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[Unconfirmed] UA Preparing to Sell E+ at Booking as Separate Cabin (like DL C+)

[Unconfirmed] UA Preparing to Sell E+ at Booking as Separate Cabin (like DL C+)

Old Nov 8, 19, 9:08 am
  #1  
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[Limited Test] UA Preparing to Sell E+ at Booking as Separate Cabin (like DL C+)

Update
United has confirmed that they have filed these fares "as a very limited test in a small number of markets that displays EconomyPlus as a booking option during shopping to allow customers to easily shop and compare different seat offerings". Ostensibly "EconomyPlus continues to be a part of the Economy cabin and is not a separate fare." (This is true with the current technical implementation.)


(Reposting as a new topic since I think this is big news - props to jsloan for originally catching on to this in Fun with Fare Classes)

Summary
United filed a bunch of fares on domestic routes on Monday morning which represent the ability to purchase Economy Plus at booking as part of the ticket class. This was done with no announcement and this fact has not yet been advertised on the United website, so I'm still calling this "unconfirmed" but you can book these fares right now if you know how to search for them. They are priced as a fixed differential to Economy (so they are probably more or less than a specific E+ on a specific flight, and it can be worth pricing both ways, although I generally expect the ticket-at-booking solution to be a little more expensive) and book into B class, and so are eligible for 150% PQM (travel by 31 December) and Instant Upgrades for elites (for now, anyway). These have been filed in select domestic markets only, and it is unknown whether UA will tweak the system or otherwise change the conditions prior to officially announcing this. They could also drop these fares as silently as they introduced them -- hence "unconfirmed" at this point

Mechanics
It looks like United is preparing to sell Economy Plus as a separate class of service rather than a seat selection fee. This is similar to the way Delta sells its Comfort Plus seats -- instead of paying a fee to choose a seat in Comfort Plus, they treat it as a separate class of service and you can purchase a ticket in Comfort Plus class (W or S booking codes) or upgrade to Comfort Plus via normal upgrade means (DL Plat and DL Diamond get currently last-seat-available instant upgrades to C+ on non-Basic Economy fares). On Monday 4 November, UA introduced a new set of fares into select domestic markets for this purpose (as of writing, I see them on LAX-ORD, EWR-ORD, SFO-EWR, LAX-EWR, but not e.g. SFO-IAD) which functionally allow you to purchase a ticket which "includes" Economy Plus seating as part of the tariff.

These tickets are filed as a Premium Economy type fare on the backend, but they will book into B class and therefore always into the Economy cabin. They seem to be piggy-backing on the code which allows true Premium Economy (O/A/R fares) which delegate to B class on non-equipped routes to choose Economy Plus seats for free. As of right now, there is no published policy about these fares, but they are live and can be booked. As a B class fare, they earn 150% PQM and are instant-upgrade eligible, in addition to allowing a Silver or non-elite to choose any Economy Plus seat free of charge. I would exercise caution when booking a fare like this right now since there is no policy or announcement, which means any of these features could change without notice and without any compensation ("hey I read findark's article on FlyerTalk" is not going to get you far when arguing for a refund).

Pricing
These fares are filed as fixed-differential fares, usually down to K (so there is no differential to G). Each fare carries the standard dual-inventory check with its secondary code. The net effect is that the "Economy Plus fare" (B) is always available at a fixed difference to the current lowest Economy price, just like Basic Economy and First Class fares (prime inventory allowing). Despite being filed as Premium Economy type fares (ZZP), they are filed in parallel with true domestic PE fares for p.s. routes and carry a different branded fare designator of 'P' (in seventh position) -- true domestic differential PE fares are type 'O'. Here is an example of the W4/Q fare family filed on SFO to EWR illustrating the pricing (lowest P added in for contrast):


Code:
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cxr     Basis      BC  Cbn    Price   Tp  AP  Min  Max   Days    Rf  
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 UA  WAA4AQBN       N   Y    $280.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQDN       W   Y    $315.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQPN       B   Y    $444.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQON       A   W    $514.00  OW  14                      N
..
 UA  VAP30UPN       P   J    $694.00  OW  30                      N

As a typical example, the base of the fare family is WAA4AQDN, which will retail for $329.30 a/i.

Basic Economy is available for a difference of ($35), and Economy Plus for $129, while true Premium Economy is an extra $199. Business on p.s. routes remains non-differential with an advertised $708.30 price for P fares.

