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simpsonc510 Nov 29th, 2009 08:48 AM

LAX vs SFO on the way to SYD
OK, so I'm finally looking at SYD tickets (from ORD) 1k SWU on UA... for a wedding in March. I see that right now it is cheaper to go thru SFO than LAX. I am wondering why. If I keep looking for fares, will I hopefully be able to fly thru LAX instead, and still have a ticket that is under $1200? I really want to avoid SFO if I can, but still get a good price on a ticket. Your thoughts?

rkkwan Nov 29th, 2009 08:56 AM

Why would you want to choose LAX over SFO???

mrwunrfl Nov 29th, 2009 01:00 PM

I doubt that you actually found a sub-$1200 W fare on either route. What you saw were probably K fares which are not upgradeable with a SWU.

I tried a few dates in March and the SWU- upgradeable fares are $1800+ (and M/H fares twice as much.

Fare codes S,T,K,L are not upgradeable with SWUs on international flights.

Neuman605 Nov 29th, 2009 03:03 PM

SFO no question about it!

janisj Nov 29th, 2009 03:16 PM

"<i>I really want to avoid SFO if I can</i>"

I'd usually rather change planes to international at SFO than at LAX.

Just curious - what do you have against SFO?

simpsonc510 Nov 30th, 2009 12:13 AM

Thanks for all those replies, everyone. I do not like going thru SFO, having nearly missed an on-going flight due to such slow security lines and waiting for bags! DH had an insignificant (expensive) pocket item taken from him, so we mailed it home rather than lose it completely!! We have vowed to avoid SFO... yes, I really do prefer LAX. Thank goodness we all have a right to our own opinions!

I have friends in Los Angeles with whom I could spend a long layover, sipping wine, eating dinner, driving the coast.. etc. That's an extra added advantage for me in LAX as well.

The less-than-$1200 fare came up when I put in my request for dates and an upgrade using SWU. Would it offer fares that are not upgradeable? Curious...

I'll have to look again. So, $1800 is bare minimum at this point. Hmmm...

I have time to think about it. I don't have to rush to book it right now.

Carol (posting from Lucerne Switzerland)

ms_go Nov 30th, 2009 02:29 AM

I would always pick SFO over LAX for connections, as I think the arrivals facilities, RCCs, etc., are nicer--but that's just my opinion. There probably isn't a huge amount of difference.

A couple of suggestions...there's a lot of discussion on flyertalk about which one is better for trips to Australia, which has a better chance of clearing, etc. I'm not sure there's a lot of consensus, but there is a lot of experience there; for example, some suggest day of the week is important. You'll have to do some searching to find those threads; here's one:

Another thing, be careful with the one "direct" flight through LAX (I think) that uses the same flight number all the way from Sydney to Chicago. If you apply the SWU to the whole trip, both segments will have to have upgrade space for the upgrades to clear. Or, just apply the upgrade to the SYD-LAX portion. The domestic portion is on an A320 that doesn't have many first class seats. I used miles (not SWUs) to upgrade going to Australia a couple of years ago, and the only segment that never cleared was one of the segments between Chicago and LAX.

I haven't looked at "NC" availability to/from Australia in awhile, but United can be pretty stingy with it and may only release upgrades close to the day of travel. You might start by looking for any NC availability during the period you want to travel. I did one quick search for random dates in March and found nothing. Good luck.

ms_go Nov 30th, 2009 06:34 AM

Interesting advice by Airtraveler, since United considers both LAX and SFO to be hubs.,6722,1021,00.html

simpsonc510 Nov 30th, 2009 06:55 AM

Thanks for that flyer talk link. I read about 3 pages of it. Lots of good information there.

I'll be watching UA fares for a few weeks now, probably making my decision by late December.


janisj Nov 30th, 2009 07:03 AM

ms_go. AirTraveler was obvioulsy advertising and it looks like the editors caught it early . . . .

JoanneH Nov 30th, 2009 09:16 AM

SFO is the only way to go................

simpsonc510 Nov 30th, 2009 10:41 AM

As stated in my OP, I will avoid SFO, if at all possible!

Sorry, to all of you who love that airport. I, personally, do not love it!!

