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California to Chennai and back - Refundable Fare question.

California to Chennai and back - Refundable Fare question.

 
Old Feb 13, 12, 7:06 pm
  #1  
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California to Chennai and back - Refundable Fare question.

Hi guys,

I have an interesting route coming up in July to India:

SNA -> EWR -> FRA -> MAA (Chennai)
and
BLR (Bangalore) -> FRA -> SFO.

Dates are July 1 or 2 with the return on July 9.

I'm thinking, for the first time ever, of booking a flexible (full-fare?) ticket since my work schedule is pretty sporadic, and also it's been my understanding that I'm much more likely for an upgrade. The cheapest fare option for this trip is between 2400-2700, and the full fare option is a solid 4500ish or so.

So generally speaking, based on FTers' experience, is this a sound idea (with respect towards an upgrade)? Also would like to hear anybody's experiences taking some or all of this route . On the way there, it's Continental metal SNA -> EWR -> FRA, and Lufthansa metal from FRA -> MAA. On the way back, it's all Lufthansa metal.

Apologies in advance if this isn't the right place to post this!
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Old Feb 13, 12, 7:12 pm
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$4500? Have you checked out what a Z fare would be that puts you right into business? I have no idea but might be worth a look.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 7:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Baze View Post
$4500? Have you checked out what a Z fare would be that puts you right into business? I have no idea but might be worth a look.
Hi,

So I'm not actually sure how to check specific fare bucket prices on United (despite using Advanced view). On the Continental site, there's a field for putting in specific fare bucket identifiers but...

Last edited by Supratik; Feb 13, 12 at 7:25 pm
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Old Feb 13, 12, 7:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Supratik View Post
Hi,

So I'm not actually sure how to check specific fare bucket prices on United (despite using Advanced view). On the Continental site, there's a field for putting in specific fare bucket identifiers but...
On UA you can not search by fare so just choose Business and don't check the box for refundable and don't select any kind of upgrade as technically Z is not upgradeable. May not give you Z but is the best chance of seeing Z.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 8:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Baze View Post
On UA you can not search by fare so just choose Business and don't check the box for refundable and don't select any kind of upgrade as technically Z is not upgradeable. May not give you Z but is the best chance of seeing Z.
Okay, so cheapest Business is unfortunately 6000+.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by Supratik View Post
I'm thinking, for the first time ever, of booking a flexible (full-fare?) ticket since my work schedule is pretty sporadic, and also it's been my understanding that I'm much more likely for an upgrade.
The cheapest fare option for this trip is between 2400-2700, and the full fare option is a solid 4500ish or so.

So generally speaking, based on FTers' experience, is this a sound idea (with respect towards an upgrade)?
Not really. A high fare class will help you in the EUA priority on your domestic U.S. segment, but the chances of a free upgrade on EWR-FRA-India are so low as to not even bother gaming the system.

If you want to use miles for an upgrade (on EWR-FRA if you're on CO metal), then the higher fare class can potentially help you, but only in terms of priority on the upgrade standby list at the gate. In advance, fare class has no bearing on upgrade priority; the advance waitlist is prioritized by elite status and then time of request.

You can consider a Star Alliance upgrade for any LH flights. For that you must be on a Y/B fare. It will also be a lot of miles, each segment is charged separately. More information on the CO website.

Lastly -- many inexpensive international fares, particularly to Asia, are refundable for a fee (e.g., $400). Make sure you read the fare rules. You'd have to decide whether it's worth paying an extra $2,000 to save $400 if you do cancel the flight.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
Not really. A high fare class will help you in the EUA priority on your domestic U.S. segment, but the chances of a free upgrade on EWR-FRA-India are so low as to not even bother gaming the system.

If you want to use miles for an upgrade (on EWR-FRA if you're on CO metal), then the higher fare class can potentially help you, but only in terms of priority on the upgrade standby list at the gate. In advance, fare class has no bearing on upgrade priority; the advance waitlist is prioritized by elite status and then time of request.

You can consider a Star Alliance upgrade for any LH flights. For that you must be on a Y/B fare. It will also be a lot of miles, each segment is charged separately. More information on the CO website.

Lastly -- many inexpensive international fares, particularly to Asia, are refundable for a fee (e.g., $400). Make sure you read the fare rules. You'd have to decide whether it's worth paying an extra $2,000 to save $400 if you do cancel the flight.
Thanks - lots of valuable information! Honestly, I have *never* seen the "buy with money, upgrade with miles" option become available on United's site for any of the flightpaths I've ever flown, even when booking 6-8 months in advance. If I want to use miles to get on the upgrade list, where exactly do I go about doing this? I've encountered the whole "Pay 30k miles and 400 dollars" thing at the check-in counter, but is there any way to do this online?