How to Book
Right now, United has not announced or otherwise surfaced these fares. However, they are currently an option for booking if for whatever reason you want the upgrade priority, extra PQM, or E+ access for the price. You can price one on united.com by doing an Advanced Search for B class fares -- this will pretty much always be the least expensive B fare. Note that while these will confirm into B inventory, like any differential fare the price is dependent on the lower secondary inventory check and they are not refundable or other things you might associate with a "traditional" B fare. Note that these are only in some domestic markets, so if you don't see any discount B fares when doing your search, your market is probably not valid yet. And finally, a repeat of my caution -- UA has simply published some fares, not made a press release, so any of this is subject to change without notice even if you have already purchased one of these fares!

Last edited by findark; Nov 8, 19 at 7:52 pm
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:19 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
so any of this is subject to change without notice even if you have already purchased one of these fares!
I agree with all of this -- and note that this is potentially a giant downgrade for UA Gold, if they copy DL and begin waitlisting E+ "upgrades" -- except for this statement. The E+ access is coded right into the fare rules. If you buy one of these fares, you should be guaranteed E+ access regardless of what changes UA may later make.

If they move forward with this, I expect to see the Instant Upgrade benefit change. As it stands, on routes where you can find PZ space (PN for 1K/GS), this will likely be the cheapest way to confirm F at booking, with the caveat that you might end up in Y in SDC/IRROPS.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:20 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
It looks like United is preparing to sell Economy Plus as a separate class of service rather than a seat selection fee.
This would be a massive devaluation of the Premier E+ benefit.

Coming right on the heels of a massive increase in the qualification requirements.
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I agree with all of this -- and note that this is potentially a giant downgrade for UA Gold, if they copy DL and begin waitlisting E+ "upgrades" -- except for this statement.
There's been lots of speculation about various ways UA may hose MMs and this would certainly be one.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:30 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I agree with all of this -- and note that this is potentially a giant downgrade for UA Gold, if they copy DL and begin waitlisting E+ "upgrades" -- except for this statement. The E+ access is coded right into the fare rules. If you buy one of these fares, you should be guaranteed E+ access regardless of what changes UA may later make.
Right now there is nothing in the fare rules about Economy Plus -- the computer just happens to let you pick an E+ seat for free. Given the only way to book is to manually search for B class Economy, and there is no marketing about "Economy Plus included" if there was some change to no longer give free E+ on this fare and a sweep kicked you out... I'm not sure there would be any recourse. Now, I don't think that's going to happen, but I doubt there would be any legitimate recourse.

I'm just trying to warn less experienced readers since while I am pretty convinced about everything I wrote, we are all leaping to conclusions based on some fares they quietly filed and the free E+ the computer happens to assign when you book them.

Also noting a pretty weird template on them right now... because "no E+" on the Chariot (but not really)?


Code:
THE FARE COMPONENT MUST NOT BE
    BUT NOT ON CRJ-CANADAIR REGIONAL.
AND
THE FARE COMPONENT MUST NOT BE
    BUT NOT ON EMBRAER.
AND
THE FARE COMPONENT MUST BE
    ON NONSTOP FLIGHTS/SAME FLIGHT NUMBER.

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
If they move forward with this, I expect to see the Instant Upgrade benefit change. As it stands, on routes where you can find PZ space (PN for 1K/GS), this will likely be the cheapest way to confirm F at booking, with the caveat that you might end up in Y in SDC/IRROPS.
I wonder if they could pull out a fare class (G maybe) to use in E+ bookings to remove the Instant Upgrade issue.

Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
This would be a massive devaluation of the Premier E+ benefit.
Note that UA can (and probably would) "instant upgrade" Gold and higher to E+ if it were separated out as a cabin, at least at first.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:37 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Right now there is nothing in the fare rules about Economy Plus
But there is, at least in the NYC-CHI fare I looked at yesterday:

NOTE - THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS INFORMATIONAL AND NOT
VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING.
ECONOMY PLUS OW/RT
APPLICATION
CLASS OF SERVICE
THESE FARES APPLY FOR ECONOMY CLASS SERVICE.
TYPES OF TRANSPORTATION
THIS RULE GOVERNS ONE-WAY AND ROUND-TRIP FARES.
FARES GOVERNED BY THIS RULE CAN BE USED TO CREATE
ONE-WAY/ROUND-TRIP/CIRCLE-TRIP/OPEN-JAW JOURNEYS.
CAPACITY LIMITATIONS
SEATS ARE LIMITED.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:42 am
  #6  
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Ah, I definitely missed that. Regardless, I think things are probably in flux right now, but I agree that's pretty key.

