The new united.com primer: How to find SWUable fares


Welcome to the new United.com website. For folks used to the old continental.com site things should look pretty similar. For folks surprised to find that things are different, well, surprise! There are a few common features that are very useful to be able to do and which are not particularly well documented. So here’s the documentation. I’ve got a couple of these posts in the works and if there are any particular steps you are having trouble with let me know and I’ll put something together for them.

Today’s post is about how to find and book fares on which System-wide Upgrades (SWUs) can be redeemed. There is a check-box on the site that lets you search for generally upgradeable tickets, but that doesn’t limit the search to fares which are SWU-eligible, namely W fares or higher. But is it possible to limit the searches to specific fares, so the new site makes it somewhat reasonable.

To start, click on the link for an Advanced Search at the bottom of the search form on the main page:

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Towards the bottom of that form there is a section for fare preference:

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The key is to put the eligible fare classes – Y,B,M,E,U,H,Q,V,W – in the box at the bottom there when searching. If you can remember all those and type them in every time that’s great, but there should be a better, easier way to do it. Welcome to GreaseMonkey scripts. Much like the script I built to make searching for upgrade inventory easier, this one makes putting the correct fares into that box automatic. Just load this script into a compliant browser and going to the advanced search page will automatically populate that box:

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If you don’t select the radio button then it will still search all fares, but if you’re looking for a SWUable fare then select that button and the results will limit to the appropriate fares.

Combine that with with the script that shows upgrade inventory on the search results page and you’ve got a solution that shows the proper fare and the upgrade inventory all at once.

UPDATE: The tool referenced below is no longer online; sorry.

In addition to booking the fares, sometimes it is useful to be able to find the cheapest published SWU-eligible fares. To help on that front I’ve built another tool that collects the W fares for about 100 North America departure points and 50 or so international destinations and displays them in a reasonably easy-to-read and -parse view. Pick a departure or destination city and compare rates, or just pick a price point and see what’s available below that point:

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Click on a city and get:

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Those fares are all without the YQ and without taxes, so they are artificially low, but if you are comparing fares to/from a region and looking to know if a nearby airport can save you some cash it can be quite useful. And there are a few improvements coming in the very near future which should help even more.

Happy flying!

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

9 Comments

  1. Great tool. If UA/CO would only not have all the upgrade buckets at 0 I would be happy. Every time I search for something and check the fare classes all I see are R, RN, etc as 0 availability.

  2. Seth,
    I’m confused. Re. UA fare buckets: which one of these allows a platinum to upgrade to next level without using miles:
    R/RN; PN; JN.
    I don’t understand the relevance of the fare codes: when I search without specifying codes, I get cheaper fares plus noted upgrades (R/RN).
    I have loaded all your scripts & they are lovely.
    Many thanks.

    1. If you are on a route which requires a GPU or PRU (SWU or CR1) then you need R/RN to upgrade (RN isn’t in use as of today).

      If you are on a route eligible for CPU (UDU/EUA) AND you are elite AND you buy a Y fare then you can upgrade into JN. If you get a B fare you upgrade into PN. If you are a 1K/GS you can also upgrade M fares into PN.

      Hope that helps.

  3. I used this excellent script to book couple of fights — now that i’m planning summer 2013 holidays again I’ve reloaded the script but the fare buckets are no longer being shown — am I missing something or has dot-Bomb some how blocked this brilliant script?

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