EK Upgrades vs. Awards?

Old Apr 5, 2023, 10:11 am
  #1  
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EK Upgrades vs. Awards?

I invested some time and effort researching EK's policies re awards and upgrades and I would appreciate confirmation that what I have understood is correct, and (even more valuable) a correction of what I got wrong.

Here is what I understand:

1. EK uses booking class O to designate Business Flex+ (aka "classic") award tickets. They use booking class D to designate Business Saver award tickets AND also for Y cash tickets upgraded upgrades to J. Confusingly, O can also be for a Business Saver ticket paid for in cash.

2. Upgrades of cash tickets in Y to J come from the same "bucket" as Business Saver Awards. This means that the surest way of searching for upgrade availability is to search for awards: if they show Business Saver awards available, you can get an upgrade using miles.

3. Naturally, Business Flex+ awards are noticeably more expensive than Business Saver awards / upgrades. Consequently, if both are available, it is a more economically efficient usage of miles to get a Business Saver award or purchase a ticket for cash in Y and use miles to upgrade to J, rather than seek a "classic" award ticket.

4. Since the upgrade costs the same number of miles as a full Business Saver award, presumably it is always more economically efficient (in total usage of miles plus cash) to go for the award rather than the upgrade.

5. The logical conclusion therefore is that it makes no sense economically to seek an upgrade; a Business Saver award is always better.

6. There is a far better chance of finding availability in O class than in D class. Seeking a Business Saver award is EK's equivalent to searching for the proverbial needle, almost. The majority of the usage of miles on EK is for the "classic" or "full fare" awards.

7. This analysis applies to when planning ahead and searching for and purchasing tickets in advance.

Is my above understanding and analysis correct?

What is not clear to me is:

1. When does EK make D class seats available? Is it 11 months before? 5 months? 3 months? Or they do it in batches?

2. The cash paid in addition to the miles when issuing an Award ticket: is it the taxes and government charges or is it "padded" with other fees and charges?

3. When offered an upgrade on the spot upon check in or when boarding: is the number of miles deducted equivalent to the Saver Award? The Flex+ Award? different.

Apologies if this topic had been addressed before and I look forward to learning from the experts.
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Old Apr 5, 2023, 2:24 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by GoodyGoody
I invested some time and effort researching EK's policies re awards and upgrades and I would appreciate confirmation that what I have understood is correct, and (even more valuable) a correction of what I got wrong.

Here is what I understand:

1. EK uses booking class O to designate Business Flex+ (aka "classic") award tickets. They use booking class D to designate Business Saver award tickets AND also for Y cash tickets upgraded upgrades to J. Confusingly, O can also be for a Business Saver ticket paid for in cash.

2. Upgrades of cash tickets in Y to J come from the same "bucket" as Business Saver Awards. This means that the surest way of searching for upgrade availability is to search for awards: if they show Business Saver awards available, you can get an upgrade using miles.

3. Naturally, Business Flex+ awards are noticeably more expensive than Business Saver awards / upgrades. Consequently, if both are available, it is a more economically efficient usage of miles to get a Business Saver award or purchase a ticket for cash in Y and use miles to upgrade to J, rather than seek a "classic" award ticket.

4. Since the upgrade costs the same number of miles as a full Business Saver award, presumably it is always more economically efficient (in total usage of miles plus cash) to go for the award rather than the upgrade.

5. The logical conclusion therefore is that it makes no sense economically to seek an upgrade; a Business Saver award is always better.

6. There is a far better chance of finding availability in O class than in D class. Seeking a Business Saver award is EK's equivalent to searching for the proverbial needle, almost. The majority of the usage of miles on EK is for the "classic" or "full fare" awards.

7. This analysis applies to when planning ahead and searching for and purchasing tickets in advance.

Is my above understanding and analysis correct?

What is not clear to me is:

1. When does EK make D class seats available? Is it 11 months before? 5 months? 3 months? Or they do it in batches?

2. The cash paid in addition to the miles when issuing an Award ticket: is it the taxes and government charges or is it "padded" with other fees and charges?

3. When offered an upgrade on the spot upon check in or when boarding: is the number of miles deducted equivalent to the Saver Award? The Flex+ Award? different.

Apologies if this topic had been addressed before and I look forward to learning from the experts.
Hello GoodyGoody. I wanted to welcome you to FlyerTalk and the EK subforum in particular, but it seems you joined in 2018 and have held out to today to submit your first post. So a belated welcome anyway!