But e.g. buying one for travel in 2Q20 and expecting it to credit as B class to a non-UA program might be a bit rich.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:44 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
(Reposting as a new topic since I think this is big news - props to jsloan for originally catching on to this in Fun with Fare Classes)

Summary
United filed a bunch of fares on domestic routes on Monday morning which represent the ability to purchase Economy Plus at booking as part of the ticket class. This was done with no announcement and this fact has not yet been advertised on the United website, so I'm still calling this "unconfirmed" but you can book these fares right now if you know how to search for them. They are priced as a fixed differential to Economy (so they are probably more or less than a specific E+ on a specific flight, and it can be worth pricing both ways, although I generally expect the ticket-at-booking solution to be a little more expensive) and book into B class, and so are eligible for 150% PQM (travel by 31 December) and Instant Upgrades for elites (for now, anyway). These have been filed in select domestic markets only, and it is unknown whether UA will tweak the system or otherwise change the conditions prior to officially announcing this. They could also drop these fares as silently as they introduced them -- hence "unconfirmed" at this point

Mechanics
It looks like United is preparing to sell Economy Plus as a separate class of service rather than a seat selection fee. This is similar to the way Delta sells its Comfort Plus seats -- instead of paying a fee to choose a seat in Comfort Plus, they treat it as a separate class of service and you can purchase a ticket in Comfort Plus class (W or S booking codes) or upgrade to Comfort Plus via normal upgrade means (DL Plat and DL Diamond get currently last-seat-available instant upgrades to C+ on non-Basic Economy fares). On Monday 4 November, UA introduced a new set of fares into select domestic markets for this purpose (as of writing, I see them on LAX-ORD, EWR-ORD, SFO-EWR, LAX-EWR, but not e.g. SFO-IAD) which functionally allow you to purchase a ticket which "includes" Economy Plus seating as part of the tariff.

These tickets are filed as a Premium Economy type fare on the backend, but they will book into B class and therefore always into the Economy cabin. They seem to be piggy-backing on the code which allows true Premium Economy (O/A/R fares) which delegate to B class on non-equipped routes to choose Economy Plus seats for free. As of right now, there is no published policy about these fares, but they are live and can be booked. As a B class fare, they earn 150% PQM and are instant-upgrade eligible, in addition to allowing a Silver or non-elite to choose any Economy Plus seat free of charge. I would exercise caution when booking a fare like this right now since there is no policy or announcement, which means any of these features could change without notice and without any compensation ("hey I read findark's article on FlyerTalk" is not going to get you far when arguing for a refund).

Pricing
These fares are filed as fixed-differential fares, usually down to K (so there is no differential to G). Each fare carries the standard dual-inventory check with its secondary code. The net effect is that the "Economy Plus fare" (B) is always available at a fixed difference to the current lowest Economy price, just like Basic Economy and First Class fares (prime inventory allowing). Despite being filed as Premium Economy type fares (ZZP), they are filed in parallel with true domestic PE fares for p.s. routes and carry a different branded fare designator of 'P' (in seventh position) -- true domestic differential PE fares are type 'O'. Here is an example of the W4/Q fare family filed on SFO to EWR illustrating the pricing (lowest P added in for contrast):

Code:
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cxr     Basis      BC  Cbn    Price   Tp  AP  Min  Max   Days    Rf  
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 UA  WAA4AQBN       N   Y    $280.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQDN       W   Y    $315.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQPN       B   Y    $444.00  OW  14                      N
 UA  WAA4AQON       A   W    $514.00  OW  14                      N
..
 UA  VAP30UPN       P   J    $694.00  OW  30                      N
As a typical example, the base of the fare family is WAA4AQDN, which will retail for $329.30 a/i.

Basic Economy is available for a difference of ($35), and Economy Plus for $129, while true Premium Economy is an extra $199. Business on p.s. routes remains non-differential with an advertised $708.30 price for P fares.

