Bought our first ever paid First Class ticket, so maybe United isn't as dumb as all that...

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Jenny & Curt, Jan 6, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    So, DH and I have been agonizing (as in spending several hours each week strategizing and talking about) over what to do with the new PQD requirements for United elite status. We have reached 1K for the first time this year (yes, we are uber late to the party!) All of our travel is leisure and self-paid. We have some manufactured spend going, but both are unwilling to ramp that up to get $25K on each of our United cards. Plus, we would like to make it to 1K again, so that lets out CC spend as a method for us. Moving out of the country seemed extreme, too.
    DH had the idea that we could just go along as we had been, buying MR-worthy tickets, and then at the end of the year tally up spend and miles-to-date and purchase some grand, blow-out ticket. I was more in the "Let's plan it all out to the nth degree before January 1" school. (We make a good team.)
    We had also been trying to book some aspirational/fun/different awards, so we were starting to run out of calendar days in order to make it happen.
    One of the trips we had booked was NH Business SJC-NRT, which we'd wanted to try; <stopover>, SQ HND-SIN-SYD <destination>; AC SYD-YYZ-SFO. That was taking a big part of our fall calendar (more than 3 weeks), and I started searching for what that big "blow-out" trip might be. I finally found NH First Class from LAX-NRT Round trip for $3684 (gulp!) on dates that Business Class was $3441 and Economy $943.
    So, I was trying to justify two back-to-back trips to Japan, when suddenly I hit on something: Why not change the award ticket to be ex-Japan, instead? So, that's what we ended up doing: Booking the First Class ticket for cash, and changing the award so that it's now SQ HND-SIN-SYD <destination> TG SYD-BKK-SIN <stopover>NH SIN-NRT. Miles were refunded promptly, so:
    We save 55,000 miles each on the award, which goes from 135,000 to 80,000 miles round trip. Earn 16,352 PQMs and 38,156 RDMs with COS and elite bonuses. Earn 11,052 miles each by booking with the old United Select card at 3x miles. Get $3600 PQDs.
    Does that sound foolish (If it does, go easy ...it's bought and paid for) and DH is really looking forward to trying the NH First Class Product -- and, there is a leg in the NH 787 in Business which we had wanted to try when originally booking the ex-SJC trip. ! ;-)
     
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  2. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Did you buy the NH revenue ticket on united.com? If so, and the ticket number starts with 016, then you're fine. Otherwise, it won't count for PQDs.
     
  3. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    Yes, and checked the ticket number obsessively. It's 016. I couldn't get NH's locator to work on NH's system, to choose seats and the like, so I called in. Rep said it was because I booked a United codeshare, and I should have booked the NH flight if I wanted to be able to choose seats online. I thanked her and didn't explain.
     
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  4. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Awesome that you got the right ticket stock. I've booked NH on UA before and been able to choose seats. It's kind of convoluted, though. Maybe someone who's done it more recently can help you with that (my last NH ticket was in April).
     
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  5. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    That's a bargain for F at least.

    That said, $25k of MS is slightly more than $2k a month. If you are willing to do some degree of MS, may I ask what is holding you back from $2k a month?
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If you think it is good spend then go for it. I wouldn't spend that much personally for the status but if you're comfortable with that budget then go for it.
     
  7. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    There are two of us in the household, so it's $4K. We're at about that level now, but DH argues that he likes it spread across cards, as it is now, rather than all on United or even all on Chase. I think he's also uncomfortable planning on finding beans throughout the year at our narrowing number of three-lettered emporia who allow credit cards to be used for such things.
     
  8. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Gotcha.

    The good news is your air spend might be enough to qualify! ;)
     
  9. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    That price is actually pretty good for First.

    I've decided to just ignore the PQD spend and just see where I end up. I've been 1K since 2006 and if I don't make it, I really don't care. I'm 1MM and also have the spend on credit cards to get Plat without breaking a sweat if I don't make it, I have EP with AA and it sure is the status to have right now.

    That said, living in Chicago makes it very hard to just ignore United. The only thing that's worse than the devaluation of UA as an airline and their loyalty program, is if your meeting gets canceled/end early and you end up waiting for AA for 3 hours in (among other places) San Francisco while United has more than hourly service. United has won the battle of Chicago and has superior frequency everywhere, except Miami and Dallas.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    A three hour wait in San Francisco... oh the horrors :D
     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    That $25k spend doesn't get you a PQD waiver for 1K, though.
     
  12. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Likewise. I had platinum in 2013 after many years as a 1K, and I've found my domestic upgrade results disappointing. Given that, I'm trying to be content to just have gold, figuring that platinum hasn't helped much. If I do find myself on track for platinum in 2014, I'll pay attention to the credit card and consider some manufactured spend. If I'm on track for 1K, I'm not sure what I'll do.
     
