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One of my all-around favorite tools, United’s Expert Mode, is once again available for all flight searches. Expert Mode allows customers to view realtime fare class availability when searching for any flight on United’s site, making it easy to see which flights offer the lowest-cost tickets, which have upgrade availability (so an upgrade will clear at booking) and which have seats (and in which cabin) open for awards.
Unfortunately a recent bug made it very cumbersome to search with Expert Mode, but United has since corrected the issue, restoring full functionality to its search tool.
Now, when you enable Expert Mode (see this post for how to do that), you’ll see the available fare classes as listed above. In this transcon example (for an EWR-LAX flight on United’s Dreamliner), you can see that the cheapest fare classes (K, G and N) are not available, which is why “L” is the lowest fare class that you can purchase for this flight. Additionally, there is no Saver coach award availability (X or XN), and no Saver business availability (I) unless you’re an elite member (in which case there are IN-class seats to book). Finally, we can see that upgrades will clear instantly for both Global Services members (PN) and general MileagePlus members (R).
Since Expert Mode is clearly a tool that benefits consumers (and not necessarily the airline), United seemed to take its time to get this back up and running. Fortunately, most functionality has been restored, however there’s still one small bug: If you’re searching for a flight with multiple legs operated by United, you’ll only see fare class availability for the segments with the fewest number of seats. So if you’re flying a regional jet that only has four economy award seats for sale, you’ll see X4 for all segments, even if other flights have 9+ Saver seats open.
Thanks to TPG reader Thomas J., who shared this news tip by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be sending out a $200 Visa gift card as a token of our appreciation.
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