Sometimes it pains me to blog. I love sharing as much information as possible with my loyal readers, but at the same time there are some things that can’t be posted about until they’re gone. As much as I’d like to share that type of info with loyal readers while the deal is still alive, anyone can read the blog and it could lead to the deal being pulled in a matter of days (or faster).
Well, it was a good run while it lasted. Specifically, the $550 paid first class fare on United between Tampa and Ontario. Matthew over at Upgrd does a good job summing up the changes.
So let’s talk about the fare a bit. It was a “Y-UP” fare around $550 all-in and allowed up to four transfers in each direction. The fare wasn’t that unreasonable in the past, given that Tampa had Ted and so did Ontario. Matthew in his post above mentions he has a friend that ended up in coach for three of the four segments of his “first class” trip since the flights were operated by Ted aircraft. So that might explain why the “first class” fare was so reasonable. Either way, I wouldn’t pay $550 for domestic first class. It’s just not worth it, in my book, when I can upgrade so easily.
But at the time it was even better thanks to the fact that I was able to fly three cabin paid first class, including Premium Service first class, for $550 roundtrip. You see, it’s all a function of United’s wonderful IT system. Given that three cabin first class and two cabin first class both book into “F” and “A” buckets, the system really can’t tell the difference between a three cabin plane and a two cabin plane. If US airlines were smart they would solve this problem by calling domestic first class business class, and reserving the “first class” name for three cabin first class (which would also eliminate any confusion about first class lounge access).
The way United distinguishes three cabin flights from two cabin flights is by the flight number. If you look closely at the fare rules, “Y-UP” fares exclude certain flight numbers, which coincidentally are the same flights that are operated by three cabin aircraft. The issue was that they hadn’t added that restriction to this fare, so any flight with first class was acceptable.
So back during the first round of double EQM’s this year, I was flying in style. Actually, it was triple EQM’s for paid first class. I would fly from Tampa to Washington Dulles to New York JFK to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Ontario, all in paid first class (including Premium Service first class). Then I would return the following morning from Ontario to San Francisco to New York JFK to Washington Dulles to Tampa, again in first class. I can’t even begin to say how much fun it was, not to mention what a deal it was. For each trip I was earning around 27,000 EQM’s (9,000 base miles tripled), and the cost was $550 before applying vouchers. I also picked up so many vouchers thanks to all my PS flights, which were frequently oversold.
But seriously, I never had that much fun flying. It was fun to see “FULL FARE” listed next to my name on the manifest in three cabin first class, I got to know tons of JFK based flight attendants (including the biggest maverick of them all, Cookie), and I even ran into some interesting people at the International First Class Lounges at JFK, LAX, and SFO, like Anne Hathaway.
But then around summer United got smart and caught on. They restricted three cabin flights, only allowing domestic first class. But it was fun while it lasted. Anyway, back to $200 “L” fares for me!
Oh, and from now on I expect to be referred to as “Lucky the high revenue, premium traveler” and not “Lucky the cheap-a$$ upgrader.” OK? 😉