NC/NF (intl) inventory

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by meFIRST, Jan 5, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Unlike some chepo flyers, I think UA SWUs present great value. Namely because of the # of destinations UA flies to, and in particular the ability to use them on LH to go from C to F. if your employer already pays for C, this is golden. (Getting a TA to ticket and expense a non Z fare is another story)

    In the end, it does present some savings, and is a nice reward for some of us who practically live on United aircraft, and fly so much. (sometimes, unnecessarily).

    Unlike AA's instruments, you cant use it to from BA Club World to BA First...:p.

    The key for using UA SWU of course is NC and NF inventory. I've been monitoring the availability of this internationally (this doesn't really apply to domestics) and I can't seem to nail down a pattern of when and how inventory of NC and NF (again, internationally, is released) . The pattern is very much, random.

    - Is this done, via a secret algorithm, automatically?
    - Is there a route analyst that determines what to release?

    Anyone have wisdom on the above.
     
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  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I'm a cheapo flyer and I think the FAR better value is Y->C, but that's neither here nor there. ;)

    But you can on Lufty.

    Inventory management is something of a black magic art. There is absolutely some science to it, but it is a version of such that is near impossible for us mere mortals to understand, mostly because we simply do not see all the data associated with the decisions that are being made behind the scenes which determine fares and inventory allocations.

    My understanding is that there is quite a bit of human intervention in terms of building the revenue models that account for what the different published fares should be in any given market (by city pair) and in determining what the desired or expected yield of a given flight on a given route should be. Those numbers are fed into the computer such that it can allocate inventory buckets based on future bookings on a flight that it sees today and based on historical performance of purchasing patterns of that flight.

    In other words, someone in the company can say that there should be a $99, $199, $299, $399, $499 and $699 price point on flights between A and B. And they know that there are 100 seats on the noon flight between those cities and that they have historically been able to sell 20 seats 6+ weeks out, another 40 seats 3-6 weeks out and another 30 seats 0-3 weeks out. And they would know historical revenue trends and desired targets. All of the data they know and the assumptions they're making are combined into the IM algorithm and the computer then "prices" the available seats on a given flight.

    When it comes to award seats there are a couple different ways it can happen. On the sCO side of things I talked with someone a couple years back who indicated that awards were allocated by an internal algorithm placing a dollar value on the points and a point value on the flight. What this essentially did was create a dollar revenue price at which a redemption would be valued to the IM system when "selling" an award seat on a flight. If the algorithm said that it was OK to sell seats at a number lower than than revenue point then the award inventory was published. If not, it wasn't. I don't know that this is definitely how it is still done or how sUA did it, but I would imagine that it is something similar.

    And, while the booking and inventory systems being kept are the sCO ones, the revenue management system (i.e. the massive algorithm that handles all the pricing automation once fed the data) will be the sUA one.
     
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  3. EX-LAX

    EX-LAX Silver Member

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    SWU'S ARE NOT a great value anymore and that my good man is why many seasoned flyers still have them in their accounts and are giving them away with 3 weeks to go until expiration. This matter has been discussed and beaten to a pulp for many moons. As far as "cheepo flyers" goes, one can beat their chest and appear to be a "Big Spender" all they want, especially if their employer is popping for the ticket, but fly 300 K - 2 years in a row, like I have done, on my own dime, and see if you're not shopping around for value.

    My take is that nearly everyone on these boards is looking for a good deal and rather than if they are perceived as "cheepo's", or not, is in the eye of the beholder. Every airline makes sure that every passenger pays a different price for each seat and I do my best to make sure that I am NOT in the top 10% of the Big Spenders, but rather the bottom 1% of the glorious "cheepo's". SWU's are NOT the way to be in that bottom percentile, and paying more to take a chance on an upgrade, down the road, is crazy talk!:rolleyes:
     
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  4. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Hmm, I guess people value things differently.

    Thanks WA/SBM12 for the explanation. This would explain why ORD-HKG/PVG, NC or NF (in advance) is harder to come by, during the Canton Trade fair. Those dates probably hold a higher point.

    There are some flights where
    NC 7
    NF 1
    (and inventory full (all 9) /seat map looks empty)

    Similarly, same flight different day
    NC 0
    NF 0
    (also inventory full (all 9)/seat map looks empty)
     
  5. AZjohn

    AZjohn Silver Member

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    A liitle OT Wandering Aramean, but need to ask what does sCO and sUA stand for?
    Thanks,
    John
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It is subsidiary-CO and subsidiary-UA, similar to PMCO and PMUA, though "PM" can be construed as pre-merger or post-merger if you wanted.

