Upgrades for families

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by WilCo, Apr 17, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    Learned a few things recently that hopefully will help others. Item 2 is probably the most important.
    1. Using GPUs is frustrating (most know this, but this was my first attempt). LEARNING: don't go out of your way to book a W fare or higher. If its what they are selling already, fine. Otherwise, it may not be worth the extra money unless you can confirm immediately (again, recognize that others already know this).
    2. Using GPUs for a family is frustrating. It seems that if you have more than 1 or 2 on a reservation, you will be skipped every time inventory is released because united only seems to release 1 or 2 seats at a time. LEARNING: book no more than 1 or 2 on a reservation. This is a lot of work, especially with children because you have to call to get E+ seats, plead for the baggage benefit, have them link the records to avoid unaccompanied minor scenario, etc. that would happen by default if on a ticket with an elite member.
    3. Trying to split a reservation is impossible if multiple carriers are involved. Yep, this also is frustrating. (Learned this during the process as I saw we were getting skipped or upgrades. If united splits the reservation, the other carrier is likely to see it as a cancelled ticket).

    Hope it helps another family. We went from 8 seats available to 3 in the past few days, just a few seats at a time. Yes, I recognize a few more seats could have been sold (can't guarantee these were upgrades), but the above applies regardless from how the agents shared the process works. If their I formation was incorrect, would be happy to e corrected as it would make my travel planning much easier.

    My biggest frustration (though I don't see how united could do it differently easily) is that it is like people can cut in line. If the next in line needs 4 seats, I wish united could recognize that and not release any until 4 are available (or at the airport when it is obvious they won't have 4 left to release). Instead, they release 1 or 2 and the party of 4 gets skipped so thy person 5 or 6 in the upgrade list gets the seat. Repeat that a few times and the family of 4 will never clear.
     
  2. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Upgrades for a group are always tough so that the OP's rules above should come with this caveat because my experience with UA upgrades is that they are easier to secure than advertized, even for GPUs. In fact, they seem easier to get this year than a year ago, since out of 22 segments so far all but 3 cleared at booking, and 2 of 3 that did not clear at booking cleared just a few days later. For my 4 upcoming trips that have a total of 16 segments, upgrades for all but one have cleared. The one upgrade that has not yet cleared is for a trip that is still 4 months off, so that based on UA's internal data, it might be too early to release upgrades for that route, but I like my chances since the seat map now shows that only 3 of 24 First-class seats are occupied in this 2-cabin 767-300 metal. Last year, on the other hand, I had to wait quite a few times until just before departure date for the upgrades to clear.
     
  3. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    I disagree with point #1. In the last 12 months I have had 11 GPU-eliglble flights/segments for which I have paid extra for a W-fare. In all but 1 case, I have received the upgrade, and this includes high-demand routes like SFO-PEK and SFO-HKG.

    Also, it is unclear to me how you know that you were skipped in line. Are you basing it simply on the number of Business/First seats that were left on the aircraft? You acknowledge that more seats could have been sold - how do you know that you will be skipped if you have a reservation of 4 and only 2 seats are released? Was that confirmed by an agent at United? If so, a letter to United about the process could help future travellers.
     
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  4. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    Yes, the agent said that if less seats are released, then we would be skipped. Now whether the agent knows with certainty how it works, I can't say for sure.
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The agent is correct. If you are at the top of the list (GS on a Y fare) and have 4 pax on the PNR and only 2 are release then none of the 4 will be upgraded.
     
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  6. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Yes but the question is: do they skip over the party if four and give the upgrades to she next party on the list ?
     
  7. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    That would be correct (if you can't be accommodated). Kind of like when a table for 2 or 3 comes up at a restaurant and you've got a party of 4.
     
  8. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    Thanks for confirming.

    Caveat: rules at the gate are different. There was one seat remaining and 1 of my party could get it.

    Key lesson: if mixed itinerary with another carrier, do initial booking as max 1 or 2 in party to improve chances. If united only, ask that they split the reservation to improve chances.
     
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  9. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    And others have a totally different experience. I had my first upgrade with SWU EVER not clear last May after 7 years as 1K. Since last March, I have not been able to get a single upgrade confirmed at booking, even 6 months out and I've had 5 intercont this year alone. Only one flight has been on United and it cleared the day of departure with 9 seats open in biz. I'm not playing that game.

    I just don't book UA anymore if the upgrade inventory is not available, so a record low number of intercont flight for this 1K the last year. There are so many better options to Europe for the same price or a lot cheaper confirmed at booking than the W upsell .
     
  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Sorry for not being explicit about it. Yes, the party of 4 will be skipped and smaller parties accommodated if a smaller number of seats is available.

    At the gate they will split the PNR to process the upgrade. The same can happen in advance if you proactively split the PNR, effectively reducing the parrty size.
     
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  11. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    Splitting PNR only works if United only itinerary. Tried multiple times to split the itinerary, but was told Lufthansa would see it as a cancellation if they did so.
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I've heard of this issue with award tickets but never revenue. :confused:
     
  13. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    Got an agent that split my revenue ua/LH itinerary (from 5 on 1 pnr to 2/1/1/1). No issue. Called next day to split the final pnr after 2 of the singles got upgraded (proving my theory that the multiple person pnr gets skipped since try we're the first added to upgrade wait list and all were on same fare using my 1K status)...agent didn't want to split as I sends a cancel to lufthansa and the same inventory wasn't available.

    She confirmed sets were for sale and worst case I might have to pay for higher fare to get back on same LH flight (which I assumed I could escalate if it happened), so I told her I was willing to take the risk. Sure enough, itinerary split fine again and we are confirmed in same fare class on LH. So perhaps the problem has been fixed recently, perhaps we got lucky, or perhaps it wa just a nasty rumor that beer ha truth to it.

    It seems, at least in some cases, A combined ua/LH revenue reservation can be split.
     
  14. WilCo
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    WilCo Silver Member

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    I can now report that upgrades have been released 1 at a time (we got all 5 seats, but 1 at a time) over the past 2 weekends.

    I split our single reservation into 4 reservations.
    Added first the reservation for 2 people to the upgrade list. Then added each of the 3 single passenger reservations.

    That night, 2 upgrades cleared (not the single reservation with 2 people). I called back in and split that reservation further now seeing that it seems they release 1 seat at a time. (Note: both received at 1:51 pm (assume 6:51 central time) but it seems the double reservation was skipped so perhaps thy release seats manually one a a time and if there are any singles on the waitlist, they receive before the 2nd seat is released)

    3rd seat cleared overnight at 12:26 am ( assume 5:26 pm friday night central time). Interesting enough, it was one if the people that had been on the 2-passenger itinerary that I put on the wait list first, but ten subsequently split the ticket further. 4th seat also cleared at 12:26 am last night. It was originally part of the 2-person itinerary also. 5th seat cleared at 9:17am (2:17 am central).

    In the end, all 5 seats cleared 2.5 weeks before our flight.
     

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