United Plan B: Pretty Much The Most Awesome, Underutilized, And Underappreciated Thing Ever.

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Update: A commenter says he was told by an agent that they will no longer do this process.

Luckily I can confirm that isn’t true as can several DDF’ers.  I recently helped a couple of family members setup a Plan B award to Israel.  They were able to get saver awards on United thanks to having expanded saver class award availability as they had a Chase United Explorer card.

We held the 85K coach saver award online and used the callback line to setup the 140K business saver award with all segments waitlisted for business class.

Their return trip from Tel Aviv cleared into BusinessFirst automatically.

They were nervous about their outbound trip to Tel Aviv as the domestic portion of the flight cleared into first class in advance while the Newark-Tel Aviv segment was still in coach. United.com was showing that BusinessFirst was completely full with several passengers standing by. Luckily United.com is explicit that if the domestic first class portion clears but the BusinessFirst portion doesn’t clear you can still get a full refund after the flight.

They had the agent waitlist them for BusinessFirst at their departing airport but I noticed that the United.com flight status page showed them at the bottom of the BusinessFirst waitlist.  So in Newark I told them to go to find another agent and explain clearly that they paid for BusinessFirst and were displaced business class passengers and therefore they deserved top priority “PR-1” status.  They referenced the GG code listed below as well.

They found a competent agent, 3 people in business no-showed for the flight, and they both got their lie-flat business class seats to Israel!

Truly the hidden gem of United miles.
————————————————————————

Note that as the article below was written prior to the 02/01 devaluation, the rates and examples listed were with pre-devaluation numbers that I haven’t updated.

Originally posted on 12/12/13:

I’ve been booking Continental and United award tickets using Plan B for years. I blogged about in passing here in 2009 and here in 2011. I blogged about it still working with United last year as well.  Several DDF members have used it over the years and they have flown in business class every time!

Business class award tickets are typically a sweet spot in award redemption charts.  While you can fly to Israel for $1,000 in coach you would have to shell out 5 times that to fly in business.  Whereas with miles the difference is much smaller, United currently charges 40K miles for a one-way coach ticket or 60K miles for a one-way business ticket.  (Note that for awards booked after 01/31 those rates will go up to 42.5K in coach and 70K in United business.)

Of course that creates a lot of competition for business class award seats which is why they’re harder to find than coach award seats.  Nonstop business class awards to Tel Aviv are among the most challenging award tickets out there.  Not that it’s impossible, I recently booked a friend who is in the air right now on a USAirways business saver award to Tel Aviv and is returning in 2 weeks on a United business saver award.  But it means constantly checking to see if award seats have opened up and possibly waiting until the last minute to book.

And that’s where Plan B comes in handy.  It works as long as there is United saver coach award availability.  I find that I have the best luck booking a Plan B using this web support callback link. Ex-Continental agents staff that line and some are still familiar with this procedure that survived the merger.

Unfortunately Plan B is just the internet name for this type of ticket, there’s no easy way to describe what you want to an agent. You need to tell the agent that you found United coach saver award availability but would like to purchase and be issued a business class saver award, be seated in coach, and waitlisted for a business class seat.  I often tell the agent that I have done this in the past over the phone and was wondering if they know how to set it up.

At this point most agents will think you’re nuts and say that no such thing exists.

Indeed in preparation for this post I had the web support desk call me and the first agent just laughed at my suggestion.  She told me to book the ticket online and call in to waitlist for a business class seat. However that is NOT what I wanted as that would not have the benefits of a Plan B booking, as I’ll soon explain.

Then I called the 1K Premier line and the agent was more courteous but couldn’t help me.  Afterward I used the web support callback link again (I always take note of an agent’s name when I play HUCA (Hang up, Call again) so that I don’t bother the same incompetent agent again) and got Gary H, who turned out to be fantastic.

At first Gary said he recalled such a thing being possible in the Continental days but he hadn’t heard of it being done in years and he wouldn’t even know how to go about doing it.

Then he asked me to hang on while he was looking up documentation.  He found the exact procedure and proceeded to book my Plan B award!

He correctly debited my account the 60,000 miles needed for a one-way business class seat to Tel Aviv while he seated me in coach.  He said that I would need to call back in after the itinerary had ticketed (United itineraries can take anywhere from a minute to an hour to be ticketed with an eticket number) in order to waitlist for the business class seat.  However just 2 minutes later I actually got a call back from Gary letting me know that my reservation had ticketed and that he had waitlisted me for a business class seat!  Now that’s great customer service!

I asked him if there was anything I could tell an agent in the future so that they don’t think I have mushrooms growing out of my head.  He said they have a documentation system called CORE.  In there an agent can lookup the procedure for award waitlist guidelines and it will tell them how to manually issue a business class saver award when there is only coach saver available. If you have to refer an agent to look there I’d tell them that a previous agent who booked such a ticket for you told you to reference that system in case you have any problems in the future.

If you have correctly setup your ticket it will look something like this online:

ua1

 

Notice how I was charged the full 60,000 miles, the business class rate.  However my fare class is Economy.  The letter code for a coach saver award is either X or XN.  X refers to saver coach award space for general members. XN is expanded saver coach award space for logged-in elites and people who have the Chase United Explorer credit card. (That’s an incredibly valuable benefit of having the card, especially for a Plan B award as you’ll have expanded coach, business, and first class saver award space as well.  The card also gets you free baggage, priority boarding, and it might just be the only credit card in the world that gives free primary car rental insurance in every country in the world-even in your home country and Israel.  Almost every other card only gives weak secondary coverage in your home country).

Then notice how IN class is requested.  I class refers to saver business class award space. IN is expanded saver business class award space for Platinums/1Ks/Global Services.

If you have I or IN class requested AND you were debited the miles for a business class saver award then you’ve properly setup a Plan B award!

If business saver award space opens then you may be automatically moved into business or there may be a message to call in to clear you from the waitlist.  It’s important to keep checking as it may or may not automatically clear you and when you see that it says the space is available you should call in right away.

But what happens if that space never opens up?  The system will stop checking at 24 hours before your flight for that space you need.

Because you paid for a business class seat you are considered a displaced business class passenger.  Thus you should be prioritized ahead of all upgraders trying to nab business seats on the day of departure.