I am a bit unsure about your first 7 points as a whole, especially the musings about upgrading Y to J.
My understanding: J awards are available in two buckets, O and D. O is much more expensive in miles than D. I am not sure what the cash difference is between the two awards. You are correct that O is also a paid ticket bucket, called "Saver". I agree that this is a bit confusing. It appears that an award ticket is always (or almost always) a worse deal than an upgrade from a paid Y ticket. Obviously the cost in miles is greater for cheap Y tickets (like saver, which can only be upgraded at check in or on board anyway) than for expensive ines (Flex+). This can all be seen in the mileage calculator on the EK website. What (if any) the cash difference is, I don't know, having never done this. D space is much more limited than O space. On busy, premium heavy routes in high season, there might be NO D availability ever, at all. When the airline thinks they can sell the seats for cash, they won't make them available as award / upgrade space.

Your final three points:

1. This is probably the most asked question on this board. The answer is: there is no way anyone knows. The clever algorithms will decide when they believe the seats won't sell and then make them available as awards / upgrades. Depending on route and time of year, one or two might be available quite early on (say 6 months). If there are any open seats at T-1 hour, you can get them at check in or on board as upgrades.

2. Emirates has a extortionate 'airline applied surcharge', which is many times more than the government taxes and fees. This applies to award tickets, but - with some exceptions - not to upgrades as the surcharge is deemed to have been paid already. One of the exceptions is the UK APD (Air Passenger Duty) which is much higher for J than for Y and the airline will collect this from you. The exception to this again (so an exception to an exception) is the 'on board' upgrade where they will not collect it (which makes the on board upgrade ex UK more attractive than other upgrades).

3. The miles charged at check in or on board are for an upgrade from the applicable Y bucket to a D bucket.

Hope this helps a bit. Others may probably chip in as well.
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Old Apr 5, 2023, 2:25 pm
  #3  
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1. When does EK make D class seats available? Is it 11 months before? 5 months? 3 months? Or they do it in batches?

There's no real consistency, it can be any time, or never.

2. The cash paid in addition to the miles when issuing an Award ticket: is it the taxes and government charges or is it "padded" with other fees and charges?

There is the carrier imposed surcharge on top of government taxes. This differs depending on the market.


3. When offered an upgrade on the spot upon check in or when boarding: is the number of miles deducted equivalent to the Saver Award? The Flex+ Award? different.

It's the same as would be if you'd booked it online.
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Old Apr 5, 2023, 4:03 pm
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Originally Posted by DYKWIA

3. When offered an upgrade on the spot upon check in or when boarding: is the number of miles deducted equivalent to the Saver Award? The Flex+ Award? different.

It's the same as would be if you'd booked it online.
A couple of times I have upgraded on board with family member where I was on a flex+ ticket but the family member was on a saver ticket (separate bookings). On both occasions I was charged the miles price for 2 x flex+ tickets. I have always wondered if this is a loop hole or if this is just the way it is. It's rare to fly with family so never had the chance to try it a third time.
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Old Apr 5, 2023, 9:22 pm
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I've never thought of a Flex Plus award as a "Classic". EK use the term for any award ticket and if we relate Classic to the good old days it would be a Saver Reward. This level of award used to be the only one (well before the current fare families existed) until EK realised they could ask for double miles and somebody might pay it.

As to whether it's better to buy an outright award ticket or upgrade an economy ticket, historically it's always been the latter. Nowadays however with the cash price of tickets having gone through the roof, and the different costs (in both upgrade miles (plus taxes) and purchasing cash) for the different fare types it may well be different.
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Old Apr 6, 2023, 2:52 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Will08
A couple of times I have upgraded on board with family member where I was on a flex+ ticket but the family member was on a saver ticket (separate bookings). On both occasions I was charged the miles price for 2 x flex+ tickets. I have always wondered if this is a loop hole or if this is just the way it is. It's rare to fly with family so never had the chance to try it a third time.
Sounds like a good loophole!
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Old Apr 11, 2023, 11:18 am
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In my experience, if you are a regular EK flyer upgrading is more economical than using award tickets given the high carrier imposed charges.

I even created a model that tells me, based on the fares (Saver/Flex/FlexPlus etc), award costs and upgrade costs what is optimal and it's usually to upgrade a Y-Flex or sometimes Y-Flex+ ticket that's optimal based on the miles earned/burned.
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Old Apr 11, 2023, 6:41 pm
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Originally Posted by DYKWIA
1. When does EK make D class seats available? Is it 11 months before? 5 months? 3 months? Or they do it in batches?

