Has the time come to convert Economy Plus to Premium Economy?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by sobore, Feb 11, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    With the recent news of AC introducing Premium Economy, one wonders if UA should consider a true premium economy product.

    Would it make sense just on international itineraries?

    Do people feel that space is really the main issue for selecting premium economy and would rather do without the extras to keep the price down?
     
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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    One concern that immediately comes up when this question is raised: will the GPUs upgrade you from regular economy to premium economy (and prem economy to business class)? And what would Premium Economy cost compared to today's W fares?

    Personally I care about space, not so much about somewhat better airline food or free drinks. They are all nice, but the amount of money I am willing to pay for those is somewhat limited and not significantly higher than on the ground. E.g., I would not be willing to pay $200 more for a C-class meal, an amenity pack and free booze (compared to today's E+).
     
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  3. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    The logical thing might be for someone to pay for PE and be able to use the GPU without regard of fare class.

    And if someone were to go with regular economy, keep that W or higher.

    Then again, logic and UA are sometimes mutually exclusive terms,
     
  4. Food Wine and Miles

    Food Wine and Miles Silver Member

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    I'd be on board with this approach
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If you are paying for PE anyways then you are already paying a premium for the fare; it isn't like there are G fares which book into premium economy. So that's not really a great view of the situation. Other carriers with a proper premium economy product consider that the upgrade from coach. And to get to business you must start in the premium economy cabin.

    The real question is what would the product be that United is converting to? Are you going to get to 40+ inches pitch? Wider seats? Multi-course meals and free booze? My guess is that UA isn't willing to lose the seating density to make a go of it.
     
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  6. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    True Premium Economy is a separate class of service altogether, as we all know, and therefore logically a one class upgrade would work to it from economy and from it to Business. I can see, from an airline's point of view, why it would be offered - more and more companies will not pay for business class but will pay double deep discount economy for long haul, especially for junior or middle ranking staff.

    I hear reports that it's fairly full on BA and VS, and that's presumably why AC is giving it a go. AA's product seems strange - a sort of hybrid between PE and E+ - wider seats and more legroom, so doubly eating up valuable space, but not really at the level which would attract significant extra fare $$.

    Personally, I hope that UA does not replace E+. It's certainly what keeps me loyal to UA. Occasionally I flirt with the idea of other airlines but the lack of E+ on the others is the deciding factor in UA's favor. Without it, I really cannot see that UA offers an attractive proposition TATL.
     
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  7. I think AC is giving it a go because they do not sell enough pure J fares (we Canadians are parsimonious) and the combo of less J and more premium seating seems to fit their revenue model better. I see *A carriers trying hard not to compete with other as another feature of this transition.
     
  8. seaflyguy
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    seaflyguy Silver Member

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    I like the idea of PE, at least in the abstract. More room if I somehow get stuck in Y on an overseas trip. On the other hand, I ask myself, when was the last time a GPU of mine didn't clear? And I can't remember. And I ask myself, wouldn't this simply provide another level between Y and C that might serve to convert today's Y > C GPUs into tomorrow's Y > Y+ GPUs? And I think yes, it well might.
     
  9. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Interesting comments. I think the real deal breaker may be the price. Typically PE is at least twice the price of standard economy.
    E+ is currently free for some, and at an obtainable price for others. In many ways it really may be all about seat pitch, which UA has covered with E+.
     
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  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    But you won't be stuck in PE, you'll be stuck in Y. So how does that help you??

    Yes.
     
  11. Food Wine and Miles

    Food Wine and Miles Silver Member

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    In some ways, PE could be (or maybe already is) similar to what J "used to be" (can't say for sure, never flown in PE, never flew in J until fairly recently): A bigger, comfier seat with some free drinks and maybe a better meal. J has become similar to what F "used to be", at least in terms of the seat itself. In other words, 3-class planes could look somewhat similar to how they used to looked, albeit with different names "J-PE-E" vs. "F-J-E". I do think that would result in an intermediate step in between E and J as far as upgrades are concerned (which would suck), and the branding of Premium ECONOMY is going to make that an especially tough pill to swallow. That said, PE feels closer to the minimum level of comfort many people would demand / expect / want in order to take an overseas flight (TATL at least) - not this guy, but I think J is too much of a stretch for a significant share of the population, especially if they're not building up an arsenal of miles! :D

    Hopefully we don't end up with PE-E-B ("budget" class) in 30 years - I'm looking to travel in comfort in my retirement! :p
     
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  12. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    It seems likely that eventually UA will eliminate Global First. The 763 conversions don't include GF, nor does the 787 have it, and it's being eliminated from ps. There probably is a market for a true premium economy product on international routes, at a lower pricepoint than C, but if it becomes a separate ticket class, it's inevitable that the GPU will get devalued to either require buying PE to upgrade to C, or else only take you from Y to PE. Plus PE may not be free for elites.
     
  13. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    This would surely be the case at the time of booking. It would be a nice perk to give elites a comp PE upgrade when space is available. Maybe a new type of upgrade instrument is needed for PE specific U/C credits?
     
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  14. Food Wine and Miles

    Food Wine and Miles Silver Member

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    It would be somewhat confusing, but if "Regionals" were usable for E->PE, I might be on board with that. Maybe change the terminology to "restricted" and "unrestricted" upgrades? With "unrestricted" = what GPU is today, and "restricted" = what RPU is today + able to use on longhaul flights for E->PE.

    All that said, I'd much rather have E, E+, J and be able to get to J more easily... purely speculating about the possibility that PE could happen on UA, and what that might mean.
     
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  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Since I often travel with my wife, I would really not want to hope that there is space available for both of us when we go on a TPAC or TATL trip.

    Imagining a domestic F style meal plus a domestic-F style seat, but at a significant cost increase, I'd rather stick with E+.
     

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