United seems to be getting creative with their Elite policy as Continental rears its head into Star Alliance.
We want you to be among the first to know that Mileage Plus will be introducing Unlimited Domestic Upgrades in the second quarter of 2010.
All members that have premier and higher status will enjoy unlimited domestic upgrades that will include Hawaii, which most of our competitors don’t do. You will no longer need to request an upgrade; you’ll automatically be on the list, making it much easier for you to enjoy a more comfortable flight.
With our exclusive Economy Plus seating, new unlimited amount of domestic upgrades and systemwide upgrades that typically have the fewest restrictions compared to our U.S. competitors, you now have the industry’s most comfortable seating.
Stay tuned for an e-mail from Mileage Plus tomorrow explaining the program in detail.
Ok – Lets chip away at this and work at the details.
- Firstly, it’s US Domestic Only – so for Elites thinking about booking that W fare to the USA from the UK, forget it.
- If you want to fly the fancny United P.S. Service from JFK-LAX/SFO, no upgrades there.
United upgrades can be sponsored in a variety of ways:
- E-500′s – Rewarded for Loyaly and flying (and can be brought) – Withdrawn (if you’re holding E500’s – they’re usable until expiry)
- CR1 – Confirmed Region 1 Upgrades (Lower 48 States) – Withdrawn (if you’re holding E500’s – they’re usable until expiry)
- SWU – Single Way Upgrade – Useful for the entire network worldwide – Retained
- and of course Miles – Retained.
In addition – how soon your upgrade will clear will be depend on your route and what status you are. Leaving aside the route issue for a minute, lets break down the numbers:
|Global Services||120 hours prior to departure|
|1K||100 hours prior to departure|
|Premier Executive||72 hours prior to departure|
|Premier||48 hours prior to departure|
So – providing space is avalible,
GS’s (Global Services – Invite Only) clear in 5 days,
1K‘s (100,000m/pa) will clear in 4 days,
1P‘s (Premier Executives – 50,000m/pa) will clear in 3 days
2P‘s (Premiers – 50,000m/pa) will clear in 2 days
Note this applies to United Elites ONLY. Other Star Alliance Elites will be treated with the usual contempt we’ve come to know and love.
Now as we all know there are limited First Class seats on a plane (although HOW some of those ratty seats can be considered “First Class” in the USA is beyond me). For example:
Airbus A319 – 8
Airbus A320 – 12 (standard mainline configuration)
Boeing 757 – 24
Boeing 767 – 34 (US Domestic and Hawai’i)
Boeing 777 – 36 (US Domestic)
Certain Express services may have 3-5 “First” Class seats on too. Exculded for sake of arguments.
Now lets think about that for a second. There aren’t a lot of F class seats to start off with – even on a Boeing 777. For sake of argument, lets assume we are flying from Chicago O’Hare to Washington Dulles with an A319 (which is normal for a 9am service).
You have on that plane 8 First class seats. Lets assume that load isn’t that bad today, with 6 paying F, and a smattering all round of other tickets. Lets also assume there are 2 GS, 4 1K’s and another smattering of 1P’s/2Ps. The GS’s will be the only benefits in this game. Everyone else will have to stay in Economy.
Lets now look at this again – again an Elite Heavy Route from Chicago O’Hare to Los Angeles International. Can vary from an A320 to a B757 – and in this exercise, a 757 is up for grabs. Sales have been bad of F, so only 1/2 the seats are filled (12). There are a 4 GS’s this time on the plane, 6 1K’s, 10 1P’s and a smattering of 2P’s. Of course, the GS’s and 1K’s are the imminent beneficiaries. The poor 1P’s are stuck with the game of “who paid the most” – eg – Full Economy fares take advantage of lower paying fares – so 2 lucky 1P’s who probably brought the fare 3 days before flight will be fine. Everyone else – it’s a bunfight for a seat.
Oh, and those of you who brought non elite otherhalfs and children – they get treated like everyone else.
The bottom line: If you aren’t United Global Services or 1K (100,000 miles per annum flyer) and you’re on an elite heavy route – expect E+. Else, don’t expect a F class seat upgrade.
Whilst United should be commended for a bit of the “Out of the Box” thinking, sadly all I can see are bucket after bucket of moans being delivered as people will travel on the elite heavy routes, finding no F seats – or having to route round the shops to if they want to travel in First
A classic case of raising expectations – before dashing them in the same breath.
One Mile at a Time has excellent coverage of the coming changes.
Let the seating bunfight begin!