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Do the price of cash upgrades ever drop?

Do the price of cash upgrades ever drop?

Old Dec 11, 22, 5:03 pm
  #1  
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Do the price of cash upgrades ever drop?

I have an upcoming flight where, when booking several months back, my plan was to use miles to upgrade from C+ to D1. Upgrade at the time was $800/80k per seat, and I was shy about 15k miles.

Well, now I have the miles, but the upgrade cost has quadrupled to $3,200/320k per seat. That’s not happening. Even if I had the miles, the experience is not worth 320k, IMO.

I know we can’t always use the seat maps to determine cabin occupancy, but right now, the D1 cabin is showing four seats taken, and the other 26 fully available for paid upgrade.

This is my very first foray into paid upgrades, so I don’t know how volatile the pricing is. Could this price come down if nobody bites? If so, is it conceivable that it could drop back down to the original $800/80k, or has that ship pretty much sailed?

I recognize there may be no reliable patterns or trends, but I figured someone here has probably studied this a lot longer and a lot closer than me.

Please and thank you.
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Old Dec 11, 22, 6:05 pm
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Pricing is very volatile, so it's certainly possible that the price drops back down to $800, but I'd think the chances are low and highly depend on how many seats are left in D1 and how far out the flight is. I would also look into Mileage Upgrade Awards as you could upgrade to Delta One for a fixed 65,000 points regardless of what the dynamic pricing is, although I'm not sure how this would work since you're in C+ and don't have a clear economy fare class: Delta Mileage Upgrade Awards. You'll likely need to call in and talk to a representative to determine your eligibility and to process the upgrade and will also likely need to HUCA (perhaps multiple times) before you get someone who knows what you're talking about.

Also, unless you are drowning in points that you're having trouble spending, I'd advise just paying cash fare for upgrades instead of using miles to upgrade (for standard upgrades, not Mileage Upgrade Awards). Booking Main Cabin with miles generally yields at least 1.3 cents per mile, occasionally going much higher, so I prefer to spend my miles that way as it's much better value than spending it on upgrades. However, mileage redemption value decreases as you book higher cabins and it's certainly possible to earn more miles than you can spend on main cabin flights, so use your points as you deem fit.
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Old Dec 11, 22, 6:51 pm
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Originally Posted by jjl468
Pricing is very volatile, so it's certainly possible that the price drops back down to $800, but I'd think the chances are low and highly depend on how many seats are left in D1 and how far out the flight is. I would also look into Mileage Upgrade Awards as you could upgrade to Delta One for a fixed 65,000 points regardless of what the dynamic pricing is, although I'm not sure how this would work since you're in C+ and don't have a clear economy fare class: Delta Mileage Upgrade Awards. You'll likely need to call in and talk to a representative to determine your eligibility and to process the upgrade and will also likely need to HUCA (perhaps multiple times) before you get someone who knows what you're talking about.

Also, unless you are drowning in points that you're having trouble spending, I'd advise just paying cash fare for upgrades instead of using miles to upgrade (for standard upgrades, not Mileage Upgrade Awards). Booking Main Cabin with miles generally yields at least 1.3 cents per mile, occasionally going much higher, so I prefer to spend my miles that way as it's much better value than spending it on upgrades. However, mileage redemption value decreases as you book higher cabins and it's certainly possible to earn more miles than you can spend on main cabin flights, so use your points as you deem fit.
Thanks for the reply. Just to make sure I understand (because Ive never messed with this before), MUA is not the same thing as Upgrade with Miles (the offer I am currently seeing @ 320k miles). MUA is a legacy upgrade system that uses a fixed-mile award (the 65k you mentioned) to bump from Economy to Delta One. It still exists on the down-low, and is available only for flights that are not wholly U.S. domestic. Is that correct?

My flight is AMS to JFK, so it should qualify, yes? And my C+ seat is a complimentary upgrade from Economy (not sure if that matters).

Please and thank you again for the help.
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Old Dec 11, 22, 6:56 pm
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Originally Posted by squirk
Thanks for the reply. Just to make sure I understand (because I’ve never messed with this before), MUA is not the same thing as “Upgrade with Miles” (the offer I am currently seeing @ 320k miles). MUA is a legacy upgrade system that uses a fixed-mile award (the 65k you mentioned) to bump from Economy to Delta One. It still exists on the down-low, and is available only for flights that are not wholly U.S. domestic. Is that correct?

My flight is AMS to JFK, so it should qualify, yes? And my C+ seat is a complimentary upgrade from Economy (not sure if that matters).

Please and thank you again for the help.
Your understanding is mostly correct, but there are a few more restrictions to be aware of: Your original economy ticket must have been in a higher fare bucket and that there must be OY (i.e. GUC) upgrade availability. If you can find the receipt for your original flight, you can check if your fare bucket is eligible, with H/Q/K fares being eligible for a 65,000 mile upgrade and Y/B/M fares being eligible for a 35,000 mile upgrade.

Delta has the fare class restriction in place so that it doesn't bleed money by offering this, ensuring that part of the money you save by following this path is made up for by an expensive Economy (or Premium Economy) ticket. Since you booked Economy originally and not C+, I would expect your fare class to not be eligible as most people would actively avoid these higher fare classes, but you can double check by looking at the receipt for your economy ticket, which will include your fare class.

