Upgrading econ to biz on United

Feb 15th, 2015, 08:13 AM
  #1  
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Upgrading econ to biz on United

What class of ticket do you need to buy to upgrade? We are going to Singapore next Feb. and are thinking about going biz from an econ upgrade but there are so many econ ticket prices. Do you know which one is necessary to get a miles upgrade?
Thank you.
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 08:25 AM
  #2  
 
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Look at page 4 to see mileage and co-pay prices for various booking classes.

http://www.united.com/web/en-US/cont...t-02-01-14.pdf

Do the numbers carefully to see whether or not it makes sense to upgrade vs. accumulating or buying enough miles for a straight mileage redemption.
Gardyloo is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 08:52 AM
  #3  
 
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You can upgrade any fare, as per the chart gardyloo links to. IME, it always pays to buy the lowest fare, but do run the numbers yourself as it has been a few years since I last did this. I've always done it on the phone with a rep as it seems with the $30 to assure that your seat has been upgraded at the time of purchase. The copay United started a 6 or 7 years ago makes the upgrades pretty expensive, IMO.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 09:33 AM
  #4  
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Wow that's a lot of info to sort thru. Thanks for the replies. I have about 429k miles. That's enough for one standard biz award. It may be that using one award ticket and purchasing one will be the way to do. Kathies you may be right.
Gardy I hope you are well. Take care.
Larry.
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 09:48 AM
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Gardy I hope you are well. Take care.

Thanks so much. I've resumed posting here as it's a terrific distraction and this is such a wonderful community.
Gardyloo is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 11:20 AM
  #6  
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You bet. Take care sir.
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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Jacketwatch, are you sure you couldn't get a saver award with your miles? I'd start looking as soon as your travel date becomes available on the UA site. I've gotten our (one-way) first class saver award tickets for Bangkok in December. They were 130,000 per ticket. DH and I have plenty of miles for me to book our return in early January as soon as I see availability of something that will work for us.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 02:29 PM
  #8  
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I will try for that but I just played with some dates for next Jan. As that is as far our as UA"s site goes and none were available for SIN. then. Are saver awards tighter for some destinations vs. others?
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 15th, 2015, 06:13 PM
  #9  
 
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S E Asia destinations are probably harder to get during winter months. It's good to be flexible if you can. It might be easier to get saver seats if you don't mind flying there via China. I sometimes see availability for my destination, Bangkok, if I would fly via Beijing or Shanghai. I, personally, try to avoid flying thru China, although Hong Kong is a good option IME.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2015, 04:44 PM
  #10  
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Well here is what I am thinking. Suppose I can get 2 saver biz tickets. Bear in mind we leave mid Feb. next yr. from Chicago. So if the day we leave has a weather postponement does that mean we may not get biz on the next flight if there are no saver award biz seats left? This is what happened to us before.

In Oct. 2013 we had RT saver biz tickets ORD-BKK. My wife became ill in BKK and was hospitalized. Thankfully she is fine but when I inquired about possibly leaving one day later I was told there were no biz SAVER seats available so we would have to go econ or purchase biz tickets. Fortunately we were able to leave as scheduled so this was not an issue.

I don't want to gamble as winter weather can be unpredictable. I was thinking to buy Econ and upgrade or get one regular award biz ticket and buy one so if there is a delay we our seat selection won't be so affected. Any comments from the more experienced folks here?

Thank you. .
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 16th, 2015, 07:44 PM
  #11  
 
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I keep coming back to a question that only you can answer, and that is how far out do you plan your travels, and are you open to the idea of doing a multi-year travel plan?

As you may or may not know, I'm a huge fan of round-the-world tickets, which can be superb value in premium cabins, but which cost a bunch in one fell swoop, since you're buying a ticket good for up to 16 flights over the course of a year.

Take your current situation. Right now, because of the strong dollar, business class RTW tickets are pretty good value if you buy them in some country where the base price of the ticket has been impacted by currency fluctuations. (RTW tickets are priced very differently from one country to the next.) For example, a 3-continent Oneworld Explorer business class ticket (so Oneworld, not Star Alliance) bought in the US costs around $10,700 plus taxes. The same ticket, bought and originating in Japan, costs around $5500, i.e., half.

The ticket is good for up to 16 flights in business class (or in the US, first class if there's no business cabin on the plane) with up to six flights allowed in North America (includes Central America and the Caribbean) and four in all other continents, plus the intercontinental flights. Assuming that with taxes you're looking at around six grand, that averages out to $375 per flight.

So a thought experiment: You use your miles for a one-way business class ticket to Tokyo before the cruise. Once there, you pick up your RTW ticket (you can buy it online long before you fly, so it's just an e-ticket that you present at check-in at Narita or Haneda.) You fly to Singapore (for what I assume is a cruise.) After you're done, you fly home via, say Hong Kong (not via Japan - you can't return there until the end.)

