UA 1K: More Upgrades on UA or CO Metal?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by seaflyguy, Jul 1, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. seaflyguy
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    seaflyguy Silver Member

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    I'm a UA 1K and I've done the account linking bit, so now I'm a OnePass Platinum. And I know the general rule is to use my UA account when I fly UA metal and vice-versa. I haven't flown CO metal since linking, and I'm curious about peoples' experience.

    Am I more likely to be upgraded as a 1K flying UA metal, or as a Platinum flying CO metal? Today, my most common route is SEA-ORD/IAD-RDU, and on UA I'm probably upgraded 90 percent of the time, with the only misses when I change flights late in the game. If I'm flying SEA-EWR/IAH-RDU, should I expect a comparable hit ratio for upgrades? I've heard that CO likes to sell their upgrades before giving them to their elites, and so upgrades are harder to come by, but I have no idea whether this is true or not.
     
  2. Black Cloud
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    Black Cloud Gold Member

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    It's partially true. CO advertises the fare difference to "buy-up" from the whY cabin to F. The common phrase on FT is "tens of dollars" but there was a thread a while back that dispelled that notion pretty soundly. Buy-ups are often not cheap unless you're already on a B or Y fare.

    To answer your root question -- it's really variable based on the days you're traveling, the equipment type, the routes, and the fare-classes purchased. EWR - SEA will be tough, as all transcons are. Mid-cons like IAH - RDU generally aren't too bad. Also, flights that connect into outbound trans-atlantic / trans-pacific flights tend to have more paid first, as those customers are connecting on.

    Should also note that CO has a pretty generous insta-up program on Y/B/M fares, which is worth looking into.

    Really the best way to answer this question is to point you to pda.continental.com/info. Plug in your flights on the days you're most likely to travel and it will show who was upgrade and how many people were on the list. Not a perfect system because it doesn't delineate how people were upgraded, but it's better than nothing.

    Finally, take a moment to consider that CO has a F product that a lot of people think very highly of. Especially on transcons it's not uncommon to see only 2 or 3 upgrades (most likely full fares or mileage) and the rest in paid F.

    And finally, for anecdotal evidence, I'm running about 20% on UA as a 1k and 40% as a CO Plat. The UA number is severely handicapped though as I've experienced a lot of bad weather going through ORD and have shuffled flights around a lot so I'm just happy to get a seat.
     
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  3. Flyer1976
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    Flyer1976 Gold Member

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    Personally I've been having a higher % as a Plat on CO than as a 1K on UA...
     
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  4. tjtenor4
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    tjtenor4 Gold Member

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    Way too many variables can make the answer very different from one FF to another. In 2010, I was 25/26 on UA metal as a 1K on almost exclusively S/T/L (i.e. low) fares; the only UG I missed was an A319 on an L fare from ORD-PHL. That same year, my fiancee (CO Plat)'s upgrade rate was something absurdly terrible - like 3/20 - on CO metal.

    It depends on your routes, dates, and equipment. But in general, CO suffers from the fact that a) CO has very few planes in their domestic fleet with more than 16 F seats (only some of the 738s; the 739s; and 753s), while over 1/2 of UA's domestic fleet has at least 24 F seats (the 757s, 767s, and 777s); and b) they have no RJs with F, which UA does.

    You'll find CO Plats who claim 90%+ upgrade rates; you'll find 1Ks who report sub-50% rates. Both of those are, in my opinion, outliers. UDUstats.com is a great resource for UA upgrade information, and it shows an 82% net upgrade rate for 1Ks. I can't speculate on the "true" upgrade rate for CO Plats, but if I had to guess, I'd say it's lower than UA, but not absurdly so - maybe 70% or so (somewhere in between UA's 1P rate of 63% and 1K rate of 82%). But a 70% average over tens of thousands of FFs is going to be all but meaningless to you if your usual route is EWR-SFO on lowball fares (in which case your upgrade rate will be near 0%), or if your usual route is, oh, a short-haul from CLE on a high fare (in which case you're going to get upgraded nearly 100% of the time).
     
