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DL to Hawaii - No upgrades avail and crazy 1st class pricing?

DL to Hawaii - No upgrades avail and crazy 1st class pricing?

Old Oct 25, 18, 12:10 am
  #1  
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DL to Hawaii - No upgrades avail and crazy 1st class pricing?

I am asking more because I am curious than anything else. I will admit I am not an expert on upgrades, using miles or ticket pricing (but clearly may of the people on this forum spend a significant amount of time understanding this stuff... so figured you might have answers.) I am a DM and have been for many years... not via a CC or any mileage runs, etc. I earn my status the old fashioned way of sitting on airplanes as I travel for work. Anyway, every March I take my wife to Maui for a week. I usually purchase a SEA-OGG RT ticket in coach for each of us and then use some miles to upgrade. Usually the tickets are $600-$700 each and then I use 50-70k miles each to upgrade. This year I booked the tickets but there is no option to upgrade with miles.. the option on the website is just gone. First is wide open, but no way to use miles to get upgraded. I called the DM line and the agent said she would figure it out and she came back after trying 5 different things and said she has not idea why but she can't do anything either (she said the option to use miles should be there any she had never seen it not show up.) I also had the option of using GUC or domestic upgrades but she said that wasn't avail either and there was already a long wait list. Every option the agent tried to find a way to get us up to 1st wasn't available. And again... 1st is wide open, only 2 seats taken (the agent kept telling me this.) So I figured okay, I will just purchase 1st class tickets this time thinking DL is just holding back any upgrades in hopes to sell 1st tickets. Well that's where it gets a little puzzling... Delta want's $4k per person for an RT 1st class ticket (so $8k total) from SEA->OGG->SEA (on a flight that is wide open in 1st.) What is going on? Does Delta really think someone is going to pay $4k for a 1st class seat on a 5 hr flight on a domestic 757 (this isn't some awesome Delta One or A350 experience)... I can book SEA-NRT or SEA-ICN DeltaOne for less money (I have flown SEA->NRT->SIN-NRT-SEA DeltaOne for less than 4k). Meanwhile Hawaiian flies the same route with an A330 with lie flat 1st class for $1300-$1500 RT. Alaska offers 1st on their 737's for about the same fare... but Delta is the outlier at $4000. In the end I think I am just going to book the HA flight. Sad as I would much rather toss my money at DL since I spend so much time sitting on their planes but their pricing on the route seems crazy. I would have paid a little more to be on DL... but not $4k. I just can't figure out what DL is going... at 2.5x the competition it doesn't seem like they are trying to sell tickets and they certainly aren't letting the FF's move up with upgrades. Anyone know what the strategy is here?
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Old Oct 25, 18, 12:34 am
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Even at 1/2 the price for F on a horrid DL 757 vs HA A330, the smart thing to do would be to book HA, if you are prepared to pay that much for a relatively short 5 hour flight. At least with HA you get a proper lie-down seat and can rest and sleep.

Can't believe you've paid so much for an RT Y ticket plus a crazy 50-70K amount of miles to "upgrade" in the past, but to each his own. And to be fair, last few years pricing has been steadily creeping up, and gone are the days of ~$350 RT in Y to SEA (if you want ~$400 RT in Y from HNL, then you have to fly to KIX on Air Asia or Scoot - a bit further than SEA, as int'l flights have more competition and thus lower prices than domestic ones).
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Old Oct 25, 18, 12:47 am
  #3  
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No point worrying about "why?" Just book HA and be done with it.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 2:18 am
  #4  
LBJ
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Upgrading with miles is absolutely an option (US50 flights) on this route at time of purchase. Either you are not logged in when you are searching or you are selecting a Basic Economy fare where the option is not available (you must select a Main Cabin or C+ fare to get the option). Note that this is nothing more than paying the fare diff between coach and F with miles at the rate of 1 CPM. If you have a DL Amex, you can basically get the exact same deal by selecting F fares and using Pay with Miles to partially pay for the ticket.

The basic problem here is that there is currently only J/C bucket availability on the outbound flights in March and C fares are about $2K one-way. However, there are a number of dates with D bucket open on the return flights from OGG-SEA with D fares around $700 one-way. Namely 3/4, 3/6, 3/7, 3/11, 3/14, 3/18-21, and 3/26-28. You could book the return flight if one of those dates works and hope that D bucket or lower opens up on one of the outbound flights at a later point (set a fare alert on Google Flights).

Alternatively, you could book SEA-HNL where there is pretty good of I/Z bucket availability at around $600 one way and a separate ticket from HNL-OGG. The Z fares require Mon-Thu travel (I fares are good for Fri - Sun depatures). Decent I bucket availability on outbound weekend departures in March.

Last edited by LBJ; Oct 25, 18 at 2:45 am
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Old Oct 25, 18, 3:37 am
  #5  
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March is Spring Break. There will be plenty of families with cash willing to spend . Till late Jan/Feb they have no reason to offer really low rates. Even then it depends how much of cabin has sold.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 6:06 am
  #6  
 
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Why not book using your AS 75K guest upgrade certs?
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Old Oct 25, 18, 6:52 am
  #7  
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
Upgrading with miles is absolutely an option (US50 flights) on this route at time of purchase. Either you are not logged in when you are searching or you are selecting a Basic Economy fare where the option is not available (you must select a Main Cabin or C+ fare to get the option). Note that this is nothing more than paying the fare diff between coach and F with miles at the rate of 1 CPM. If you have a DL Amex, you can basically get the exact same deal by selecting F fares and using Pay with Miles to partially pay for the ticket.

