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Am I the only one who thinks its a waste of miles to use them to upgrade?

Am I the only one who thinks its a waste of miles to use them to upgrade?

Feb 29th, 2008, 11:16 AM
  #21  
pat
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,439
Depends on who you are. I am 5 feet tall on a good day, weigh a little over 100 lbs, and am quite comfortable in coach. I did go first class once, internationally, and for me, it wasn`t worth it. So every one is different. I would never use the overhead bin for luggage, as I`m afraid I wouldn`t be able to retrieve it.
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Feb 29th, 2008, 11:26 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 314
We use miles to upgrade on transcontinental and long flights to Caribbean. You can usually get a base fare that is reasonable and upgrade gives more comfort, etc.

One point not made so far, is that you get to checkin at First Class counter, thus saving long lines and allowing you to not to have to get there so early. This is especially nice on 6am or 7am flights.
If you have to make a connection, you are also first off the plane.
John_T_Cuttino is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 11:34 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 41
I should clarify that I rarely use miles for a strictly domestic coach flight. When I use 25,000 mile awards, they are most often used for transcontinental flights to Canada, which often cost almost as much as flights to Europe.

Ed

suranyi is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 11:40 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 41
Wally:

"If an airline (American) charges 60,000 miles for economy to Europe during summer and 90,000 for Business Class to Europe during summer, the difference is only 30,000 miles."

That's 60,000 miles if two people are going (as is usually the case for me). And I don't usually have an extra 60,000 miles lying around. I'm sure other people who travel much more than me don't have this problem. But I have to watch the spending of my miles carefully, as I don't earn them that fast.

Ed
suranyi is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 08:30 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
I hardly ever use my miles for anything BUT upgrades, as I fly to Asia quite often. I am tall and do NOT do well in economy seating. I cannot sleep in those seats. They don't recline like they used to.

However, I just cashed in 240,000ff miles to fly first class to Bangkok (from Chicago) last month, on UA. It was lovely! But now I have to try to build up my miles again UGH which will take some time (and some traveling in economy).

I don't like to use ff miles for free tickets (usually) because I don't earn miles on those flights. Maintaining my premier exec status on UA is important to me because of a couple of the extra percs I get.

I have paid flights to Europe this month and Thailand next month, as well as Hawaii in September, which will help me build up my account once again. These are all in economy... I shall survive...lol

One other point though, I've flown business class to Europe a couple of times by upgrading using $$$ at the check-in counter. I just may have to try that on my BKK trip next month. Not sure what that one will cost me... but I'll earn extra miles. We'll see... To fly to LHR and FRA was somewhere around $500 at the counter at check-in. BKK is twice the distance, at least.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2008, 02:53 PM
  #26  
Original Poster
 
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Thanks for the very interesting comments, some of which persuasively argue in favor of each case. At least we are not all competing for the same seats ;-) , and I appreciate your comments.

Michael
thit_cho is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:28 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Yes as far as I am concerned if you are going outside of the us. I think it is a waste to use ff points withing the us when you can usually get a ticket for $400 or less. If you are talking overseas then it makes the most sense to buy coach and upgrade to business if possible.
denice7 is online now  
Jun 27th, 2008, 08:00 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 140
Hi,

This is obviously my morning (abetted by caffeine) to bite the bullet and ask naive questions. Encouraged by kybourbon and travelgourmet, I'm attempting to become a more educated ff flier.

Earlier in this thread, someone mentioned that should you be in an empty row in coach, then you're pretty much wasting your miles to move to business. So here's my question, duh as it may be: Are there strategies to this result? On my last flight, I was in pitiful envy of the women in the center who had all three seats to herself. How did she do that?

If I have not tried your patience, I'd love to read some secrets,
J.
jmw444 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 08:22 AM
  #29  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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<< On my last flight, I was in pitiful envy of the women in the center who had all three seats to herself. How did she do that? >>

Possibility:
1) She's just plain lucky
2) She asked the gate agent to move her to an empty row
3) She bought all 3 seats

In reality, with airlines cutting back services, I doubt you will see the days of empty planes. All my recent domestic flights have been packed to the gills.

So, if you want a business seat, go for a business seat. there's no guarantee that you can get an empty row to yourself in coach, unless you purchase all 3 seats.

Also, having 3 seats in coach does NOT equal one business seat. I was lucky to snag an empty 3-seater row when I flew London to Boston (by asking the gate agent). I lay down horizontal across the 3 seats. But because of the contour of the seats, I could only lie in 1 position no more than 30 minutes before it starts hurting my back.
yk is offline  
Jun 27th, 2008, 08:48 AM
  #30  
 
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My FF are with Qantas. I can only take potluck on upgrading. We put in the request 3 months in advance and find out within 5 hours of flying.
I try to use FF for my daughter and husband and pay for my flights as they are generally partially work related so I can claim them on my tax.

However this year I have a particularly complicated itinerary from Sydney to North America, Europe, Florida and South America:
SYD: YYZ
YYZ: JFK
JFK: LHR
LHR: MAD
MAD: CDG
ZUR: MCO
GIG: IGU
IGR: AEP
EZE: SYD

I've a paid ticket that gets me to Toronto and from Iguazo - BA - Sydney. All the rest are FF. I have booked Premium Economy with BA from JFK to LHR as it is overnight and I will be working on both days. Zurich to Orlando is Business as it is the only class available. The remainder are economy. One thing I have realised is that if I can get the seats, I do have a lot more flexibility. I book the flights using my husband's card as he is OW Sapphire and he gets a lot more opportunities plus it doesn't cost any points to change dates if flights are available.

