At the risk of becoming the ‘Purveyor of Misinformation’, I wanted to provide the latest update from United as far as electronic processing of upgrades on Lufthansa is concerned.
A couple of weeks ago I stated that based upon my conversations with United’s Mileage Plus and Star Alliance Award teams, United and Lufthansa were moving to an electronic process for applying Global Premier Upgrades to qualifying Lufthansa flights. The information that they confirmed for me was that the launch date was set to be September 3 for the new process that allowed passengers to request the upgrade electronically (Click here for more details on how the process will ultimately work).
Well, September 3 has come and gone and we still do not have the electronic process in place. I had called UA a few times in that time span as I have been helping readers with their LH reservations/upgrades. Each time that I asked, the reply was that no new date has been announced.
Today, I called UA Mileage Plus to specifically ask about the program and Premier 1K line agent was nice enough to arrange a conversation with a Service Director who could provide more answers.
After a pleasant conversation that did not include any sugar coating, here is the latest information that has been provided by those directly dealing with the issue (loosely paraphrased from the United Service Director’s comments):
The problem apparently involves compatibility between United’s and Lufthansa’s ticketing systems. The original plan called for the airlines to use the existing upgrade platform designed for those upgrading with their United miles for travel on other Star Alliance partners. This was thought to be the path of least resistance and efficient since it’s already in place. However, the technology incompatibility comes with the software/server/platform not being able to recognize the GPU (Global Premier Upgrades) on credit to a given Mileage Plus account. The thought was that the platform could debit the GPU in the same manner as it would debit miles. This is the major bottleneck in the process as it stands now since they can’t seem to figure out how to using existing tools for the new process.
All of the Mileage Plus customer service reps have already received training and are ready to go. Unfortunately, all of us are just waiting on the IT departments to sort out their issues and flip the switch on this fantastic enhancement for LH passengers who utilize Mileage Plus.
As more info becomes available, I’ll pass it along. At this point there is no current target date for the process to be available.