    And I would be VERY surprised to see a lot of award space into China in advance around the trade fair. They might release some eventually, but only after they try darn hard to sell those seats that folks have a habit of buying.

    The other thing to remember in general is that C and F seats are not typically purchased far in advance. This means that looking at the seat map today for a flight this summer if you don't see anything sold that doesn't necessarily mean they're actually "behind" on the sales.
     
  7. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    NC might be decent on the LAX-PVG route since they always oversell in Y and op-up folks at the Gate to C.
     
  8. unavaca
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    unavaca Gold Member

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    Meh, SWUs are worthless. It's great if you're a corporate flier with big bucks, but those of us barely able to pay for W fares find them almost totally useless.

    I just see them as yet-another CR1.
     
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  9. EX-LAX

    EX-LAX Silver Member

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    Actually, I see them as 6 annual CR-1's, and nothing more! Much easier to upgrade at rock bottom prices. What more could a "Cheepo" ask for??? ;)
     
  10. meFIRST

    meFIRST Silver Member

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    Award space?. Forget it. Ain't happening.

    I'm talking about NF/NC. On the 777 to PVG/747 to HKG. Yes, duh, during the trade fair. :cool:

    W fare markup is bad to Sydney, but there are some destinations where it is not too bad. Granted its not the bargain that AA flyers have, but when you consider that AA flies to very, very limited destinations, with often "seasonal" service to anywhere else but the mainstays of NRT/LHR its a small token for the convenience of flying non stop.

    As said, earlier, you need to be smart about picking when to use it.

    And at least its not outrageuous and utterly + completely worthless like Delta's SWU. I consider those, by any means to mean = nothing = completely WORTHLESS. Even domestically...
     
  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Funny...I pay for all my own travel and didn't have much trouble dropping the $900 r/t and confirming the upgrades on the dates I wanted them for my trip to Europe next week. Yes, I paid a few hundred dollars more than the cheapest coach fare, but the era of $300 to Europe in the winter is over so the up-charge actually wasn't all that bad.

    Then again, if you cannot afford to ever buy W fares then clearly the SWUs aren't part of the valuable benefits you get as a 1K. I'd hope that there are other benefits to the program that still make it compelling. Otherwise paying for that loyalty seems like a pretty foolish investment.
     
  12. TrippePanAM

    TrippePanAM Gold Member

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    You can use AA's to get from Club World to BA First geeez where did i go wrong

    I disagree they are amazing on INTL flights and totally worth it yes it is a bit more but it pays off
     
  13. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    I won't say that SWU's are "amazing," but I recently applied them to a LAX-SFO-PEK; HKG-SFO-LAX open jaw ticket. Lowest fare was $1100, W-fare was $1500. The LAX-PEK and SFO-LAX SWU cleared at booking, and the HKG-SFO is waitlisted, but I'm optimistic (for no reason, I add). But even so, for $400 more, I got a guaranteed upgrade (which would have cost $550 + 30k miles if I had done miles+copay), which I thought was pretty neat.

    BTW, I called UA to see if any of the SWUs would clear upon booking -- they told me that only the HKG-SFO would be waitlisted, and I took the gamble.
     
  14. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    In 2010, I ended up watching 4 of my SWU's expire but in 2011, I was able to use them all. Hard to say whether it's possible to draw any significant conclusions from that, but it is interesting nonetheless.
     
  15. unavaca
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    unavaca Gold Member

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    Funny... I pay for all of my own travel and I've failed the NC upgrade TPAC more times than I've made it. I've booked 3-4 months in advance and gotten bupkis. As best I can tell, the extra $100-150 each-way it is to buy-up from S to W on SFO-HKG/NRT/TPE is a useless non-refundable copay.

    I'd be less bitter if UA let me upfare to W without a change fee when NC shows up, but they clearly don't want to do that.

    I've given UA an extra $1000 in the last 2 years in failed upgrades. Not anymore.


    It only pays off when it clears. On a W fare, I've failed it more times than I've cleared it.
     
  16. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    I can't think of the last time I didn't clear a SWU. But I've never cleared at booking and just haven't worried about it.

    My problem is usually finding the time to take three different international trips a year in amongst the constant domestic work travel that gets me the SWUs to start with.

    I will say though that if a grand in total differences between lowest and W is going to break the bank, maybe you want to change travel strategies.

    I mean, live your life how you want, but if you're stressing over that jinx of margin, you can't be having much fun at your destination.
     
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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Agreed; that would be better for the customer.
    I can have fun at the destination precisely because I'm saving that money on the airfare. That's why many of my flights are in coach. The times I have bought up to the W are limited, but it has always worked out for me in the end, at least so far.
     
