I sadly announce this evening that United has pulled the "fare of fares" between Ontario and Tampa.
For over a year, travelers have been able to book a round trip First Class (A) fare between these cities for only $550 r/t. Ordinarily, that would only be a reasonable fare, but due to United’s liberal routing restrictions, at one time you could route through SFO and JFK in p.s. First.
Indeed, back in April when UA was running their triple EQM promotion for A fares, you could net 27,000 EQMs for the trip by routing from ONT-SFO-JFK-IAD-TPA and back.
UA "got smart" in May and tweaked the fare rules to prohibit routings on all three-cabin planes, but you could still use this fare to rack up quite a bit of miles and even try out US Airways and more recently Continental codeshares in paid First.
The fare was probably filed in the first place because ONT-TPA used to be a TED route if you connected in Denver, meaning any sucker (like my friend John) who booked routing from those cities in "First Class" would find themselves on all TED coach planes for the entire trip. (A one-stop routing in Denver was the default routing if you simply searched for a r/t fare on united.com)
With the demise of TED and restoration of First Class on most flights ex-TPA and ONT, I can understand why UA decided to pull the fare. Still, the fare was still almost three times the cheapest coach fare and probably made UA more money than passengers buying a cheap Economy fare and upgrading. I think they should have left it.
Delta and Northwest still have ~$600 a/i fares between ONT and TPA so there is a *slight* chance that UA may bring the fare back. But don’t hold your breath.
I guess I’ll be on my last TPA-ONT A fare next week…
My reason for discussing this fare (now that it has been pulled) is to exhort you to use FareCompare’s Y-up tool and use it often to monitor discounted First Class fares from your city. Thanks to this fare, I am flying home for Thanksgiving in paid First cheaper than I would have had to pay if I was traveling in Economy on the same dates on the same flights.
It pays to monitor these fares.