I wanted to let you know about a change we’ll be making to the way we allocate MileagePlus award inventory for United Global First and United First on 3-cabin aircraft. As many of you know, we currently use the same fare class (ON) for both upgrades and Saver travel awards redeemed from MileagePlus Premier Platinum, Premier 1K and Global Services accounts. A consequence of this pairing has been fewer seats being available for upgrades.
To remedy this imbalance, we will begin using ON exclusively for upgrades into United Global First and United First on 3-cabin aircraft effective February 1, 2013. Having a dedicated fare class for these upgrades will enable us to offer differentiated availability. To accommodate this change, we will no longer offer a dedicated fare class for Saver travel awards redeemed from MileagePlus Premier Platinum, Premier 1K and Global Services accounts. Instead, the inventory once used for ON class will be allocated to O class, which will become the sole booking class used for Saver Awards in United Global First and United First on 3-cabin aircraft.
Between now and January 31, ON will still be used for new Saver Award bookings from Platinum, 1K and Global Services accounts, and any flights booked prior to this change will not be impacted. We’ll also continue to offer better access to Saver Awards in United First (on 2-cabin aircraft), United BusinessFirst and United Business for Premier Platinum members and above, and better access to Saver Awards in United Economy for all Premier members.
Basically up until this point Premier Platinum/Premier 1K/Global Services members could redeem miles at the saver level for seats in three cabin first class that were otherwise only available for upgrades. Airlines have different fare “codes” for awards and upgrades, and typically the number of available upgrade seats is greater than the number of available award seats, at least in three cabin first class.
This was at times a huge benefit, as “ON” (upgrade/elite-only award) space was often much more readily available than “O” (award) space. Just as an example, take a look at the flight below, which has five “ON” seats and no “O” seats:
So there’s still time to book under the old policy, though not much. Here’s to hoping it’s one of the few MileagePlus changes for next year.
(Tip of the hat to Wandering Aramean)