Last edited by jjl468; Dec 11, 22 at 7:05 pm
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Old Dec 11, 22, 7:05 pm
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Originally Posted by jjl468
Your understanding is mostly correct, but there are a few more restrictions to be aware of. The ones for Economy are that your original economy ticket must have been in a higher fare bucket and that there must be OY (i.e. GUC) upgrade availability. If you can find the receipt for your original flight, you can check if your fare bucket is eligible, with H/Q/K fares being eligible for a 65,000 mile upgrade and Y/B/M fares being eligible for a 35,000 mile upgrade.

Delta has the fare class restriction in place so that it doesn't bleed money by offering this, ensuring that part of the money you save by following this path is made up for by an expensive Economy ticket (or just a Premium Economy ticket). Since you booked Economy originally and not C+, I would expect your fare class to not be eligible as most people would actively avoid these higher fare classes. You can double check by looking at the receipt for your original booking, which will tell you what your fare bucket was.
Fare class was (is) N, as it was a Main Economy booking with miles. I was upgraded to C+ by virtue of my Plat status. I guess Im out of luck then, yes?
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Old Dec 11, 22, 7:24 pm
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Originally Posted by squirk
Fare class was (is) N, as it was a Main Economy booking with miles. I was upgraded to C+ by virtue of my Plat status. I guess I’m out of luck then, yes?
Correct, there is no way to apply a Mileage Upgrade Award to an award flight. They are only applicable to revenue fares. You can also now apply them to Premium Select fares (P/A/G fare classes) which I believe are 40K on TATL routes. G fares can often be cheaper than K coach fares. Delta Mileage Upgrade Awards
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Old Dec 11, 22, 7:35 pm
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I saw this a while back for a flight I wound up canceling. But I will tell you that the $800 I was offered on the first day was never ever offered again. Up to the day I canceled it which was about a week before the flight it went up consistently. My advice if you see the $ 800 and its good deal for you book it then - dont assume its going to stay around
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Old Dec 12, 22, 5:27 am
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Ah, well. I'll just have to "make do" with C+, I guess. $3,200 is insane for a 7-hour flight. I could take a 7-day cruise for that price.

Thanks to you all for the information. Much appreciated.
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Old Dec 12, 22, 9:28 am
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I have seen them drop once, but typically they go up or disappear, the one time I saw it drop was on an international flight that was 35% full, at the 24-hour check-in. Everything comes down to how much inventory they have.
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Old Dec 12, 22, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by troyintn
I have seen them drop once, but typically they go up or disappear, the one time I saw it drop was on an international flight that was 35% full, at the 24-hour check-in. Everything comes down to how much inventory they have.
Thx. I guess I'll just keep checking, and keep a close eye on pricing when I check in.
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Old Dec 12, 22, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by squirk
Fare class was (is) N, as it was a Main Economy booking with miles. I was upgraded to C+ by virtue of my Plat status. I guess Im out of luck then, yes?
Since it is a Mileage Redemption ticket, isn't this a matter of finding Award Delta One / Partner Business Class award availability instead of "upgrades"?
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Old Dec 12, 22, 10:05 am
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Yes price can drop depending on inventory etc. Sometimes they open up lower bucket inventory as the flight gets close... but also departing from AMS means that KLM will take over the ticket a day or two prior to departure and you likely won't be able to make changes then. There is also a chance you'd be offered an upgrade for a price at check in or you can inquire with an agent at the airport. Unfortunately DL killed the program that KL used to run with offering discounted day of departure paid upgrades based on your ticket fare bucket.
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Old Dec 12, 22, 10:16 am
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Originally Posted by Ragnarok
Since it is a Mileage Redemption ticket, isn't this a matter of finding Award Delta One / Partner Business Class award availability instead of "upgrades"?
Delta offers so called FCM (First Class Monetization) seat upgrades on award tickets these days (as well as revenue fares). They are only offered on flights that are both DL operated and marketed and can be paid with either cash or miles (at a rate of 1 CPM less the 7.5% US excise tax charged on the cash offer on domestic routes). They are generated by backend systems and pricing is not based on fare difference (although there seems to be a fair amount of correlation with the offers and fare bucket availability as one might expect -- it wouldn't really make sense for rev management to limit availability in the lower fare buckets and then turn around and offer upgrades for same seats on the cheap). If we knew what flight poster was looking at, we could check fare bucket availability (from ExpertFlyer) and confirm if that might be part of the reason why offer is high.
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Old Dec 12, 22, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by xliioper
Delta offers so called FCM (First Class Monetization) seat upgrades on award tickets these days (as well as revenue fares). They are only offered on flights that are both DL operated and marketed and can be paid with either cash or miles (at a rate of 1 CPM less the 7.5% US excise tax charged on the cash offer on domestic routes). They are generated by backend systems and pricing is not based on fare difference (although there seems to be a fair amount of correlation with the offers and fare bucket availability as one might expect -- it wouldn't really make sense for rev management to limit availability in the lower fare buckets and then turn around and offer upgrades for same seats on the cheap). If we knew what flight poster was looking at, we could check fare bucket availability (from ExpertFlyer) and confirm if that might be part of the reason why offer is high.
Operated by Delta.
DL0049
AMS-JFK
dep. 12:00p.m.
1/25/23
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Old Dec 12, 22, 11:30 am
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Originally Posted by squirk
Operated by Delta.
DL0049
AMS-JFK
dep. 12:00p.m.
1/25/23
Well, definitely not a bucket availability issue as all D1 fare buckets are currently 9's. So there's probably some hope offers will come down again. It's been observed by a number of people that when they only have J bucket inventory open on a flight, the upgrade offers generally go away completely.

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