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UA's New Automatic System for Upgrades and Standbys

UA's New Automatic System for Upgrades and Standbys

Old Aug 5, 20, 8:57 pm
  #1  
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Arrow UA's New Automatic System for Upgrades and Standbys

In MatthewLAX's LIVE AND LET'S FLY blog (link below), UA is introducing an automated system to handle upgrades and standbys replacing the CSRs clearing them at the gate.

https://liveandletsfly.com/united-st...ss-automation/

There are robust discussions about this new automated system in Matthew's blog, but I have not seen it discussed here.

I am withholding my judgement on this new system until I experience it myself. My most recent upgrade experience baffled me: full Y fare, GS and number on the list, but someone came out of nowhere and cleared before me.

Interested to observe the effectiveness of this automated system and unintended consequences.
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Old Aug 5, 20, 10:34 pm
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I suspect SPA will make everyone uniformly unhappy.

David
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Old Aug 5, 20, 10:43 pm
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The article mentions the main concern I have, where Iím at, or near, top of upgrade list and am often automatically given a row 1 bulkhead seat when a more favorable (IMHO) seat exists and given to someone one further down the list. Non-airport upgrades can be changed easily (assuming the upgrade notification works), but it sounds like the new system may fill better seats before I get to select.
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Old Aug 5, 20, 10:45 pm
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Overall Iím happy about this ó much rather have a computer enforcing the rules than a human.

But I do agree the lack of being able to select from remaining seats is a negative.
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Old Aug 5, 20, 11:17 pm
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I was told just moments ago by an employee that there will be a mechanism to turn the automated system off. I'm waiting for clarification on United concerning that.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 6:20 am
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Ironically, I found gate upgrades to be one of the only predictable things remaining on UA because they always went in order of the visible list. It was the computer sweeps at T-61 and whatnot that were crazy since they used a different list.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 7:40 am
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On the whole, I favor computer sweeps. However, the fairness and efficacy of a computer sweep depends upon what the computer knows - garbage in and garbage out.

We all know that UA's computer doesn't know everything and, sometimes, one bit of it knows one thing and another bit doesn't know that same thing. Also, we all know that UA's computer simply has no space for requests, however reasonable they may be (examples such as preferring recline to leg room, or wanting to sit with a companion on a different PNR).

A gate agent can easily accommodate such things - a badly programmed computer cannot.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 8:25 am
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
On the whole, I favor computer sweeps. However, the fairness and efficacy of a computer sweep depends upon what the computer knows - garbage in and garbage out.

We all know that UA's computer doesn't know everything and, sometimes, one bit of it knows one thing and another bit doesn't know that same thing. Also, we all know that UA's computer simply has no space for requests, however reasonable they may be (examples such as preferring recline to leg room, or wanting to sit with a companion on a different PNR).

A gate agent can easily accommodate such things - a badly programmed computer cannot.
Bingo.

David
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Old Aug 6, 20, 8:27 am
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
The article mentions the main concern I have, where Iím at, or near, top of upgrade list and am often automatically given a row 1 bulkhead seat when a more favorable (IMHO) seat exists and given to someone one further down the list. Non-airport upgrades can be changed easily (assuming the upgrade notification works), but it sounds like the new system may fill better seats before I get to select.
How many people would rather stay in their exit row seat than be "upgraded" to row 1 in many aircraft? On some, the legroom (or lack thereof) is just brutal.

I do think the change in general is probably a good thing, we'll get more consistency and less work for the agents...
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Old Aug 6, 20, 8:27 am
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
The article mentions the main concern I have, where Iím at, or near, top of upgrade list and am often automatically given a row 1 bulkhead seat when a more favorable (IMHO) seat exists and given to someone one further down the list. Non-airport upgrades can be changed easily (assuming the upgrade notification works), but it sounds like the new system may fill better seats before I get to select.
I've wished that the T-24h sweep to J2 would go in 10 minute waves (or something like that), so that those nearer the top of the list can have more seat selection. Although it's not the worst thing in the world, it's a bit annoying to be 2. on the list and then see 6., 7., and 8. all get seats I would have preferred.

At least with the GAs clearing things, I can usually catch them beforehand to make a seating request.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 9:02 am
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“SPA is an automation that clears upgrades, confirmed customers awaiting seat assignments and standbys without the need for CSR intervention, giving CSRs more time to provide caring service to our customers, and complete other critical pre-departure tasks – all while reducing touchpoints throughout the travel experience for both our employees and pass travelers.”

I call BS. The only time I ever need to interact with a gate agent is when I want to request a specific seat when it's clear my upgrade will come through. That's the "caring service" I need. So, I will continue to ask for specific seats if I'm getting a gate upgrade and we'll see if a) the agents are even willing; b) if the agents can override this SPA system.

The one thing I suspect this will cut down on is how many standbys get E+ for free when they aren't supposed to have it.

-RM
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Old Aug 6, 20, 9:32 am
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On Alaska, they notify you that you've been upgraded and you can then choose your seats.
It usually works very well.
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Old Aug 6, 20, 1:28 pm
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Maybe you could pre select a seat or opt out

I would imagine the fact they couldn't get meal orders done doesn't bode well for seat selections

I would even be good with at T-60, they start down the upgrade list and each person has 2 min to pick (not sure what would happen when more than 15 or so are being upgraded) - assuming they get notifications turned on, that is plenty of time to login and select a seat
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Old Aug 6, 20, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
On the whole, I favor computer sweeps. However, the fairness and efficacy of a computer sweep depends upon what the computer knows - garbage in and garbage out.

We all know that UA's computer doesn't know everything and, sometimes, one bit of it knows one thing and another bit doesn't know that same thing. Also, we all know that UA's computer simply has no space for requests, however reasonable they may be (examples such as preferring recline to leg room, or wanting to sit with a companion on a different PNR).

A gate agent can easily accommodate such things - a badly programmed computer cannot.
Originally Posted by DELee View Post
Bingo.

David
This is where you really do want United to lift their game. I remember way back you could put in seat preferences (not United but OALs) in your profile and they generally got honored unless someone had already been allocated the seats.

I personally like row 1 windows on most planes except the smaller aircraft where I like row 2 (single seat) so I can put my carryon under the seat in front of me if the overhead is full.

In coach I like the exit row window with full recline and second choice is window closest to the front of coach.

🗯 I think it should be very possible for United to provide a program that can allow you (the pax) to input seat preferences based on type of plane/class. They could then run the program and if no input by pax the default as indicated. Then again what would I know? 🤔
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Old Aug 6, 20, 1:59 pm
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Originally Posted by UA_Flyer View Post
My most recent upgrade experience baffled me: full Y fare, GS and number on the list, but someone came out of nowhere and cleared before me.
PAX with a premium cabin fare on another flight changing to your flight?

Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
The article mentions the main concern I have, where Iím at, or near, top of upgrade list and am often automatically given a row 1 bulkhead seat when a more favorable (IMHO) seat exists and given to someone one further down the list. Non-airport upgrades can be changed easily (assuming the upgrade notification works), but it sounds like the new system may fill better seats before I get to select.
One way to handle this would be to collect detailed seat preferences in in MileagePlus profiles - there could be different seating situations (bulkhead, emergency exit row, non-reclining seat, window/middle/aisle) and options like "preferred/acceptable/never" and then the supposed AI system could allocate based on that.

I completely agree about bulkhead seats. I like having underseat storage, and it would be great to have a way of preventing automatic bulkhead assignments when there's another seat of the same type (first, business, PP, E+) available so I don't have to manually make this change every time an upgrade comes through.
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