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The Big UPGRADE Thread – all you need to know about AY upgrades

The Big UPGRADE Thread – all you need to know about AY upgrades

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Old May 30, 19, 7:06 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: intuition
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General
Upgrade space is capacity controlled, separately from revenue space in J cabin. The number of seats released to the different upgrade types are driven by a number of factors, but never by the "there are unsold seats in J cabin, let's fill them" policy some other airlines employ.

Do note that the process of upgrades type 1,2 has dramatically changed and that the searches below very often shows zero availability. There are reports the fare bucket F used to control capacity for upgrades have been removed and replaced by bucket U, controlling capacity for both awards and upgrades simultaneous. Very few seats (if any) are published to the search tool. Instead upgrades must go on waitlist, from where a robot processes upgrades from an unknown set of parameters. A waitlisted upgrade can clear in minutes or never, and there is no way to know.

Check available seats before buying ticket (upgrade-types 1,2)
Check upgrades offered via booking refereence (upgrade-types 1,2,4 and possibly type 3 too)


Upgrade-types
1. Upgrades with points
2. Upgrades with vouchers
3. Cash upgrades (targeted and not targeted)
4. Upgrades by bidding
5. Cash upgrades at airport
6. Complimentary upgrades



Upgrades with AY+ points

Requirements:
  • flight marketed and operated by AY (operated by Norra is also eligible)
  • ticketed booking in paid economy (there must be a ticket number in your reservation)
  • all paid economy booking classes are eligible
  • award flights and points+money combos are ineligible (booking class X)
    • however, some reports state that it is possible to upgrade these
  • you cannot upgrade any codeshare flights
  • It is not required to have a Finnair-issued ticket

Cost:
  • Northern Europe (GOT, CPH, SVO, OSL, ARN, WAW, VNO, KEF, BGO) 7,500 points one way
  • Rest of Europe, DXB, TLV 10,000 points one way
  • long haul 50,000 points one way
    • as you upgrade a longhaul with points, the SH feeder upgrade will be included in the price.
  • there have been some occasional promotions especially for short haul upgrades (winter and summer campaigns)
    • Northern Europe 5,000 points, rest of Europe, DXB, TLV 7,500 points


Process:
  • you can check availability here before booking (note that there are faults with this tool)
  • once you have a ticketed booking, you can process your upgrade online here
  • you may also call AY to process your upgrade
    • note that during the campaigns the campaign prices are only for self-service upgrades
  • If there is no availability, you can call AY and be waitlisted. A waitlisted upgrade may clear at any time – within hours of your request or at the gate or any time in between
    • your status will play a role in this
    • If there is no SH availability you can still upgrade the LH and waitlist the shorthaul. You'll pay the same points price even if SH does not clear though.
    • NOTE: If you wish to do Advance Seat Reservation (ASR) in Economy class, select the desired seats before waitlisting. After waitlisting it is not possible to select seats via Manage My Booking, however one can do that via Chat or Call Center.
  • if you waitlist, your points will be taken from your account immediately; if the upgrade does not clear, your points will be returned to you but you will lose any points that have expired during the waiting time
  • your points need to be valid at time of processing the request but they do not need to be valid on the day of the flight
  • you will receive a new e-ticket showing booking class F but you will receive points/miles according to your original booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)
  • Once you have a new ticket, your upgrade is confirmed. However, if J is overbooked on your flight, you will be among the first pax that AY will bump back into Y. J rarely gets overbooked, though.
  • as an unpublished perk, you may choose to change your upgrade from a points one to a voucher one by calling AY; your points will be returned to you save for any points that may have expired
  • If you change your mind about the upgrade you may conctact CS and ask to cancel the upgrade and have points returned. There likely must be seats left in Y cabin to allow this, and your points expiry date must not have passed.

Perks:
  • all usual J perks like priority check-in, increased baggage allowance, priority security where available, lounge access, priority boarding
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original economy class booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)


Upgrades with vouchers
Vouchers are given to Finnair+ members upon advancing to and retaining the platinum and gold tiers. You can see number of vouchers, their type and expiry in your Finnair+ account.