Lastly, is the United policy of giving 150% EQM on refundable tickets still in effect? I can clearly see 150% listed when I try to book things through Continental, but I can't find any information regarding this on United's site.

Thanks much guys - am learning a ton.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 8:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Supratik View Post
Thanks - lots of valuable information! Honestly, I have *never* seen the "buy with money, upgrade with miles" option become available on United's site for any of the flightpaths I've ever flown, even when booking 6-8 months in advance. If I want to use miles to get on the upgrade list, where exactly do I go about doing this? I've encountered the whole "Pay 30k miles and 400 dollars" thing at the check-in counter, but is there any way to do this online?
If you're booking on the CO website, yes. You can request the mileage upgrade as part of the booking process (it's a checkbox in the Advanced search). If it shows as not available, then you have to book the ticket in coach, wait until it's ticketed, and then you can go into the reservation where you will see a link to Upgrade. If it's still not available, you will be able to waitlist here. I have no idea what the UA website is capable of But since you posted in the PMCO forum, that's the advice I'm giving.

Lastly, is the United policy of giving 150% EQM on refundable tickets still in effect? I can clearly see 150% listed when I try to book things through Continental, but I can't find any information regarding this on United's site.
Well, see above for CO vs. UA. But in general the EQM or RDM bonus depends on the fare class booked. Historically, only Y/B coach fares received the 150% EQM. Going forward, it doesn't seem that they've published the specific fare bucket class. I actually only see the RDM bonus table (without fare buckets), not the EQM (now called PQM) table.
http://onepassmergerupdates.com/en/o...ogramOverview? It's probably a safe assumption that a Y/B fare will still earn 150% PQMs.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 8:49 pm
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
If you're booking on the CO website, yes. You can request the mileage upgrade as part of the booking process (it's a checkbox in the Advanced search). If it shows as not available, then you have to book the ticket in coach, wait until it's ticketed, and then you can go into the reservation where you will see a link to Upgrade. If it's still not available, you will be able to waitlist here. I have no idea what the UA website is capable of But since you posted in the PMCO forum, that's the advice I'm giving.

Well, see above for CO vs. UA. But in general the EQM or RDM bonus depends on the fare class booked. Historically, only Y/B coach fares received the 150% EQM. Going forward, it doesn't seem that they've published the specific fare bucket class. I actually only see the RDM bonus table (without fare buckets), not the EQM (now called PQM) table.
http://onepassmergerupdates.com/en/o...ogramOverview? It's probably a safe assumption that a Y/B fare will still earn 150% PQMs.
Whoops - my bad; I originally posted this in United Pre-Merger; I think it got moved to Continental Pre-Merger?

Generally I prefer Continental's booking system for all things but for whatever reason it's not showing the flight route I need (despite the predominantly CO metal)... United's is quite primitive/dysfunctional by comparison .
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Old Feb 13, 12, 9:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Supratik View Post
Also would like to hear anybody's experiences taking some or all of this route . On the way there, it's Continental metal SNA -> EWR -> FRA, and Lufthansa metal from FRA -> MAA. On the way back, it's all Lufthansa metal.
Lufthansa in coach is brutal, I did it to MAA via FRA a few times and decided to fly UA via SIN to get to India from then on. If you are still a Premier Exec (Gold) in July I'd highly recommend flying United in E+ (CO airplane may or may not be converted by then, but you could fly to FRA via ORD or IAD). But then you still are faced with a miserable LH FRA-MAA that dumps you in MAA at midnight along with a bunch of other flights, sheer sweaty chaos. The return flights out of india also leave at ungodly times like 1AM....though you are back in the US the same day evening.

Just for fun, I priced Singapore Air for your same dates, and you can go from LAX to MAA and back to LAX from BLR for $1700. Zero penalty for itinerary changes. Full mileage accrual. But you are in Coach all the way there and back.

Another option would be a 2 carrier strategy like UA to SIN and Jet air to MAA (which I've done, very pleasant) or UA+CX via Hong Kong.

Option 1 or 3 do have upgrade options, the nice thing about United via Asia is you can upgrade all but the last few hours with just "one" upgrade fee.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 11:17 pm
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer View Post
Lufthansa in coach is brutal, I did it to MAA via FRA a few times and decided to fly UA via SIN to get to India from then on. If you are still a Premier Exec (Gold) in July I'd highly recommend flying United in E+ (CO airplane may or may not be converted by then, but you could fly to FRA via ORD or IAD). But then you still are faced with a miserable LH FRA-MAA that dumps you in MAA at midnight along with a bunch of other flights, sheer sweaty chaos. The return flights out of india also leave at ungodly times like 1AM....though you are back in the US the same day evening.

