I hate to play armchair CEO, because I have zero “real” knowledge of how inventory or revenue management works at the airlines, but this is something I just have to bring up. Yeah, it’s that bad.
So United has three first class fare buckets: F, P, and A. F is full fare (in other words, basically no one buys it), while A would be discounted first class, and is typically more reasonably priced. Given the economy, the airlines should be happy for any premium seats they can sell.
Anyway, what I’ve been noticing is that a good chunk of United flights show as having plenty of “F” inventory, while having virtually no “P” or “A” inventory. This is truly bizarre. In the past the inventories would be similar. For example, a flight would show as being F5A3, meaning they were willing to sell five more first class seats in the full fare bucket, while being willing to sell three seats in the discounted bucket. Now I’m seeing tons of flights with empty first class cabins showing as F9A0, meaning they’re willing to sell at least nine first class seats at full fare, but none at a discounted level.
Has anyone else noticed this? What the hell? Would United rather fill a first class seat with an upgrader on a $200 ticket or a paid premium passenger? Just as a comparison, for the Washington Dulles to Los Angeles roundtrip flight I was looking at, an “F” fare would be $3,000, while an “A” fare would be about $2,200. Both sound like nice outcomes for United to me. 😉
Either way, I’m perfectly fine with this. As fewer seats are sold, more seats become available for upgraders. 😉