Requirements:
  • flight marketed and operated by AY (operated by Norra is also eligible)
  • ticketed booking in economy (there must be a ticket number in your reservation)
  • all paid economy booking classes are eligible
  • award flights booked via AY+ are also eligible (booking class X)
  • most likely, points+money combos are eligible, too, since they book into X, but we have no verification of this
  • award flights booked via parners (eg. Avios, AAdvantage etc) are not eligible
  • you cannot upgrade any codeshare flights
  • It is not required to have a Finnair-issued ticket

Cost:
  • Northern Europe one "European" voucher for a one-way flight
  • Rest of Europe, DXB, TLV one "European" voucher for a one-way flight
  • longhaul one "Longhaul" voucher for a one-way flight
  • LH voucher does not include upgrade for connecting shorthaul (like it does with points upgrades), SH flight requires a separate voucher/points upgrade
  • you may exchange four European vouchers for one "Longhaul" voucher by calling AY

Process:
  • you can check availability here before booking
  • once you have a ticketed booking, you can process your upgrade online here
  • you may also call AY to process your upgrade
  • If there is no availability, you can call AY and be waitlisted. A waitlisted upgrade may clear at any time – within hours of your request or at the gate or any time in between
    • higher tiers will be prioritized
  • if you waitlist, your voucher will be taken from your account immediately; if the upgrade does not clear, your voucher will be returned to you but you will lose any vouchers that have expired during the waiting time
  • you will receive a new e-ticket showing booking class F but you will receive points/miles according to your original booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)
  • Once you have a new ticket, your upgrade is confirmed. However, if J is overbooked on your flight, you will be among the first pax that AY will bump back into Y. J rarely gets overbooked, though.
  • If you change your mind about the upgrade you can contact CS and ask to cancel the upgrade and have voucher returned. There likely must be seats left in Y cabin to allow this, and your voucher expiry date must not have passed.

Perks:
  • all usual J perks like priority check-in, increased baggage allowance, priority security where available, lounge access, priority boarding
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original economy class booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)


Cash upgrades, offered via email / SMS / app or found under "Last minute offers"
AY will contact you about these targeted upgrade offers; you might receive an email or an SMS suggesting an upgrade at a fixed price or it can pop up in the Finnair app. You can find and report offers in this thread.
These fixed price upgrades might also be seen at the upgrade page, at earliest 4 days before take-off, under the section "Last-minute-offer". Offer can stay active on the page until as late as 2-24 hours before take-off, depending on route and availability.

Requirements:
  • Finnair selects targets for these upgrades on unknown factors
  • you might be contacted roughly 3–14 days before your flight
  • Same offer might be announced on website to all 4 days before the flight
  • flight marketed and operated by AY (or operated by Norra)
  • ticketed booking in paid economy (there must be a ticket number in your reservation)
  • all paid economy booking classes are eligible
  • you cannot upgrade any codeshare flights
  • you do not need to be a AY+ member

Cost:
Process:
  • follow the link on your email / SMS to process the upgrade
  • If no solicited offer, monitor webpage from T-4 days
  • Do not sloth if you want the upgrade, as they may send out more offers than actual seats available
  • you will receive a new e-ticket showing booking class F but you will receive points/miles according to your original booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)
  • Once you have a new ticket, your upgrade is confirmed. However, if J is overbooked on your flight, you will be among the first pax that AY will bump back into Y. J rarely gets overbooked, though.

Perks:
  • all usual J perks like priority check-in, increased baggage allowance, priority security where available, lounge access, priority boarding
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original economy class booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)


Upgrades by bidding in an auction
These upgrades are called "Name your price" on the upgrade webpage.
Requirements:
  • only available on some flights; if your flight is eligible, you can follow a link from MMB
  • availability may change over time, checking again later may prove successful
  • flight marketed and operated by AY (or operated by Norra)
  • ticketed booking in paid economy (there must be a ticket number in your reservation)
  • all paid economy booking classes are eligible
  • award flights and points+money combos are ineligible (booking class X)
  • you cannot upgrade any codeshare flights

Cost:
  • you will determine the cost by committing to an amount you decide for yourself
  • there's a starting price below which you may not bid
  • AY will place your bid in one of five categories; a five-star bid has the highest odds and a one-star bid the lowest odds (and yes, FTers have placed one-star bids that have been accepted)

Process:
  • you will place your bid online following the Upgrade link in MMB
  • all bids will be put on a waitlist
  • offer is not binding, you can cancel it at any point, even after Finnair accepted the bid
  • bidding is closed 7 days before flight, and accepted bidders are notified 6-7 days before flight with a call to pay.
  • at this point, you can decide which (all, none, any) of the passengers in the reservation should be upgraded.
  • you will receive a new e-ticket showing booking class F (??) but you will receive points/miles according to your original booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)
  • Once you have a new ticket, your upgrade is confirmed. However, if J is overbooked on your flight, you will be among the first pax that AY will bump back into Y. J rarely gets overbooked, though.