Just for fun, I priced Singapore Air for your same dates, and you can go from LAX to MAA and back to LAX from BLR for $1700. Zero penalty for itinerary changes. Full mileage accrual. But you are in Coach all the way there and back.

Another option would be a 2 carrier strategy like UA to SIN and Jet air to MAA (which I've done, very pleasant) or UA+CX via Hong Kong.

Option 1 or 3 do have upgrade options, the nice thing about United via Asia is you can upgrade all but the last few hours with just "one" upgrade fee.
Wow, thanks much for running those dates for me; how the heck did I miss that? I'm a big fan of going over the Pacific; FRA and Lufthansa are definitely giant pains (I have terrible memories of landing in FRA and disembarking straight onto the runway and just barely making my connecting flight as they make you go through security again).

I've always had positive feelings towards Singapore (though I took them ~2 years ago and was on a dreadfully old 747; hopefully they've finished their upgrades by now). Going to play around with their dates and such.
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Old Feb 13, 12, 11:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Supratik View Post
Wow, thanks much for running those dates for me; how the heck did I miss that? I'm a big fan of going over the Pacific; FRA and Lufthansa are definitely giant pains (I have terrible memories of landing in FRA and disembarking straight onto the runway and just barely making my connecting flight as they make you go through security again).

I've always had positive feelings towards Singapore (though I took them ~2 years ago and was on a dreadfully old 747; hopefully they've finished their upgrades by now). Going to play around with their dates and such.
SQ is almost done getting rid of the 747. I suggest the A380 via LAX-NRT-SIN or else hop up to SFO and take the very well regarded 77W via HKG/SIN. On way back the india flight lands in SIN early AM, then can connect back via HKG to SFO or NRT to LAX.

The key reason I flew United loyally for 8-10 years (besides avoiding Lufthansa) was the 100% extra mileage bonus for Premier Executive or 1K, and the fact I could upgrade to Biz for 30,000 miles one-way or use a SWU all the way up to SIN.

Since they have cut the RDM bonus miles to 50%, made the 30,000 miles upgrade come with another $600 copay, and are undercutting SWUs with cheap paid upgrades, I am giving all future bookings (not just to India, but Asia generally) to Singapore Air.
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Old Feb 14, 12, 12:06 am
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer View Post
SQ is almost done getting rid of the 747. I suggest the A380 via LAX-NRT-SIN or else hop up to SFO and take the very well regarded 77W via HKG/SIN. On way back the india flight lands in SIN early AM, then can connect back via HKG to SFO or NRT to LAX.

The key reason I flew United loyally for 8-10 years (besides avoiding Lufthansa) was the 100% extra mileage bonus for Premier Executive or 1K, and the fact I could upgrade to Biz for 30,000 miles one-way or use a SWU all the way up to SIN.

Since they have cut the RDM bonus miles to 50%, made the 30,000 miles upgrade come with another $600 copay, and are undercutting SWUs with cheap paid upgrades, I am giving all future bookings (not just to India, but Asia generally) to Singapore Air.
The stop in Singapore for my dates is unfortunately pretty long (close to 15 hours). This is actually not necessarily a bad thing as I could just book one of those nifty temporary hotel bed things and get some solid sleep, but I'll need to check my dates to see if this would work.

Some questions, if you have a moment

1. If I'm reading this properly, for the Singapore Airlines booking the stop in Tokyo doesn't have an aircraft change right? Do you typically just hang out in the aircraft or do you have an opportunity to stretch your legs in NRT?

2. I noticed that if I select business class for the Singapore Airlines booking, there's actually a direct LAX -> SIN -> MAA; is this that famed "business class only" aircraft?

3. In reference to my earlier comment, have you run into one of these really long layovers? Have you gotten a hotel room or bed before, and if so, any recommendations? My family and I had done this once in years past but it's been awhile.

4. You mentioned taking UA to Singapore and upgrading with miles/fee - does this work the same way as ijgordon mentioned (it merely gets you on the upgrade list?). In addition, what are the logistics around this method if you are booking on United's site; did you have to call a booking agent to use miles? My RDM stockpile is largely all in UA, and if I could a) earn 100% EQM on this trip and b) utilize said stockpile of miles to upgrade to Biz, then this would be an excellent scenario.

Thanks much.