Anyway, I appreciate all the information that resulted from my initial question.


janisj Nov 30th, 2009 10:53 AM

"<i>having nearly missed an on-going flight due to such slow security lines and waiting for bags! DH had an insignificant (expensive) pocket item taken from him, so we mailed it home rather than lose it completely!! We have vowed to avoid SFO...</i>"

OK - you are boycotting SFO due to:

1) a slow security line. I've often seen much longer queues at various LAX terminals. Did you book an unreasonably short connection?

and 2) Your husband tried to board w/a prohibited item -- insignificant/expensive or not, and TSA did their job.

IMO SFO is much easier - but good luck to you . . . . .

Lizzie_17 Nov 30th, 2009 01:30 PM

I did this last June, comuing through ORD to SFO on the way to Sydeny and through LAX on the way back. Both were mid-week and SFO was so much more pleasant. If I do it again, I would make the effort to choose SFO.

simpsonc510 Nov 30th, 2009 09:42 PM

I'm not going thru SFO... period! It has nothing to do with boycotting anything! I'm delighted that SFO is the preferred airport for so many here. To each his own. Thank goodness we can have our own opinions.

... the expensive item was NOT on any list of prohibited things. My DH was not trying to sneak anything onto a plane... geesh! He has certainly flown enough times to know what is and is not acceptable! The item had made it all the way to Asia and back, and then was taken in SFO. WHY?

I see that when I do a more specific UA search, the fares seem to be about the same $$ whether one is traversing thru LAX or SFO, so I won't have to fret about spending more of my hard-earned dollars to go thru LAX on my trip. And yes, they are just around $1800. I'm not sure what I left out of my search the first time around... Seems to be plenty of seat availability for my dates.

And now I'll say thank you one more time for the replies from everyone. Fodors is my go-to place when I have travel questions.

CarolA Dec 1st, 2009 05:45 AM

The item was banned or it would not have been taken... just because it was not caught earlier does not make it "acceptable"

I have been traveling with 'unbaggied' liquid for 3 years. When they take it I plan to congratulate them for finding what I have been hiding in plain sight for years. (It's become an experiement) I know my "item" is not allowed.... I am not going to try to blame the TSA for doing thier job (now the fact that I have been carrying this lotion for three years may indicate that doing thier job is not exactly the norm :) )

mrwunrfl Dec 1st, 2009 03:41 PM

On what dates did you find $1200 W fares?

mrwunrfl Dec 1st, 2009 03:49 PM

Good advice from ms_go about looking for any NC availability around your travel dates. Not likely to find availability but if you did you need to be flexible.

In fact, when I saw your OP I thought: "lax or sfo doesn't matter; fare difference ($200?) doesn't matter; airport preference doesn't matter; NC availability is what matters". I didn't present this opinion before because I doubted that you would find availability. But you might.

simpsonc510 Dec 2nd, 2009 06:20 AM

I thought I'd stay away from this thread that I started, since I really don't want to do SFO (altho the posters are all saying I should) and I don't want to further discuss my less-than-niceat SFO... I want LAX as my embarkation point to SYD. And that's that......

That said, mrwunrfl, you appeared, and you mentioned the NC fares, as did ms_go. To be honest, I'm not sure what they are! I have not looked for this type of availability at all. Dates are somewhat flexible, but the wedding is the weekend of Mar 13, and I can only be gone about 10-12 days... I know, I know, too far to go for that short of a time period... but it can't be helped. Sorry!!

ms_go Dec 2nd, 2009 06:39 AM

Carol, "NC" is business class upgrade inventory. If you want to use a SWU, then you need to purchase an upgradeable fare (W or higher for a SWU) <b>and</b> there has to be available NC inventory--the same as if you were using miles to upgrade (I think we discussed this and how to search in one of your Bangkok threads awhile back). In fact, upgrade space for SWUs and mileage upgrades comes from the same "bucket," and United often doesn't make Australia upgrades available much in advance, or at least with any predictability. That's why I referred you to the flyertalk threads, as there's a lot of discussion there about how to maximize your chances of having the upgrades clear (e.g., which US gateway, which days of the week, etc.), since there's a very good chance you'd be on a waiting list.

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