I made another rookie error yesterday. Learn from my mistake.
First a bit of background. Yesterday was United’s Open House and Family Day in San Francisco and I decided to attend at the last minute (a few days before the event). That involved finding airfare from PHL to SFO that wouldn’t break the bank–an arduous task when traveling within 72 hours on a Sunday.
PHL-SFO-PHL priced out at over $400 each way, far too much for my budget, but PHL-SFO-SNA-SFO-PHL (on the identical PHL-SFO-PHL flights) priced out at only $260 each way. That was acceptable so I booked a morning o/w from PHL-SFO-SNA and a late evening return from SNA-SFO-PHL, with the SFO-PHL flight being a redeye.
That itinerary, of course, does not bode well for spending a day in San Francisco so my next task was finding the optimal flights to take between SFO and SNA. I determined that the SFO-SNA flight leaving at 2:54p and making an immediate turn back for SFO would be the ideal combination, allowing me to visit the Open House in the morning/early afternoon, fly down to Orange County, and fly back in time for the large Flyertalk dinner at 6pm.
When I got to SFO yesterday morning, I asked to be put on standby for the 2:54p flight to SNA (I was confirmed on the 10:35a flight). The 2:54p flight (operated by a CR7) was zeroed out, but only oversold by two so I did not sweat clearing the standby list. Much to the bemusement of the customer service agent who helped with my standby, I also asked him to move up my confirmed 8:30p flight from SNA-SFO to 4:55p. He complied, but because the flight was more than three hours away (though wide open in Y and with three seats for sale in F) he only put me on standby.
Have I lost you yet? When I returned to the airport at 2:15p to catch my flight down to SNA, I forgot to stop in the Red Carpet Club or at a customer service counter to get confirmed on the 4:55p SNA-SFO flight (confirming my seat would allow me to go on the upgrade waitlist). Fast forward an hour and half. I reach SNA at 4:20p, 15 minutes before scheduled boarding for the flight back to SFO. As I approach the counter in the small commuter bungalow, I see that the agent has already cleared upgrades into first class–a Premier Executive and a couple Premiers. If I had only confirmed my seat in SFO, a benefit of 1K status, I would have scored the upgrade.
I wasn’t terribly disappointed. After all, we’re talking about a 55-minute flight on a regional jet. Nevertheless, economy seat width is narrow and I would have liked the extra space. I should have known better. Had this been a four hour SNA-ORD flight instead, I would have really been bummed.
So to sum up this rambling: 1Ks on United get free confirmed same-day changes if seats are available and the flight you desire (same routing) departs within three hours. Take advantage of this perk if you want to increase your chances for an upgrade.