Unfortunately the system is not setup to automatically give you that priority, only an airport agent can do that.  So show up at the airport as early as possible for your flight (or if possible you can go to the airport 24 hours before your flight) and explain to the agent that you are not upgrading with miles but you paid for a business class ticket and are only seated in coach.  This is true as you have paid the full business class rate already.  If the agent doesn’t understand this you should ask for a supervisor, it’s crucial they understand that you’re not a coach passenger trying to upgrade with miles but a displaced business class passenger.

The agent should give you “PR-1 status” which gives you top-priority status and moves you to the very top of the upgrade standby list, ahead of employees and everyone else trying to upgrade with miles+cash.  If one agent won’t put you on the list as a displaced Business class passenger with PR-1 status then find another one who will.  With this status the odds of you getting a business class are very high if there are still open seats (or if anybody no-shows).

If the agents in the airport are all clueless you should direct them to look up “gg onestandby” in their system (they’ll know exactly what this is) and look around lines 81 which spell out the details of the procedure for this award. (Parenthetically, when trying to get a gate pass to access a club as a United Club cardholder when I’m not flying I sometimes need to tell an agent to look up “gg checkpoint line 53″ which instructs agents to give you a security pass for you and your guests to access post-security United and USAirways clubs even if you aren’t flying.)

If they don’t believe that you really paid the business class award rate then have them call up the reward desk.  Like I said, it’s good to leave plenty of time at the airport for Plan B tickets.

I can’t stress enough how imperative it is to have this setup correctly: If you don’t get an airport agent to properly give you top-priority status then there is very little chance that you will be flying in business class.

With the United app or on United.com you can search for the upgrade standby list for any flight by searching under flight status.  You will see how many business class seats are still open and you should see your name at the very top of that list.  If you’re on a Plan B ticket and are at the bottom of the business class upgrade list then the agent didn’t give you the right priority status as a displaced business class passenger.

Everyone I know who has properly setup and followed through on a Plan B ticket had flown in business class.  But what if you don’t clear?  Just contact United after the flight (Again, I’d use the web support callback link) and they will refund the extra miles you paid for business class.  For EWR-TLV this means a refund of the extra 20,000 miles each way they charge to fly in business saver over coach saver.

Of course this also works on connecting flights.  If you are on a connecting flight you should be sure to be waitlisted for First Class on all of your flights.  Say you are coming from Los Angeles, even if you clear into first class on the LAX-EWR flight, as long as you don’t clear on the international EWR-TLV flight you will still get the 20,000 miles each way refund!

All of this only works with United flights, it won’t work for partner flights (partner flights can be on the same itinerary, you just can’t use Plan B for them).

This Plan B process would also work for routes with global first class that has only coach or business saver awards available (Tel Aviv does not have Global First class).

Happy flying!  And when you’re flying in a lie-flat business class seat you’re guaranteed to be a whole lot happier, especially when you’re just using the miles you got from opening a single credit card 😀

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168 Comments on "United Plan B: Pretty Much The Most Awesome, Underutilized, And Underappreciated Thing Ever."

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yada

Just WOW! Thank You @Dan.

Ari

Excellent info Dan, thanks!
Although I take issue with that last line – which credit card can you open and get the 120k (soon 140k) miles for a round trip flight to TLV?

bbubbl347

I booked a United plan b last May I had barely explained anything to the agent when he told me that he knew exactly what I was referring to. I cleared for business within the week.

sounds great

sounds great but ppl like me work all day and dont have so much time to sit on the phone. maybe someone in the ddf can open a service of doing this for a $25 charge.

Dan is the man

I heard this by your brooklyn seminar . Another reason why to attend seminar

Hunch

Very well written.

Just one question – I don’t understand the 2nd to last paragraph –   “This Plan B process would also work for routes with global first class that has only coach or business saver awards available”

As opposed to what?

Dan

@yada:
🙂

@Ari:
Was talking one-way.

United gives 30K+5K for an added user. Plus you can SM to get matched for another 20K and $50.

Ink Bold and Ink Plus give 50K.

Freedom gives just 20K but with the 5x categories that will be 53K for $6K of spending.

Etc, etc.

@bbubbl347:
Yup, just depends on the agent.

@sounds great:
Even though it took me a few tries it was under 20 minutes of total phone time.

@Dan is the man:
Indeed.

@Hunch:
Thanks!
In other words for EWR-TLV you can book business if there is only coach space.
For LAX-SYD you can book global first if there is coach or if there is business space.

YosefG

great post!

Moshe123

And if everyone will do Plan B, then it will be hard to get again….

sky121

Another great detailed post. I used Plan B this past November and thanks to your original post it all went perfectly. 🙂

Dan

@YosefG:
Thanks!

@Moshe123:
I think the complexity of it will keep it from becoming commonplace.
Complex deals are always the best, those who are serious are rewarded and those aren’t won’t kill it.

@sky121:
Great!
I know another DDF’er just did a successful Plan B from South America. Did you use it to TLV?

aegt

holy sh*t. this is just crazy!!! you just blew all the boarding area bloggers out of the water.

aegt

will the PR1 also work in the situation where my domestic leg is in coach because there were no saver business awarads. Can I force the gate agent to put me PR1. I booked LAX-PHL-MAD-FRA-IAH-LAX in business. My IAH-LAX is XN on UA. Can I ask the gate agent at IAH to give me a PR1?

Oompaloomla

Dan, I bought in the 2nd to last cheap tix to Israel last Saturday night, can I use United miles to upgrade from coach to business on that flight?

ShmuliT

Awesome post.
When are you going to hold a seminar for all the airline workers and train them how to use their system.

Dan

@aegt:
🙂

@aegt:
Sure, just make sure you’re properly waitlisted. You may have better luck with the CS counter or in the club than with the GA…YMMV.

@Oompaloomla:
It’s very expensive to upgrade a cheap paid from coach to business.
You’d be looking at 35K miles AND $600 each way.

@ShmuliT:
😀

Anon

I love sitting in biz, but pushing so hard so I can sit there and acheinu bais yisroel are in the back? I do not feel right doing it.

I hope I get first class after 120, and thats what counts.

Josh

@anon
Your post doesn’t make any sense. Not one part of it.
Please think before you speak.

just come

Does this mean you’re coming to israel to give a seminar? 😉

BOShappyflyer

This isn’t new –other bloggers have posted about it and I remembered reading a thread about it.
It’s an interesting option and I’ve only tried it once for three tix (same itin). there are some downsides to be aware of:

you have to get the right rep. If not, trust me, you’ll spend quite a but of time on hold while they research or getting you bounced around to different reps who think you have nine heads. This was mostly a continental thing, so not all UA staff know or understand it.

