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USAirways Dividend Miles to upgrade

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For many years I have been flying to Europe and using miles to purchase Business Class tickets - then I had been told that one had to begin to call so many days (something like 270 days before the date of return) - I have always been able to do it, although it was rarely on that day, but instead have had to call everyday until there were seats - Often I found a kind agent who worked with me to get the tickets. For instance, last year I was able to get a return flight when I wanted, but not from here to there. The agent asked then I would mind flying to Manchester (instead of Heathrow) - and then on a domestic flight to Heathrow. Voila, there it was - I had to be even more flexible - no problem.

I am flying Phila to Paris - I would like to buy an Economy ticket and use my miles to upgrade to Business - this will take an additional $300 and 30,000 miles - I spoke with the agent yesterday who looked at the various days of my travel - I am very flexible.

Of course, there are no seats offered for upgrading (Oct 2013). They do not know if the
upgrades have been released and already given out or if the upgrades are still to be released. So, it seem that the only way to try to make this happen and purchase the economy seats to and from and then call every day to see if upgrades are available.

Any suggestions for me?? Thank you!!!

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    Seats are released into upgrade and/or award "buckets" on an ad-hoc basis, depending on how the "yield management" or "revenue management" computer algorithms are feeling that day. Unless you're a professor at Hogwarts you don't have a chance of second-guessing the robots, so waiting and jumping is your only option. Often seats will be released into upgrade categories literally at the last moment, when the computers decide that the same seats aren't going to be sold for thousands of dollars to late-booking travelers.

    But some thoughts on your predicament...

    First, you can wait to purchase your coach ticket until you see upgrade availability. The fares for October aren't likely to go up dramatically for several months from now, and I'd prefer to have the use of my money in the meantime, rather than letting Dougie and the boys play airline monopoly with it.

    Second, remember that the 30,000 miles and $300 copay is each way on your flights, so it's really $600 and 60,000 miles if you want to upgrade both ways.

    This is opposed to 100,000 miles for a straight round trip award in business class, with no copays. So in your case, assuming you already have the 60,000 miles, the math could be something like this: Coach ticket, say $1000 round trip (just guessing) + $600 for the co-pays, plus 60,000 miles = round trip in business class.

    But if you have the 60K miles, would buying the "missing" 40,000 miles (to get to the 100K award amount) cost $1600? Answer, no. If you bought those 40K miles today from US Airways it would cost you $1400, less (I'm guessing) than the price of the coach ticket and the co-pays, maybe close to the price of the coach ticket alone.

    However, it's worth noting that US Airways is notorious for having big "sales" on purchased miles, with 100% bonuses occurring several times a year (or at least have done in the past.) So the extra 40K miles might only cost $700 if you wait for one of those sales.

    The additional benefit of going for the straight mileage redemption instead of the upgrade route is that you can use your miles to fly on any US Airways/Star Alliance partner, so you're not limited just to what US might have open. Yes, it might be less convenient to have to connect somewhere, but with flexible dates and multiple carriers your odds of getting over the water in October will multiply greatly. For example, if you were booking with (all) miles today, you could fly on Lufthansa from JFK to Paris via Frankfurt on one of several days around your target, or from Newark to Paris via Lisbon on TAP, and I have no idea how many more alternatives might open up between now and October. I'd be very confident in saying you'd get something long before your travel dates.

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