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Can Business awards / upgrade awards be revoked / downgraded?

Can Business awards / upgrade awards be revoked / downgraded?

Old Aug 19, 16, 9:11 am
  #1  
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Bump/Downgrade Risk for Non-Status Flyer on Award in International F?

After nearly three decades of continuous FF status, I no longer travel much for business and have no status. I decided to splurge and burn some miles so I booked F from SNA to SFO to HKG -- I've only experienced international F once in all those times and it was on Lufthansa. Post-merger UA treatment of FFs on UA has, at least in my opinion, deteriorated rather dramatically and now here I am with an award ticket for what is otherwise a very, very expensive ticket on a long trans-Pacific flight.

What is my risk of showing up at the airport and being told, "Sorry, you're in a middle seat in coach -- call customer service and they're refund the difference in miles?" Or worse, what is the risk of being told, "We're overbooked, but we found you a coach seat a week from next Tuesday?"

When I've flown on awards in the past, I always the the possibly-illusory security of thinking, "Well, I've got status so they won't bump me or downgrade me (I know)." Now that, in UA's eyes, I'm no different from a kettle with a credit card, I'm a little paranoid.

I've flown to HKG many, many times, and the thought of doing it in a lousy coach seat is, to say the least, unappealing.
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Old Aug 19, 16, 9:15 am
  #2  
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The risk is very, very small.
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Old Aug 19, 16, 9:41 am
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Agree. Because the F (GF) seats are so overpriced, they usually remain empty until the last minute when UA fills them with non-paying employees and their buddies (who, thankfully you have priority over)
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Old Aug 19, 16, 9:44 am
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UA does not overbook the forward-most cabin, so you should be fine. The few involuntary DG stories on FT tend to blow the issue way out of proportion. Your bigger concern would be if IRROPS arises. SNA-SFO is among the many regional flights that get bottom priority for SFO ops, so you should keep a reasonably long connect in SFO for safety.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 6:51 am
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869 (SFO-HKG) is more likely to MX (etc.) than you are to be downgraded from F.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 9:32 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by PTravel View Post
After nearly three decades of continuous FF status, I no longer travel much for business and have no status. I decided to splurge and burn some miles so I booked F from SNA to SFO to HKG -- I've only experienced international F once in all those times and it was on Lufthansa. Post-merger UA treatment of FFs on UA has, at least in my opinion, deteriorated rather dramatically and now here I am with an award ticket for what is otherwise a very, very expensive ticket on a long trans-Pacific flight.

What is my risk of showing up at the airport and being told, "Sorry, you're in a middle seat in coach -- call customer service and they're refund the difference in miles?" Or worse, what is the risk of being told, "We're overbooked, but we found you a coach seat a week from next Tuesday?"

When I've flown on awards in the past, I always the the possibly-illusory security of thinking, "Well, I've got status so they won't bump me or downgrade me (I know)." Now that, in UA's eyes, I'm no different from a kettle with a credit card, I'm a little paranoid.

I've flown to HKG many, many times, and the thought of doing it in a lousy coach seat is, to say the least, unappealing.
UA does not overbook GlobalFirst and the airline struggles to actually get people to pay for this class as others have pointed out.

The only likely scenario would be a 3-class 772 (all have 8 GF seats) being substituted for a 3-class 763 at the last minute with only 6 GF seats, but again, because very few people pay for GF, even after an equipment change, I highly doubt you would be downgraded. Also, UA doesn't fly 763s to the Pacific so you are pretty much guaranteed a 772, maybe 744 from time to time.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 10:06 am
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The only real risks are an aircraft substitution and an INOP F seat. IRROPS involving cancellation is always a problem because rebooking may take time, but that can't be helped. In that case as an award ticket with no status, you would likely be the first to get the boot.

But, the risk is very slight and FT simply magnifies the issue because you won't find many people who bother to post when all that happens is that they check-in, board, fly, deplane and head off to do whatever it is and don't have an issue.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 10:35 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
In that case as an award ticket with no status, you would likely be the first to get the boot.
But even in the small chance of that, it would only be as far back as Business Class. There's almost no way any revenue passenger (yes, award tickets are considered revenue) would be bumped all the way from F to Y.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 10:41 am
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Nonexistent, really.

As previously mentioned, your biggest concern would be a misconnect at SFO. It may seem like overkill, but I'd allow at least 2.5 to 3 hours here which you can spend in the GFL.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 2:34 pm
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Domestic IRROP leading to misconnect and then UA's attempt to sort out the problem is what I would worry about. As others have noted, give yourself a fair amount of time (3 or 4 hours) to at least reduce that issue.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 4:00 pm
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OP,
There is almost no chance for UA to overbook on GF in a 747 and bump/downgrade you. Not many people are actually paying for GF on a 747 with real "cash" :-)! In fact they were usually open up at the last minutes for either upgrade availability or saver award.

I was (almost) always able to switch to them when traveling with award tickets. In fact, I remember that I was able to snag four of them at the last minutes for award travel in one occasion :-).

If you really want to worry about thing, you probably will have much bigger chance of not making your connection in SFO due to ground stop or delay for weather related condition (e.g., fog) in SFO. For that reason alone, I usually try to avoid the SFO connection when flying to HKG. Good luck on that!
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Old Aug 20, 16, 8:32 pm
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I was bumped down from GF once. It happened when I was GS.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 10:10 pm
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Thanks, everyone, for all the info. I've a 2 hours in SFO. If it comes to it, I suppose I could always grab an earlier WN flight if UA is having IRROPS out of LAX and into SFO. I had no choice as to international departure cities -- that was what was available the day I'm traveling. I was rather surprised I snagged an F Saver award. The aircraft is a 747.
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Old Aug 20, 16, 11:04 pm
  #14  
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I'm sure you know this, but if you buy a ticket on WN, be sure to change your UA ticket so it's not cancelled. Also, try to get UA to rebook you onto DL or AA since they interline as this would be free and not raise any no show issues.
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Old Aug 21, 16, 2:37 am
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
I was bumped down from GF once. It happened when I was GS.
Happened to me once too as a GS. United called and told me I could take another ORD-LHR flight in F (there are three a day).

Told them no problem, but you are going to pay for my inconvenience. I received a $600 voucher.

What I assumed happened is that they sold all the other seats in full-fare and that they need mine to complete the deal. They didn't flinch when I asked for the voucher.
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