Bring back middle seat blocking as an elite benefit?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by jfhscott, Feb 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Memo to UA -

    I loved it when you would "block" a middle seat when I would purchase an aisle or window, allowing it to be occupied only when necessary to accommodate a plane's load. I don't recall when you suspended this practice for elites, but it was something that went noticed. If you really want to make it special, make it an exclusive 1K benefit.
     
    carsonheim and why fly like this.
  2. mowogo
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    mowogo Gold Member

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    Unfortunately the planes are being packed full. If they were to bring this benefit around, it would only be for that rare occasion where a GS member is stuck in Y
     
  3. FriendlySkies
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    FriendlySkies Gold Member

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    I've had luck with this on flights to and from SYD.. SFO-SYD was oversold, and the only empty seat was the middle in my row ^

    On SYD-SFO, flight was once again packed, but Annie was able to block the middle seat. Really makes the flight pass by, with two in a row.
     
    UNCLE1K and why fly like this.
  4. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    Agreed it would be a nice benefit, but I think UA would be more concerned about on-time performance if GAs had to juggle who gets middle seats blocked based on status/fare paid/time of request.
     
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  5. Xyzzy
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    Xyzzy Gold Member

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    It used to happen aut;)matically. The GA didn't have to do it.
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Agreed. They're flying at ~80-85% LFs these days. That's not many empty seats to be blocked.
     
  7. Sean
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    Sean Gold Member

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    I agree that this would be a nice benefit, however with 85% load factors we won't see it.

    On the other hand being Premier Exec does get you access to the Exit Row seats, which on non-elite heavy routes are some of the last seats to be filled, as they are restricted to Prem Exec, 1k and GS, so it's kind of like a blocked middle seat.
     
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  8. adexpert
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    adexpert Silver Member

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    They also don't seem to be restricted as to GA's/etc assigning them to anyone who asks so that middle that might have gone out empty may go to Joe-twice-a-year-flier who knew enough to ask.
     
  9. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    With loads up, which is great for UA, blocking becomes an even more valuable elite benefit.

    Blocking never guaranteed an empty middle - it merely made a middle by an elite of sufficient rank the last to be filled.

    Four years ago, just about anyone could often count on an empty middle. Now, it is "special" and UA might do well to reserve empty middles for at least 1P's. This would also mitigate the impact on 1P's of having less access to F upgrades on account of UDU.
     
  10. hobo13
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    hobo13 Silver Member

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    I'd actually like United to start ROW BLOCKING for 1K's. I flew OGG-LAX a couple days ago, and knew the flight wasn't that full. Went up and asked the GA if she could get me a row, and sure enough, she moved 2 other pax into the exit (making them very happy) and gave me a row in the back. Best sleep I've ever had on a domestic flight.
     
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  11. ifly153
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    ifly153 Gold Member

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    Wow, nice! The only thing I've ever gotten close to that was on a VS flight from SFO-LHR. I was the last person to check in and got a 4 seats in the middle section to myself in the back of Y. Almost felt like I was sitting in a lie-flat seat and slept for 10 hours.
     
  12. kingalien
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    kingalien Silver Member

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    Pros: Middle seat blocking
    Cons: Threads from DYKWIAs that demand compensation after the middle seat wasn't blocked for them
     
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  13. J.Edward
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    J.Edward Silver Member

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    I think the issue is not so much about blocking, but "the system" doing its best to ensure that if they're going to be empty seats, they're going to be next to GS/1Ks.

    Hopefully if UA decides to keep E+ that'll be enough to naturally keep middles empty in that section of coach (as I often find this is the case nowadays when I fly -- E+ might have a few empty middles, but E- is packed.)
     
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  14. Olton Hall
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    Olton Hall Gold Member

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    As much as I'd love to see middle seat blocking. I'm not holding my breath for it with the current load factors as others have mentioned. Hey there's always the A seats on an ERJ. (only joking)
     
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  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I got 4-across in E+ on a 744 to SYD. That was quite nice.

    Oh, and I was just a lowly CO Platinum pre-merger when this happened. :cool:
     
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  16. GFowler
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    GFowler Silver Member

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    My term for this is E+ or E- Suites (tm) [​IMG]
     
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  17. Tarpie
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    Tarpie Silver Member

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    I would love this benefit. I'm never bummed about missing an upgrade if I have an empty middle next to me. I'm perfectly comfortable that way, even in E-. The seat width matters more to me than legroom.

    The computer should automatically do this for elites. You select your aisle/window seat when you book and then it blocks the middle seat until necessary. Once all non-blocked seats are assigned, the middle seats next to 2Ps become available. After those fill, then the seats next to 1Ps become available. Et cetera, et cetera. If you're a 2P in the aisle, hope that a GS selects the window :) If there are no aisle or windows with an empty middle next to them at time of booking, then you're SOL unless the middle passenger manually changes their seat assignment.

    Some allowance may need to be made for E+. An elite should always be able to grab a middle in E+ if only middles are left. If an elite really wants an empty middle, they could book into E- to avoid this elite override.

    I think the question really is, why aren't UA/CO, AA, DL, US, etc. doing this? Basically make the elite benefit: "Automatically provide an empty middle seat next to you, logistics permitting. Absolutely NO compensation for an occupied middle seat."

    I managed to pull of an empty middle seat for SEA-IAH-BOS on CO metal recently by obsessively refreshing pda.co.com's seatmap an making adjustments accordingly. I look forward to that part of CO's IT system being available for UA flights.
     
  18. Sean
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    Sean Gold Member

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    Be careful what you wish for. CO invested heavily in past years on their front end IT systems, the user facing stuff, while UA invested more heavily in back end systems, which are used by the agents you'll get on the phone when you call UA.

    From what I've heard CO's reservations agents have a much less powerful system and it takes a lot longer to get anything done on the phone with the elite line.
     
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  19. al613
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    I have personally seen it number of times.
     
  20. al613
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    al613 Silver Member

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    I think UA has nothing to loose here, since they can make it automated, based on flight loads. Seems like a win win.
     
  21. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Not only CAN they make it automated, but they have in the past.

    Empty middles are a scarce resource, but they have no value to UA - why not allocate them according to rank?

    And they are definitely coveted - after all they are known elsewhere as "SW F".
     
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  22. Oh man, this brings back fond memories. I really miss seat blocking...
     
  23. mechteach
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    mechteach Silver Member

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    That might be tricky, though. If UA blocked middle seats for even 1P+, what happens when all of the middles are blocked, E+ is full, and a 2P has to book a E- seat. Then, on the day of departure, a no-status pax without a seat could end up with that middle. There might be a way to program around that, but it could be tricky.

    (I do miss the middle-seat blocking, too, though!)
     
  24. benolaa
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    benolaa Gold Member

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    If you had a choice E+ or a middle seat what would you pick? I would say E+ as its very hard to use a laptop without E+ if the person in front reclines.
     
  25. Xyzzy
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    Xyzzy Gold Member

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    I'll translate -- "a l:eek:t longer" translates to "up to half an hour." Add to that the CO policy of meticulously reticketing vs. the UA policy of doing what's expedient to get a customer on his way.
     

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