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How many Play the "Pay for the Upgrade It will be Cheaper" game?

How many Play the "Pay for the Upgrade It will be Cheaper" game?

Old Mar 4, 21, 1:01 pm
  #1  
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How many Play the "Pay for the Upgrade It will be Cheaper" game?

I am just curious if I am the only one who gambles this way on Delta.

You buy the Main cabin ticket, in hopes that the upgrade offer is cheaper than the booking price for 1st.

Example: JFK SDQ on March 28th - April 26th, 6:59 PM departure $699 Round trip in 1st.

I purchased a coach seat for $393. During booking it said for 316 dollars more I could be upgraded to 1st I ignored that offer. After booking when I went to "My Trips" I was offered an upgrade to first for 109 each leg 218 total. Total Paid for First $611.

A savings of 88 dollars.

I have saved a lot of money this way even pre-pandemic. Although sometimes the upgrade isn't offered the same day you purchase the ticket, and there have been times I have had to pay 20 to 100 dollars more but overall I'm ahead.
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Old Mar 4, 21, 2:10 pm
  #2  
 
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I have done this as well. A couple of years ago, I booked a one way ticket from ERI to DFW, connecting in DTW. The ERI-DTW flight was on a CRJ200, so no first class. $160 for Main Cabin, I think it was around $380 for first class. When I went to "My Trips," I was able to upgrade the the DTW-DFW flight for $92, making the itinerary total $252, and I was booked into first on the only segment that was "firstable." Worked out for me!
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Old Mar 4, 21, 2:17 pm
  #3  
 
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I've done this plenty of times. Even before the COVID change fee waivers DL would always waive the change fee if you paid to upfare so you had little to lose by booking Main Cabin at first then seeing if after a day or two you got upfare offers that were less than what the advertised fare for F was. If the buy-up offers were insane but the upfare itself was reasonable, I'd just call and upfare. The only real risk was theoretically the F fare between what you booked and when you finally decided to upfare could go up.

Sometimes too I was unwilling to pay the upfare for the entire way but would be offered a reasonable offer on the leg I really cared about and wanted the upfare (e.g. I'd be flying SEA-DTW-CVG and to buy F the full way or to buy up both legs via the app was expensive but SEA-DTW was at least an offer I would bite on, while for DTW-CVG, I was fine with C+ or just waiting to see if I got the complimentary upgrade but even then didn't care).
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Old Mar 4, 21, 3:00 pm
  #4  
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I've done it sometimes, although somewhat more before DL decided not to make FCM offers until the 24 hour free cancel period had passed. I always learned to always check the price of FC (DL never charged change fees on upfares) before taking a FCM offer on the app as sometimes it was cheaper to upfare, which also removed the potential ambiguity of whether or not one had a FC ticket for MQM and SDC purposes.
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Old Mar 4, 21, 3:08 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
I've done it sometimes, although somewhat more before DL decided not to make FCM offers until the 24 hour free cancel period had passed. I always learned to always check the price of FC (DL never charged change fees on upfares) before taking a FCM offer on the app as sometimes it was cheaper to upfare, which also removed the potential ambiguity of whether or not one had a FC ticket for MQM and SDC purposes.
I've always received FCM offers immediately after booking, including recent bookings. Usually it was more than what the fare would be if I simply upfared but it's always been there. What I usually don't receive are buy-up offers that are cheaper than the straight-up upfare until the 24 hour risk free cancel period has passed, but usually I see the buy-up offer drop about 2-3 days after purchase, then it usually becomes a roller-coaster after that where the buy-up offer goes way up then down then up again then down. The game is to see if it ever goes below the dips like what did happen recently. I have a return out of DC for DCA-DTW-SAT. I was able to use an expiring RUC on DTW-SAT. The buy-up on DCA-DTW was initially $181 or 17,000 miles. Then would drop to $119 or about 11,000 miles. Then back up to $181. Then down to $119. Then back up to $181 then back down to $119. Then it dropped to $52 or about 4400 miles. I opted to use 4400 miles just to get into F and then have the empty seat next to me.

Last edited by ATOBTTR; Mar 5, 21 at 8:01 am Reason: Fix conflicting info
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Old Mar 4, 21, 8:51 pm
  #6  
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I don't think I've ever seen an offer that was cheaper than the original price of first class. :shrug:
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Old Mar 5, 21, 5:56 am
  #7  
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For my two common routes (DCA-JFK and JFK-SDQ) the upgrade price is almost always the same: 49 and 109. If I purchase a ticket and for any reason the upgrade costs more than the difference between F and what I paid for coach, and I see that the upgrade chances are low, I change the ticket.

I was flying SDQ-JFK earlier this week, and a few weeks ago I noticed that the front cabin suddenly filled up and there were only 2 seats left, so I grabbed them for 10,900 miles each. I was still curious to know why the cabin filled up overnight, turns out that on Tuesdays there are 4 flights but on Wednesdays there are only 3, so they needed to return the crew back to JFK on the same plane, and all the crew members were in F.
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Old Mar 5, 21, 7:34 am
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Pre-Covid waivers I did this a fair amount, and now that the waivers in place I do this nearly all the time, unless the first/business fare is already really low.
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Old Mar 5, 21, 8:05 am
  #9  
 
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I sit in coach because I am too cheap to pay for upgrades.
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Old Mar 5, 21, 1:38 pm
  #10  
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Sometimes I see a good deal and grab it, other times I laugh at the offer because its more than it would've cost me just to buy first straight up at the beginning.
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Old Mar 5, 21, 1:58 pm
  #11  
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It can also help to stop looking at the prices of FC tickets after you've accepted an offer. Take a good offer and don't hold out for the best possible offer or try to determine whether you could have found a better price later.
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Old Mar 5, 21, 2:37 pm
  #12  
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I just bought another flight to SDQ and was offered an 89 dollar upgrade and 109 upgrades saved me 100 dollars off the booking price.

11th - 17th of this month.
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Old Mar 6, 21, 8:43 am
  #13  
 
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My "pay to upgrade" on LAX-MCO-LAX is always significantly higher than purchasing F up front. My upcoming flight offer is $385 ow, on a $280 Y ticket. F was $890 I believe. But then again I'm 6/6 this year on free upgrades at the diamond window...all hail the 753!
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Old Mar 6, 21, 2:16 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
It can also help to stop looking at the prices of FC tickets after you've accepted an offer. Take a good offer and don't hold out for the best possible offer or try to determine whether you could have found a better price later.
Having more data to guide future decisions is never a bad thing.
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Old Mar 6, 21, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by rylan View Post
Sometimes I see a good deal and grab it, other times I laugh at the offer because its more than it would've cost me just to buy first straight up at the beginning.
I laugh when it's just absurd, like $1100 or 105,000 miles to buy up to F on GSO-ATL. Yea, that seems like a fantastic deal - lemme jump right on that!
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