There's no real consistency, it can be any time, or never.

2. The cash paid in addition to the miles when issuing an Award ticket: is it the taxes and government charges or is it "padded" with other fees and charges?

There is the carrier imposed surcharge on top of government taxes. This differs depending on the market.


3. When offered an upgrade on the spot upon check in or when boarding: is the number of miles deducted equivalent to the Saver Award? The Flex+ Award? different.

It's the same as would be if you'd booked it online.
1. For cash purchased Y try upgrade in airport to J, is there any requirement for which Y class I should buy?
2. Except departure from UK, when I upgrade in airport I just need pay the miles difference? or I still need pay tax/fees difference?
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Old Apr 12, 2023, 2:47 am
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Originally Posted by ecgz88
1. For cash purchased Y try upgrade in airport to J, is there any requirement for which Y class I should buy?
2. Except departure from UK, when I upgrade in airport I just need pay the miles difference? or I still need pay tax/fees difference?
1. "Special' fare tickets are not upgradable at all. Saver can only be upgraded at the airport or on board. Flex and Flex+ can be upgraded at any time (subject to availability of course). The lower the fare class, the more miles it will cost to upgrade. Details are in the mileage calculator on the website (it's under 'Loyalty')
2. In my experience you just pay the miles. The UK is an exception as you already mention (because of the APD, although this is not collected for an 'on board' upgrade). I am not aware of any other exceptions but I cannot categorically state that there are none.
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Old Apr 12, 2023, 6:41 pm
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Originally Posted by ecgz88
2. Except departure from UK, when I upgrade in airport I just need pay the miles difference? or I still need pay tax/fees difference?
I don't know if it's still true, but when this was discussed a while back, the UK, Pakistan and Lebanon were the 3 places mentioned as having extra tax to pay.

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/12171271-post2.html
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Old May 23, 2023, 7:35 pm
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If I upgrade a Y Flex mileage ticket to J using miles, if F subsequently becomes available can I modify the existing booking to F for only the difference in award price between the miles I've used so far to the cost of an F award or do I need to cancel the entire reservation (I assume upgrade awards are fully cancellable just like my ticket), wait until the miles come back into my account and then book the F award (assuming it's still available....)?

And how long does it usually take for the miles to be redeposited?
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Old May 24, 2023, 1:43 am
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Originally Posted by MarkP24
If I upgrade a Y Flex mileage ticket to J using miles, if F subsequently becomes available can I modify the existing booking to F for only the difference in award price between the miles I've used so far to the cost of an F award or do I need to cancel the entire reservation (I assume upgrade awards are fully cancellable just like my ticket), wait until the miles come back into my account and then book the F award (assuming it's still available....)?

And how long does it usually take for the miles to be redeposited?
You cannot use miles to upgrade more than one cabin. So Y to F with miles is not possible.
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Old May 24, 2023, 5:50 am
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Originally Posted by thijsseh
You cannot use miles to upgrade more than one cabin. So Y to F with miles is not possible.
Understood. But if I book Y, upgrade to J using miles, and subsequently F becomes available, can I call in to have them manually modify the reservation from a Y award to an F award, or does it need to go through the redeposit process, and if so how long is the redeposit process?
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Old May 24, 2023, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by MarkP24
Understood. But if I book Y, upgrade to J using miles, and subsequently F becomes available, can I call in to have them manually modify the reservation from a Y award to an F award, or does it need to go through the redeposit process, and if so how long is the redeposit process?
Sorry, I do not understand what you are trying to do here. When you say 'book Y' do you mean 'book a Y award' of 'buy a Y cash ticket). Why would you book a Y award seat and then use miles to upgrade to J instead of booking a J award seat to start with?
If you want to cancel a booking and redeposit, the redeposit is normally instantaneous. I strongly suggest to do all this by calling in. The call centre is much better than the IT system.
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Old May 24, 2023, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by thijsseh
Sorry, I do not understand what you are trying to do here. When you say 'book Y' do you mean 'book a Y award' of 'buy a Y cash ticket). Why would you book a Y award seat and then use miles to upgrade to J instead of booking a J award seat to start with?
If you want to cancel a booking and redeposit, the redeposit is normally instantaneous. I strongly suggest to do all this by calling in. The call centre is much better than the IT system.
yes. I meant booking a Y award. I would do this as its less miles for Y with a J upgrade than to use miles for a J award outright.
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