too risky? too much for a newbie?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by scf, Dec 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. scf

    scf Silver Member

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    I'm pretty new at this and need some expert opinions...

    I just booked a DEQM MR flight on UA ORD-SFO-ORD. 8am departure, gets back to Chicago around 7pm the same day.

    Where I'm concerned is that I've got a 9:00 pm flight, business class ORD-LHR for work that same night...what if I run into major weather delays getting back in Chicago and miss my outbound ORD-LHR flight...Since the tickets are booked separately, I doubt that they'd hold the plane or reticket me if I can't get back to Chicago in time.

    I've checked weatherchannel.com and the weather looks decent in both SFO and ORD - granted, its a 10 day forecast and we all know how accurate those are. I've also checked flightstats.com. The on time performance rating for that time of day for both legs (ord-sfo, 8 am and sfo-ord, 1 pm) look pretty decent at 80%+

    Is that too risky? Too much flying in one day for a rookie? What do you guys think?

    All in all, with both flights and the extra promotions I'll get around 60k miles (15k of which are EQM). I'm doing the MR to gain silver elite status for 2012 and I unfortunately can't travel on any other days.

    I booked the DEQM MR just an hour ago so can still cancel if need be.

    Thoughts? opinions? reality checks?

    thank you!
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    That's tricky but it might work out... if you know the airport and you're already there, it shouldn't be a huge deal to make your way back through and to your LHR flight.

    Ballsy, I'll give you that, and you're going to be tired like a dog, but a tip of the hat to you sir. :)

    Welcome aboard.
     
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  3. mikeef
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    mikeef Silver Member

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    Neither SFO nor ORD is a great airport for weather. 10 days out puts you at mid-December. Exactly how important is it for you to be on that flight to London? If it's not a big deal, go for it. If it is absolutely essential, I'd rethink it.

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is important to examine the risk/reward trade-off. Low-tier status simply isn't worth your job.

    Mike
     
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  4. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yeah but you can argue that he's on the redeye to LHR... if the weather goes south, he's not leaving anyway.

    Although I do agree that it's risky coming back 2 hours before your work-related flight is scheduled to depart, but like I said chances are that any weather-related IROPS would happen at ORD and his departing flight is the one that would get stuck.
     
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  5. mikeef
    Original Member

    mikeef Silver Member

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    Very fair point. I'm conservative by nature, so I'd probably chew off all my nails between now and the flight!

    By now, the OP has made his/her decision...

    Mike
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Can you stand by for earlier flights? (is there one from ORD before 8am?)

    Worst case, if you find on the day of travel that the weather is terrible at ORD or SFO, you could move the ORD-SFO-ORD to a later date for a $150 change fee.

    As for holding the plane, no, unless your SFO-ORD is full of passengers continuing on to LHR there's very little chance they'd hold the plane for you. They wouldn't even know you'd be delayed.

    Rebooking is possible, in my experience. I had two separate PNRs where the "connection" broke due to the mechanical in DEN and the agents at customer service worked their magic and got me on another flight that was already oversold. Probably helped that I was a 1K, though.
     
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  7. scf

    scf Silver Member

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    thanks for your great responses everyone!

    If I don't make the 9pm ORD-LHR flight then there is another one the following day at 3:50pm, arriving at 5:55am. I'd make all of my Monday meetings still but would miss the chance to hang out with a good friend of mine on Sunday.

    I called UA and learned that I could fly out of ORD at 7:00am (same W class fare) arriving in SFO at 9:55am. However, earlier flights from SFO-ORD are only available on an E class fare which increases the ticket price by another $122, raising the original cpm from $0.043 to $0.060. The two earlier return options are as follows:

    Outbound:
    ORD-SFO ==> dpt 7:00am arr 9:55am (w fare)

    Return:
    Option 1
    SFO - ORD ==> dpt 11:00am arr 5:10pm (e fare)
    Option 2
    SFO - ORD ==> dpt 11:50am arr 6:00pm (e fare)

    With that increase, comes a few more questions:

    1) Is the turnaround between the 9:55 arrival into SFO and the 11:00 departure from SFO to ORD doable or too close?
    2) Would the one hour difference between option 2 (arriving back in ORD at 6:00pm) be worth an extra $122? Is there a large difference between 2 hour layover and a 3 hour layover?
    3) If the weather is bad enough to delay my flight, independant of which one I book, a 2 hour layover vs a 4 layover may not even matter...I might get stuck in SFO no matter what I do.
     
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  8. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    1-2 hr flight delays when the weather is bad (and that doesn't mean snow storms, just low clouds or fog) at SFO isn't uncommon. RIght now it's beautiful here. A couple days ago it was very foggy. I think four hour departure delays are rather uncommon. Then again, there are other reasons for a misconnect. On my last flight out of SFO it was beautiful weather and we returned from the runway to the gate with an engine problem that took two hours to fix. Misconnected internationally at IAD (our layover there was only 1 hr 20 mins, though).

