Using FF miles to upgrade flight

Old Oct 14th, 2002, 04:42 PM
  #1  
Andrea
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Using FF miles to upgrade flight

Help! I know you experts with FF experience would know...how does one go about using frequent flier miles to upgrade flights? I have only used them before for free economy flights, but keep reading how many would recommend buying an economy ticket then upgrading with their miles so that they may keep earning miles and enjoy comfort to Europe. I will be flying San Diego/Glasgow, LHR/San Diego July/Aug. Checking prices now, even economy is $1200. Any advice is welcome!
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 04:50 PM
  #2  
carolyn
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Read flyertalk.com and you'll get your answer. Most airlines will not let you upgrade the least expensive economy tickets with miles.
For example: I have platinum status on a particular airline and want to buy a ticket and use miles to upgrade. The lowest published fare is about $700.00 but the lowest upgradable fare is $1600.00. This is the policy for Continental and Delta.

 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 04:56 PM
  #3  
Alec
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Study the website of your FF program, which should tell you any conditions attached to upgrades.
Other airlines are more generous with upgradeable tickets. Lufthansa, part of Star Alliance, for instance, you can virtually use any ticket (even unofficially discounted ticket from consolidators) to upgrade with miles, though mileage required to upgrade is often higher than, say, Delta.
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 05:17 PM
  #4  
gen
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We tried to use FF miles to upgrade on Northewest/KLM for our November trip to Rome. Fuggedaboudit! We bought our tickets on the NWA website with plans to use FF miles to upgrade. They say our ticket is not the right class to upgrade. Who knew?
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 05:24 PM
  #5  
Carolyn
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gen:
The folks at flyertalk.com!
They know everything you'd ever want to know. They might even be able to help you still. Seach through or post a question on the Northwest board.
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 06:09 PM
  #6  
AA is OK
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American Airlines does NOT have a minimum class of ticket required for upgrade. Have upgraded from less than $250RT London/Paris when they have (used to have) those fab fall/spring sales. AA is also the only one of the majors that allows separate each way upgrades, so if just not to be had going one direction, might still be possible for the other, 25,000 miles each way plan ahead. For July/August the tickets are never going to be on a deep sale, but will probably be available for somewhat less than the presently quoted $1200...of course, the longer you wait, the more likely upgrades are beling booked by others.
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 06:14 PM
  #7  
Patrick
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I was going to say the same thing about American. The best bet is to actually book the flight and the upgrade at the same time. That way you make sure that particular flight still has the upgrade seats available. And of course, you need to do this as far ahead as you can. When I've bought economy seats and used miles to upgrade to business, I've usually done it 10 or 11 months ahead.
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 09:01 PM
  #8  
John H
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Hi, Andrea,

I upgraded on United 2 years ago -- cheapest upgradable fare SFO-Paris for September was about $1250. This year, cheapest upgradable fare ranged from $1250-$1400, so I decided I'd just use the 80,000 miles to get a free ticket rather than spending the $1400 and 40,000 miles for an upgraded ticket.

The big advantage to upgrading is that you get mileage credit for your flights. If you are going to upgrade you will want to check back often for seat openings if they don't have what you are looking for initially. Seats become available at different times as people don't purchase their reserved seats within the required purchase period. (I literally had three business class seats open up for my desired date of outbound travel while I was on the phone with an agent!)

Also, be prepared to buy and upgrade at the time you make your request. My experience with United is that upgrades will not be reserved or booked until ticket is actually purchased.

Good luck.

John H
 
Old Oct 14th, 2002, 09:24 PM
  #9  
Andrea
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Wow...I think I just may take my free trip in steerage! Thanks for all your invaluable input. I will check out flyertalk.com.

Cheers,
Andrea
 
Old Oct 15th, 2002, 12:32 PM
  #10  
Ann
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Used miles to upgrade with United in August. United will let you do it one-way. To upgrade to Europe from the US, it's 10,000 miles each way. Full-fare economy ticket was about $1,400. Fares were so expensive this August anyway (almost $1,000 for the cheapest fares we could find) that it didn't make the decision very hard. Flying biz class was wonderful. Made a huge difference in terms of jetlag. Actually went for a run on the beach a few hours after we landed, rather than my usual 4-hour nap.
 
Old Oct 15th, 2002, 01:34 PM
  #11  
Tony
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Once you have upgraded, you will never want to go back to an economy seat, especially from the west coast to europe. Like ticket prices, what you will have to pay to get an economy ticket and upgrade continuously changes. I have paid anywhere from $350 - $800 for an economy ticket to europe from west coast that I was able to ugrade to business using FF miles. Similarly, I have paid as little as $198 and as much as $500 for an upgradeable ticket to fly from coast to coast. If the price for an upgradeable ticket is currently too high, just keep trying. They change all the time. You'll never know until you try. This summer there were some really high prices for airfares, but they are dropping for trips between now and the end of the year. As far as next summer goes, it is still too early to get a good price from any of the airlines. Try again in December/January.
 
Old Oct 15th, 2002, 09:04 PM
  #12  
curious
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A question about the United Program: On their website it says 15,000 miles for one-way upgrade on full fare economy tickets or 30,000 miles for one-way upgrade on "selected" reduced fares. How does one qualify for the 10,000 and 40,000 mile awards mentioned above? Thanks.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 09:18 AM
  #13  
ttt
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Curious, now I'm curious too...checked the Web site and saw only what you saw.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 09:48 AM
  #14  
Perry
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About the United program: I found that they recently changed the mileage required for upgrades and that may be where the confusion lies.

It always used to be 40,000 miles for a round-trip Europe-US upgrade for which you paid a fare one class higher than the lowest available. When I booked a ticket last week, expecting to use 40,000 miles again, I was told that the requirement had risen to 60,000 miles at that fare level. HOWEVER, if you are prepared to go one fare level further up again, then United requires just 30,000 miles roundtrip.

I am amazed at some of the fares people have been quoting. I am flying from London to JFK the week before Christmas this year and the lowest fare was just $390. I ended up paying $700 in order to use just 30,000 miles for the upgrade.

The advice of previous posters is absolutely right: buy your ticket and check the upgrade at the same time. I always do this over the phone.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 01:02 PM
  #15  
curious
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Thanks, Perry, I think the whole United awards program has been revamped recently and it looks like the mileage requirements have changed upward!

There ARE some great deals out there right now, I went ahead and booked December RT JFK/LHR on AA for $313 and 50M miles upgrade to business. I don't think Andrea will find anything like that from West Coast in July/August, but earlier points about keep looking are valid.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 01:06 PM
  #16  
RC
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We were able to upgrade our flight from Rome to Newark on Continental, and we did so with our NWA miles.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 01:35 PM
  #17  
roco
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Andrea,

WOW! You got a lot of great, informative answers. I'm truly impressed.
 
Old Oct 16th, 2002, 03:21 PM
  #18  
Andrea
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Again, thanks for all the information, Fodorites! I agree that prices will be MUCH higher in July/Aug and I won't want to spend that much money AND ff miles for upgrading...so it's cattle car for me, but at least the price will be right!
 
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