Perks:
  • all usual J perks like priority check-in, increased baggage allowance, priority security where available, lounge access, priority boarding
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original economy class booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)


Upgrades paid in cash at the airport

(Note that check-in agents are able to process last-minute points and voucher upgrades.)

Requirements:
  • upgrades may be available for purchase at check-in
  • flight operated by AY or Norra
  • ticketed booking in economy
  • all paid economy booking classes are eligible
  • most likely AY+ & partner award flights in economy are eligible, too, though this is unconfirmed
  • the marketing carrier does not matter, so this is the only upgrade where codeshares are eligible

Cost:
  • varies, expect to pay some hundreds of euros for long haul one way

Process:
  • the upgrade will be processed and paid for at the check-in desk of the airport of departure
  • most likely the above means the airport of departure of that particular flight, so to upgrade HEL-BKK on a CPH-HEL-BKK itinerary, you would need to contact (transfer) check-in at HEL
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)
  • Once you have a new ticket, your upgrade is confirmed. The odds of being bumped back into Y are close to 0 as AY will not offer these upgrades if J is overbooked

Perks:
  • in practice, priority check-in is not possible since you will be an economy passenger when choosing the queue at the airport
  • all other usual J perks like increased baggage allowance, priority security where available, lounge access, priority boarding
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original economy class booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)


Complimentary operational upgrades
  • usually just a new boarding pass & seat either at the gate, at check-in or even after you have boarded
  • few and far between
  • the decision whom to upgrade on a particular flight seems a bit random but is at least partially dependent on the price of your ticket, booking class and status
    • an overheard policy was AY Plats, AY Golds and then anyone else
  • in theory, all usual J perks apply but in practice this depends on when you get to know about your upgrade; if you receive the upgrade at the gate, you will have checked in and there's no time to visit the lounge etc
  • you will receive points/miles according to your original economy class booking class (this may require a retroclaim if earning on other programmes than AY+)
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Old Jun 12, 19, 4:04 pm
  #811  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: try to stay home
Programs: AY, M&M, BAEC ...and don t care of status anymore
Posts: 1,055
Originally Posted by ffay005 View Post
What status do you hold, and how many pax do you want to upgrade? In many cases, my advice would be to just book it and count on the upgrade clearing.
I m a Platinum for 10+ years, traveling with a second Platinum (also since 10+ years). When checking seats on expert flyer, I found a couple of flights (both direction) where the load is between 5 - 8 occupied seats in J. And my experience is that the load is most of the time pretty much like on expert flyer. At least I always could choose the seat I saw empty on expert flyer when doing a booking afterwards.
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Old Jun 12, 19, 4:24 pm
  #812  
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Okay, two Plats, travelling on the BKK route, booking well in advance, and choosing flights where the J cabin is almost empty. I'd say your chances of having those upgrades clear is close to 100 %. If I were you, I'd just go ahead and book. They'll clear.

Of course, it'd be nicer if you'd know before booking, but I really can't see your upgrades not clearing.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 12:19 am
  #813  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: try to stay home
Programs: AY, M&M, BAEC ...and don t care of status anymore
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Originally Posted by ffay005 View Post
Okay, two Plats, travelling on the BKK route, booking well in advance, and choosing flights where the J cabin is almost empty. I'd say your chances of having those upgrades clear is close to 100 %. If I were you, I'd just go ahead and book. They'll clear.
And if not, do you reimburse me the money for the two Y flights - thats not the kind of gamble I like. It´s a game where I can win nothing (since my company would book J flights anyway). This just shows how bad this system turned. I m looking for flights 4 - 9 month out, totally flexible - but it´s not possible to get two seats, even with up to 16 flights a week.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 12:58 am
  #814  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: NYC,SFO
Programs: AY+ Plat, AA Plat, SPG/Marriott Plat Premier, Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 2,382
Originally Posted by Ed Size View Post
And if not, do you reimburse me the money for the two Y flights - thats not the kind of gamble I like. It´s a game where I can win nothing (since my company would book J flights anyway). This just shows how bad this system turned. I m looking for flights 4 - 9 month out, totally flexible - but it´s not possible to get two seats, even with up to 16 flights a week.
I spent a few minutes with the online tool and found the following flights with 2 or more available upgrade seats.

