more crowded and devalues the experience of the paying customers.

Plus, as you point out, those are optional policies. The rental car company and the stadium are both within their rights to say no and give you exactly what you paid for.

And I see nothing wrong with United's analogy. They were throwing shade on a passenger who deserved it.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
But taking a seat in E+ makes that section more crowded and devalues the experience of the paying customers.
That's a good reason not to allow free upgrades to E+, but what the airline misses out on are the customers who would become loyal (read: eventually spend more on UA) if only they were allowed to "sample" a benefit.

Upgrades into F also devalue the experience of paid F but US airlines have made a different business decision for that cabin. Foreign airlines generally don't have free upgrades into F either.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:24 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
That's a good reason not to allow free upgrades to E+, but what the airline misses out on is the customers who would become loyal (read: eventually spend more on UA) if only they were allowed to "sample" a benefit.
I think that is a very good argument for randomly operationally upgrading a passenger to E+, which already happens some on full flights. Indeed, Basic Economy passengers sometimes end up there.

But it's not an argument for rewarding the sort of passenger who asks for stuff he doesn't want to pay for.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:26 pm
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UA's analogy is a little weak, and I wouldn't call it "throwing shade," but they really should stay above the fray and simply provide the logical reasons why E+ empties are not available after takeoff. Perhaps with a positive statement that if the pax really wants an E+ empty seat, to be sure to flag down a flight attendant so they can collect the additional fee.

A better analogy is: An empty first class seat is obviously not available free after takeoff. The same policy applies for the Economy Plus section.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by DenverBrian View Post
UA's analogy is a little weak, and I wouldn't call it "throwing shade," but they really should stay above the fray and simply provide the logical reasons why E+ empties are not available after takeoff. Perhaps with a positive statement that if the pax really wants an E+ empty seat, to be sure to flag down a flight attendant so they can collect the additional fee.

A better analogy is: An empty first class seat is obviously not available free after takeoff. The same policy applies for the Economy Plus section.
I actually think throwing shade was useful here. There are certain customers you don't actually want, or, maybe, that you don't want as long as you are making record profits. Someone who buys a ticket for the cheapest type of.seat offered, tries to upgrade for free, and tries to shame the airline on social media when he is refused is exactly such a customer. I were Oscar or Kirby, I would be like "go ahead, fly Delta or American, we don't need this sort of thing here".
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
And I see nothing wrong with United's analogy. They were throwing shade on a passenger who deserved it.
Along the lines of what @DenverBrian says, the analogy itself is weak at best.

As for throwing shade, it is never appropriate to "throw shade" on any passenger, even if the passenger is unreasonable. The original twitter complaint should have been simply ignored, or there should have been a boilerplate "we're sorry but this is our policy and we will share your feedback" type of response.

The customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:34 pm
  #10  
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UA did the right thing and the guy is wrong. Protecting the E+ brand, such as it is, is important to UA's marketing strategy and if anybody can just plonk themselves down, it's less premium (not that it's premium in the least).

I have no problem with UA using all the metrics at its disposal to hand out the occasional E+ or F/J seat because the data suggests it's someone who might increase their spend if they had a taste of what passes for the good life. But, that's not this guy.

UA will get a lot more out of this exchange than it could have hoped for.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
UA did the right thing and the guy is wrong. Protecting the E+ brand, such as it is, is important to UA's marketing strategy and if anybody can just plonk themselves down, it's less premium (not that it's premium in the least).

I have no problem with UA using all the metrics at its disposal to hand out the occasional E+ or F/J seat because the data suggests it's someone who might increase their spend if they had a taste of what passes for the good life. But, that's not this guy.

UA will get a lot more out of this exchange than it could have hoped for.
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:37 pm
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
https://www.yahoo.com/news/no-cant-move-empty-extra-162754552.html
"Unlike first class seats, where passengers get free food, drink and other perks, the main feature of Economy Plus is extra legroom. (American and Delta, in contrast, offer free drinks as a perk in their extra legroom seats.)"

GREAT article!
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:38 pm
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For those who support the free seat selection.

On a Polaris or P.S. flight with empty seats, should they be up for grabs if vacant? What about Premium Plus? If so, who gets the seat? First come first served or does status trump timing?

Granted this is only E+, but would you tell your kid, "hey it was only bubble gum you stole, so it's not a big deal."?
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:38 pm
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Originally Posted by dilanesp View Post
I actually think throwing shade was useful here. There are certain customers you don't actually want, or, maybe, that you don't want as long as you are making record profits. Someone who buys a ticket for the cheapest type of.seat offered, tries to upgrade for free, and tries to shame the airline on social media when he is refused is exactly such a customer. I were Oscar or Kirby, I would be like "go ahead, fly Delta or American, we don't need this sort of thing here".
Sure, that works great. When you have record profits.

The next downturn in the business cycle is always coming.

And of course, it speaks to the purpose of this or any other business. Is it to go for the best possible experience, or just vacuum up the bucks while the gettin's good?

(And yes, I agree, the pax in this instance was in the wrong.)
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Old Sep 18, 19, 7:40 pm
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Originally Posted by davie355 View Post
Along the lines of what @DenverBrian says, the analogy itself is weak at best.

As for throwing shade, it is never appropriate to "throw shade" on any passenger, even if the passenger is unreasonable. The original twitter complaint should have been simply ignored, or there should have been a boilerplate "we're sorry but this is our policy and we will share your feedback" type of response.

The customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer.
On the contrary, in any customer-facing business, there are people you can't and frankly don't want to please. You are better off firing them as an example and preserving the brand and getting rid of someone you don't want in the process.
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