From SFO to China - United upgrade

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Jan 2nd, 2012, 05:37 AM
  #1
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From SFO to China - United upgrade

I'm new to the world of upgrades and find the website confusing. I want to fly from San Francisco to Beijing and return from Shanghai in May. Would like to use a combination of money and miles to fly business if at all possible - even if we can only fly business on the way over.

I can't figure out how to search for the best option. Should i start with the redeem miles tab? Or the book a flight tab? Isn't there any way that it will simply show me what the options are? It seems like you have to try multiple ways - and many of them don't work at all. Maybe it would be best to simply call United... will a person be able to give me the best possibilities?

Thanks.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:54 AM
  #2
 
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You can use the pdf chart at the link below to determine the miles and copay required. China is in the North Asia region.

http://www.united.com/ual/asset/MUA_...after_6_15.pdf
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:01 AM
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So it is 30,000 miles plus $450 to $600 copay, depending on fare class.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:07 AM
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I'm not by any stetch a pro on the best way to look at using your miles, but if possible I would highly recommend flying ANA (a Star Alliance partner). We flew business with them to China and the service was way above United. Just a thought.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:30 AM
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Good thought. It is an option. The catch is that upgrading on ANA (or other *A partners) would require buying full-fare tickets in business C/D or economy Y/B.

This thread got me to try out something I just learned about. That is the ability to search by fare code/type/class at Continental dot com in order to compare the prices.

When you do a Search By: Price the results will show the lowest economy fares. To find the higer fares, click on Advanced Search.

On the Advanced Search form, scroll down to What is your fare preference? Toggle-on Enter your specific classes of service and then enter the fare code(s) in the box below.

I believe that you don't have to search for the S,T,K,L,G fares separately (whatever G is, must be a CO bucket). They will appear, as available, on the Lowest Available Fare search.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 09:48 AM
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Ok, I just noticed the OnePass Reward Upgrade toggle. Use that and you will see if there are upgrade seats available. Chances are that you won't find availability, but I assume you would be charged for the miles and copay and put on the waitlist (to be refunded if the u/g doesnt clear).

I am not sure how this option works and am making assumptions.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 11:19 AM
  #7
 
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Karen, I book flights in Economy class and then use my miles to upgrade to biz. When I'm ready to buy, I called United and have an agent find the right dates for me. I only book if I can get the upgrade confirmed at the time of booking. IT costs - $10 per ticket, I think, but it is well worth it to me. I can spend hours looking for upgradeable seats, but the agent can find them in short order.

BTW, the upgrade price depends not only on the fare class of your ticket, but also on the demand for biz seats. On our last trip, we did not get charged for any copays - biz was half full.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:34 PM
  #8
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Thanks, everyone.

Mrwunrfl, I tried the Continental site, but no luck with finding any availability.

Ditto, patandhank, for ANA.

Kathie - I think I'll try your strategy of just calling the airline. The main problem is we're kind of locked into dates. My daughter really wants to go on a small group tour for the companionship of others (so she won't have to spend 24/7 with Mom!) and the company we've picked doesn't offer many departure dates. So that will make it more difficult. I should have booked this months ago! But I'll give it a try and see what I can do.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 12:36 PM
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mrwunrfl, I'm not sure how OnePass works, but on United I've always had the miles deducted when I requested upgrades and then the co-pay is charged when I check in (miles refunded if upgrade doesn't clear). This has been the case whether the upgrade is confirmed at booking or if I've cleared from the wait list.

FWIW, I've never had the co-pay waived, whether or not business class was full.

And to the OP, I agree with Kathie...if your schedule permits, try to find flights with upgrades that you can confirm at the time of booking. If you go on a wait list, know that upgrades clear by status and then fare code, and some routes can be difficult. We are on the wait list for Bangkok-Narita-Chicago in three weeks and business class is almost sold out already on both the flights. I'm a 1K (but on a low "L" fare) and have a very low expectation for clearing, and I've warned my husband and daughter (Premiers) to not even think about it.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 01:10 PM
  #10
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Yes, I'm just a Premier, so I'd definitely want a flight I could confirm for business at the time of booking.
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Jan 2nd, 2012, 07:02 PM
  #11
 
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If your dates are fixed then call. You will probably not find any availability. If you buy a ticket today and get on the waitlist then it is possible that your upgrade will clear any time between tomorrow and boarding time. Or it may never clear.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:07 AM
  #12
 
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A few thoughts:

1. UA/CO hardly releases reward upgrades this far out, so chances of getting confirmed upgrades now on specific dates you want is minuscule.

2. Upgrade availability in the end depends highly on routes, season and day of flying. I'm not familiar on PVG and PEK, so best to ask on flyertalk.com. Be as specific as possible.

3. Never buy a high economy fare unless with confirmed upgrade. Worst is to pay more, and still in the back. And fare class has no effect on upgrade priority; unlike premiere status.

4. If you want to fly business for sure, buy a business class ticket; or find enough miles to get a business reward outright.
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