First Vacation in Years

 

Old Dec 9, 11, 12:35 pm
  #1  
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First Vacation in Years

I have 4 unrestricted SWUs that will expire at the end of February 2012. I want to take my girlfriend and 17 year old son on a one week trip in the beginning of February. I'll have about 120k miles in my one pass account, and my status is 1K/Plat. I've never traveled outside the continental US. I'm thinking I'll pay for two economy tickets, and then try to get a reward ticket, or at least use some miles/$$ to upgrade my son's ticket. One thought was to go to Japan, since we are all interested in their culture. Another was to go to South Africa, where the weather will be nicer (but can I use my SWUs to get there?) Any other destination advice is appreciated. A final factor figuring into my plan is the likelihood I'll pick a route where I'm actually upgraded.
Any veteran flyers with advice?
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Old Dec 9, 11, 12:37 pm
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Come to Hawaii. Lots of Japanese culture here and we have good weather just like South Africa. Two birds, one SWU
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Old Dec 9, 11, 12:45 pm
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I know very little about SWUs, but there is a way to find availability that will clear at time of booking. I would do a search or see if a plat will chime in.
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Old Dec 9, 11, 12:49 pm
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For South Africa you can use the SWU's to upgrade your transatlantic flights to MUC, LHR, or FRA (not sure about ZRH since it is now operated by UA metal). I am not sure if you could use a CO issued SWU on LH for the FRA - JNB flight (maybe a MUC flight also that time of year), but even if you can it would be another SWU and not the same one as you used for the transatlantic flight. So for 2 people it would be 4 SWU's each direction.

If you want to use the 1 SWU for the entire direction Japan would be the better choice. Not sure the difficulty in using SWU's that time of year.

Having said that SA is a great place with a lot of cool things to do. It is hot that time of year though.
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Old Dec 9, 11, 2:03 pm
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1) They won't work to South Africa as they do not work on partner airlines (other than UA).

2) To search for flights that can confirm at booking you should use the Advanced Search form and tick the box for OnePass Upgrades. You can also do a regular search and click on "fare class" in the right column of the results and look for the R bucket to be populated. That's where award upgrades come from. RN might work, too (it will in the future but the timing of that taking effect isn't really well known). If you use a greasemonkey-compatible browser the script here makes scanning the fare class data pretty easy.

Coordinating the upgrades and the award seat will likely be a challenge, but it is possible.
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Old Dec 9, 11, 2:16 pm
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Originally Posted by donjo View Post
Any veteran flyers with advice?
Try to book GF or son with a business award, that was all 3 of you get lounge access.

I've never traveled outside the continental US.
I trust everyone has passports, and biological mothers permission to leave the country (not looking to pry into your situation, just covering the bases).
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Old Dec 9, 11, 3:57 pm
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Originally Posted by PHLyer82 View Post
If you want to use the 1 SWU for the entire direction Japan would be the better choice. Not sure the difficulty in using SWU's that time of year.
Would agree that using the SWU for a flight to NRT would be better. I used a SWU to upgrade a NRT-IAH flight a week ago, though it only cleared one week before departure. Had a harder time using my SWU for EWR-PEK and PVG-EWR flights earlier this year (they did not clear). So based on my (very) small dataset, it would seem that NRT has a slightly better chance than other Asian destinations, but I'm not sure if these SWU stats are representative of the February timeframe.
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Old Dec 9, 11, 4:07 pm
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Have you considered Chile or Argentina? Would be the right time of year for Patagonia. Additionally, I find the lack of time change to make for a longer trip due to less jetlag-induced downtime.

To be clear, I have no idea how SWUs work. Just suggesting a weather destination with actual CO/UA metal (most of the way).
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Old Dec 9, 11, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by texd View Post
Have you considered Chile or Argentina? Would be the right time of year for Patagonia. Additionally, I find the lack of time change to make for a longer trip due to less jetlag-induced downtime.

To be clear, I have no idea how SWUs work. Just suggesting a weather destination with actual CO/UA metal (most of the way).
If you want to use the SWU then Argentina or Brazil are good choices (CO doesn't fly all the way to Chile, you need to take Copa via Panama, which is another pain alltogether).

If you're going to Brazil make sure you check visa restrictions... Personally I love Argentina, but that's because I really enjoy steak and Malbec wine! (Mendoza is awesome for me too!)

One thing that I was told to watch out for with the SWUs is that your ticket fare class might make it ineligible for upgrading (I had that happen on my way back from EZE last month)
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Old Dec 9, 11, 5:33 pm
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Originally Posted by mdt76 View Post
If you want to use the SWU then Argentina or Brazil are good choices (CO doesn't fly all the way to Chile, you need to take Copa via Panama, which is another pain alltogether).
That would probably explain why we did our trip to Chile as an add-on to our trip to Argentina rather than the other way around. (LAN, a thoroughly civilized airline).
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Old Dec 10, 11, 8:36 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by mdt76 View Post
One thing that I was told to watch out for with the SWUs is that your ticket fare class might make it ineligible for upgrading (I had that happen on my way back from EZE last month)
The OP is talking about the 2010 SWUs which have no fare restrictions.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 8:43 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
1) They won't work to South Africa as they do not work on partner airlines (other than UA).
They can be used day-of on LH FRA/MUC-JNB (if OP converts over to UA SWUs & gets LH paper SWUs from that). But would take 2 per person to upgrade one way all the way from the States to SA. Or could focus on only upgrading Europe-SA & back.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 9:09 am
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
They can be used day-of on LH FRA/MUC-JNB (if OP converts over to UA SWUs & gets LH paper SWUs from that). But would take 2 per person to upgrade one way all the way from the States to SA. Or could focus on only upgrading Europe-SA & back.
The OP won't have enough to do that and they are looking to confirm at booking. It didn't make sense to me to go down that path based on those parameters.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 1:29 pm
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Japan is going to be hella cold in February.
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Old Dec 10, 11, 1:32 pm
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Originally Posted by UA-NYC View Post
They can be used day-of on LH FRA/MUC-JNB (if OP converts over to UA SWUs & gets LH paper SWUs from that). But would take 2 per person to upgrade one way all the way from the States to SA. ....
additionally this would introduce fare restrictions
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