    If your inbound flight is on time, a one hour connection is plenty to make it to the departure gate for the next flight. If you're 45 mins delayed out of ORD...

    Ultimately you need to make your own determination as to whether the more expensive flight is worth the decreased chance of a delay/misconnect. I'd probably rather pay $122 than worry for the next ten days if I am going to make it or not.
     
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  9. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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  10. scf

    scf Silver Member

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    Thanks for the insider info on SFO HaveMiles - and I agree, the extra $122 may be worth it. However, I still wonder how much good it would do if weather is bad enough to cause the delay in the first place. I'm starting to wonder if I should take Friday afternoon off and make the MR then.

    Mattsteg - I've read about that option to buy EQM through CO's elite maximizer before - clever strategy. The cpm is around $.13 right now which seems a bit steep, I'm not sure I'd want to spend $720 to get 5,500 miles that I need. Granted, I do avoid the hassle of traveling etc etc..but where's the fun in that? I may rather spend the $320 for the flight and enjoy the experience. Granted, I've never done an MR before and my rosie outlook might change after ORD-SFO-ORD. Also, not sure I like how much it takes advantage of the system - would be concerned that CO/UA would go back on the deal. Maybe I'm just overly cautious?

    And as for why silver status is worth it? I expect to travel more this coming year and would like the little things that come with even the lowest status - unlimited domestic upgrades, economy plus, priority boarding, shorter security lines, etc etc. Also the cost to upgrade using miles on certain flights is waived with elite status. Granted, the $500 fee is still there for all elite levels to upgrade european flights which doesn't really seem logical...at all.

    Still debating on what to do...thanks again for everyone's input!
     
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  11. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

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    What do you mean "takes advantage of the system" "going back on the deal"? Buying EQM miles is a option. (after you are ticketed on CO). It is on the CO website for all to take advantage of, you are not scamming them or the system. I picked up a few back in sept to put me over the top to silver for next year myself (as my 2011 flying was done). You say it's .13 now...it's gone up. I think I paid around .08 for mine. But, I guess the end of year push allows them to bump up the rate.

    Also, most of the benefits you want can be had by simply getting one of the chase credit cards. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news but upgrades as a silver out of ORD....good luck with that. (I'm in the same boat out of IAH). You will be at the bottom of the pecking order so I wouldn't hold your breath. If it was me I wouldn't even waste my time or money going for silver this year. I'd take that money and buy some first class ticks next year and a)enjoy the bennies of the front of the plane and b) those tics get you to higher elite status faster.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I'd get the credit card for some of the benefits and use the money saved on the MR to buy up to E+ where it matters (note that as Silver next year you can't pick E+ until 24 hrs before departure anyway).
     
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  13. scf

    scf Silver Member

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    I suppose it's a bit discouraging to hear from everyone how little silver status actually means. I wonder if other silver members calling ORD home have the same outlook?

    That being said, the benefits of the united explorer card by chase are only available if the flight is booked using that card. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but it matters when half of my flights are paid through a centralized travel agency by my company. I definitely agree that the card makes a lot of sense, but would miss the priority boarding and security when traveling for work.

    Also, I wouldn't imagine $320 would go very far against a first class ticket or even many E+ purchases.

    Thanks again for your input everyone.
     
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  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Interesting, I didn't know that there was such a clause. However...

    From the T&Cs at https://www.theexplorercard.com/MPYoureIn40kAFW.aspx


    • Free Checked Bag:
      Free bag is for first checked bag for up to two people per reservation. Fees for additional/oversized/overweight bags will apply. Purchase of ticket(s) with MileagePlus®Explorer Business Card required. Get details.

    • Priority Boarding:
      MileagePlus Explorer Card members will be granted boarding access to the plane after the boarding of Special Needs passengers, Elites and those with Premier Access designations, but before General Boarding of the remaining passengers. Benefits apply to the primary cardmember on the credit card account and anyone traveling on the same reservation. Benefits are available as long as the credit card account is open and not in default.Upon cancellation of the credit card account, all benefits will be cancelled. Chase is not responsible for the provision of or failure to provide the stated benefits.



    First of all, I don't see anything about priority security. Are there different offers with different benefits?

    Then, free first bag requires purchase with the card, but I assume if you travel on business you will be able to expense a checked bag, so it really should only matter for personal travel.

    Priority Boarding doesn't seem to require the ticket purchase to be made with the card.

    It could be a nice down payment for annual E+ access, though. $425 (increasing to $499 in January, though).

    Not saying this is the right approach for you, just throwing out ideas :)
     
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  15. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    As others mentioned, upgrades (unless you are traveling a lot of off-peak times, weekend mornings, maybe occasionally midweek) are going to be few and far between as a bottom-tier elite in a hub, especially with United's small F cabins, upper level elite companion upgrades clearing ahead of lower elites, and large elite pool when combined with CO flyers. E+ is a positive, but only available for free at checkin next year. Priority boarding can be had via credit card. Priority security can be obtained with an expensive credit card that also gives lounge access (presidential plus). You get more free bags with the CC than by being low elite.

