Chris Elliott actually makes some fair points in his latest column about pet fees, change fees, walk-up fares, and ticket pricing. He oversimplifies and exaggerates, but his concerns are not outrageous.
But then he addresses United’s co-pay upgrade scheme on Hawaiian flights:
Airlinesrecently added a “co-pay” option to its upgrades for passengers using miles, “but the upgrade can cost more than the price of the actual ticket,” says Bonnie Friedman, a writer who is based in Maui. For example, she just booked a flight to New York for $796. The cost of an upgrade? About 30,000 miles — plus another $1,000 in “co-pays.” “I wrote to the CEO of United and I guess lots of other Hawaii residents did, too,” says. “The co-pay was lowered to $600 — still, way too much for me.”
Charging more for the upgrade than for your ticket is strange, indeed. Awful nice of United to back down a little on the co-pay, but the idea of paying miles on top of money doesn’t really add up in my book.
It adds up in my book. Who said upgrades should be cheaper than the price of an Economy ticket? First Class fares can be ten times more in some markets.
I agree with Ms. Friedman that 30K miles + a $600 co-pay is too much (thank goodness for UDUs, CR-1s, and SWUs), but just because we choose not to take advantage of UA’s upgrade offer doesn’t make it wrong or even questionable for UA to seek ancillary revenue in this way.
To argue that an upgrade should inherently be cheaper than the cost of your ticket illustrates a lack of logic and a failure to understand the way airlines price tickets.