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  5. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    I agree with others who say that there probably isn't a simple rule like 1K gets more than Plat or vise-versa.

    My own experience flying mainly from DCA, which means almost always starting with DCA-ORD or DCA-IAH, is that I've only missed a handful of upgrades on either airline all year on the initial or final leg. And it doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason...I've gotten plenty of 319 upgrades to ORD but missed random weekday mid-afternoon 320s. And I just missed a random Tuesday afternoon IAH-DCA 73G on CO earlier this week after having hit plenty of Monday morning and Thursday evening upgrades.

    Anecdote isn't the singular of data, but in my experience there just really isn't much difference in upgrade rates between the two carriers when flying the same kind of outpost (but major business airport) to hub route and both offer very good upgrade rates. I haven't bothered to track it carefully, but I'm well above 75% this year both overall and on the DCA-XXX routes.

    I suspect that those who report really low rates are flying very high elite demand routes and times or route/time combinations with abnormally high amounts of paid premium traffic (international connections or paid premium transcons).
     
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  6. seaflyguy
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    seaflyguy Silver Member

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    Lots of great information here. Thanks to the CO experts for enlightening me!

    On UA metal, I typically choose 757s for my mid-con and trans-con flights to maximize my upgrade chances, and that works fairly well as a strategy -- even SEA-IAD, I'm at about 80-90 percent. My takeaway from this discussion is that I'm probably going continue to default to UA metal, 757s where possible, but I'll choose CO if and when their flights are some combination of cheaper, more convenient, and with >16 F seats.
     
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  7. bonnerbl
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    bonnerbl Gold Member

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    Completly anecdotal so you can see how it varies. UA 1K upgrades me frequently. CO Platinum upgrades never. I'm usually on UA flights SFO-EWR/JFK/ORD/PDX and CO flights SFO-IAD/EWR. Lots of good tips in your replies - like making sure you use the CO Platinum number on CO metal, and the pda site (new one for me), and the so obvious I never thought of it -- fly larger planes.
     
  8. Minnesota Bruin
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    Minnesota Bruin Silver Member

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    I'm about 90% as 1K on UA and 65% as Plat on CO generally W or S fares with some E/H/Qs. I find that going through CLE greatly increases the chances of upgrades on CO. I've never gotten an upgrade LAX-EWR, 40% LAX-IAH, and 100% LAX-CLE. Mrs. Bruin is 1P/Gold and is also 100% through CLE.
     
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  9. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    My experience as 1K/Platinum has been running 90% on UA and more like 60% on CO. As others have said, it depends a lot on the aircraft, day of week, and sometimes on route. I always try to book 757's with 24 seats, and that increases the odds a lot. CO isn't flying many 757s domestically these days - at least I see a lot more 738's and 739's and those can very very tough upgrades on any transcon route to/from EWR. The flights I have taken RDU-IAH have been on 735, which only has 8 F seats and I have never gotten an upgrade. IAH-SEA seems easier but it is time of day/day of week dependent.

    I think EWR-RDU has been on Q400 so there's no F at all, though I had heard some of that was to move to 70 seat UA jets - don't know if that has happened or delayed due to pilot scope objections. The biggest problem is that UA doesn't seem to have good options leaving RDU after about 2:30pm (either bad options or already booked to high fare classes), and CO has a better evening schedule and availability.
     
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  10. dogcrazy
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    dogcrazy Silver Member

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    Is it possible to apply UA SWU upgrade for Continental international flight ?
     
  11. sonoma

    sonoma Silver Member

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    Not yet...
     
  12. WaterSki
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    WaterSki Silver Member

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    I'm 0 for 6 on DCA-IAH and vv. Granted those have all been "rush hour" business flights -- 5pm Wed/Thu DCA-IAH and Sunday night or Mon/Tue AM IAH-DCA. Now I know to avoid booking Thu/Fri/Mon weekend flights out of DCA on CO if I want to get upgraded.
     
  13. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I have actually been getting more upgrades on CO this year vs. UA. It was the opposite last year, with almost no CO upgrades... I might have had 1. I usually fly 50/50 each airline with my family in SFO and my gf's in Texas.
     

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