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  13. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Assuming that the COS and elite bonuses both apply (do they?) and that I'm doing the math right, the mile savings (55k) + earnings (38k) makes this a <$.04/RDM ticket. That's as good of a mileage run fare as you're likely to find anywhere. It's not the same as buying miles for a penny apiece like the USAir offers we saw in 2013, but if you really want to spend $10k apiece and requalify for 1K, this sounds like the way to do it. And you're in first rather than biz. Now I want to book one, too.

    How much of your $3684 fare will count towards PQDs?
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    As a MM, I have Gold for next year (this year I am still 1K) without worries. No way I am going to spend $10k to get back to 1K, and the main attraction for Platinum for me would be the fee waiver for award travel changes. But... if I end up burning a lot of my miles this year, there may not be any need for that, so I currently don't expect me to worry at all about PQMs or PQDs this year.
     
  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I think the math here is off. My calculations are 16352 / $0.226 for PQMs and 54510 / $0.068 for RDMs. That's a good rate for a premium cabin MR, I suppose, but not a great deal. Also, with the shift in earning rates and manufactured spending lately I'd say that using actual travel to earn miles for future award travel.

    Also, I think my RDM calc there is high; I need to figure that out. That would make the rate even worse.


    My math is definitely wrong and I'm fixing that code. And I also see that you're accounting for both earning and the difference on that award. I'm not wild about that math still but at least I see where you got it.

    PQM: 16352 / $0.226
    RDM: 38156 / $0.097
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014
  16. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    Not sure what exactly will go into the secret sauce, 'cause we haven't flown yet in 2014, but it looks to me like $3600 PQD.
     
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  17. mre5765

    mre5765 Silver Member

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    Spending $2K per person per month for what purpose?

    I had more GPUs than I knew what to do with in 2014, and the same will be true in 2015. I could easily direct my business travel to UA and LH in J (P and Z fare classes) and buy 016 tix that cannot be upgraded using GPUs, or I can direct that business to AA and one world which does not have revenue requirements this year to make exp. And even once AA does add revenue requirements, as long as the SWUs can be used on P fares, I am still ahead.

    The 100 percent bonus RDMs are nice, but I can buy RDMs via award maximizer on M+ for a lot less than $2K per month. And the RDMs are prohibitive for use on nonUA carriers after Feb 1.

    I am ignoring the PQD thing and just living my life.

    We decided we wanted to go to Africa this year. M+ miles will get us to JNB. Then we decided, since we are in the neighborhood, more or less, we should try the Maldives. TK gets us there for cash, in J, for about $2000 each. United.com of course had no code share. To get from MLE back to the USA, we are taking advantage of a CX deal, where flying ex-MLE to the USA in J costs just $1000 before taxes and YQ charges, or about $1400 AI. Both tix are refundable; the CX with a $35 penalty.

    If any award inventory opens up for JNB/MLE or MLE/USA, we will cancel the revenue ticket and use miles. Otherwise, just use Barclay Arrivals points to reduce the cost of the revenue tickets. If not, then the TK and CX flights will RDMs for future awards on Star and oneworld, albeit the former awards are not worth much after Feb 1.

    I would have never entertained this sort of thinking in the past. When UA effectively fired me, I started looking at other options. I will be enriched as a result of it.

    I am gold for life on UA, and given how poor my CPU rate is on UA, there is no, difference between that and 1K.
     
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  18. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I have already used all my GPUs. Sniff.
     
  19. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Manufactured spending, not real spending.
     
  20. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Silver Member

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    We were in the same boat, for 2014. Ended up using them as RPU's, and just upgraded some domestic (US) flights - heck, got lie-flats in GFC from LAX to SFO... :confused: Of course, by the time that we got full-recline, we were about to land.

    Using our GPU's from either LAX, or SFO to LHR, when we need to travel, has become an exercise in futility.

    Hunt
     
  21. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    Found a blog post of interest and followed his tips to search the booking code more thoroughly. I hadn't realized that the Fare Code (A) and the booking code could be different and be accounted for differently for RDM purposes. The United Mileage Calculator, and every UA reference I can find to RDM calculation speaks of "fare class." However, digging deep during the booking process yields a "fare basis code" that begins with a D. So, though it books into A, I believe it is, essentially, a D-up fare (is there such a thing?) and thus will yield 29,980 RDMs rather than the 38,156 I was calculating. It's not critical to us, but neither is it transparent at all. Can one hope for the possibility of 38K, though?
     
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  22. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Typically the "Up" fares credit based on where you sit as that's the booking class and is normally what counts.
     
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  23. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Yes, there is a D-up concept.

    Regardless of the accrual rate...a great price for confirmed F!
     
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