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Upgrades with Miles on United from USA to SEA - Timing

Upgrades with Miles on United from USA to SEA - Timing

Old Nov 20th, 2009, 03:01 PM
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Upgrades with Miles on United from USA to SEA - Timing

I posted this on the Air Travel board but have received no response:

We are looking at booking flights to SE Asia from the east coast USA on United for next October - November. The prices for upgradeable economy fares are pretty steep - the difference is a lot more than the co-pay that goes into effect January 12th. Am I better off waiting?

Alternatively, we can buy additional miles for to get "free" business class tickets at a relatively reasonable cost but I don't see much availability this far out. Anyone have a feel for whether it is worth waiting and taking a chance that seats will become available in the coming months?
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Old Nov 20th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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I was in your same exact situation a couple of weeks ago. Upgradeable fares (M,H) on UA LAX-BKK were running about $1700. Which is $300-500 more than I've paid my last few visits. I didn't like it, but if the rest of my trip had gone as planned, I would have booked the flight then and there. No guarantees the upcoming changes will make fights more affordable, or upgrades more available. I didn't think it would be worth the risk to wait, and if there did turn out to be a huge difference (>$250 change fee), I would re-fare or re-book.
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Old Nov 20th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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PS Did you call to check for availability of the 'free' tickets? It has been my experience that the further in advance you book, the better the availability.
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Old Nov 20th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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craig-- we are thinking about SEA in nov... when would you be in bkk?

also did you use eddie for varanasi flt?? which airline?
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Old Nov 20th, 2009, 07:28 PM
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Craig, my experience (for booking our upcoming trip in May) was that award availability (if you go that route) is not being doled out at the standard 300whatever days beforehand like it used to be. Not even close to it.

I really think every carrier is being (understandably so) a bit more stingy about making those awards available 11 months out. They want to wait until the very last minute to try and sell them before making them available for awards or even upgrades. Everyone kept telling us to "be patient" and to wait closer to our travel date (coincidentally, the word 'patience' is completely foreign to me and this advice just makes my 'planning in advance' gene go haywire.) But it actually ended up working out for us. There was virtually no availability for biz class seats from LAX to BKK in May 2010 when we looked in June/July. Then when Continental transitioned into Star Alliance in October...PRESTO! Loads of 2-seater availability pretty much wherever and whenever we wanted.

If you're willing to wait for another few months, you might have more choices.
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 02:09 AM
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Of course you don't see any availability for "October-November". Certainly not from October 18 on - those dates are not bookable yet.

I just did a search at ua.com for BOS (and nearby airports) to BKK in business class, departing and returning on October 5 (just to see the calendar of availability).

There is availability for 2 outbound Oct 1, 3-7, 10-15.
There is availability for 2 inbound Oct 3-8, 10-12, 15, 17, 18.

On some of those dates you can get BOS-ORD and ORD-BKK on UA881. On other dates you might not see that routing but would see PVD-ORD and ORD-BKK on 881. Similar for the return.

If you want to travel at the end of October and/or November then you need to wait a few weeks! - when it is actually possible for awards to be available.

But don't rely on the unreliable search engine for award availability. It sometimes shows itins that are really not available and sometimes doesn't show all that is available, and it doesn't show the excellent partners (like Singapore, Thai, Asiana, ANA).

And when you do search, check the box to include nearby airports if you are willing to use MHT or PVD.
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 02:14 AM
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UA 881 (westbound) and UA 882 (eastbound) are Carole's fave. You would pick 881 up in ORD for ORD-NRT-BKK on a 747 with the new biz seats. BOS-SFO-NRT connecting to 881 for NRT-BKK would be ok as the SFO-NRT flight would be a 747. SEA-NRT is a 777 which currently is the old biz seats (but might have the new seats by next Oct).
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 02:57 AM
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Thanks, Femi.

Bob - we may not be in Bangkok at all. Our thoughts are to do Singapore, Bali and Lombok in late November. For our February trip, we used Eddie for Bangkok - Varanasi (Thai), Varanasi - Kathmandu (Indian Air) and Kathmandu - Bangkok (Thai).
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 06:19 AM
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mrwunrfl
I always appreciate your expertise at locating just how many seats are available in all the different classes for particular flights.

So... I'm booked on 881 on Dec 16 and 882 on Jan 5, and I've paid for an upgradeable fare (I think "M" class??) and am wondering IF I have a chance at all of moving "up" to a business class seat. I'm now a full-fledged card carrying 1K person. What are my chances... I appreciate your opinion. I keep watching everyday for that upgrade but nothing yet.

