A few weeks ago I mentioned that United was moving up the timetable for the retirement of the 747 fleet. They have now released a few more specifics, including what appears to be the final flight of their last 747.
The final flight is slated to be United UA892 that is scheduled to depart Seoul, South Korea at 10:25a on October 29. The ‘outbound’ leg to this turn will be October 27 and will be United UA893 that will depart San Francisco at 10:55a. A 777-200 is showing as operating the route beginning on October 30.
Keep in mind that events like this are subject to change and may not happen as they are currently planned. However, if you want to take the chance to take one of the last flights aboard a UA 747, round-trip Economy tickets are pricing in the high $600 / low $700 for these final flights. Business Class is in the $3800-$4200 area.
United has announced that it will phase out the Queen Of The Sky from their fleet by the end of 2017, versus original plans that had the 747 staying in the fleet until the end of 2018.
The remaining 747s are now all based in San Francisco where UA maintains most of the 747 maintenance facilities. The last United 747 left Chicago for good on January 3 as part of the fleet consolidation to SFO.
From last count, there are 20 of them left and they’ll be phased out during the course of this year as new planes are delivered to United.
Primary drivers for the decision include maintenance expense, fuel consumption, and new aircraft that are joining the fleet. There is also a new FAA maintenance directive that was announced the same day that United said the fleet would be retired a year earlier than expected. No doubt the expenses surrounding the directive played a role in the decision as well.
Regardless, United’s recent introduction of the 777-300 and the ongoing success of the 787 fleet, UA deemed it was time to move on to newer and better. Lets not forget the long list of A350s that UA has on order as well.
None of this comes as a surprise obviously as the newer aircraft with their improved efficiencies make the 747-400 all but a dinosaur in today’s airline world. Since being introduced to United in 1970, the 747 has been nothing but a wonderful and reliable workhorse.
Fortunately for us avgeek types, we still have the 747-8i to enjoy for the next couple of decades!
United has made their first ‘Mileage Sale’ a decent one for 2017. Mileage Plus members can earn between 25% and 75% in bonus miles with their purchase, depending on the amount of miles purchased. The sale runs through January 23.
Here is the breakdown:
If you buy between 10,000 and 14,000 miles you’ll earn a 25% bonus of additional miles (equating about 2.8 cents per mile).
If you buy between 15,000 and 29,000 miles you’ll earn a 50% bonus of additional miles (equating about 2.3 cents per mile).
If you buy between 30,000 and 85,000 miles you’ll earn a 75% bonus of additional miles (equating about 2 cents per mile).
Remember that you can buy 150,000 miles a year (including the free bonus amount), and that ‘clock’ has reset to zero for everyone so you can back the truck up and load up 150k miles once again this year.
And of course you know that the best place to use these miles is for those First and Business Class Seats on Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, and Austrian!
When you first bring up the Mileage Plus purchase screen, you’ll see an offer for only 50%, but when you log in you should see the 75% offer available.
UPDATE: Some of you have shared that you are being limited only to 50% bonus for purchases. This may be as a result of United targeting certain members for a 50% or 75% bonus. Here is an image from my own transaction, showing that I would receive a 75% bonus:
United announced a new ‘enhancement’ that takes it one step closer to turning Economy class into something akin to what a Low Cost Carrier would offer, or worse.
In their announcement, they are now going to restrict certain low-level Economy fare buckets to only allow one piece of carry-on luggage which has to fit under the seat in front of you. In addition, seats will not be assigned until check-in and it is even possible that passengers traveling together on the same itinerary will not even be able to choose seats next to one another. ‘United Friendly’ right?
Also, this new fare class will have to refund or rebooking options. If you don’t fly on that ticket, you’re out the amount that you spent. According to UA, these fares will also not be eligible for upgrades no matter what your elite level may be.
On top of all this, these ‘low class’ Economy fare buckets will not be eligible to earn Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM). How’s that for being ‘Friendly’? AND you’ll get to automatically board with Group 5, meaning you will be the last person on the plane. More insult to injury.
Why not just charge for water while you’re at it, United?
Is this next?
United suggests that this will add approximately $5 billion to their bottom line annually by 2020. I guess someone has to pay for the Polaris product that is coming next month. So let the back of the plane subsidize the front! 🙂
It’s an obvious cash grab since in my mind I have no doubt that the other Economy Fare classes will have substantial price increases to exploit the passengers wishing to avoid this enhancement. I can also see Advance Seat Reservation (ASR) fees going up. Instead of $19 for an ASR or upgrade to Premium Economy from GRR to ORD, maybe it moves to $50. Good times.
From a passenger point of view, I can only see this as a disaster. Especially once on board the aircraft.
For example, lets say 25% of the Economy cabin is booked in this new ‘Sheeple’ class, where passengers can only bring aboard one bag that HAS TO fit under the seat in front of them. This will theoretically create quite a bit of over head bin space. What’s to stop someone in this fare class from putting their bag into the overhead since it’s empty anyway? Are the flight attendants who already don’t care about passenger well-being going to police the cabin during the flight and use the passenger manifest to enforce whose bag goes up top, or whose goes under the seat? C’mon.
On the optimistic side of things, United has done a piss poor job in enforcing previous passenger enhancements. Remember when your bag had to fit into the sizer next to the gate? Yep, fail. In 2 years and dozens of flights, I still see Hockey Bags, Backpacks destined for Everest, and babies still board aircraft! 🙂
This may very well fall under the heading of all bark and no bite since getting their crew to enforce these measures will be the hardest part as far as policy enforcement is concerned.
United once again is trying to incent us to buy miles and it’s hard to resist if you still have room to by miles this year.
The latest sale offers a bonus of up to 75% and the deal is in place until October 31. In order to get the 75% bonus, you need to buy at least 30,000 miles. Buying 30,000 miles will get you a bonus of 22,500 miles for a total of 52,500 miles and will cost about $1100 including taxes. That amounts to 2.09 cents per mile (CPM), which makes for an attractive proposition, especially if you are short a handful of miles for premium award travel redemptions.
If you buy between 5,000 and 14,000 miles, you’ll get a bonus of 25%, if you buy between 15,000 and 29,000 miles you’ll get a 50% bonus. You can buy a maximum of 85,000 miles which will give you a bonus of 63,750 miles for a total of 148,750 miles.
From my observations lately, it’s been a bit easier to find Lufthansa First and Business Class inventory and even Austrian and SWISS Business class awards. This may actually be a good time to take advantage of a deal like this.