You are not guaranteed the space. The airport bit is a pain if you have multiple connections and not all agent know what you’re talking about. (“You can’t upgrade an award.” Sigh)

If the ‘upgrade’ does not clear and your extra miles aren’t automatically credited back, good luck trying to get a rep to help you. Mine turned out to long frustrating conversations lasting hours (wait time and several reps) and most reps have no idea what happened or how to issue the ‘refund’ .

That said, it works when it works (which is cool). I remembered it worked out reasonably well but I also remembered thinking to myself that I won’t bother with it due to all the hassles involved (nor do I have any intention of going through it ever again even though I could when I flew UA since). IMHO, I had a much easier time looking for available award dates and booking space that way. Way easier, less work and follow up required, and knowing you have a guaranteed space. There are just a lot more bumps and frustrations for this “plan B” option that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

In my case, only one of the 3 tix cleared., so I had mixed results. Good luck.

magnus

has this been successful for two passengers or is success much more rare?

Elana

I think I’m missing something. If you pay the business class rate in miles, why not just book the business class seat at that time?

m

Very detailed post with a great description. However what is the difference between a regular biz class award and plan B. Don’t you have to pay the 60k either way? What don’t I see?

Yossi

@ anon

Your comment is a shaylah on your yachting.

zev

Great post. I have tried many times to do this but have always been told exactly the same thing “this is not possible” I have spoke with agents managers etc.. and all have told me the same thing. This web support call back line is a big chidush and I hope it will work in the future. I certianly dont think that this post will in any way “kill” this meathod as most likely poeople will have to call back several times to get this done and I think most people will give up after waiting for 45 min on a phone only to have a manager tell you that this was only available with Continental and that their is no way for their system to even set this up

Thanks

Leo

Hey @Dan Ill be on the same flight ill be seeing you maybe, ill be in the back somewhere 🙂 but her I booked on those $400 tix 3 weeks ago, thanks for that tip!!

sbtinme

So the only part I’m still not clear on is this: what happens if the procedure, as outlined above, is followed to the “T” and, in the end, I don’t clear into business.

Do I have any recourse to get miles back or am I simply out those extra miles?

lotofsimcha

Would this work for a family of 5 or 6 or would it be a waste of time ? Meaning how many bizz seats is it feasible that will open up on a given flight… Thanks for the post…

DAN FAN

Dan, Great Post!!!

Are you saying that you and a friend can access the lounges at any time 24-7 and drink to your hearts content!!!!! Why ever pay for a lounge or bar!

Is there any easy way to become a United Club cardholder other than being Elite/

mh

I would rather sit in coach than deal with all of this 😉

Dan

@just come:
Was just a test to see that it can still be done, sorry!

@BOShappyflyer:
1. Never said it’s new or hasn’t been talked about before.
In fact I started off this post by referencing some of the times over the past 5 years that I’ve used it and talked about it.
2. The callback number is run by ex-Continental folk, shouldn’t take more than a couple HUCAs.
3. At the airport reference the gg code in this post if the agent doesn’t understand.
4. Callback line should work better for refunds as well if you don’t clear.

@magnus:
I and others I know have done it with 2 passengers.

@Elana:
This is talking about when that rate isn’t available.

@m:
Plan B works evn when there is no business saver award space available.

@Leo:
Enjoy Israel, but I’m not actually taking this flight. Already cancelled it.

@sbtinme:
Sure, reread the end of this post about the refund policy.

@lotofsimcha:
5 or 6 is definitely going to be tough, but it’s definitely possible.

@DAN FAN:
http://www.dansdeals.com/go/United1/
Click on the Club tab.

It says there’s a $395 annual fee for that card but if you SM them after getting it they will waive the fee the first year.
It also gets you 2 free checked bags, waived award expedite fees, and 50% bonus miles on every purchase.

@mh:
It doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. Some folks get this done on the first call and clear automatically.
YMMV!

coolfaye

If I only have spg points, and turn them into United points. I don’t see it being worth the points, unfortunately.

yoelygb

Dan thanks for the post. Will this work also if only one segment is on a United flight and the rest is on partners?

Dan

@coolfaye:
Huh?
United is only a full transfer partner with Chase UR points.

@yoelygb:
Read the last few paragraphs again 🙂

dov

does the milageplus club card have all the benefits of the explorer card? car rentals and added award availability?
i canceled my explorer card and kept the club.
TYVM

good morning

dan.
in the past few weeks united didnt open the saver award in bussines class (because some travel agents abuse the system. so i dont thung that this ticket you have now on waitlist will be upgraded!!!!!!????

barry

b’h
Dan,
great post…hopefully the mass does not blow this option.
anyway…what if you want to change your date after the res has been put in place?
does the new date need to be first available in the X/XN inventory
OR will united just allow to keep the old date in the record and waitlist the new date in I/IN?

if you wish you can email me the answer back direct

thanks for your great work

ari

Im trying to book for a business class from ewr to tlv for feb. And all what im getting last 2 weeks is either 75k for economy saver or 150k for business saver ,how can I get coach?

Dan

@dov:
Yes.

@good morning:
Saver awards don’t need to open for this to work.

@barry:
The new date would need X/XN.

@ari:
Keep searching 2x daily and be ready to grab it!
Or just fly with a connection.

zack

Dan,

May be i am ignorant but you are sying that United currently charges 40K miles for a one-way coach ticket or 60K miles for a one-way business ticket.

They have bunch of blackout dates for this amount of miles.
How do you go about that?

NYCFreqFlier

Does this work on domestic tickets as well (i.e. continental US to Hawaii)? I have only seen discussions regarding US to International destinations. Thanks!

Yuda1K

Is there any way to Plan B on an upgrade ticket?

I was supposed to fly EWR-TLV 350p in K class on Tuesday but needed to push off until Thursday, which is almost full no thanks to Widereo so I was forced to pay over $1k to upgrade to B class. Once I was in B class I paid the miles to waitlist for and upgrade – how do I check or bump myself up on the list?

Dan

@zack:
Those are the saver rates. They open them at random times when they feel like it, you just have to keep checking.

@NYCFreqFlier:
Sure.

