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United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:58 pm
by UnitedFlyer
In a few years, my wife and I will be flying from MFR to AKL. Ideally we want to take Air New Zealand from SFO to AKL but will settle with UA connecting in Australia. How difficult is it to buy an economy ticket and then use miles to upgrade to either Business or First class at the time of making the reservation? We will likely be making the reservation about 6 months in advance.

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:37 pm
by AR385
Quoting UnitedFlyer (Thread starter):
How difficult is it to buy an economy ticket and then use miles to upgrade to either Business or First class at the time of making the reservation?

Very difficult. You have to buy one of the most expensive Y fares, I don´t know if THE most expensive, but you definitely can´t do it with the cheaper Y fares. Then depending on your fare and date of travel you need to wish people who actually paid for C or more expensive Y fares did not book on your flight. West Coast US to NZ or AUS are actually very full year long so if the trip is in a few years you may consider actually buying C tickets. Otherwise I don´t see an actual upgrade on the date of travel for the BOTH of you, will happen.

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:19 pm
by UnitedFlyer
Thank you for the information. Would it make a difference if I called UA reservations and made the reservation? Perhaps if I purchased a Y fare six months in advance and then asked the agent if they could upgrade me with miles during the initial call?

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:30 am
by Type-Rated
If you requested a miles upgrade at the time you make the reservation the agent should be able to tell you what fare basis' are eligible for an upgrade using miles.

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:04 am
by aklrno
I don't know what the prices are, but the overall experience on NZ Business First (they don't have, and don't need first class) is going to be better than UA. NZ usually polls in the top 5 or 10 airlines in the world. UA doesn't.

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:05 am
by N104UA
If you buy a Y or B fare you might be able to get an upgrade at time of booking, but with that cost it might be cheaper to buy a discounted C fare (also if you buy anything but Y or B you are charged a copay go upgrade).

If you are willing to risk it you can buy any coach fare and then hope to be offered an upgrade when you checkin. Almost every UA flight I have taken lately has offered me to pay a few hundred dollars to upgrade, but I have not flown Transpacific on a confirmed reservation.

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:44 am
by spacecadet
It's almost never worth it to buy an economy seat and upgrade vs. just using points to buy a business class award ticket to begin with (no upgrade). You will spend a lot more in total points + cash doing it the former way.

It's also usually a lot easier to get a seat if you use points/miles to buy a business class seat to begin with. I'm not sure about UA, but most airlines treat business class award tickets like any other business class ticket. As long as there are seats still available in the cabin, you can get them at any time. Upgrades are a different story - since you already have a ticket, they basically make you wait until the last minute to see if there are any unsold business class seats that you can have. The airlines want to fill up the planes, and since you're already ticketed, they'd rather sell those business class seats to other people than let you upgrade.

RE: United Business Class Upgrade

Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:53 pm
by zrs70
OP, you are traveling in a few years, if I read correctly. A lot can change between now and then. I wouldn't count on the schemes working the same way.

If you were traveling in the next year, I would suggest trying to obtain global upgrade certificate from a United 1K. That would allow you to upgrade from a W fare or higher.

You can also use miles to upgrade from any fare, but they would require a copay.

Both these are kosher for the UA metal flights.

To upgrade on a NZ metal flight, you would need to purchase a full Y or a full B fare.