One of the nice benefits of United Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) is that they can be redeemed on Lufthansa flights day of on a space available basis. They can be used to upgrade from coach to business if you book a minimum of a “V” fare, or to upgrade from business to first class if you book a “C” or “D” fare. The process for using these upgrades is slightly different than for travel on United, since paper upgrades have to be requested from United, mailed to you, and then presented at check-in. However, you could request these even without a specific flight in mind, and they were also transferable.
Well, starting March 1, 2013, they’ll be changing the process. When I first saw the headline I figured they had a way to make the process easier, like allowing one to request the upgrades online. Unfortunately the reality is quite the opposite. Per UA Insider, here’s the new policy:
Starting March 1, when you request a GPU certificate for use on Lufthansa, we’ll ask you to provide some additional information:
- First and last name of the traveler who will be presenting the certificate to Lufthansa
- Departure and arrival city/airport of the flight segment to be upgraded (reminder: GPUs are used on a per-segment basis on LH)
- Flight number and flight date
- Confirmation number of itinerary associated with segment to be upgraded (this can be the Lufthansa confirmation number or the confirmation number of another airline/travel agency you used to book your ticket)
This information, with the exception of flight date, will be printed on the certificate before it is mailed to you. After that, the redemption process with Lufthansa remains the same.
Lastly, we understand that travel plans can change, and so long as the name of the traveler and the flight segment remain the same, the certificates will be honored by Lufthansa (on a space-available basis). However, it will be at Lufthansa’s discretion to honor the upgrade should any other flight details change. Since this remains a per-segment upgrade product, we do recommend printing certificates specific to each LH segment you might which to upgrade on your full itinerary.
This change is quite customer unfriendly. I can understand they’d want to print the name of the traveler on the certificate (to avoid bartering or theft), but requesting the confirmation number, flight number, and date? That’s ridiculous. Lots of people only book tickets last minute, and it takes a few days for the upgrades to be mailed.
So if your plans change you can apply the upgrade for the same segment, though if you want to use it for a different segment it’s at Lufthansa’s discretion to honor it. Put another way, say you’re flying roundtrip between New York and Frankfurt and you have one systemwide upgrade left that you want for use on Lufthansa. If the outbound upgrade doesn’t clear it would be entirely at Lufthansa’s discretion to decide whether or not they want to let you apply it on the return.
So while I can see the logic in wanting to have the name of the traveler printed on the certificate, the rest of the changes are mindless and a huge devaluation to these certificates, in my opinion.