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Do you buy a higher fare-class (Y, B, U, H, M) solely to increase SWU/CR-1 chances?

Do you buy a higher fare-class (Y, B, U, H, M) solely to increase SWU/CR-1 chances?

 
Old Feb 7, 12, 8:57 am
  #1  
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Do you buy a higher fare-class (Y, B, U, H, M) solely to increase SWU/CR-1 chances?

Do you buy a more expensive ticket just to increase your upgrade chances? For example, if W is widely available, do you pay more money for a V, Q, H or even higher fares?

I was recently on a SFO-FRA flight (OK, I know the most difficult flight to upgrade in UA's system). Bought a V fare many months out instead of W (+$125) to increase my UG chances. SWU did not clear. At airport, the flight was wide open - less than one-third in economy. All classes wide open - L9 K9 S9 T9 XY9...

I was no. 42 on the UG list. Started chatting with a friendly gate agent, who told me that the top 2 on the list were GS with full Y tickets ( Z fare is often cheaper) and everyone else above me was on a B, H, M or Q fare - all 41 people...

One person cleared. The other GS on full Y sat in coach, along with 41 other GS and 1ks on higher-than-necessary fares.

Experiences?
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Old Feb 7, 12, 9:01 am
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Depends day of week I fly and route. I've gotten Op-up'd into F on this route AFTER being SWU'd into C, on a W ticket. Other times I've flown IAD-GVA on a V and missed it. I try to judge relative fullness of E+ compared to E- to make my decision. Also depends on price differential. I'll go up to $100 more than W each way. Sometimes that ends up being Q or V, sometimes still W
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Old Feb 7, 12, 9:44 am
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Yes. I only buy a W if it will confirm right away. Otherwise, V is as low as I'll go if I care for an upgrade, sometimes all the way up to a B. Usually, I'll settle for a Q and I've been pretty happy with the results. Obviously loads play into this - loads in E+ and Z availability are good helpers in making a choice, particularly if you're within a couple weeks of departure.
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Old Feb 7, 12, 11:14 am
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Some corporate travelers are working with travel policies that will reimburse any economy ticket, but no premium ticket. So even though Y is more expensive than Z, they buy Y.

And, if you're on such a policy, why bother buying a cheap or W fare? It's not your money... and buying a lot of Y fares is a good way to qualify for GS, in addition to putting you at the top of the upgrade list. (Of course, this presumes the traveler doesn't care about their employer's bottom line...)
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Old Feb 7, 12, 1:45 pm
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There are times when RT H fare from opposite direction is cheaper W fare, in that case and I know I will be there multiple times I will do that.

Ex. 2 years ago RT H fare from SIN-NRT-ORD was only $1600, ORD-NRT-SIN on W fare was about the same. I know I will be in SIN 3 times in 4 months so I bought 2 RT from SIN and 1 from ORD and nested them together.
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Old Feb 7, 12, 4:36 pm
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Originally Posted by 000123UA View Post
Yes. I only buy a W if it will confirm right away. Otherwise, V is as low as I'll go if I care for an upgrade, sometimes all the way up to a B. Usually, I'll settle for a Q and I've been pretty happy with the results. Obviously loads play into this - loads in E+ and Z availability are good helpers in making a choice, particularly if you're within a couple weeks of departure.
How many times have you not cleared while on a B fare? In the flight that I was on, 1ks with Y fares did not clear either....

I think this rapidly becomes a race to the top - if everyone buys higher classes of fares, your relative position stays the same but you have paid a lot more than necessary...
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Old Feb 7, 12, 4:42 pm
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As A GS, this has been my experience several times this past year on the SFO - FRA leg. About 50% upgrade success with a Y fare ticket.

-sr

Originally Posted by 1k650 View Post
Do you buy a more expensive ticket just to increase your upgrade chances? For example, if W is widely available, do you pay more money for a V, Q, H or even higher fares?

I was recently on a SFO-FRA flight (OK, I know the most difficult flight to upgrade in UA's system). Bought a V fare many months out instead of W (+$125) to increase my UG chances. SWU did not clear. At airport, the flight was wide open - less than one-third in economy. All classes wide open - L9 K9 S9 T9 XY9...

I was no. 42 on the UG list. Started chatting with a friendly gate agent, who told me that the top 2 on the list were GS with full Y tickets ( Z fare is often cheaper) and everyone else above me was on a B, H, M or Q fare - all 41 people...

One person cleared. The other GS on full Y sat in coach, along with 41 other GS and 1ks on higher-than-necessary fares.

Experiences?
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Old Feb 7, 12, 5:12 pm
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I thought about buying higher than W for my ORD-NRT ticket in early December that did not clear at booking, but the reservation agent said that I was the first person to book the flight in Y (with the only other person on the flight being my fiance in F on a mileage ticket), so I feel comfortable with W on this one....
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Old Feb 7, 12, 5:34 pm
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Originally Posted by 1k650 View Post
How many times have you not cleared while on a B fare? In the flight that I was on, 1ks with Y fares did not clear either....

I've failed maybe one or two SWU's when travelling on a B fare. One was ORD-HKG and the other was IAD-DXB. These are both notoriously hard-to-upgrade routes (and correspondingly massive revenue/profit generators for UA)

Originally Posted by 1k650 View Post
I think this rapidly becomes a race to the top - if everyone buys higher classes of fares, your relative position stays the same but you have paid a lot more than necessary...
If that's what is happening, that is *precisely* what United wants. From the airline's perspective, they basically want to use the different fare buckets as a way for people to "bid up" to what they are willing to pay for a premium seat.

