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Old Aug 5, 12, 7:54 am   #1
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Woodbridge, VA
Programs: Mileage Plus
Posts: 27
Upgrade possibilities for IAD - SGN

I fly this sector 2 to 3 times each year and have been trying to figure out upgrade possibilities with my limited $$. Two options are via Narita or Hong Kong and the shorter flight is Narita, 22+ hours versus 24-25.

I'm not very savvy but have been trying my best to understand my options. Here's my 411.

1. I can't afford the Y, B and M fares so I stick with the lowest fares available.
2. I'm Gold right now, 2K shy of making Platinum. Have a domestic fligh NEX week that will put me at Platinum.
3. Via HKG it's United but via Narita you have ANA as an option. I find the service on ANA so much better.
4. Love the Narita route but am learning that upgrades are more difficult on code share flights.
5. Flights to Narita are almost always full too.

On a completely separate note and to make it even more confusing......I'm even considering cutting UA at 75K when I hit Platinum. I recently returned from Africa and had quite an experience with them. First the flight was cancelled (at IAD) and i was there at the counter for almost 2+ hours waiting for them to re-route me. The re-route next day was on BA on the second leg so i 'lost' some miles there. And when I arrived at my destination, they lost 5 of my 6 check-in baggages. It turned out that the bags were still in Dulles after having confirmed twice at the gate that my bags were on-board before departure. Paid $600 for the latter 3 bags. Sorry but I just had to vent. I should have lodged a complain.

So here's what I'm trying to figure out:

1. Should I stick with United (no code share) for a better possibility of an upgrade?
2. Should I consider routes that are less busy for a better chance? HKG instead of Narita.

And ref the idea about skipping UA altogether and start accumulating miles on another airline.........another option is Emirates. I'll easily clock another 50K this year so I'm wondering if it's better to stick with UA and make 1K or start getting status on Emirates. Since I also fly to East Africa, Emirates also covers that route.

Thanks in advance.

Helm
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Old Aug 5, 12, 7:57 am   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: LGA/JFK/EWR
Programs: UA 1KMM, AA Plat, SPG Plat75/LTG, Hertz PC
Posts: 14,887
If Emirates can get you to your two most frequent destinations, why would you consider taking United over them?
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Old Aug 5, 12, 8:07 am   #3
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Woodbridge, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
If Emirates can get you to your two most frequent destinations, why would you consider taking United over them?
Simply becos I have a good amount of domestic travels too and with UA I've managed 70% upgrades stateside.

I was thinking the same thing after that last fiasco but for me to still get a shot at domestic upgrade I would need to maintain at least Gold. That 3 baggage allowance for my domestic flights helps a lot too.

Helm
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Old Aug 5, 12, 8:41 am   #4
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That's a different story then, you didn't mention the domestic travels part

Maybe try routing IAH-NRT some time? I bet those upgrades are easier. No 777 roulette either.
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Old Aug 5, 12, 8:51 am   #5
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I've found NRT upgrades to be fairly plentiful. Better, the ICN route via SFO is excellent.
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Old Aug 5, 12, 9:08 am   #6
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Dubai / NYC
Programs: EK-PLAT (I/O), UA-1K, BA-GOLD, SPG-PLAT100, JUMEIRAH-SIRIUS GOLD
Posts: 4,389
You can get Gold Elite status w EK @ just 50K (lots of different bonuses count including in Y). if EK goes where your going (they do almost everywhere in Africa & Asia), why would you take UA at all (EK still has a generous baggage allowance in all classes and drinks are free).

While EK charges a lot more mileage then UA for a free ticket, upgrades to C using miles are a great deal with them (no upgrade roulette). As an upgraded passenger to C you also get the free limousine transfers at all your stops and origin. I can't think of a reason to fly UA over EK to Africa
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Old Aug 5, 12, 9:20 am   #7
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Woodbridge, VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
That's a different story then, you didn't mention the domestic travels part
My bad sir. Should have made the clear from the start

@zrs70 - I guess I must be doing something wrong. I've been flying this route for years now and I think I've only been upgraded one. Been Gold for the past 5 years at least. That said, I've always picked the codeshare flights with ANA. Maybe that's why?

@chinatraderjmr - Most of my flights are to Asia and Africa and trust me when I say that I am seriously considering splitting my flight miles with EK. I just can't give up on the domestic benefits just yet. I am assuming that if I tag 50K on EK before year's end that I stay Gold for 2013? If that is the case I will maintain Gold with UA for next year and fly EK the rest of the time. They do Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand too which is great!

Thanks folks!

Helm
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Old Aug 5, 12, 10:55 am   #8
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Programs: UA gold, AA gold, VA gold, AF gold, status matching is awesome
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
If Emirates can get you to your two most frequent destinations, why would you consider taking United over them?
Because unless you can get an upgrade from somewhere you'll be stuck ten-abreast in the back of a 777 for twenty-something hours?

(Also I personally have ethical objections to flying Emirates, though I also have ethical objections to travelling to Vietnam [or any other non-democratic country] so none of this applies to me.)
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Old Aug 6, 12, 2:07 pm   #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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In my experience NRT upgrades are much easier. I've never missed an upgrade to/from NRT, but am about 50% to/from HKG. I'll even book a stopover in NRT sometimes to save a few bucks and get the upgrade rather than flying coach direct.

I would book something that has current R inventory so you can confirm the upgrade now (assuming you are flexible with your dates)
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Old Aug 6, 12, 2:24 pm   #10
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Woodbridge, VA
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Posts: 27
Thanks Omegadeal.
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