@Yuda1K:
Nope, sorry.
How much is the fare difference to just get a business class seat?

meshugener

Thanks Dan.
well and clearly written.
Was always lazy to read through the DDF plan B thread.

bruce

Dan-

You reference that if you have the UNited Club Card you get “expanded” saver award selection. I clicked on your UCC link and I cant find that benefit anywhere. Can you put up a link where thats indicated?

Dan

@meshugener:
Thanks.

@bruce:
The Club and Explorer cards both give access to XN (expanded availability coach saver) class awards.

It’s an unpublished benefit.

Mike

Thanks Dan – great post. Do you know if Plan B works if I book an economy standard (not saver) award ticket? Thanks!

Dan

@Mike:
It will not.

Dave

Dan,

Will this work the same for a Domestic flight paying the First Class saver rate and booking a coach seat??

barry

Dan
when you booked the plane-b ticket on your example test
what did the etkt-recipt show on it?
does it show XN or IN? and what does the award code?
can you please show me the etkt receipt(redacting any sensitive info)
if you wish you can send it to me as direct email…

Dan

@Dave:
Never tried it backwards.

@barry:
Class: X
Award Used: 60000/WB64

Paul

“Then notice how IN class is requested. I class refers to saver business class award space. IN is expanded saver business class award space for Platinums/1Ks/Global Services.”

What would be the class requested for Premier Gold folks?

Dan

@Paul:
I class.

yada

@Dan:

You mean you went through this whole effort just to teach us?That’s pretty incredible.

bruce

@Dan:

So when I search for awards it’ll show up as expanded award? or it’ll just offer me more seats than had I searched without logging in with my card

jk2

Dan, thanks for nice explanation.

Do you know if this trick would work for award where one/two UA segments only available in coach? For example, I’m flying TPA-ORD (UA), ORD-MUC (LH) ; MUC-ORD (LH) ; ORD – TPA (U). For UA segments, only saver coach is available, LH segments are available in saver business. If I book this award as is, is it possible to call UA and request to be waitlisted for TPA-ORD and ORD-TPA segments?

Q

Cost of cancel award ticket same day and redeposit miles?

is fee per person or per reservation (with 5 pax, for example)

cancel a week later, but 4 months before trip?

any way to wait list for partner connection of one segment ?

Airline

United doesn’t open up any more saver awards to israel ,they closed it due to abuse

jen

i just got my united club chase card, and while its connected to my united miles i dont see that i am viewing any more or better award seats when i am signed in, do i have to call in to get better award availability as a united club card member?

SFO to EZE

I just tried the United elite line for Friday and was told that they “can no longer do this” :-/

Dan

@SFO to EZE:
They lied.

SFO to EZE

okay, so I took that last seat at 30k for Saver yesterday and now they are no longer offering Saver for either. I got a better rep who was onboard with the plan B program just now and she listed my existing Saver Coach award as an “IN class Reqeusted” but said she couldn’t take the additional 30k miles until it was confirmed. Any chance this is going to work? We are within 24 hours already:

Flight: UA819
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Fare Class: United Economy (X) – (IN class requested)

Brandon

This only works on UA metal right?

Dan

@SFO to EZE:
Doubt it.

@Brandon:
Correct.

Brandon

Thanks for the post, I just happen to find UA metal from FRA to SFO and booked a plan B. One ticket is I and other is IN waitlisted. Does it matter? I would assume that maybe the IN has a better chance of getting business than the I?

jk2

We (family of 3) are flying on business class award US-India. We are seating in coach on UA flight ORD-EWR (no saver business class seats available). I requested to be waitlisted on this flight and we are (I see “I class requested”). I asked CSR about our position on the list for upgrade and she told me that since we are “general members” we will be at the bottom of the list, even if we paid for the business class and seat in coach. She says that any premier member who will use miles to upgrade from coach to business will be ahead us. Is this true? I was under impression that we should be on the top of the upgrade list. Unfortunately, we will have a short connection at ORD after transatlantic flight, so I don’t know what should I do.

Zvi Weiss

You repeatedly state that the United MileagePlus Explorer [MasterCard] will provide CDW overage in Israel. All I can tell you is that for at least a year, that has NO longer been true. Not only that, but when I look at the MasterAssist benefits that are provided with the United Card, it states EXPLICITLY that Israel is one of a very short list of countries that are EXCLUDED from CDW overage!! I have confirmed this with MasterCard International who actually ADMINISTERS this program. I suggest that ANYONE considering the user of MasterCard in Israel for CDW overage all up MasterCard International as someone there will be able to tell you WHICH banks will issue MasterCard that includes CDW coverage for Israel.

Dan

@Brandon:
IN has a slightly better chance.

@jk2:
She’s wrong, make sure they mark you as a displaced business passenger.

@Zvi Weiss:
On November 1st Chase started covering Israel on all of their cards.
Mastercard does not provide this insurance, call the number on your card for the correct department.

miles
Ted

Dan, does this work with partner flights also?

jk2

Dan, thank you! Can phone representative mark us as “displaced business class passengers” or only airport agent can do it? Our flight in question is domestic one, after tatl flight from Europe on partner, so I don’t know if there is a united agents in this airport. I think when we reach USA it would be too late to do anything since our connection time is 2 hours.

Hunch

I’d like to upgrade a revenue ticket to business using miles, but there isn’t W class available.

I’m waiting for W class to open up.
Can I use plan B in this scenari?

pointie

I can confirm this still works and automatically. I received an email that the upgrade was done and sure enough, it was. I would always follow-up with a call to have them confirm everything, but it does work. Thank you, Dan!

Dan

@Ted:
No.

@jk2:
Only at the airport.

@pointie:
Congrats!
Great to see these reports of it working automatically as it should.

Sara

Dan you are the best! I noticed you spelled out how to direct the incompetent agents at the airport to give you a security pass to access the club. I had this issue but with my AA executive card AA refused to issue me a security pass being that I was flying from a different airline and gate. The stupid supervisor said I need a boarding pass. How do I guide incompetent AA agents?

Josh

Is this only on united? Does AA have the same thing? Cuz I’m having trouble finding AA business saver awards…

Alfie

Pardon my ignorance.
What is the advantage of a plan b
Over simply buying a 1
Way business with 60,000.
Like u did?

Dan

@Sara:
I’m not sure that AA has that policy.

@Josh:
Only United as far as I know.