How to Book
Right now, United has not announced or otherwise surfaced these fares. However, they are currently an option for booking if for whatever reason you want the upgrade priority, extra PQM, or E+ access for the price. You can price one on united.com by doing an Advanced Search for B class fares -- this will pretty much always be the least expensive B fare. Note that while these will confirm into B inventory, like any differential fare the price is dependent on the lower secondary inventory check and they are not refundable or other things you might associate with a "traditional" B fare. Note that these are only in some domestic markets, so if you don't see any discount B fares when doing your search, your market is probably not valid yet. And finally, a repeat of my caution -- UA has simply published some fares, not made a press release, so any of this is subject to change without notice even if you have already purchased one of these fares!
Correction to the OP: DL DMs and PMs do *not* get last seat availability for instant upgrades to C+ even on domestic routes. DL C+ "upgrades" are inventory controlled, although these supposed "upgrades" can be confirmed at the time of ticket purchase by DMs and PMs not on basic economy fares if the appropriate inventory bucket is available.

Also, with purchased C+ being dual inventory fares having underlying coach fare class codes, we don't know whether DL gives domestic FC upgrade priority to them, nor is there published information regarding whether purchasing a C+ of PS (premium economy) fare gives priority for instrument supported upgrades on longhaul international routes.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:46 am
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Not a surprise, it's just more market segmentation used as a tactic to increase pricing, it's text book. There will be fewer and fewer seats at lower prices but 25 flavors of upgrades at progressively higher prices but it will be marketed as offering customers more ways to save money. Loyalty is increasingly in name only, profits trump loyalty with the current United management.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:47 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Correction to the OP: DL DMs and PMs do *not* get last seat availability for instant upgrades to C+ even on domestic routes. DL C+ "upgrades" are inventory controlled, although these supposed "upgrades" can be confirmed at the time of ticket purchase by DMs and PMs not on basic economy fares if the appropriate inventory bucket is available.
I'm not aware of any reports of SU<W on the DL forum that exceed the background rate of weird computer glitches, but if I'm missing something please let me know. I know DL does not advertise last-seat, but IME so far it has been for all practical purposes
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:48 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Note that UA can (and probably would) "instant upgrade" Gold and higher to E+ if it were separated out as a cabin, at least at first.
Even if you grant some kind of upgrade benefit, it's still a big devaluation. The current UA approach offers way more convenience and flexibility than how DL handles C+.
Originally Posted by John Aldeborgh View Post
Not a surprise
At this point, I won't be surprised by anything UA does to further devalue MP.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:57 am
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I'm kind of surprised UA would do this as a replacement for E+ upsells since it would eliminate their ability to price different E+ seats differently without a lot of fares.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
This would be a massive devaluation of the Premier E+ benefit.

Coming right on the heels of a massive increase in the qualification requirements.

There's been lots of speculation about various ways UA may hose MMs and this would certainly be one.
This

Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
...At this point, I won't be surprised by anything UA does to further devalue MP.
And this
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Old Nov 8, 19, 10:06 am
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This will be announced in the next few hours, I guess. It is Friday today.
The seat map on CRJ55 E+ section has "purple" Premium color, which is one of the indicators for rolling out this E+ fare(s).
This is the beginning of the end of free E+ selection for UA Premier members. I wish that I could be wrong on this.
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Old Nov 8, 19, 10:06 am
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I wonder if UA is really just making it easier for those non-status business travelers (or Silvers who want good seats at booking) to get into E+ without the extra step of buying it. Some companies dictate coach fares and put the purchase (separately) of E+ on the traveler.

Vaguely similar to when CO renamed First "BusinessFirst" and marketed it as business to circumvent "we'll pay for int'l business, but not first" scheme.

There will be by-products - fewer seats for Premiers to choose from if they book late. I know a marketing lady who flies quarterly form IAH to NY/PA. She's usually a SIlver, books relatively late and tells me she usually gets crappy leftover E+ seats or is in E-. She'd be all over this.
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Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Nov 8, 19 at 10:20 am
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Old Nov 8, 19, 10:20 am
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Originally Posted by findark View Post
Note that UA can (and probably would) "instant upgrade" Gold and higher to E+ if it were separated out as a cabin, at least at first.
This, it would be a little bit of annoyance, as Delta does not confirm C+ until after booking, but it's essentially the same process as it is now, maybe a few minutes more for confirmation.

Delta only provides free C+ at (ummm...after) booking for Plat status and higher; UA is giving it to Gold and above.
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