Tuesday, December 13, 2011

United's Upgrade Policies - My Perspective

I am a great supporter of the bloggers at BoardingArea.com.

Today, I read the following:

United Airlines needs to change its Unlimited Domestic Upgrade program

I am sympathetic to that person who did not get his/her upgrade. However, I think Darren is wrong in this case.

United's Upgrade Policies is the most generous in the entire air travel industry. United did not score Best Elite Program for nothing. Based on my research, in summary:

1. United offers the largest area for complimentary upgrade, even intra-Asia flights are eligible (which Delta does not offer at all).

2. United has the least restrictive Systemwide Upgrade.

When I read stories about top-tier elites did not get what they want, like stuck in a middle seat, upgrade failure with full-fare tickets, my first reaction is they don't know how the game is played.

When you buy a last-minute ticket,  a typical customer knows that the price is going to be expensive and there will be less choices of seats for sure (I have a one-time exception - I bought a same-day return Round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Los Angeles within 48 hours of departure in last year. I got the "regular" price and even my upgrade got cleared at the gate).

Let's face the reality. The flight is almost full (or full) and you still want to find a good seat? It is somehow impossible, even you are a top-tiered elite. In this case, the wisdom is go to the airport early to see possible for reassignments, as some people may not show up for their flights.

Beside - the root of the issue is not United's Upgrade Policies, but simply United has too many elites.

If you have read my previous trip report, then you will know how crazy it is the current situation - almost half of a Boeing 737 are elites.

As a customer (elite or not), you do have a choice - to fly or not to fly with an airline. Use your money to vote. Making complaints like this will never help.

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