@Alfie:
It’s for when business isn’t available.

bubble347

Has anyone else experienced almost no saver awards on united’s direct daily flights from EWR to TLV even in Economy?

Karen

Dan, on a bit of a side note, you mentioned a code to tell agents in order to get a temporary pass to be allowed to use the united lounge past security even when not flying. Would this code work for me In JFK? And is that only for united or is there a way I can access the admirals club if I won’t be flying? Thanks.

John

@Sara:

American’s policy is different. It is detailed at this site: http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/airportAmenities/admiralsClubArticles/tsaSecurity.jsp

Yankees

I currently waitlisted for X, is there anyway to get waitlisted for XN without the above mentioned ways?

Nate

I have the united club card $450 a year and have the expanded award but the Nyc-Tlv route is almost never available on saver for coach or business, this is since united stoped opening there TLV bound seats last minute.

MD

I have American miles Amex miles, el al SPG miles can any of these miles be transferred over?

Meir

I find it very difficult lately to find any saver awards on both United and AA

LeRap

Dan, Just did it, followed your instructions and booked a One Way EWR to TLV – I am in waitlist for Business Class.
60k + $2.50.
(I class requested)

Awesome!

Alex L

Hi Dan, I have two questions, which probably have been asked before, but I could not find it 🙂

1) The waitlisted status shows “I class requested” (instead of IN). Is this a problem?
2) If business award has mixed availability – does it work the same way (assuming all flights are United)

Is Plan B dead?

United rep just told me that, as of August 7th, they don’t honor waitlisting for award tickets anymore. But I see the previous post on August 10th pulled it off. Any ideas?

Plan B is NOT dead

It just took me about 5 calls (and 2 call backs), conversations with several United representatives, and ultimately a supervisor to research the process, and manually book and price the tickets. XN with IN requested is shown. Now let’s hope we clear the waitlist. 🙂 FYI, a really nice 20+ year Continental veteran didn’t know how to do this! It took someone with a very foreign accent and a lot of patience.

Rich

Thanks for the tip! My mom was on an international business flight, but they only economy saver for her connecting domestic leg. I was able to call in and get her waitlisted for the domestic flight. It now shows “I class requested.”

Donor

Kudos again Dan. Booked LAX-LHR two months out when saver economy seats were available but saver biz was not. ONLY AGENTS ON THE OLD CONTINENTAL CALLBACK LINE KNEW HOW TO CHARGE ME THE BIZ MILES (57,500) even though business saver was not available. It cleared two days later. I did the same on a return flight and while it didn’t clear until a week before we returned, IT CLEARED! You da man, Dan!!

Eugene Tunitsky

Dan thanks for the post. My fiancé and I are planning to fly to Greece and Italy from Houston next summer for our honeymoon. Would this work to book two round trips with an open jaw? Some business class is currently available but only through partner flights. Might get complicated but what are your thoughts? Thanks a lot for your feedback!

kyle

@Dan how would baggage allowance work on a Plan B ticket?

bella

pls stop repeating the united plan B as they will become aware and stop it it’s enough. tnx

million miler

worked like a charm for me, even tho they didnt let me do it the night before my flight, when I checked in the agent confirmed me in BF on flight 84 without even waitlisting me…

What Am I Missing?

I read the whole post and if a business class ticket is booked using 60K points, where’s the deal? Does this process simply guarantee you better availability? Not sure I understand what the value prop is from this whole to-do?

Where is everyone going?

What do you guys do? Fly around the world 24/7? Dan, I think your considerable skills would be put to better use elsewhere. Why don’t you focus on ending world poverty or global warming. Is it because you make a living doing this? Have confidence in yourself that you can make money out there without focusing solely on exploiting every loophole you can find.

Jeff

I tried and tried and the most they would do was waitlist me without taking out business class miles . There was no talking to them.

Eli

I just did a plan b this past Sunday EWR – TLV. and worked perfectly.

m

I just called and they refused to deduct business class miles.

joetraveler

Any similar type of ‘Plan B’ that works on American?

Timmy

@Where is everyone going?: Do you know how many people have jobs because of people like Dan flying all the time ? In the airports, on the planes, etc. & you want all those people to lose their jobs ? Shame on you.

Dan

@Alex L:
1. That’s right.
2. Yes.

@Is Plan B dead?:
Seems like the agent was wrong.

@Donor:
Congrats!

@Eugene Tunitsky:
Should work.

@kyle:
Good question, as a 1K I’ve never run into that issue.
I’d imagine if you don’t clear in advance that you’d only get the coach allowance.

@bella:
Are you joking?
This isn’t a scam or hack, the Plan B details are published on United.com!

I’d be more worried about the process being discontinued due to underuse then anything else.

@million miler:
Congrats!

@What Am I Missing?:
It makes business available when it otherwise is not.

@Where is everyone going?:
Why don’t you focus on making the world better and not criticizing others life choices.

@Jeff:
HUCA.

@Eli:
Congrats!

@m:
HUCA.

@joetraveler:
No.

Steven

Is there a way to switch AMEX points to United? Would that be a good use of AMEX points?
Is it worth trying Plan B for a “domestic” flight from Toronto, to say, San Juan?

CNoteZ

Is the “I-Class requested” suppose to post immediately?
Just finished reserving some seats with what seemed like an agent that understood the process but currently my reservation doesnt show “I-Class requested” nor were any miles deducted, not even whats required for coach!
Ticket is confirmed with assigned seats.

Nudge

1. in order to do it you need to be booked to TLV on economy, which i havent seen any availability from United. Unless this works with United with a stopover, bringing to the next question. 2.if i book EWR-FRA, FRA-TLV and only ONE segment has business, do i use up 60k? thanks

CNoteZ

@CNoteZ:

k.. took about 15 mins to process through system, everything looks right now.. biz saver award miles deducted with “I-class requested” appearing! Fingers crossed!!! THANKS!!!

Guy

Dan, you are awesome! Thank you for reminding me about Plan B. I had an economy saver award flight SFO-TLV booked on United for 85K. The web support call back agent, Jim, knew immediately exactly what I wanted. He found a way to convert the economy saver award to a business saver award for an additional 55K miles + $100. The ticket now shows “(I class requested)”.

I asked two different agents about baggage and got two different answers. One said, you paid business so you get the business baggage allowance. The other said if you don’t clear, you are flying economy and only get that baggage allowance. Is there any way to find out the truth before flight time (9/7)? I am not Premier, so I could definitely use the baggage allowance.

