United: How Often Your Upgrade Clears Influences How Often Your Upgrade Clears

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United: How Often Your Upgrade Clears Influences How Often Your Upgrade Clears


A year ago United introduced free domestic first class upgrades farther in advance, and free international business to first upgrades to high value customers.

But here’s something I didn’t know about — the number of flights in a row that a 1K misses an upgrade can influence their upgrade priority on an upcoming trip.

According to this interview with Tom O’Toole (HT: Cranky Flier):

The most valued benefit of being a Premier member of MileagePlus for many people is the complimentary upgrade. The availability of complimentary upgrades on a given flight is a function of the bookings on that particular flight and the resultant seat availability in the front cabin. It sometimes happens, just by circumstances, that a 1K member can have an extended series of flights without a complimentary upgrade. This can put us at increasing risk of losing a high-value customer.

Now, we track if an individual has had a run of X number of flights in a row and their upgrade never cleared. We can then automatically override the algorithm and intervene to be sure that the individual gets upgraded. This has been proven to result in a measurable business gain.

Does anyone know about how this is implemented in practice?


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