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  18. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I believe that two contradictory issues are being conflated to come up with the weird notion that SWUs are useless, a statement with which I completely disagree. While it is true that one must pay a little more to be able to apply an SWU (issue #1), the value that one gets out of that little extra on a long-haul TPAC flight in terms of comfort and savings compared to outright purchasing a C ticket is absolutely priceless (issue #2). I have done at least 3 RT TPACs this year and failed to clear only one of 6 intl segments (one SWU returned as a result), but in the process I got to fly on p.s. each time, as all trips went through SFO, and I cannot imagine doing the remaining 12+ hours in the air in anything less than NC! Bottom line: Compare the price between an upgradable Y ticket (e.g., W) and an outright C ticket and factor in the duration of each TPAC flight and you will see that SWUs are your best friend. The little extra that one pays to be able to upgrade is insignificant...really....unless I am missing something.
     
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  19. geclub1
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    geclub1 Silver Member

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    Really? One can use AA SWU on BA? Reference please!
     
  20. EX-LAX

    EX-LAX Silver Member

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    Is it at all possible to agree that some people get their upgrades on SWU's and some people do not?
    Is it also possible that those that do not get upgraded are feeling sort of ripped off because they paid more for the possible opportunity to ride in the next cabin forward and did not get get it?
    Is it possible that those who decided to take the chance to get an upgrade did so feeling that if they pulled a Tebow long enough that divine intervention would prevail and they would get their prayers answered?
    Is it also agreeable that in the past there were more FN & CN's available in advance at lower W fares?
    Is it a teeny weeny bit possible to concur that using SWU"s the past few years is akin to non-reving, only at a much greater cost?

    Therefore, is possible to agree that SWU's today are not the bargain that they were in the past, with the exception of those few lucky folks that have been fortunate enough to book flights that are to less popular destinations during low seasons.

    Bottom line --- The airlines are in the business of making money any way they can and not in the business of catering to folks that think that being loyal gives them the right to ride in an $8,000.00 seat for peanuts. I have made 44 round trips from the west coast to BKK in 2005, 2006, and 2007 ( all in 3 years on UAL) ALL in business class using SWU's and miles and I was very fortunate to do so, but believe me those days are over, sports fans!

    For me SWU's are just CR-1's and nothing more, but for some who will never give up believing that UA/CO loves them for their loyalty and unfettered belief that somehow there will be an hour or so computer glitch, in the future, and their upgrade will clear 3 months out, I can only say GO BRONCO"S!!!
     
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  21. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    It may be time to start a "SWU Successes and Failures" thread to get a sense for how 'bad" things are. Except for once during the summer and once at the end of each year, all my intl trips are for biz purposes, meaning that I pay very little out of pocket, so paying a little more that will reimbursed to get an upgradable ticket makes sense. What I really have not noticed, and I thank my lucky stars for this, is a decrease in the rate at which my SWUs have cleared. I really do get shocked when I find myself riding in the back of plane on a long trip, since I have had such a string of successes with upgrades (all kinds actually, not just intl).

    The equivalence between CR1s and SWUs holds only if one does not do much intl travel, for which CR1 are useless.
     
  22. EX-LAX

    EX-LAX Silver Member

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    [quote="NYCUA1K, post: 1111348" ..........so paying a little more that will reimbursed to get an upgradable ticket makes sense. [/quote]

    Bingo!!!

    Only one word missing in this very astute statement, and I mean that with all sincerity!
    That word is "CONFIRMED" ( in advance) upgradeable ticket!

    Waitlisting on an international ticket, at inflated prices, just ain't in the cards for me.
    However, for others it appears that this is no problem, so I think that it is wonderful to know that these generous folks are willing to take a chance at an upgrade 330 days in advance, and may be regulated to ride in steerage, after paying more than others sitting next to them paid.

    To each their own, which hopefully means E+ for the "Sorry, Business/First has checked in full" hopefuls!
     
  23. 2wheels

    2wheels Silver Member

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    try UDUStats.com. Anything that is started will be self reported, so not entirely accurate, but its a start, and better laid out than a thread would be
     
  24. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I just checked UDUstat.com and as now SWUs have been clearing at a rate of just under 90% and CR1 at just over 90%, which is QED, IME, as those seem like pretty good clearance rates to me...then again. for some, nothing short of 100% success rate would be acceptable.
     
  25. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    This is a small percentage of actual data, it's not even conclusive enough without a sampling of all SWU/CR1 requests systemwide...
     

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