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Continental FF miles used to upgrade to 1st class?

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Mar 7th, 2001, 04:38 PM
  #1
gail
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Continental FF miles used to upgrade to 1st class?

Someone named Susie posted a message on this site on 10/25/00 saying she booked coach seats to Italy from Newark on Continental 8 months early because she wanted to be first on the waiting list to use her FF miles to upgrade to first class. I recently joined Continental FF and called to ask a few questions. I was told that I couldn't use FF miles to upgrade on an international flight. Since that was pretty much the *only* reason I'm interested in accumulating FF miles, I'm interested in Fodorites' responses to this. Thanks in advance.
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 04:45 PM
  #2
Howard
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The response is simple: It's their program, so they set the rules. Why not just save enough miles to book your entire first-class ticket? It's 100,000 miles for Europe.
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 04:51 PM
  #3
KT
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Did the person you called understand what you were asking? Continental has international upgrade awards. I just checked their FF website to be sure they still do. For north America to Europe it's 10K each way from full-fare economy and 20K each way from "selected" economy fares. That's pretty standard. The site is http://www.onepass.com/.
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 04:54 PM
  #4
KT
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Oh, wait -- I see what the problem might have been. The upgrade from economy is to business, not to first class. Did you only want first class??
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 05:13 PM
  #5
Frequent Flyer Guy
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Couple of "possibles". Upgrading from "selected" economy fares might mean the basic ticket does not qualify for upgrade. Another possibility has already been alluded to. For example, Northwest is essentially eliminated "first class" in favor of World Business Class. Continental is a codeshare partner with NWA and perhaps there is some consistency between the two carriers with this move.
 
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Mar 7th, 2001, 09:57 PM
  #6
Art
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Gail, I've used FF miles to upgrade to business class on KLM, Contintal, United and Lufthansa. You usually have to get a full coach fare, but I've had no problems. Be careful though, sometimes for upgrading on a partner line you must origionate the ticket with them, ie if you fly to Europe on Air France and return on Lufthansa you cannot upgrate on Lufthansa using United FF miles. To do that you would have to book through Lufthansa. Hope I havn't confused the issue to much.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 04:16 AM
  #7
mauld
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Gail, as a very frequent (Platinum) flyer on CO I can tell you that yes, you can use miles to upgrade on international flights (40,000 r/t)--but only on those deemed 'upgradable fares', which generally (but not always) excludes the lowest discount fares. CO has only two classes (coach & Business First-which basically is First Class). So when you do get your upgrade--which is not guaranteed it will be to Business First. One thing to be aware of is CO's policy of not notifying flyers of their upgrade until 30 days prior to your flight. They also award these upgrades based on elite status in their FF program. Thus if you are a non-status person using miles, you may not get notified until 72 hrs prior to your flight, or in the worst case, you won't get the upgade at all--even though your OnePass account has been debited!!
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 05:49 AM
  #8
jeannine
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I am on the waitlist for CO Bus. First upgrade for this summer to Italy. My account has not been debited yet--they will not debit until the upgrade is 'cleared'
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 05:16 PM
  #9
gail
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Thank you all for your responses which were very helpful, and gave me some clues about how to get more info on my own. I don't care if it's business or "first class" - just looking for a seat I have some chance of sleeping in on the night flight from east coast to Europe. My husband is 6"2" and would like to have a little more leg room too. It doesn't seem possible that Continental could debit you for ff miles you've traded in for an upgrade that they don't give you. I can see why they'd make you wait til they know if they've got some unsold business/1st class seats, but can they really keep your miles and not give you the upgrade??!! Goodness.
P.S. To Howard: I should only live so long as to collect 100,000 miles! I can take one 2-week trip to Europe a year and although I don't fault those folks who collect ff miles for everything they do, I haven't got the time to deal with all that.
Again, muchas gracias to all.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 05:16 PM
  #10
gail
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Thank you all for your responses which were very helpful, and gave me some clues about how to get more info on my own. I don't care if it's business or "first class" - just looking for a seat I have some chance of sleeping in on the night flight from east coast to Europe. My husband is 6"2" and would like to have a little more leg room too. It doesn't seem possible that Continental could debit you for ff miles you've traded in for an upgrade that they don't give you. I can see why they'd make you wait til they know if they've got some unsold business/1st class seats, but can they really keep your miles and not give you the upgrade??!! Goodness.
P.S. To Howard: I should only live so long as to collect 100,000 miles! I can take one 2-week trip to Europe a year and although I don't fault those folks who collect ff miles for everything they do, I haven't got the time to deal with all that.
Again, muchas gracias to all.
 
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Mar 8th, 2001, 06:21 PM
  #11
Howard
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Gail, you really should look into collecting miles from credit card charges. It's really a no-brainer! Thanks mainly to Amex membership rewards, my wife and I have flown from NY to Italy, California (twice)and Wyoming and expect to use them for a trip to Paris next year--all with FF miles! And, we've done this on three different airlines!
 
