Travelling with United – make sure you know your ‘R’s and ‘N’s

I was travelling back from San Diego to Newark, via Denver. As often happens the inbound aircraft was running late, and TripIt messaged me that I would most likely misconnect in Newark.

To remedy this I left for the airport early, and after the usual indignities of the TSA, got to the United Club around 4 hours before my time of departure.

I explained the problem and the helpful agent got right down to finding a solution – direct to Newark on the next flight (coach), the computers offering via Houston (coach), and after asking about the ticket she started to look for upgrade space.

What was interesting was that the reservation had been made with United before the change of reservations systems and so was booked in ‘ON’ class. This is really the same as ‘R’ – upgraded space. I explained this, and ran over what I know about United’s codes from Seth’s excellent primer. They were amazed, not so much that I knew, but that it was news to them!

They found me R space, via LAX and sent me off to the Commuter Terminal and another TSA experience. I issued my first ‘Outperform Recognition’ coupon to the agent, who I thought had been ready to listen to a customer, admit that I knew about the codes, and sorted me out. That’s the sort of service we have to value these days – used to be taken for granted but no more.

So, I got in early, in First and earned an extra few miles.

Well done San Diego United Club.


  1. Minor quibble, but R and ON aren’t really the same thing. When United converted all the old reservations to the new system on 3/3 lots of itineraries got booked into ON which shouldn’t have been. The net effect – passenger riding in the pointy end of the plane – is pretty much the same, but they do play differently on the back end.

    Glad to hear they rebooked you and let you keep the upgrade. Definitely worth giving them credit on that.

  2. I have had a number of good experiences at the SAN Club. It has the feel of a larger club in a smaller space and, yes, the agents are unusually helpful there.

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