Upgrading Fare Class to W after purchase

Old Mar 11, 12, 9:15 am
  #1  
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Upgrading Fare Class to W after purchase

Hi,

It's my first year as 1K with SWUs to try to use. I fly 5 times a year HKG to SFO or ORD.

Call me a cheapskate but I am not going to pay $400+ extra for a W fare class if I can't get a confirmed upgrade. I would feel like too much of a chump sitting in economy if I wound up stranded on the waitlist!

Questions:
1. Does the "R" inventory ever open up on these routes? I checked a few dates near and far but can't seem to find any. If not, are people really just paying for W just to have the chance (which seems low on these routes) of an upgrade? Or am I missing something here?

2. Is it possible/advisable to book in the lowest fare code, and plan to check "R" availability later? If R opens up, could I call in and pay the fare difference to change to W and apply the (immediately confirmed) upgrade?

3. Are there any tricks of the trade here? This system seems almost designed to piss people off. I'm fairly computer savvy as are many FTers I'm sure, but I don't know how a "normal" customer (eg. my mom who is a frequent-travelling doctor who can barely work her iphone) would figure out how all of this is supposed to work.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 9:18 am
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You can always wait until R opens up to buy up (if you don't have an Expert Flyer subscription that will help with alerting you). The downside is there will likely be a waitlist which may clear people ahead of you. That being said, I've seen several instances of waitlists not clearing right away when R opens up. An EF subscription may help you jump the line.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 9:30 am
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People figure out what they need to figure out. If you fly often and really don't like sitting in the back, you'll figure out how to get into the front.

Since we are all pals here on FT, a couple of hints.

1. Check first for open R (NC) availability when you book.

2. Try to fly mid-week.

3. Look at the seat charts and availability in different fare buckets.

4. Be flexible on your dates.

5. If you can't get it at booking don't sweat the UG. If it happens, it happens. If not, it's not worth the stress.

6. If it looks full when you check in, ask about alternate routings.

7. If you do 5 RTs, and the SWUs fail on two segments during the year, it raises the average cost of a RT UG from $400 (fare differential for a W) to $500.

8. If you're not willing to pay $500 (on average) for the UG, you're probably someone who should be sitting in the back.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by HKChicago View Post
If R opens up, could I call in and pay the fare difference to change to W and apply the (immediately confirmed) upgrade?
The official policy does not permit this without paying the change fee as well.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 10:16 am
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Originally Posted by HKChicago View Post
Call me a cheapskate but I am not going to pay $400+ extra for a W fare class if I can't get a confirmed upgrade. I would feel like too much of a chump sitting in economy if I wound up stranded on the waitlist!
If you're finding W fares that are only $400 more roundtrip, that is pretty good. On some of the flights I was looking at it seemed like there was a much higher differential.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 10:26 am
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Regarding the policy to not allow upgrading the fare code without paying a change fee: Is it usually possible to talk one's way around this in practice?

At 5khours: Actually I was being conservative with that $400 - on a typical HKG-ORD fare, the difference between lowest available and W is around $500, and my understanding is that I could expect to get the upgrade at best half of the time. This would put me at around $1000 per successful rt upgrade. I realize that might be a no-brainer for some people, but I usually get a good 7 or 8 hours of sleep (out of 15 flight hours) in E+, and though it's uncomfortable, I'd just feel like a bit of a jerk paying that much for better food and a more comfortable ride. I love sitting up front but I can think of better ways to spend $1000.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
The official policy does not permit this without paying the change fee as well.
Has that changed?? (BTW that's a stupid policy IMHO)
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Old Mar 11, 12, 10:32 am
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Originally Posted by colpuck View Post
Has that changed?? (BTW that's a stupid policy IMHO)
I agree. I can see the rationale for the change fee if you want to change flights, but if I want to pay more for the flight I've already paid for, tacking on an additional change fee is not only stupid, but short sighted.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 8:19 pm
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I totally agree with the OP. I'm just not going to do it. One option is miles plus copay. Any one flight is probably a little more money, but you don't pay if the TPAC leg doesn't clear. Over the year with 5 RTs, the cost of sitting up front may be less than W fares and SWUs.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 9:10 pm
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Originally Posted by colpuck View Post
Has that changed??
As I understand it, no...that's "always" been the official policy. The waiver on change fees for buying up to a higher fare officially only applies if you're buying up to M/B/Y to insta-Up or an actual forward cabin fare.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 9:52 pm
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Originally Posted by SFOTurtle View Post
If you're finding W fares that are only $400 more roundtrip, that is pretty good. On some of the flights I was looking at it seemed like there was a much higher differential.
Well, on some flights I was looking at, there was no differential.

Originally Posted by HKChicago View Post
2. Is it possible/advisable to book in the lowest fare code, and plan to check "R" availability later? If R opens up, could I call in and pay the fare difference to change to W and apply the (immediately confirmed) upgrade?
In addition to the change fee already discussed, keep in mind that by the time "R" inventory is released (and stays there, assuming anyone on the waitlist has already cleared), you may not meet the advance purchase requirements of the W fare or there may not be any W inventory. If you want to use the SWU, you're really better off just paying to enter the lottery. Otherwise miles+co-pay is a better option.

Last edited by iluv2fly; Mar 11, 12 at 10:40 pm Reason: merge
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Old Mar 11, 12, 11:40 pm
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Originally Posted by HKChicago View Post
Hi,

If not, are people really just paying for W just to have the chance (which seems low on these routes) of an upgrade? Or am I missing something here?
Much more than! Look at http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unite...1-chances.html

People are buying B class fares! By the way, the instant upgrade from Y B M does not apply to international flights, as far as I know.
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Old Mar 11, 12, 11:47 pm
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
Well, on some flights I was looking at, there was no differential.
Interesting, on international flights? I'm curious as to which flights/routes those might be.
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Old Mar 12, 12, 4:39 am
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Originally Posted by SFOTurtle View Post
Interesting, on international flights? I'm curious as to which flights/routes those might be.
I've certainly found r/t W fares, even combination H/W fares, on TATL routes that were only $100 more than S and T.
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Old Mar 12, 12, 5:11 am
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Originally Posted by SFOTurtle View Post
If you're finding W fares that are only $400 more roundtrip, that is pretty good. On some of the flights I was looking at it seemed like there was a much higher differential.
Bargain.

Ex SYD it is generally $1000 - $1500 MORE RT.

For a lottery ticket to MAYBE get to use a SWU.

SWU does not clear, and you get none of it back.
.
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