Dan

@Steven:
You can’t do that.

@Nudge:
Availability typically opens within a month of a flight, just look at this month…

@CNoteZ:
Congrats!

@Guy:
They should’ve done it without a $100 charge.

Try looking at what this page says for baggage for your trip:
http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/Pages/CheckedBaggage.aspx

TJ

Awesome trick! I think your trackbacks do not work (anymore)? Just posted about.

Nudge

Checked and as always… you are right. my 2nd question though, if i book EWR-FRA, FRA-TLV and only one leg has business, am i going to be charged 60k? also, if one leg is UA and the second leg LH, will this work? tks

cNoteZ

Just wanted to clarify… if there are open seats in biz class during check in, and I request for “PR-1” status… at some point before boarding I should be upgraded? The only way I wont is if some other party with “PR-1” status is ahead of me? Will they ever NOT fill an open biz seat if there are “PR-1” requests? Thanks

ORDinary Guy

Booked one recently: confirmed for BF (business), with GF (first) miles deducted and waitlisted. Had to HUCA several times (even with the “callback” link) to find an agent who understood. Many agents said it is impossible to deduct miles for a higher award if it can’t be confirmed.

Finally found one who “got it.” When she came back from on hold, she advised me that in the future, an easier way to do this is to find any date which has confirmable saver space in the cabin you are requesting, book it online, then call in to do a date change to your intended travel date.

This only works if:
a) you can find ANY date with saver space in your desired cabin AS WELL AS saver space in a lower cabin on your desired date (both of which I gather may be near impossible in some markets like EWR-TLV), and…
b) you are a Premier and thus eligible for free date changes on awards.
But if this is you, they will waitlist you for the date you want and confirm you in the lower cabin. And it somewhat avoids the need to find a knowledgeable agent.

cNoteZ

Hey Dan…

Last question I promise!
My itinerary has four of us set up for Plan B… if we have to go to the airport to set up the “PR-1” status, do we ALL have to be there? I plan on getting there 24hrs before departure so we will be the first ones on the queue but dont want to lug the entire family there. Is it possible to check everyone in online but just have myself go to the counter to request “PR-1” status for all of us?

Nat

Hey, So i had just sucessfully booked this on my first try. I don’t think I will be able to make it to the airport till 2 hours before my flight. Is there still a possibility that the system will upgrade me itself without the agent listing me as PR-1?

hughw

I had a RT EWR-CDG in saver economy trip that I booked back in February. I called today to “Plan B” the return flight. The agent was dubious that it could be done and had never heard of the procedure (by my describing, not referring to Plan B). SHe checked with a supervisour and came back on and said the supervisor would do it and hang on. Afterwards, she thanked me for teaching her something new….I was a bit surprised at that as she said she was a PMCO agent. One question for clarity…my assumption is from now until 24 hours before flight, waitlist position is determined by status, and only after checking in and making sure agent makes you PR-1 is position determined by PR. Correct?

P.S. There was a J.Edward on flyertalk’s CO forum who first detailed this back in 2007. See http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/continental-onepass-pre-merger-closed-posting/642160-plan-b-standard-businessfirst-award-travel.html

Got upgraded only on return flight...

Are we entitled to a refund of the miles difference between economy saver and business/first saver for both the outbound and return, or just the outbound on which we didn’t get upgraded? Thanks, Dan!

Eli

Dan, thanks for this. Remembered this post from years ago and looked it up. All 3 agents I spoke to from the web callback knew exactly what I was talking about and helped me. The only thing I’ll mention to people reading this is just because you see the waitlist, doesn’t mean it’s booked properly. There are 2 other indicators. One, is that the higher mileage was taken out and shows on the reservation page and on the receipt, and 2, you will see your flights duplicated when you look at seats (this might happen even when just waitlisted, not sure) indicating that you are technically reserved on the flight twice, once in coach and once in business. Also note that you cannot waitlist for first if only coach is available (if it’s a 3 cabin plane) – you can only go one cabin higher.

MOTTI

Just worked for me today, Took the 1K representative a while to figure out how to take out the extra miles from my account and put it on waitlist, then 24 hours before the flight when off the waiting list and did not go on the check in airport list, I called 1K again and they did not know how this works they told me within 24 hours if you went off the list you not getting back on, my friend went in the lounge told them I paid 70 K for business-class, they put him number 2 on the list, and it got cleared 5 minutes later.
Thank you very much DAN

Stokes

i have 4 seats setup for a plan B in July EWR-TLV. has anyone been successful at clearing 4 or more seats via plan B?

Ariel

I just Plan B’d two tickets from TLV-EWR for January, so its still alive!
Only thing, though I have the Mileagplus explorer card, I was waitlisted in I class, not IN;
Could this be because I used a non-united card to pay the fees??

Eli

Please note it is now line 81 under gg – onestandby as opposed to 85. The agent read it to me. Sadly all Biz pax checked in so I did not get upgraded. I took a later flight I had booked in biz and cancelled the plan B flight after the agent un-checked me in.

DR

@Ariel – the reason you got I, was because you are not Platinum. IN is for Platinums/1Ks/Global Services. As dan said in the post and in post #56.

Dan it still works – first call found me with a great dude who helped me out – here is hoping for Biz class!!!

Serion

I just called to standby on Global First from Business First. Found someone to help me on the first call!

Eugene Tunitsky

Dan,

Wanting to go to Greece and Italy for our honeymoon this summer. Plenty of coach savers available but wanting to obviously do business. Do you think this is a smart idea for a 3 way round trip Houston -> Venice – > Athens – > Houston.

Could it work? Would really appreciate your input!

Dan

@Eugene Tunitsky:
Sure, just remember that it only works on United flights.

Question for Eli

@Eli:

What’s your status with United that you’re able to cancel a flight same day without penalty (presumably)? Or do you have the Club card? I’d like to do the same. How do I go about it?

Sam

It still works! It took multiple calls and a lot of explaining to find an agent who knew what I was talking about but the process is most certainly still possible.

As others have said before a few important checks you can do to make sure you were ticketed correctly. Make sure your award ticket shows and your mileage account is debited the business (or first) saver reward amount depending on which you booked NOT the economy saver reward amount where your seat currently is. Secondly when you view your reservation on united.com it should show (I class requested) after the Fare Class: United Economy (X) for example.