As business travel loads at the moment are relatively strong, seeing more people willing to pay higher fares makes sense... if the economy (well, specifically the market for premium seats) softens, then you'll see the 'average fare that's high enough to clear an upgrade' go down.

At some point it's just economics... you can think of it as a blind auction: individuals don't have total visibility into what everyone else is bidding, so if you really want to make sure you're gonna get that premium seat, you either actually pay F/A/C/D/Z fares to guarantee one, or you pay high economy fares to improve your chances.
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Old Feb 7, 12, 9:54 pm
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Originally Posted by ljwobker View Post
I've failed maybe one or two SWU's when travelling on a B fare. One was ORD-HKG and the other was IAD-DXB. These are both notoriously hard-to-upgrade routes (and correspondingly massive revenue/profit generators for UA)



If that's what is happening, that is *precisely* what United wants. From the airline's perspective, they basically want to use the different fare buckets as a way for people to "bid up" to what they are willing to pay for a premium seat.

As business travel loads at the moment are relatively strong, seeing more people willing to pay higher fares makes sense... if the economy (well, specifically the market for premium seats) softens, then you'll see the 'average fare that's high enough to clear an upgrade' go down.

At some point it's just economics... you can think of it as a blind auction: individuals don't have total visibility into what everyone else is bidding, so if you really want to make sure you're gonna get that premium seat, you either actually pay F/A/C/D/Z fares to guarantee one, or you pay high economy fares to improve your chances.
Well said!

That is the purpose of this thread - to see how often this is happening. Perhaps we can start a thread to document what the "average fare high enough to clear an upgrade" for different route - then it is somewhat less of a blind auction ?
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Old Feb 7, 12, 11:26 pm
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I think the right place for this is udustats.com ... it has the key data fields that you need (routing, date, fare class, whether an upgrade cleared) ... but you'll need a LOT of participation to get something that is statistically significant. It's also entirely possible that even if you got the entire flyertalk population to give you their data that it wouldn't be much better than a one-standard-deviation guess... ;-S
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Old Feb 7, 12, 11:34 pm
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Why play the lottery instead of miles+copay?

I'm glad I'm not part of the SWU lottery anymore, because it seems to create very fuzzy thinking. The difference in some of the fare classes, over, say, K or L, can be huge. Take SFO-SYD as an example. You can often get a K class ticket for $1100 or so, while an upgrade-possible fare might run $2300 (or more). That's $1200 difference. Why would someone pay more for an SWU-capable fare than a cheap fare plus 2*co-pay? The miles are almost insignificant (20k each way).

Obviously, there will be times when a high fare class is all that's available, but otherwise, what's the point? Save the SWUs for flights where you don't have a choice (but to buy a high fare) and use miles+copay for the rest. What am I missing?

(And yes, my year as a 1K, I bought a higher-fare SFO-LHR ticket for my wife and I so we could play the lottery. We lost. But at least it was just $150 extra per ticket, so had we won, we would have been well ahead)

Last edited by Mike Jacoubowsky; Feb 7, 12 at 11:53 pm Reason: typos
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Old Feb 8, 12, 12:02 am
  #13  
 
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Initially, I would buy W fares. Now, after hanging around FT for a few years, I only buy Y/B fares - to increase chances of my SWU's clearing and to maximise EQM's. I am fortunate that my travel is client funded, so it's not coming from my pocket directly.

I've got a trip next month to NRT/TPE and HKG (from SIN). UA is definitely not the easiest way to get to all 3 - but it is doable. I priced it all in Y and that's what I intend to purchase. Not interested in playing upgrade lottery anymore and will use EF heavily to plan travel accordingly - for long-hauls, will now only buy Z/C/D etc
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Old Feb 8, 12, 5:17 am
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Competition explains buying higher fare classes

Originally Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky View Post
I'm glad I'm not part of the SWU lottery anymore, because it seems to create very fuzzy thinking. The difference in some of the fare classes, over, say, K or L, can be huge. Take SFO-SYD as an example. You can often get a K class ticket for $1100 or so, while an upgrade-possible fare might run $2300 (or more). That's $1200 difference. Why would someone pay more for an SWU-capable fare than a cheap fare plus 2*co-pay? The miles are almost insignificant (20k each way).

Obviously, there will be times when a high fare class is all that's available, but otherwise, what's the point? Save the SWUs for flights where you don't have a choice (but to buy a high fare) and use miles+copay for the rest. What am I missing?
If UA holds back upgrade capacity, as they are wont to do, and if there is demand for more business-class upgrades than are available on the plane, as there often is, then your K fare + copay would be prioritized below all W fare + SWU requests and might never clear. By buying higher fares you're bidding against other travelers for the C seats.
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Old Feb 8, 12, 5:30 am
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
If UA holds back upgrade capacity, as they are wont to do, and if there is demand for more business-class upgrades than are available on the plane, as there often is, then your K fare + copay would be prioritized below all W fare + SWU requests and might never clear. By buying higher fares you're bidding against other travelers for the C seats.
Or - do not put your MP number in the record and get a TOD upsell offer. This will trump everyone on the UG list, including 1ks with Y tickets, probably at a much lower cost.
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