Then over the next 10 or 11 months you use the ticket within North America. Alaska? California? Aruba? No sweat.

Then you head off to Europe - maybe for a cruise, maybe to visit Lapland or Turkey or...? Then back to Asia, maybe for a stop in Bangkok or... the Maldives? India? But anyway, you end up back in Japan before the 12-month clock turns you back into pumpkins. Fly home on your United miles, or on some of the many, many thousands of miles you've earned during the course of the trip.

So your six grand has given you a vacation in Japan (maybe just a weekend?), a vacation out of Singapore, one or two or three trips in North/Central America, a vacation in Europe, and maybe another short one back in Asia, all of this over the course of 12 months' time, and not one minute in the air stuck in the back of the bus. One of infinite possibilities - http://tinyurl.com/n7bvkwq

Or if you have a hankering to visit South Africa or Australia, use your United miles to get to Joburg or Cape Town, and start a business class RTW there, this time four continents for $500 less than the 3-continent trip out of Japan. Maybe something like this - http://tinyurl.com/kt5d3lr

My dear wife and I did business class RTWs every other year for around a decade, then flew on the accumulated miles during the "off" years, thereby leveraging the $5K or $6K into 20-something business or first class flights over two years.

The point being, as global travelers, doing a little strategic planning might be a smart move.
Gardyloo is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 04:47 AM
  #12  
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That's a thought for the future to consider after we R fully retired. Now we can't get the time off to make this useful but I will surely consider it. In your experience do you agree with my assumption about the saver award ticket? Thank you
jacketwatch is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 06:50 AM
  #13  
 
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Award inventory in premium cabins is seldom made available in much quantity this far out (i.e. travel in 11 months or so.) The airline yield/revenue management computers don't want to commit seats that could potentially earn them thousands of cash dollars to mileage redemptions until their algorithms tell them there's little probability that all the seats will be sold for money. Sometimes (usually in European routes) this determination isn't made until very close to flight time, sometimes less than a week. This plays hell with people with specific needs, e.g. meeting a cruise, but that's the way it is.

I don't fly UA enough to know for sure, but most airlines draw upgrade inventory from the same "bucket" as outright redemptions, so your strategy of getting one award and one upgrade ticket has the same risks (in my mind) as just waiting for two award round trips.

So in your case I'd monitor UA for several months - at least - before committing to any investment in revenue tickets of any kind. I'd also look at Star Alliance partner awards, which are more expensive in miles than straight US awards (you have enough miles) but which greatly expand your options to SE Asia, given all the European and Asian members of Star Alliance. Remember that (unlike AA) United allows you to travel to SE Asia from North America via Europe; however by sticking just with United you're limited to United-flown routes, thus you'd have to travel via the Pacific (e.g. via Tokyo or Hong Kong.) This vastly limits your options compared to being able to get to Singapore via, say, Frankfurt or Vienna or London or Istanbul or any number of other cities - thanks to the "mix and match" offerings using the Star Alliance awards.

As far as trying to indemnify yourself against bad February weather, I don't think that you'll be any safer with your strategy than just by booking straight award flights. If a flight is canceled, everybody goes into panic mode, and in my experience so-called "IRROPS" - irregular operations - don't result in business pax being downgraded to coach - there usually aren't enough seats in coach anyway, since flights are flying full, and all the coach people bumped from a canceled flight are in the same boat. The standard suggestion is just to fly a day earlier than you want so you don't miss the boat, and buy trip insurance.
Gardyloo is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 06:56 AM
  #14  
 
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I live in Chicago, so I understand your concern about what can happen in winter. I’ve on my sixth domestic trip in the last eight weeks, and watching the weather and planning for contingencies has been practically a part-time job.

Re: upgrading an economy ticket, understand that upgrade awards are subject to availability just like saver awards. If there isn’t an upgrade award available at the time of booking, you go on a waitlist. That means paying the required miles and copay when you request the upgrade…and then hoping that the upgrade award becomes available later on and that your reservation is in the top position for clearing (based on status, fare paid, etc).

In general, my experience over the last couple of years is that international upgrade awards have been harder to find than saver awards, particularly when looking many months in advance. I don’t particularly like to play the waitlist game, especially with more than one person traveling.

And in the event of a cancellation/rebooking, I would consider an upgraded ticket to be more of a gamble than a business class award ticket (standard or saver) in terms of getting rebooked in business class. I have not had to deal with that on an international ticket (knock on wood), but I have had domestic upgraded flights cancelled and been rebooked in economy, as my tickets were economy tickets.

Good luck!
ms_go is offline  
Feb 17th, 2015, 07:36 AM
  #15  
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Actually I called UA today. They said the same about upgraded econ tickets inn the event of a snow or weather delay. They also said if I get a standard award biz I would be entitled to biz on the next flight so I am going to keep that as a possibility but as Gardy days its too soon to book.
Thanks for the replies!!
jacketwatch is offline  
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