I missed another upgrade this week. Although I’ve got more SWUs and CR-1s than I know what to do with, I figured I’d have no trouble clearing an A320 (12 first class seats) on a Monday night Denver to Philadelphia flight that was was F9, NF9 at the the 1K window. I was wrong.
There must have been quite a few Global Service and 1K members traveling with companions, because the flight quickly dropped to F3, NF0 with me left on the waitlist just past the 100-hour window. By the morning of departure, the flight was zeroed out. I still figured I had a shot at the upgrade (and as it turned out, I was first on a list of two dozen names on the waitlist), but first class checked in full and I was relegated to the exit row.
Although I am always surprised when I miss an upgrade, I do not get (too) disappointed anymore. Anyone can survive in coach for few hours and being in the back helped me be more productive: I got a lot of work done on the flight. Furthermore, it’s not like a missed a great meal up front. Only a pannini was served because the flight departed after 7pm. I was just a little surprised because I’ve taken this evening DEN-PHL flight multiple times before, on A320s, and always easily cleared the upgrade list.
It seems the T-fares I purchase have been cursed. The lower priced L-fares always clear, but all three missed upgrades this year have been on T-fares. I hope UA made a decent profit on the flight, because I paid over $200 for the o/w ticket. That’s usually how much I pay for a r/t!
All this to say, even if you are a 1K you should not expect the upgrade to always come through, especially on aircraft with smaller first class sections. If you really want to sit in first class, burn a regional upgrade (assuming there is confirmable upgrade space available).
Ironically, missing an upgrade makes me want to do one thing: fly more.
I cleared some UDUs on T-fares this weekend. (I am also typically an L-fare flyer.) I would have felt the same confidence as you did seeing F9 NF9 at the 1K window. I find it hard to adjust to using CR-1s for flights that are unlikely to clear UDUs instead of also giving CR-1 preference to flights that are long (and would have formerly eaten up a lot of e500s).
@chrisw: I’ve been so stingy with my CR-1s in the past that I hated to even use them on transcons, preferring to use them for trips between Hawaii and the East Coast (there you get your bang for your buck). Since UDU started, the Hawaiian flights have been extremely easy upgrades, so I’ve saved the CR-1s for family and friends plus p.s. flying.
I still can’t bring myself to burning a CR-1 for use on a DEN-PHL flight, but that is almost certainly a flight that would have cleared with 4 e500s under the old system.
@Matthew I thought the 1K window was 100 hours.
“that was was F9, NF9 at the the 1K window”
“flight quickly dropped to F3, NF0 with me left on the waitlist at the 100-hour window”
seem to be the same time.
@Michael: Good catch. What I meant was just after the 100-hr mark, the flight dropped to F3, NF0 with me still on the waitlist.
I have corrected the original post.
@Matthew I thought it was a typo but with all those mysterious A320, CR1, SWU, 1K, F9; N9 terms I thought I might have missed something about the upgrade process etc.
I guess I need a pillow 🙂
Now a real upgrade question.
Aren’t you 1K with your 200k miles but let’s suppose you are in any case.
If you were 1K and NF9 (if I am right this means there are at least 9 chairs/slots available for upgrade?) at the 1K window (the earlist time a 1K member can upgrade?) then you could have clicked a button somewhere at united.com and been upgrade, correct?
Where and when do you see the NF9 number?
Where and how in the ticketing/post ticketing process do you upgrade?
You guys need a FAQ or a Wiki because this seems like a common question.
@Michael: I am a 1K and earned over 200,000 EQMs on UA last year.
Upgrades are processed according to status first, then according to fare paid. United offers complimentary domestic upgrades for elite members which are automatically requested when you book your ticket. The upgrade request is “pending” until your elite window (120 hrs for GS, 100 for 1K, 75 for 1P, 48 for 2P, and 24 for everyone else), then it goes to either “confirmed” if there are upgrade seats available (NF/NC) or “waitlisted”.
In my case, there must have been a number of 1K members who purchased higher fare buckets than I did, so when the 100-hr mark hit, they got preference on the upgrades. With UA’s upgrade program, a companion on your itinerary enjoys your status in terms of getting upgrades, so if five 1Ks were traveling with a no-status companion on a higher priced ticket than I was, those ten would get the upgrades.
We’re working on a website re-design at upgrd.com and I do plan to include a FAQ section on the revamped site.