At the same time, I've booked all of my daughter's flights on FF and she has changed her mind several times. My husband is meeting us in Paris and he is on RTW fare - so he will pick up points. We will try to get an upgrade out of BA if we've accumulated enough points by then. It is a lottery tho. On my last trip to Europe I requested upgrades on all legs and didn't receive any.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 01:55 AM
  #31  
 
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It helps to book flights that are near-empty, I suppose, to get the row to yourself. It happened to me on Cologne to Newark (and also my daughter had her own row too) last year. But of course Continental is cancelling this flight now, for some reason.

I had a row to myself from San Francisco to Mexico City. But someone chose, after takeoff, to reseat himself, so then there was only one empty seat. I could hardly tell him I wanted the row to myself.

It helps to choose a seat at the back of the plane when you make your seat selection initially, and check if anyone else is in the row when you do online check-in, but of course there is no guarantee.
WillTravel is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 05:11 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 140
Thank you for the replies re empty rows. I think I'll put that idea aside and concentrate on learning as much as I can about securing upgrades and how to best use ff miles. I look forward to reading many informative threads at this forum. J.
jmw444 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 10:49 AM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm just curious, that's all. As I wrote, I have a friend who uses his miles to upgrade, and I've never criticised him for doing so -- its his choice.

Of course you did criticize him. Maybe not to his face. But you did so here, at least, when you said that HIS use of HIS miles was the biggest waste of miles.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 11:29 AM
  #34  
 
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kuranosuke is offline  
Jun 28th, 2008, 11:41 AM
  #35  
 
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To me, it's a fairly simple benefit:cost calculation. If the equivalent value for my mile is over 3 or 4 cents (US) then I regard it as a good exchange, pretty much regardless of whether it's a domestic or foreign itinerary.

Some people think it's worth saving miles for more frequent economy-class travel, and that's fine; however it's worth remembering that when you use miles for upgrades you're still receiving miles for the same flight. Case in point, say it costs $400 for a coast to coast trip in coach, and 30,000 miles (15K each way) to upgrade. If the coast to coast itinerary comes to, say, 5000 miles, and if one is an elite FFer, you can earn 10,000 miles (2x is common for many elites) so the net "cost" in miles is 20,000. Say the first class fare equivalent would be $1200 (vs. $400 in coach) the value of those 20,000 miles is $800, so right around 4 cents per mile. That's probably more than double than what I "paid" for those miles in credit card purchases etc. so I might go for it.

50,000 miles, however, for a round trip coach award to Europe for a trip that costs $1000, is the equivalent of 2 cents per mile, so (in my opinion) a less attractive deal than the domestic upgrade, since it's 50K out of pocket rather than net of the "paid" miles one would obtain in an upgrade scenario.

Most airlines let you buy miles for your account at something like 2.5 cents per mile. So there are even scenarios (like the domestic one I mentioned) where it might be cheaper overall to buy the upgrade miles than to buy the premium ticket in the first place.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 06:16 AM
  #36  
cfc
 
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All subject to change in the blink of an eye in the next few months.

Big changes already announced re: charges for using miles to upgrade OR for award trips - on all airlines.

A friend with aging UA miles but lots of AA miles is traveling overseas soon. He found that AA's posted coach fare was much less than UA's and planned to use AA miles to upgrade. HOWEVER, he soon found out that 1. he had to pay a higher basic coach fare to use the miles and 2. was reminded that he'd be $600 out of pocket for a fee just to use the miles for a RT upgrade. Voila, using the UA miles to upgrade suddenly was a lot cheaper than AA.

You have to be a Mensa member to figure all this out, and as I said, all subject to change minute by minute.
cfc is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 06:49 AM
  #37  
 
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All I would add would be that whichever way you want to use miles, do it sooner rather than later. The miles are going to be worth less and less, and it's going to cost more and more to use them.
JJ495 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 08:16 AM
  #38  
 
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A friend with aging UA miles but lots of AA miles is traveling overseas soon. He found that AA's posted coach fare was much less than UA's and planned to use AA miles to upgrade. HOWEVER, he soon found out that 1. he had to pay a higher basic coach fare to use the miles and 2. was reminded that he'd be $600 out of pocket for a fee just to use the miles for a RT upgrade. Voila, using the UA miles to upgrade suddenly was a lot cheaper than AA.

Your friend was misinformed. American allows upgrades on any coach fare (with the only exceptions being bulk-purchased fares, e.g. cruise line add-ons, and a couple of other infrequent fare types) while it's United that requires more expensive "base" fares in order to be eligible for mileage upgrades on international routes (C, D, Y, B, M and H fares, the more expensive ones.) And yes, the "co-pay" approach used by several airlines including AA and Continental (much higher cost than AA's and requiring a higher base fare) needs to be factored in on overseas flights. It's just math.

The miles are going to be worth less and less, and it's going to cost more and more to use them.

I disagree with that. Ticket prices are increasing faster than mileage redemption requirements are, so accrued miles are getting more, not less valuable. Of course with reductions in the number of seats/flights it's true competition for the remaining redemption seats is going to get tougher, which is why using miles for upgrades may well be the better value in the long run.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 08:42 AM
  #39  
 
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gardyloo: Good rundown, but I want to clarify the Continental rules a little bit. You can upgrade from any fare class to BusinessFirst, which is Continental's long-haul business class. This means that to Europe or to Asia, you can upgrade from any fare.

For non-BusinessFirst markets (domestic US, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Northern South America, etc.), non-elites can only upgrade from certain fare classes.

Also, the co-pay differs based upon the fare class, so it isn't always the case that the cash cost is more than with AA, though I agree it normally is.
travelgourmet is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 11:04 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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I called Continental to ask about using miles to upgrade for an IAH-LGW flight, and they told me it was 20,000 miles plus $450 each direction.

I said no thanks.

I find using Continental miles to be a big hassle.
Londonlover is offline  

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