Last edited by Supratik; Feb 14, 12 at 12:18 am
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Old Feb 14, 12, 12:19 am
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Originally Posted by Supratik View Post
The stop in Singapore for my dates is unfortunately pretty long (close to 15 hours). This is actually not necessarily a bad thing as I could just book one of those nifty temporary hotel bed things and get some solid sleep, but I'll need to check my dates to see if this would work.

Some questions, if you have a moment

1. If I'm reading this properly, the stop in Tokyo doesn't have an aircraft change right? Do you typically just hang out in the aircraft or do you have an opportunity to stretch your legs in NRT?

2. I noticed that if I select business class, there's actually a direct LAX -> SIN -> MAA; is this that famed "business class only" aircraft?

3. In reference to my earlier comment, have you run into one of these really long layovers? Have you gotten a hotel room or bed before, and if so, any recommendations? My family and I had done this once in years past but it's been awhile.

4. You mentioned taking UA to Singapore and upgrading with miles/fee - does this work the same way as ijgordon mentioned (it merely gets you on the upgrade list?). In addition, what are the logistics around this method if you are booking on United's site; did you have to call a booking agent to use miles?

Thanks much.
1. I have not done the trip via NRT or HKG on Singapore Airlines yet. I've only flown the non-stop LAX-SIN on Singapore. All my transits in NRT or HKG have been on United. But I'm pretty certain on SQ you get off the aircraft so it can be cleaned/serviced.

2. Yes, all biz class LAX-SIN. But if you fly with the connection you can get the new biz class also

3. Yes - I book the T3 transit hotel. Specifically to going to Chennai, my United flights would land in SIN at midnight, I sleep and shower in the transit hotel for 6 hours (you get the room for 6 hours), have a breakfast and there is a Silk Air or Jet Airways 9am flight to Chennai. Perfect!! Plus United transfers your bag automatically to Jet. Jetlag broken also.

If your layover is more than that, you can do the same thing OR go downtown. I used to take the Singapore evening flight to India, giving me 18 hours. I'd land at midnight, go to a nice hotel downtown, sleep in, have a nice meal, some shopping (Mustafa or other) and walking, freshen up and come back to the airport for the evening flight. Luggage is checked through to India.

I personally prefer having a break in SIN as I can relieve jetlag before getting to India (or Malaysia, or other SE Asia destination)...I can take an early flight and even go to work that afternoon.

4. You can get on the list via the website. if you want to confirm an upgrade at the point of booking, while theoretically can be done online, I suggest call.

Edited to add: you can search for business class saver award inventory online, if a seat shows up that is a date/flight you could confirm Biz class right away.
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Old Feb 14, 12, 12:36 am
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer View Post
1. I have not done the trip via NRT or HKG on Singapore Airlines yet. I've only flown the non-stop LAX-SIN on Singapore. All my transits in NRT or HKG have been on United. But I'm pretty certain on SQ you get off the aircraft so it can be cleaned/serviced.

2. Yes, all biz class LAX-SIN. But if you fly with the connection you can get the new biz class also

3. Yes - I book the T3 transit hotel. Specifically to going to Chennai, my United flights would land in SIN at midnight, I sleep and shower in the transit hotel for 6 hours (you get the room for 6 hours), have a breakfast and there is a Silk Air or Jet Airways 9am flight to Chennai. Perfect!! Plus United transfers your bag automatically to Jet. Jetlag broken also.

If your layover is more than that, you can do the same thing OR go downtown. I used to take the Singapore evening flight to India, giving me 18 hours. I'd land at midnight, go to a nice hotel downtown, sleep in, have a nice meal, some shopping (Mustafa or other) and walking, freshen up and come back to the airport for the evening flight. Luggage is checked through to India.



I personally prefer having a break in SIN as I can relieve jetlag before getting to India (or Malaysia, or other SE Asia destination)...I can take an early flight and even go to work that afternoon.

4. You can get on the list via the website. if you want to confirm an upgrade at the point of booking, while theoretically can be done online, I suggest call.

Edited to add: you can search for business class saver award inventory online, if a seat shows up that is a date/flight you could confirm Biz class right away.
Thanks for your answers! This is looking more and more like the best option, even for economy.

Regarding #4 - My apologies, but I still have no idea how to do this . When I go to the initial search page, the only option for upgrades is the little down down menu for "I would like to use this upgrade" which gives me options like Miles-MH, Miles-YB, and so on. If I pick, say, Miles-MH, I get the flight options that say "Upgrades May Be Available" but there's seemingly no way to confirm the usage of a set number of miles to obtain a confirmed upgrade. Do I have to actually book this before it confirms the availability? It sounds like I need to call...

Last edited by Supratik; Feb 14, 12 at 1:00 am
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