Carol (no e)
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 04:09 PM
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Carol, you are confirmed in C on 881, right? If not then it is wide open with 35 of 52 seats available. On 882 there are 21 seats available. Plenty of seats. There may actually be more available than that. And then, of course, there will be cancellations and no-shows.

Not knowing all of that I would be confident that the upgrades will clear. Nothing to do about it at this point - unless you wanted to up-fare to biz or first.
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Old Nov 21st, 2009, 04:36 PM
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Craig, as far as BOS-SIN goes, there are 2 biz class seats available outbound October 1 and 3-16 and inbound October 3-18.

So, for SIN and BKK for next October there certainly is a lot of availability. Might be booked in coach on a domestic leg. Your preferred routing would be via HKG. Then use miles to get to DPS from SIN.

That is info for early October, which is bookable, and not what will be available when you start searching at the beginning of January 2010 for next November, but it certainly shows that there IS availability 320 to 330 days out, and lots of it, at least for some destinations/times of year.

Will is right, there will be award seats becoming available (and unavailable, I suppose) for months, and maybe up to the last minute (tho I did have trouble getting LAX-BKK in F for travel this week having started searching three or four weeks ago).

I think that getting confirmed upgrades at time of booking might be harder next year.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 03:03 AM
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Thanks, mrw. I am beginning to feel better about it...

By the way, we fly out of BDL, not BOS - doesn't affect your advice though as we still go through ORD.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 06:59 AM
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mrwunrfl,
"C" on 881? No... I've got exit row 33 seating all the way to BKK and back. No upgrades yet. I keep watching it everyday. But I do feel better about it after your reply! Thanks so much.
Carol
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 07:34 AM
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>>>Our thoughts are to do Singapore...
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 09:35 AM
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mrwunrfl: What's your secret?

I spend an hour 42 minutes with United last night trying to find upgradeable flights from LAX to Cambodia, with a return from Hanoi, Oct 2 outbound and return 10-12 days later...I am not picky about the routing, but I tells ya: $3000++ per upgradeable ticket? AND spending long layovers?

Not my idea of heaven..any ideas are welcome--Except telling me that the All Business class flight to Singapore is not so bad--Nope, it's a not so bad experience, but it's also $5500 per ticket.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 01:28 PM
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Craig, in addition to BDL you might also try PVD if that is not too far.

Looks like you are going to have to wait until ~ January 12 whether you get award seats or get an upgradeable fare under the new scheme. Same thing with upgrades under the current scheme - there won't be any availability for those until January either.

Awards on Singapore are difficult to get and some flights are not available for awards (like LAX-SIN nonstop). I don't know for sure but those all-biz flights might be excluded from awards too. I have read that some CO frequent flyers were able to get some SQ flights when CO joined *A, but that situation may have changed.

KrisMom, United doesn't fly to Cambodia or Hanoi. United might sell you a ticket to/from those destinations, but it seems to me that when they book itins that include other airlines that the UA price is very high.

UA does fly to HKG, BKK, SGN, and SIN. I would price tickets to/from those cities - either open-jaw or roundtrip - and then look into booking the other flights separately. You could, at least, ask about that 3000+ itinerary if you excluded the non-UA segments.

When are you traveling? You could also wait until the new upgrade scheme takes effect.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 02:02 PM
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Agree that UA price is very high when one is booking with them, but flying on another airline. I always book my ORD-ZRH-ORD tickets directly with Swiss, even though UA offers those flights on their web site. The price difference is quite staggering, actually. Better to book w/Swiss than UA!! I still earn my FF miles.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 06:55 PM
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mrwunrfl: Thanks for the info--Kristina and I are going around the 10/02 to Siem Reap, to see a friend, and then some where, maybe Hanoi, maybe ??? for 3 days R&R. I so hate accumulating all these miles (140,000 on Amex and 130,000 on United) and NOT be able to use them for something!!

K and I talked about the same idea today, go where United goes and then book local cariers to get to Cambodia---will check that out when I get some strength to sit on the phone again.

Ideas always welcome.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 07:38 PM
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just pay full freight... you can afford
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Old Nov 22nd, 2009, 08:02 PM
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rhkkmk: Were we married once? Do you work for the IRS, or are you just commenting because you sport a keen wit?
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