You may not have known about or used this feature, but United.com has removed the fare code information from its website. Previously, United passengers could click the fare class hyperlink when conducting flight searches and see the seat inventory in each fare bucket available for a particular flight. The feature was particularly useful for frequent United flyers who could use the tool to see how many first class seats were left and whether they should redeem miles for an upgrade, pay for a first class seat, hope for a complimentary upgrade near to the departure date or book a seat on a different flight. Now, members can no longer see the full breakdown of how many seats are open in each fare class, including first class and award tickets.
The airline conceded that this was a useful tool for many, but that the information could be misunderstood by those unfamiliar with fare structures and misused by third parties. Shannon Kelly, Director, Customer Insights at United Airlines, posted on Milepoint to inform members that the feature would be going away but that the airline is “working on better ways to share this more meaningful information. You’ll see one new feature added with this release and even more changes that work toward this effort in future releases.”
Bottom line: United angered many MileagePlus members when it removed the fare code information from its website. Milepoint member EWR764 said, “For those of us who understand the way things work, this ‘dumbing down’ of the website makes it more difficult to use, and time-consuming especially if we are looking for ways to use our (earned) upgrade instruments. I like to be able to see complete inventory, and the number of seats available, all in one place. Removing this feature makes the website harder to use, period.” There remains a way to view whether upgrades to first class are available, but you won’t be able to see how many upgrades are available and make an educated guess about whether there are likely to be first class seats still open when complimentary upgrades for elite members start to clear. To view whether a flight has upgrades available at the time of booking, you can check the “MileagePlus Upgrade Award” box when searching for flights.