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Mar 9th, 2001, 05:30 AM
  #12
Erin
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Gail, I've been a Continental One Pass member for 6 years. Continental will debit your acount when the Business First seats become available. They will not take the miles ahead of time unless they can issue the ticket right then. Like others have said, the ability to upgrade with miles does depend on the price you paid for the tickets.

Something that FF programs don't tell you is that for reward travel (redeeming miles), priority goes to "preferred flyers" first. Meaning the Elite members(people who fly over 25,000 miles a year) have priority over people who accumulate miles through credit cards, long distance carriers and occasional flights. So, on a Newark-Paris flight, there may be 20 seats set aside for reward travel. 13 seats will be for Elite members (Silver, Gold, Platinum level members) and 7 seats for non-Elite members. And of course the non-Elite seats always go first on the popular routes.
 
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Mar 9th, 2001, 06:12 AM
  #13
Howard
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A postscript about One Pass: I am just a "regular" One Pass member (i.e., not Elite) and I have still found its personnel to be the most pleasant and helpful of all the FF programs.
 
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Mar 9th, 2001, 12:26 PM
  #14
Bill
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Gail, if you aren't notified far enough out (i.e. 30 days) to claim your upgrade award, you could find yourself in a situation of having to claim the reward so you'd have it in your possession if a seat becomes available at the last minute. This happened to my wife and I a few years back. If this happens and you don't get the upgrade seat, you have a year to use the reward or you can pay a service charge to get the mileage recredited to your account.

Might I suggest that if you decide to roll the dice this way that you claim two one-way rewards rather than one round-trip. That way if a seat isn't available on one leg you still have a chance at the other. I also stress the word "chance". If Continental can't confirm one you're inside the 30 day window, the odds aren't in your favor. It worked out that my wife and I were not upgraded outbound, but because of an extremely nice One-Pass agent at Charles de Gaulle, we were upgraded for our return. A few letters when we returned home got us the unused reward recredited for no charge. I'll second Howard's comment about the One-Pass personnel. Good luck.
 
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Mar 9th, 2001, 12:41 PM
  #15
mauld
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Bill, there is a new 'wrinkle' in the upgrade rule. If you are hoping to be upgraded with miles and you are not notified 72 hrs prior to you flight, you are out of luck!. CO will no longer allow people to upgrade with miles at the gate--even when there are empty seats available in BF. It seems CO caught on to the fact that many people were making false reservations in BF, just to block out seats, to improve their chances of being upgraded just prior to flight time.
As a Platinum, I've had 100% sucess in upgrading with miles to Europe, due to some advance planning. I always check ITN to make sure Z seats are available, and I'll book way in advance and generally not during the big tourist seasons. But I will admit, I seem to be in the minority as far as upgrdeded OnePass members or the general CO public.
 
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Mar 9th, 2001, 01:02 PM
  #16
Bill
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Michelle, thanks for the update. The time that I spoke of I wasn't elite yet. Since then I've managed to maintain silver status and I've got about a 75% track record. Being platinum, I would hope that you have no problems with upgrades. That's a good chuck of flying.

There's one other factor with Continental's international flights that no one has mentioned. Even though the flight is operated by Continental, it's usually a code share with another airline. Not only do they have to contend with their own frequent flyers, but they have to allocate some seats to the partner airline as well. Cheers and happy flying.
 
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Mar 9th, 2001, 01:06 PM
  #17
Bill
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Sorry for the additional post folks, but in the previous message the sentence should read "good chunk of flying". Oh wouldn't a preview function be nice?
 
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Mar 10th, 2001, 02:13 PM
  #18
gail
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You've all been really informative on the subject and I thank you - I'm embarassed to admit I have no experience with this and it seems like the information that came with my "membership" didn't include ANY of the above info. No one I know is a FF, either, so I haven't been able to pump my friends. I'm really grateful for the advice.
Just curious: when you get a credit card that gives you FF miles for $ spent, is there a pretty much standard rate or do all the cards differ? My husband is against paying a fee for a credit card in order to get "free" services like FF miles.
 
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Mar 11th, 2001, 12:14 PM
  #19
Lisa
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Gail
This website might be able to give you some basic information. http://www.cardweb.com/cardtrak/surveys/rebate.html
 
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Mar 11th, 2001, 02:52 PM
  #20
gp
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Gail, Most of the airlines charge an annual fee, ranging from about $55 to $85. *However,* two deals that I've taken advantage of: Delta has an Amex deal where you get 10,000 miles and the first year free for signing up--definitely worthwhile if you fly them sometimes (plus, they usually have 1 or two months when they'll do double miles for grocery purchases, stuff like that). And after using a Northwest Visa card for a year (which they comped me, the offer came in the mail), when I called to cancel the thing to avoid the fee, they offered a new card--1 mile for every $2 (for the card with the fee, it was 1 mile per dollar), still worthwhile. If you usually carry a balance, the cards are probably not the best deal around (though sometimes they are offered with the teaser rates on balance transfers, etc) in terms of interest rates--if, however, you charge *everything* from groceries, to gas, to children's college tuition (people have gotten free trips to Europe by doing this--if you're charging this much, you should check out the maximum miles you can earn yearly) and pay your balance in full most months, it's definitely worth checking out.
 
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