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A Quick Note about United Switching to a Continental-Like Unlimited Domestic Upgrade Scheme

You may have heard that United is moving from its somewhat confusing current upgrade format for Elites to a Continental-like unlimited domestic upgrade scheme.  If you haven’t heard it, shoot on over to View from the Wing or One Mile at a Time for all the details.  Enjoy.

I just wanted to note (as they have as well) that for who knows what reason United has chosen to exclude its transcon P.S. service from this plan.  If you want to upgrade on those flights you’ll have to break out the miles and the wallet for the co-pay, baby.  If unlimited upgrades are supposed to be a benefit for Elites, why would you exclude the (supposed) premier domestic service from that benefit?  I don’t want to hear about not wanting to fill the front cabin with upgrades.  They sell lots of seats up front on those routes.  Every frequent flyer feels that each time an airline adds something, they take something away.  This is another case of petty restrictions that annoy the crap out of loyal travelers.

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  1. The “p.s.” routes aren’t really even that premium anymore, the cutbacks have been drastic over the past few years. A 3-cabin aircraft flying IAD-LAX or IAD-SFO is far more desirable than flying p.s. JFK-LAX/SFO.

    What’s more, both American and Delta (and continental with LAX-EWR) provide upgrades on the route. United is just uncompetitive.

    Ultimately, though, these seats won’t magically get sold because United doesn’t run the upgrade algorithm for them. It just means they’ll do operational upgrades on departure instead. The coach cabin on these flights is small, they overbook, folks will be sitting up front coach tickets.

    The real killer though is eliminating the 8 confirmed upgrade certificates a year that 1K flyers get — that have been used to upgrade domestic flights AT BOOKING. Without those, United loses the edge it had over American in benefits for 100,000-mile flyers.

    United has taken the best top tier program in the industry and made it… second best.

    And hate to be a lower-tier elite, now the only real benefit is economy plus because with unlimited upgrades for 1Ks those Premiers will be seeing the front cabin much less often. I guess they’re getting rid of 500’s so that their premiers don’t see all of their 500 mile upgrade certificates expire!

  2. As a former Silver Elite with Continental, I have felt the pain of never, ever actually getting an upgrade (especially since I live near EWR).

    And even with the P.S. degredation, it’s better than the insanely cramped miserable 737 coach service that Continental offers (I don’t want to hear that they give you half a turkey sandwich and so I should be happy). I’ll take the PS legroom over cramped CO any day.

    And you hit the biggest nail on the head: UA used to have an edge over AA. That’s gone now…

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