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The way of the Dodo? - 1K upgrades, PP or CPU

Old Jan 27, 2024, 4:51 pm
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The way of the Dodo? - 1K upgrades, PP or CPU

Old Sep 30, 2023, 5:09 pm
  #1051  
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Originally Posted by rather_be_on_a_griffin
Whenever I book for my non-status current husband or our extended family when they are traveling alone it's usually far enough out that I can get a reasonable P or Z fare.
The thing is, for frequent travelers, this often isn't possible. The deal with the airlines used to be that you dedicated your business to one carrier, and in exchange you had a good chance at scoring an F seat even when booking relatively close in (on an expensive Y fare). Those days are pretty much gone for 1K, and the benefit seems to be substantially diminished even for GS.
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Old Sep 30, 2023, 5:16 pm
  #1052  
 
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maybe the answer is that airlines, like UA for example, are trying to figure out rewards for FF that:
dont cost a lot of money (giving up F seats that can be sources of revenue)
bring some value to customers in a relationship that correlates with flights taken or miles flown

at least that's how I see the MP program - the more I travel, the more value I get from the status levels
Sure, I would love F all the time - but that ain't in my cards considering my travel patterns (and not that important to me)
Sure, would love GS - but in reality, I am not sure how much that would really benefit me as a 1K who will probably do about 70 segments and 20k PQP (including credit card bonus) all on UA
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Old Oct 1, 2023, 9:27 am
  #1053  
 
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way of the Dodo? indeed, upcoming MSY-IAH-HNL flight - UG list just became available:
as a 1K:
MSY-IAH: 14/20 booked - and I am #8 on the list (80 min flight...maybe apply PP to get access to the free alcohol for the next segment?)
IAH-HNL: 25/28 booked (interesting, since last night it was booked 'full'): and I am #9 (with PP applied)

maybe an empty middle seat is the "new" UG?
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Old Oct 1, 2023, 10:20 am
  #1054  
 
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Originally Posted by mfirst
way of the Dodo? indeed, upcoming MSY-IAH-HNL flight - UG list just became available:
as a 1K:
MSY-IAH: 14/20 booked - and I am #8 on the list (80 min flight...maybe apply PP to get access to the free alcohol for the next segment?)
IAH-HNL: 25/28 booked (interesting, since last night it was booked 'full'): and I am #9 (with PP applied)

maybe an empty middle seat is the "new" UG?
Good Luck.
This is why I would never waitlist to HI, you're never going to get it on the lie-flat routes. On my last HI trip, F was only $800- more than non-BE Y. That's only $400- each way, and a good deal.

Last edited by zombietooth; Oct 1, 2023 at 11:06 am Reason: Corrected amount after checking ticket receipt.
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Old Oct 1, 2023, 12:56 pm
  #1055  
 
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Originally Posted by fumje
I do agree that the past two years have been the hardest ever for upgrades. I don't know why more aggressive FCM?, revenge spending?, reduced frequencies? but it does seem like we're in a new regime now. Sort of a tangent, but SDC has also become severely hollowed out as a benefit, because somehow they are just keeping everything full full full.
One of the big factors is that more of the people who can pay for first are doing it now. I "used to" pay for F frequently for personal travel but fares have more than doubled on most of the routes that I fly. So I am now back to buying Y (which has seems to cost what F used to) and playing the upgrade lottery.

On the other hand my uncle, who has always been able to afford F but was content with Y, is now one of the flyers that buys F 100% of the time regardless of the cost.... he has a bit more money than me

Combine the increase in paid F passengers with the extreme push to sell upgrades instead of "giving" them to frequent fliers and here I am as a GS sitting in the back.
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Old Oct 1, 2023, 1:48 pm
  #1056  
 
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Originally Posted by avi8tir
One of the big factors is that more of the people who can pay for first are doing it now. I "used to" pay for F frequently for personal travel but fares have more than doubled on most of the routes that I fly. So I am now back to buying Y (which has seems to cost what F used to) and playing the upgrade lottery.

On the other hand my uncle, who has always been able to afford F but was content with Y, is now one of the flyers that buys F 100% of the time regardless of the cost.... he has a bit more money than me

Combine the increase in paid F passengers with the extreme push to sell upgrades instead of "giving" them to frequent fliers and here I am as a GS sitting in the back.
In inflation-adjusted dollars, F/J travel is cheaper than ever. For some things e.g. Coca Cola, I just can't bring myself to pay more than double what I was paying for a 12-pack in 2020. But I have no problem with paying for F/J travel because it's a comparative bargain for Z/P fares-I would never voluntarily pay for a high full fare class. Cumulative inflation since 2020 is definitely slowing the economy, and hurting the poor and middle classes the worst, possibly leading to significantly reduced aggregate travel spend. Even so, price increases are going to be sticky due to increased operational costs IMO, so I really don't see airfares coming down much even with demand destruction. Capacity would likely be reduced before significant price drops.
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Old Oct 1, 2023, 2:33 pm
  #1057  
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Out of PPs for both of us 1Ks. Used up the backlog of July expiring and now done with my (and wife's) 1/24s.
Its been a great year for longhaul upgrades, from G (ORD-OGG), K (SFO-SIN, EWR-SFO, SFO-NRT), W (NRT-EWR,IAH-SCL,LHR-IAD), R fares (SCL-IAH, TPE-SFO), you name it. There were a couple other upgrades to PY from K/W fares (SIN-SFO, SFO-TPE) where business did not clear.
Key factor I believe was flying on days with lower amounts of OPM flyers.
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Old Oct 1, 2023, 4:24 pm
  #1058  
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PP-supported upgrades: this past Friday morning's IAD-EWR cleared sometime a week or two ago (booked in July); EWR-BTV on Friday at the gate right as they announced pre-boarding--my wife and I were the only 2 to clear at the gate. BTV-IAD today, and we finished around 12-13 on the list on a Q fare. Seemed to be a lot of GS on the flight today (around 8 boarded when called).