Zev

Dan, a question if I may. I did this “Plan B” process for a trip EWR – LHR, the issue is that I did it 2 days ago already but it has NOT ticketed yet. I DO have a reservation with Fare class X and (I class requested). The miles have NOT yet been deducted, the credit card charge is still in the “pending” stage. Should I wait or does this need to be fixed? Thanks!

Plan B'd but biz got filled up

If there are later flights that night with biz available, might United switch us to one of those flights in biz class on/before day of flight upon request?

Zev, they screwed up

Call, get some one competent. And they’ll fix it.

Zev

@ “Zev, they screwed up” Thanks, I actually used the callback line and someone there explained to me that since this is complicated, it gets processed manually, which is why it can take DAYS to get ticketed. It got ticketed yesterday evening. Now I’m waiting for the next phase… 🙂

Airport agent trouble

After educating agent about being a displaced business class passenger, and deserving PR-1 status, she finally made the call to the mileage desk, and confirmed that that’s where I belong. Then she called me back to the desk, and told me that it was a mistake, and that she’s putting me back into PR-2. I referred her to gg onestandby line 81, they were shocked that a non-United employee would know this information, but then they printed it out for me, and apparently it has changed. It now shows that only elite members can be put into PR-1 status, and that everyone else must be in PR-2. So now there’s basically no chance of me flying business class tonight. Any advice?

dan not Dan

@ Airport agent trouble: was this at the econ check in desk, business check in desk or in lounge?

Jung

i have 2 business saver awards booking flight iah-tpe via sfo I’ve just request mine iah to sfo for biz class wait-list from economy, I am their general member with a united explorer card. For some reason my itinerary receipt and reservation is hown as X and I , and the wait list is also shown I . When speaking to agent she has no problem have me on wait list , but was told the “n” as expandable only applies to their elite memeber or standard award flight.

Commish

I am having the same problem as Jung this morning. Flying United from EWR > TLV and did HUCA but still getting the same response that IN is not available on award saver booking. Only available for standard award flights or to premier members.

I have a United Card but they told me that is not enought o get me IN status. Does anyone know if United changed the rules of the card or how I can get around this??

Linda

I had already reserved an economy saver EWR – TXL when I remembered Plan B. On my first call using the callback number I found agent Elsa who was excellent…she took the additional miles for business class and wait listed us using IN since we have the united mileage plus credit card. She seemed to know exactly what to do. There was no additional $ charge beyond what we had paid for the economy saver. Now, we’ll just hope the wait list clears. Thanks Dan!

dotbomb

It seems as though the easy part is calling in to waitlist.

Have united call you via this link, which will connect you to the united.com helpdesk who are more knowledgable than when you call the first tier support:

http://goo.gl/9rcqGK

They should know exactly what you need and how to do it. make sure to ask them to waive the reservation change fee, most of the time they will do it.

The hard part is getting on the waitlist the day of the flight. It appears as though Priority 1 status is no longer allowed for this waitlist, you will just get thrown in with the other low priority upgraders and such. Apparently this is new and has been notated in the internal documents. This was introduced around the end of Q4 2014/beginning of Q1/2015. I have not seen anyone confirm they were placed on priority 1 waitlist since the beginning of the year. SO I think this loophole might be closed as far as being at the top of the list when checked in. No one has confirmed yet though.

Michael

If I am booking a flight to Hawaii which has a short stopover, and the flight is listed as mixed cabin which means one leg of the trip is in first and the other is in economy, do I automatically get put at the top of waitlist for getting put into first class?
And, if I don’t get placed in first and remain in economy, do I have a case to get the extra miles back even though I flew first for part of the trip?

Chris

What is the code for standing by for Global First if BusinessFirst is I/IN? Anyone know?

Tracy

Dan,
Great info. I had this setup, miles were correctly taken from my account for business round trip fare from NY to FRA, and one of the segment is confirmed in XN, waitlisted IN. The only thing worries me is that it says “1 upgrade reward 115,000 miles” instead of “1 reward”, the booking code is YB53. Is this setup correct? Thanks in advance.

saver2000

“With the United app or on United.com you can search for the upgrade standby list for any flight by searching under flight status. You will see how many business class seats are still open and you should see your name at the very top of that list.”

This method only shows flights for next 3 days. Is there a way to see a flight that is 7 days out?

I booked a plan b itinerary yesterday, but the agent may have messed up, so i’m trying to double check via the above method. Thanx

Dan
saver2000

Thanx.

The standby list shows “no customers are currently standing by” . I guess thats bec it not within 24 hours yet.

I have no idea what the heck the agent did. UA deducted 43k per pax for one way in confirmed businessFirst and the other officially in plan b + one intra island flight (6k).

No way to tell if I got the real plan b. This sucks. Oh well.

##confused.

Linda

Reporting back on my Plan B experience. The domestic portion cleared to business/first a few days in advance of the flight. The EWR-TGL segment did not clear for business, and as of the day of the flight I couldn’t find our names anywhere on the business standby list (and it was a fairly long list). Upon arriving at EWR I went to the United customer service desk and explained that my waitlist for business hadn’t cleared, but that I had “paid” for business with my miles. I also told her that my understanding was that we should be Priority 1 on the wailist for business seats. She made a phone call, then came back and said it was done, that we were #1 and #2 on the business standby list. I double checked and there we were on the top of the list. Thanks, Dan! Now the bad news, business checked in full so we sat in economy. Now, I just need to work on getting my miles back…

Barry

after calls from united i finally got an agent to book my the plan B ticked

However after seeing the confirmation I have only waitlisted as an I class and when I called in asking for them to put me on the wait-list as an IN since I have the milage plus explorer card they told me I can not get it only if I am a K1 member is that right? or I just have to call again and again till i”ll find some one to put on there as a IN?

Thanks

Jake the Snake

I booked a saver award economy ticket from Newark – TLV. I called in within 24 hours to try and book a “Plan B” ticket. The woman seemed to know what she was doing, as she said that she needs to take the additional points from my account now. The only problem is, that she quoted the wrong amount. An Economy saver is 42,500 points, while Business saver is 70,000, so I needed to shell out an additional 27,500. However, she said that she needs to take 17,500 (I didn’t object, thinking that perhaps I can get away with it, and save 10,000 points.) She took the points and waitlisted me for Business. The confirmation came back looking like the screenshot above.

