More revenue ‘enhancements’ by United

Via Yahoo Finance:

Customers who want to breeze to their flights more quickly may now do so with United’s new Premier Line, the newest of the Travel Options by United(SM).

Starting at $25, Premier Line provides priority access to three types of specially reserved lines that offer customers convenience at check-in, security and boarding, including boarding for connecting flights.

Not surprisingly, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I understand United’s need to generate revenue, but at the same time many argue that it’ll devalue the experience of elites. I’m actually not too worried, since I can’t imagine there being a huge market for this. Who exactly are they targeting by offering this, when you can already instantly check-in online? The only real benefit here is security lines at stations that have them, and being able to board early.

By the way, I’m betting that people that purchase this will try to board via the red carpet. The advertising is actually pretty deceptive, since it shows someone going down the red carpet for check-in, security, and boarding.

On a whole, United really is taking the “travel options” to the max, between this, buying Economy Plus, seats, door-to-door baggage, Award Accelerator, etc. What’s truly insulting is that United charges full fare coach passengers for all this, which some other airlines (like Continental) don’t. When someone’s paying near a dollar a mile to fly, is an Economy Plus seat and priority boarding too much to ask for?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Wow. Are we excited. Note that per United’s terms, that 25 bucks is per flight/leg, not for your entire itinerary, as Premier Line must be “purchased for each separate leg of the itinerary.” And the boarding is with “Seating Area 1” not with the elites. What another waste.

  2. At the rate UA is going with their ways of generating new revenue, there soon will be no benefit of being elite: the elite/frequent traveler security lines will be long with people who decided to pay and pretty much the entire aircraft could be seating area 1.

    Kudos to UA for making their most “valued” frequent fliers feel more special!

  3. I think the most serious factor of this new ‘enhancement’ is not any possible elite dillution, but rather, the impression of just how poor United’s financial situation is right now. When they start offering nearly everything that used to be “elite-only” for a fee in order to generate revenue, it has to make you concerned that UA’s liquidity is in dire straits.

    For example, look at the excellent follow-up article posted in the Washington Times about the continued StarNet award blocking. UA states that if they open up all award seats on all partners, there is concern that UA won’t be able to pay those fees. Yikes!!

    In other words, when you look at how much revenue this new ‘enhancement’ will generate (probably not much at all) versus “how far deep in the trench they are digging” (in terms of selling E+, elite security/boarding access, award accelerator, etc), it illustrates that UA is in the financial crapper.

  4. In elite-heavy airports like SFO, this is going to be a real problem. Oftentimes the elite line is long with real elites. This will make it even worse, because sometimes the non-elite line at SFO extends half way down the lobby.

  5. But the graphic/video is deceptive, and makes it look like clear sailing. Is this how the UA marketing team sees these benefits?

  6. All excellent points. I can picture it now, a “Premier for a day” waving their boarding pass and trying to skip everyone on the red carpet, saying “Excuse me, excuse me, I’m a Premier for a day, out of my way!” 😀

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