The basic problem here is that there is currently only J/C bucket availability on the outbound flights in March and C fares are about $2K one-way. However, there are a number of dates with D bucket open on the return flights from OGG-SEA with D fares around $700 one-way. Namely 3/4, 3/6, 3/7, 3/11, 3/14, 3/18-21, and 3/26-28. You could book the return flight if one of those dates works and hope that D bucket or lower opens up on one of the outbound flights at a later point (set a fare alert on Google Flights).

Alternatively, you could book SEA-HNL where there is pretty good of I/Z bucket availability at around $600 one way and a separate ticket from HNL-OGG. The Z fares require Mon-Thu travel (I fares are good for Fri - Sun depatures). Decent I bucket availability on outbound weekend departures in March.
We attempted this is a bunch of different fares including C+... upgrading with miles is not an option on that flight ( even the DM phone agent was stumped as if she had never seen this before.) She even went as far as having me purchase a new set of tickets that she processed to see if that would then allow the upgrade and it didn't, so not sure what is going on. But I do like the SEA-HNL option and I might just go back and book that and then just tack on a separate HA inter-island fight with 5k miles. Thanks for the information... very helpful.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 6:55 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by hockeystl View Post
Why not book using your AS 75K guest upgrade certs?
I use to run both DL DM and AS G75k but I am pretty much 100% international now so I pretty much fly DL exclusively and don't have status on AS these days (just didn't update my profile.) I have an DL companion cert but it doesn't work to Hawaii.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 6:58 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by LBJ View Post
Upgrading with miles is absolutely an option (US50 flights) on this route at time of purchase. Either you are not logged in when you are searching or you are selecting a Basic Economy fare where the option is not available (you must select a Main Cabin or C+ fare to get the option). Note that this is nothing more than paying the fare diff between coach and F with miles at the rate of 1 CPM. If you have a DL Amex, you can basically get the exact same deal by selecting F fares and using Pay with Miles to partially pay for the ticket.

The basic problem here is that there is currently only J/C bucket availability on the outbound flights in March and C fares are about $2K one-way. However, there are a number of dates with D bucket open on the return flights from OGG-SEA with D fares around $700 one-way. Namely 3/4, 3/6, 3/7, 3/11, 3/14, 3/18-21, and 3/26-28. You could book the return flight if one of those dates works and hope that D bucket or lower opens up on one of the outbound flights at a later point (set a fare alert on Google Flights).

Alternatively, you could book SEA-HNL where there is pretty good of I/Z bucket availability at around $600 one way and a separate ticket from HNL-OGG. The Z fares require Mon-Thu travel (I fares are good for Fri - Sun depatures). Decent I bucket availability on outbound weekend departures in March.
And I will add we are flying on Wed (both outbound and return) so the HNL routing does seem to work pretty good with decent fares w/ upgrades using miles. That was the other puzzling thing.. $4k for F mid week. I would sort of understand the weekend.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 7:09 am
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Originally Posted by gregtay View Post
And I will add we are flying on Wed (both outbound and return) so the HNL routing does seem to work pretty good with decent fares w/ upgrades using miles. That was the other puzzling thing.. $4k for F mid week. I would sort of understand the weekend.
Do you have to fly nonstop?

A $600 RT in Y is already high pricing. Then add on a bunch miles you could use to just book F outright...

Lots of connecting options via LA or other hubs that could bring the price down. DTW-HNL had tons of low award space recently
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Old Oct 25, 18, 7:23 am
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Unless you really value the MQMs or something, why the heck wouldn't you just fly Hawaiian? Or, if you're not going to do that, just suck it up in coach for the relatively short flight. It won't kill you.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 8:21 am
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Why on earth would anyone want to leave Seattle in March?
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Old Oct 25, 18, 9:11 am
  #13  
LBJ
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Originally Posted by gregtay View Post
We attempted this is a bunch of different fares including C+... upgrading with miles is not an option on that flight ( even the DM phone agent was stumped as if she had never seen this before.) She even went as far as having me purchase a new set of tickets that she processed to see if that would then allow the upgrade and it didn't, so not sure what is going on. But I do like the SEA-HNL option and I might just go back and book that and then just tack on a separate HA inter-island fight with 5k miles. Thanks for the information... very helpful.
I am talking about the option to purchase an upgrade at check-out using miles (in lieu of cash) and it is absolutely there on this route. After check-out, the option is no longer available on the website (but an agent might be able to process it). See the screenshot below from checkout screen which I just priced on SEA-OGG. The agent may have been looking at Mileage Upgrade Awards which require both a minimum fare class (T or higher for domestic) and upgrade inventory availability. C+ fares must have an underlying fare class of T or higher to be eligible for Mileage Upgrade Awards. These are completely different from using miles to upgrade using the option below. Good chance you just got a clueless agent (happens frequently) who didn't understand the options.



Last edited by LBJ; Oct 25, 18 at 10:06 am
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Old Oct 25, 18, 11:51 am
  #14  
 
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I didnt have any issue from LAX to HNL. DFW to LAX to HNL to OGG and same route back. $700 Y (on Amex Travel) and 60k points upgrade to F entire trip except the HNL to OGG legs.

Also didnt have any issues for a MSP to LAX to OGG round trip in F on points.
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Old Oct 25, 18, 12:05 pm
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Have to agree on March being a transition month for travel to HNL, OGG and LIH. There is no real "low season" on any of the Islands so I always shoot for January and February for trips there. We still refer to flights round this time as the "Snow Bird Express"... Funny that with Kilauea still erupting on the Big Island that the fares haven't really been affected yet.
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