The only question I have is: Since she took the wrong amount of points, will this prevent me from being considered a “displaced business class passenger” (being that I didn’t actually “pay” for business), and will I merely be just another guy on the waitlist for business?

Akiva

Dear Dan,

Would you know when united opens up saver awards for their flights? Meaning how far or close before the actual flight date? I would like to make a reservation for a united flight in May EWR – TLV and as of now, only standard awards are being offered.

I was told by a united representative that it’s not that all the saver awards were taken, but rather that since the date of the flight is so far off, they aren’t offering them yet, but the flights are wide open and i should check back in a couple of months. Are saver awards always offered? (so that i can either book a business award or waitlist it by booking a saver economy award and using the plan B approach) or is it possible that since it will be high season maybe united just won’t offer any saver awards during that season?

Also, although i think it was mentioned once in the comments, do you know if there is a difference between when saver economy awards are offered and saver business awards are offered (it seemed that someone mentioned that saver business are only available 45 days before the flight)?

many thank for your help! Gmar chasima Tova!

Juda

@dan do you know if the PR1 status you mentioned that’s referenced in gg/81 is still valid or as some of the commenters say that the policy has been changed. Also when going to the airport 24hr before the flight to request the PR1 status, do all traveling members must go or can I request it for all of us.
Thank you!

JL

I just did this. I have XN confirmed thru the club card. But the only requested I class not IN. Should I Call them back to change it to IN?

Barry

Thanks Dan
As I reported in augest I booked a plan B ticket and was waitlisted but it did not clear till the date of the flight
I have to admit it was a bit overwhelming as this was a flight for HKG to EWR witch is about 16 hours and I was not going to be in economy for this amount so I started to have 2nd thoughts about it
But as I got to the train station (there is a train there called the airport express witch is going just to the airport and you can check in and get you boarding pass in the station already,
The women there told me I am not the waitlist at all,
And I was prepared for that and pulled out all the papers a printed before the flight for this and showed her first I paid for business already and told her about the gg onestandby she did know what I was talking about and followed you instructions about saying I am not upgrading I am a displeased passenger
Then she doled me she dos not know how much points it cost to bay a business seat and will have to confirm first with the award desk
She made some phone calls and told me I am right, she called for there to the airport to the seat coordinator and asked I should be put on the waitlist,
She gave me a boarding pass first for economy and told me as you get to the airport go talk to the seat coordinator BUT since you ordered a kosher meal in economy if you will be upgraded in business we will not have food for you since the kosher food is coming for NY and they need to know 24 hours ahead,
As I got to the airport 3 hours before the flight I check on united/mobil and I was not on the waitlist at all
I immediately got to the seat coordinator and asked about me being on the waitlist, she told me I am already in business she gave me a new boarding pass and told me some one ordered a kosher meal and just canceled his flight if I want the new kosher meal,
In the end I was in business for 70k points thanks to you Dan and got kosher food as well
For all the other ones here trying to get business thru plan B just one detail, if it’s a long flight take some food with you as its not confirmed if you have business you will still have kosher food if you did not clear before 24 hours before the flight

Layne

We are volunteers for USAID. They purchase our tickets and we are always in economy on Star Alliance. We have plenty of United miles. We are going to Beiruit in Jan. The tickets have not yet been purchased but will be soon. Can someone tell me how to get upgraded? Every trip we use miles and pay the fees to upgrade and it is so rare to get the upgrade. We hope we are doing something wrong and some one can help guide us. Our last trip to Cairo was booked through Luftansa and they would not allow us to use our United miles to upgrade. We dearly want to make these long trips in Business

Bella

can I do a business saver morning flight and be waitlisted for the evening flight if there is no saver business on the evening or I should rather confirm evening flight in economy and wait list it as a plan B

Fernando

I just booked a “Plan-B” ticket using the instructions on this page. I used the callback line that was listed and received a call-back immediately. The United rep knew what I was requesting but she didn’t know the full rules. She had her supervisor help her out. After 25 minutes, the extra miles for the business ticket were deducted and my reservation showed “I class requested”. Now I’ll just wait and cross my fingers that I clear. Thanks Dan!!

mmt

I had booked NRT-DEN XN and called in a week ago to do Plan B. I said I wanted standby upgrade; agent said no such thing. I then search article for exact words (business waitlist) and agent said sure thing and I was put on I list and miles deducted. Flight is now two weeks out and no coach seats available for sale. Economy Plus and BusinessFirst is available for sale. (seat map shows each about half full). I am presuming it will go to airport standby.

mmt

@mmt: Did not clear BusinessFirst overwater, did clear domestic first. Did the web callback and they couldn’t redeposit the waitlist miles. I called Milage PLus and after disjointed conversation with neither of us understanding each other’s language the refund for missed upgrade were back in my account. I spent about an hour and a half total with both the webcallback and MP agents to get the redeposit.

Baruch

@Dan: hi Dan. Any way to get Plan B to work with regular economy (non-saver) ?

yboltin

Hi DAN
I just set up a united plan b ticket from MEL to LAX.
The confirmation page shows “I class requested”.Is there any way to get them to change it to “IN” (I am a chase card holder)

sg

Re: United Plan B: Pretty Much The Most Awesome, Underutilized, And Underappreciated Thing Ever.

Is it still working?

Ezra

Hi Dan – thanks for all..
about this plan b .. is it a difference if you bonk it as a plain memeber or being a primer memeber ??

Yossi

Thanks, Dan!
Can I do it after I purchased a regular saver award economy ticket?
I don’t want to just cancel the ticket and start from fresh because this ticket is available now only for 25k and I got it for 12.5k

Yossi

Thanks @Dan!
This still works! My ticket was just changed to “I class requested”
Not just this, I did it after 24 hours of buying the ticket. I figured let me give it a shot, what do I got to loose, after playing 5 times HUCA and being on hold for an hour they finally did it! Let’s hope I’ll be cleared…

matovu

does the CALL BACK Number still work ? doesn;t look likt it.

loveabargain

Thanks @Dan!
This worked today- First agent I tried was amazing- I did this a week after buying the ticket- The ticket shows “I class requested” it should say IN as I have a united explorer card-Should I call back?

ELIYAHU KUGEL

Hey Dan,

Thanks for all your help in general and congratulations on the new website.

The “callback line” link in the article is broken, just thought I’d let you know.

Cheers,

MF

Due you still get PR-1 status in the airport?
I heard saying that not.
the web support callback link does not work.

wpDiscuz