In an absolutely horrid and lack-of-transparency move, United Airlines is disabling the “expert mode” feature tonight on their website. It allows anyone to see inventory allocations in every fare class and “bucket” on a given United flight, such as:
If this type of display is alphabet soup and meaningless to you, tonight’s change won’t be so worrisome. However, for those of us who rely on it to determine which flights have available upgrades confirmable at ticketing (and for other fare construction purposes), this is a HUGE change and one that has angered nearly everyone.
United posted the announcement of tonight’s change today on Flyertalk:
Okay, yes… not everyone understands fare classes and airline availability. But is such a display really so misinterpreted that it causes significant customer service issues? I don’t think that’s the entire story of why United is taking it down.
United points to the fact that other websites and services “scrape” this inventory and display it to their users. It’s a popular feature – one that allows those of us who understand its data to ultimately select flights. United knows this, but allegedly insists those who misinterpret it represent a larger population of users than those for whom it helps.
I don’t agree and I hate this change. Terrible move, United. I’m curious to see what the “new feature” is they’re adding tonight claiming to improve transparency.
I’ve reached out to ExpertFlyer to see if tonight’s change impacts that service, but have yet to hear back. [Edited 9/8/12: Yep, even ExpertFlyer is impacted:]