I don't often make the trip back from BTV on a Sunday... now I see why! That's usually an upgrade I clear well in advance being a sub-500 mile flight to an outstation, but I'm also usually flying it Friday or Saturday evening, not Sunday afternoon.

My next few flights are all still waitlisted (2x IAD-DEN, ugh on the high density 772 both times meaning likely 0% chance; LAX-IAD red-eye on a Friday night, and a few other random flights). I'm batting about 25% on PP this year. I don't even go with the chance of a CPU, and I try to book PP flights which I can confirm at time of booking (so the actual clearance rate for waitlisted flights is probably more like 10% for me).
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 12:39 am
  #1059  
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Originally Posted by avi8tir
Up until the post-covid era. I never used an upgrade instrument on a domestic flight because I really never had to as GS. CPU was usually a guarantee.
Then you were doing remarkably well. There were plenty of complaints from 2016-2019, at least, from GS members who could no longer get upgrades to clear the way they used to -- particularly on hub-to-hub routes like the one you mentioned.
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 6:17 am
  #1060  
 
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Originally Posted by avi8tir
One of the big factors is that more of the people who can pay for first are doing it now.
On the contrary, I would argue the opposite. The people/companies who used to pay the eye-watering Y/J price differentials no longer do so in large enough numbers to justify the revenue management style of yore. UA has all the data and I trust they are maximizing revenue to the best of their ability. Selling half as many seats for three times the price is more profitable than selling all the seats for 1/3 the price. That doesn't even factor the long term incremental revenue from loyalty fostered through upgrades to elites.

Selling just a few seats at sky high prices used to be the way airlines operated because enough people bought those fares. Not enough people buy the high fares any more, so UA et al now default to selling more of the premium seats at a fraction of the old price difference to Y.

The retired couple from Iowa taking $200 buy ups to Florida outweighs the lost revenue from people who would pay more, but not that much more.
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 6:43 am
  #1061  
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I took some screen shots on the trip out to BTV, where at check-in my wife (a 1K via my MM status) was offered an upgrade for $80 on EWR-BTV, whereas I was offered the same upgrade, on a slightly higher fare class, for $579. We were both waitlisted on PP applied from my account.

All I can figure is that UA's algorithms looked at my spend patterns and decided I often pay for F, and she rarely buys tickets (usually flies on miles), and made her what it felt was the more likely offer. Crunched the numbers on those probabilities vs. anticipated revenue delta, and set hers roughly where the probable incremental revenue was roughly the same. If it had been a transcon instead of EWR-BTV, with proportionally-adjusted by flight duration buyups, it might have even worked.
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 6:58 am
  #1062  
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Originally Posted by exerda
All I can figure is that UA's algorithms looked at my spend patterns and decided I often pay for F, and she rarely buys tickets (usually flies on miles), and made her what it felt was the more likely offer.
From a business perspective, good on United for having such an algorithm.
I m sure the analytics know everything, from who pays for the own tickets, to who is always flying OPM, what fares one/OPM pays, patterns or lack of patterns of flying, etc. Monetizing that algorithm should be in their best interest.
And yes that sucks for those who are trying to upgrade. I dont know if I can really fault United for figuring out how not to give stuff away for free, everyone is free to purchase up front or at least buy up at anytime.
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 8:10 am
  #1063  
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Originally Posted by rankourabu
From a business perspective, good on United for having such an algorithm.
I m sure the analytics know everything, from who pays for the own tickets, to who is always flying OPM, what fares one/OPM pays, patterns or lack of patterns of flying, etc. Monetizing that algorithm should be in their best interest.
And yes that sucks for those who are trying to upgrade. I dont know if I can really fault United for figuring out how not to give stuff away for free, everyone is free to purchase up front or at least buy up at anytime.
What's frustrating is that I'd have bought at the right price point, and their algorithm apparently thought that price point for a sub-1 hour flight was more than 7x what my wife's price point was. So they have some work to do, still.

I don't mind paying for F, including via buy-up. I do mind my offer, on a pricier ticket, being nearly $600 when my wife had an $80 offer. I hope UA can continue to tweak their algorithms to get them to better line up with spend patterns and probability, as a 80% chance of me buying up at, say, $150, is better than a 50% chance of my wife or someone else who doesn't travel as often buying up at $80. The expected value would be $120 vs. $40.
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 8:17 am
  #1064  
 
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exerda - why should UA tweak their algorithms to your best interests when they appear to be working quite well for their best interesting - meaning, the seats in F are full.
but, I do tend to agree with you..... and maybe in the end, I am just getting worn out by all of this since it appears to random and out of my control.

If I am traveling for work on OPM - the ticket that gets purchased is typically in a fare class that I have zero control over - and while I might get a buy-up offer, that comes out of my own pocket (non-reimbursable) - and even if someone else is paying, sometimes it just isnt worth the silly amounts that they want for moving a few feet closer to the front door?

Is spending $69 for a buy-up on a sub-90 min flight worth it?

-m
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Old Oct 2, 2023, 8:25 am
  #1065  
 
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I agree for those focusing their time and money on United and hoping for UGs, cheap award tickets, etc, its a tough time in air travel to have those dreams. However, from United's perspective:
  • Fares are high
  • Planes are full
  • FF program is growing
  • Profit is at record highs
What's not working for them? They have NO reason to change what they are doing right now.
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