    Other than last-minute free E+ checkin, maybe an upgrade or two, and a few fee waivers and better IROPS treatment, the Presidential Plus card gives more benefits than being bottom elite.

    Do you fly short or long routes? How much is your travel looking to pick up, and what do you expect to reach in mileage this year?
     
  16. icurhere2
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    icurhere2 Gold Member

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    Reading all of this, my recommendation would be to enjoy the J-class ticket purchased by the company and focus on qualifying within 2012. Stated up front, I'm fairly risk-averse* but can tell you that if there is a cancellation for any reason in SFO (equipment, crew, etc.), the individual without current status has almost no chance of making the next SFO-ORD flight.

    * I almost missed an out-of-pocket trip to SYD last year when I had scheduled 14 hours between itineraries, and I hold the highest tier on my preferred carrier. DL ended up paying AA to bump someone off a flight that was already soliciting volunteers, an act I never expect to happen again in my flying career.
     
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  17. bk3day
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    bk3day Gold Member

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    If you go for it & run into problems , I'm in the camp that believes if you are polite & persistent, UA will help you get to LHR, despite the separate PNRs.

    Given that travel disruptions can occur at anytime, one important acronym to learn is ORC (original routing credit)

    For whatever reason, anytime UA gets you to your destination more directly than you had booked, after your trip, you can request Mileage Plus credit your account for the EQM & RDM you would have earned if you had taken the flights you booked.

    Good luck
     
  18. scf

    scf Silver Member

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    Thanks again everyone - all good tips and potential work arounds.

    Considering that with the new CO/UA rewards program gold status essentially becomes silver and silver becomes what I'd dub NonElite-Elite or simply Elitish, you guys are right. I think I'd rather put that $300 for a MR towards the Presidential card and get the added bonus of lounge access. That or simply pocket the cash.

    I will say though, after reading all of the negative opinions and stories about the new UA program and low chance for any upgrades (free domestic or by using miles on int'l) I'm starting to wonder if I should look for an alternate airline. Or maybe I'm just looking at an uphill battle towards an elite status that would actually mean something and need to be patient. Time will tell.

    Either way, I appreciate everyone's insights - thank you again.

    Ps - am planning on canceling the ORD-SFO MR in the next hour.
     
  19. scf

    scf Silver Member

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    ...and cancelled. done and done.
     
  20. curtis1120

    curtis1120 Silver Member

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    thanks for sharing this. I learned so much from reading the back and forth.
     
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  21. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    All programs have their relative advantages and disadvantages, and 25k status at this point will not get you a ton of benefits on any airline. Preferred seating, upgrades if you fly off-peak times, priority security/boarding, a bit better handling in IROPS, free bag check, and a token 25% bonus are pretty much what to expect. With AA upgrades would be earned or purchased, rather than unlimited, so may be easier to get if you're willing to pay up. With the rest, unlimited upgrades for higher elites means minimal chances for low elites, depending on what routes and times you are flying (everyone cleared, even companions, on my flight last sunday, for example) UA has smaller first class cabins on some types, and with the combined elite program a lot of elites.

    Mid-tier is where the benefits tend to start to get a bit more meaningful.

    Regarding changing airlines, where do you fly? How important are nonstops? Also, when work buys tickets, is there flexibility to book with other airlines? What do you want most out of elite status, and what are you willing to pay for it?

    You know UA. Worth noting that only a 50% mile bonus for 50k flyers.
    AA also has a hub at ORD. domestic upgrades are paid/earned.
    US flies to its domestic hubs. Alliance flights to everywhere.

    I'm most familiar with DL so most detail here. DL has a non-hub but flies to 7 domestic hubs and alliance flights to international destinations AMS, CDG, FCO, ICN, MEX, GDL. As an elite in a non-hub, upgrade odds are likely to be better. You connect more, which means longer trips, but more earned miles. International upgrades not really an option. Miles are considered devalued, but earning is decent, and if you want to go all in there are a lot of non-flight ways to earn elite miles.

    I'd probably end up at UA in your situation, AA if EXP was realistic.
     
  22. UA191

    UA191 Silver Member

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    Make
    Make sure you tell the agent at SFO that you have another flight on a seperate reservation to LHR. They can connect the two itineraries & even transfer your checked luggage to the other flight without you having to re-check them. That way, UA will know that you're not just a no-show.

    Good luck!
     
  23. travelmi

    travelmi Silver Member

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    If I will get 25K miles a year. I would get it on AA. At least I can pick E+ (sort of) including exit row for free. wavied baggage fee, waived standby fee, priority security, priority boarding. I do get the Presidential card to help when I need to fly UA
     
  24. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I wouldn't necessarily call preferred seats "E+", although they are certainly preferable to non-preferred seats, whichever the airline. The value of AA vs. the other airlines at low level elite is highly dependent on travel patterns - if you fly off-peak enough to actually get upgrades, the others offer a compelling alternative. Of course, route availability is always a major consideration.
     

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