HEL-BKK
03/3 AY143
15/3 AY143
16/3 AY 145
17/3 AY143
19/3 AY 145
22/3 AY143
24/3 AY143
29/3 AY 141
30/3 AY141
31/3 AY141

BKK-HEL
27/3 AY146

HKG-HEL (assuming you have the flexibility to route through HKG on the return)
08/3 AY100
10/3 AY102
14/4 AY102
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Old Jun 13, 19, 1:16 am
  #815  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: try to stay home
Programs: AY, M&M, BAEC ...and don t care of status anymore
Posts: 1,055
Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I spent a few minutes with the online tool and found the following flights with 2 or more available upgrade seats.

HEL-BKK
03/3 AY143
15/3 AY143
16/3 AY 145
17/3 AY143
19/3 AY 145
22/3 AY143
24/3 AY143
29/3 AY 141
30/3 AY141
31/3 AY141

BKK-HEL
27/3 AY146

HKG-HEL (assuming you have the flexibility to route through HKG on the return)
08/3 AY100
10/3 AY102
14/4 AY102
Thanks, but thats what I did last night, and I wrote there are options in March, but only one for the way back, and to make it a comfortable trip, I rather not use HKG and I have only one option for the flight to BKK. So I think this is not what I call availability (there are no flights in Jan, Feb) and a few flights to BKK in Nov (but no returns which make the trip working). So basically I find this frustrating, Since I have to go at least one more time this year (rather two more times beside my already booked two trips).

A email from AY tells me, that there are no options till the end of the year.

For me that means I will book one or two more flights (four tickets) with any other airline which gives me a good offer in 2019, and in 2020 (where my Platinum with AY is already renewed), I will book what ever fits. No reason to spend any extra € for the requalification in 2021.

Last edited by Ed Size; Jun 13, 19 at 1:33 am
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Old Jun 13, 19, 1:45 am
  #816  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by Ed Size View Post
Thanks, but thats what I did last night, and I wrote there are options in March, but only one for the way back, and to make it a comfortable trip, I rather not use HKG and I have only one option for the flight to BKK. So I think this is not what I call availability (there are no flights in Jan, Feb) and a few flights to BKK in Nov (but no returns which make the trip working). So basically I find this frustrating, Since I have to go at least one more time this year (rather two more times beside my already booked two trips).

A email from AY tells me, that there are no options till the end of the year.

For me that means I will book one or two more flights (four tickets) with any other airline which gives me a good offer in 2019, and in 2020 (where my Platinum with AY is already renewed), I will book what ever fits. No reason to spend any extra € for the requalification in 2021.
Ok. So it sounds like you are not completely flexible (i.e., has to be nonstop, return on 27 Mar doesn't work).

Certainly, there is not ample availability, but availability is also not "none." I guess the other Oneworld airline with which I'm most familiar is AA, and this type of upgrade availability at booking is actually pretty (maybe even very) decent compared to what you will be able to find with AA.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 1:49 am
  #817  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
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Ed, maybe you just "call" the other department

That's how it developed. It sucks.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 1:52 am
  #818  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
Ok. So it sounds like you are not completely flexible (i.e., has to be nonstop, return on 27 Mar doesn't work).

Certainly, there is not ample availability, but availability is also not "none." I guess the other Oneworld airline with which I'm most familiar is AA, and this type of upgrade availability at booking is actually pretty (maybe even very) decent compared to what you will be able to find with AA.
I m flexible for any given 12-14 day period from 15th of Oct. - till the 15th/16th of March. Flying ex HGK makes no sense since this requires a paid J ticket for BKK - HGK (and for the combined price of he Eco ticket and the oneway J ticket I just can buy a J ticket - with close to no addition) Return on 27th works well but only for the flight to BKK on the 15th,

Just called them and asking for upgrades on the 15th of March - the agent replied - we have no seats here, the same for the flight back on the 27th. This is a joke.

I also have the impression that something at the hotline changed, it looks like the agent did not understand a bit about the system (I had to explain that I have upgrade vouchers as a Platinum and I have to explain what these vouchers are for, she only know about upgrades with points and Euro vouchers)

Last edited by Ed Size; Jun 13, 19 at 2:08 am
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Old Jun 13, 19, 2:15 am
  #819  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by Ed Size View Post
I m flexible for any given 12-14 day period from 15th of Oct. - till the 15th/16th of March. Flying ex HGK makes no sense since this requires a paid J ticket for BKK - HGK (and for the combined price of he Eco ticket and the oneway J ticket I just can buy a J ticket - with close to no addition) Return on 27th works well but only for the flight to BKK on the 15th,

Just called them and asking for upgrades on the 15th of March - the agent replied - we have no seats here, the same for the flight back on the 27th. This is a joke.

I also have the impression that something at the hotline changed, it looks like the agent did not understand a bit about the system (I had to explain that I have upgrade vouchers as a Platinum and I have to explain what these vouchers are for, she only know about upgrades with points and Euro vouchers)
I still see 2 available upgrade seats on those dates. Is the agent checking the correct flights? Alternatively, you can just purchase the ticket and request the upgrade online yourself—and if it doesn't work cancel the ticket for a full refund. (I know for certain there is a 24-hour cancellation policy for tickets purchased in the US, but I believe there is a similar rule for those purchased in Finland, based on my reading of the Finland site: https://www.finnair.com/fi/gb/inform...s/service-fees)
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Old Jun 13, 19, 2:23 am
  #820  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I still see 2 available upgrade seats on those dates. Is the agent checking the correct flights? Alternatively, you can just purchase the ticket and request the upgrade online yourself—and if it doesn't work cancel the ticket for a full refund. (I know for certain there is a 24-hour cancellation policy for tickets purchased in the US, but I believe there is a similar rule for those purchased in Finland, based on my reading of the Finland site: https://www.finnair.com/fi/gb/inform...s/service-fees)

Buying tickets and try to clear the upgrade is the only possibility at the moment, but for years it was a phone call and once the phone call completed you had your desired ticket. And I think this is a huge drawback. The thing is that the agent can t confirm the seats, so it is a hit and miss - thats useless and not comfortable at all.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 8:16 am
  #821  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
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Originally Posted by miamiflyer8 View Post
It's automated until T-37. Then you must call for manual processing.

AA won't upgrade you unless they happen to do op-ups on such flights.

What has been reported however is that some AA agents have put AY elites on the domestic upgrade list (including me).
My upgrade cleared today! Only notification was a new ticket receipt via email. Very happy it worked out though!
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Old Jun 13, 19, 8:53 am
  #822  
 
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Originally Posted by petteriusa View Post
My upgrade cleared today! Only notification was a new ticket receipt via email. Very happy it worked out though!
Glad it worked out for you.

It can clear before T-37 too if the automation allows.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 12:37 pm
  #823  
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
... Alternatively, you can just purchase the ticket and request the upgrade online yourself—and if it doesn't work cancel the ticket for a full refund. ...
I don't want to be Debbie-downer, but IIRC someone recently reported several of his waitlistings clearing "very quickly" and none of them cleared within the cancel-for-free cut-off time.

Even if they do sometimes clear within the 24h window, it is just too much hustle. Instead of book-and-forget, you then need to keep track of your booking for that time frame. Then, you might need to cancel and start all over again, looking for another date, book it and track the waitlist. Tedious and frankly very annoying as the old system worked very well.

Also, Finnair is not speedy when it comes to refund of such cancellations. You can quickly use up your CC limit with this method.
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Old Jun 13, 19, 12:56 pm
  #824  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Originally Posted by intuition View Post
I don't want to be Debbie-downer, but IIRC someone recently reported several of his waitlistings clearing "very quickly" and none of them cleared within the cancel-for-free cut-off time.

Even if they do sometimes clear within the 24h window, it is just too much hustle. Instead of book-and-forget, you then need to keep track of your booking for that time frame. Then, you might need to cancel and start all over again, looking for another date, book it and track the waitlist. Tedious and frankly very annoying as the old system worked very well.

Also, Finnair is not speedy when it comes to refund of such cancellations. You can quickly use up your CC limit with this method.
Here, the online upgrade tool was showing 2 seats available for immediate upgrade, so I think generally they should have cleared right away. I mentioned the 24-hour rule because for some reason when OP called (presumably to check that there was upgrade space before purchasing) the agent said there wasn’t space. In my experience, the online tool doesn’t lie, but just in case, I was saying OP could probably cancel the ticket for a refund if for some reason the upgrade didn’t go through.

Agreed that AY takes forever to process refunds (often several weeks). And I find that often the larger the amount, the longer the time.
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Old Jun 17, 19, 9:54 pm
  #825  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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FRA upgrade was finally cleared after 6 month on the waitlist! However, I noticed this from the app, so no e-mail regarding the upgrade. Only AY can do this!
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