Far East Upgrade Awards

Old Aug 9, 12, 3:20 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2012
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Far East Upgrade Awards

I am a regular Mileage Plus member (not Premier) trying to find flights from US to Far East (Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc.) that I might be able to upgrade to Business Class using miles (& cash fees)(sorry, I don't know what the terminology is for this type of upgrade). I am out of ORD (tho willing to travel elsewhere in US for better chance). Have to be in Asia all/most of November, so looking to depart end of October, come back beginning of Dec.

Every flight I look at ORD-HKG says "! Upgrade not available on UAxxx." Am I out of luck or am I doing something wrong or misunderstanding? Admittedly I've never tried this before. Can anyone suggest better city pairs to check or days of week?

Also, is the "expert" mode on UA that I've read about here & elsewhere gone with the new system?

Thanks for any help, advice or direction offered.
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Old Aug 9, 12, 3:25 pm
  #2  
 
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Welcome to FT!!!
No, the expert mode is still here, just a little different. When you search for a flight, after it displays, click on the 'fare class' and a box will open showing all the different fares.
With regard to the upgrade, you will probably need to wait list for the upgrade. They are few and far between on most routes to have availability show at the time of booking. To list, you can do this after your reservation has been ticketed directly on the web site, or by calling reservations and asking to be wait listed.
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Old Aug 9, 12, 4:40 pm
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if you routinely monitor, you will find the space.... I've never not been able to get it as long as I am *slightly* flexible.
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Old Aug 15, 12, 8:22 pm
  #4  
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Thanks to both of you for the info. very appreciated!
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Old Aug 15, 12, 8:44 pm
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Originally Posted by archymcn View Post
Thanks to both of you for the info. very appreciated!
Just to be clear - the fare classes you should be looking for are R or RN (assuming you're looking for economy -> business). See Seth's post here for more details.
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Old Aug 15, 12, 8:59 pm
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when you are going into the fare class availability as referenced above, what you're looking for in "R" availability denoted by R > 0. if R = 0, no upgrade inventory is available. you can book and then call in to confirm immediately or follow the "upgrade reservation" link on itinerary page. if you can be flexible about your travel dates, do so. it will be your best shot at finding the UG space. also consider mid-weekflight (Tues/Wed) - later weekdays and weekends tend to have more traffic on them also.

if you waitlist for w/ miles + copay, as a non-status member you're last in priority for clearing that manner. another issue is that it may be difficult to find positive R space for both outbound and inbound at the same time before you pull the purchase trigger.

if considering HKG as the destination, note that the Canton fair is going on through end of Oct + early Nov, meaning there will be is a lot of paid business traffic to HKG reducing UG chances.

good luck!
eleeut is offline  
Old Aug 16, 12, 10:19 am
  #7  
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Great advice & help all - thanks!

So far I've found one round trip though west coast & Shanghai that works with an outbound on a Tues & a return on a Sat. What are the chances that patience will pay off & more R seats will be opened up? Or should I grab the RT I found & count myself lucky? I would prefer Hong Kong, but I think the Canton fair that "eleeut" mentioned is making it difficult.

Also one more technical question if I might. Is there any difference between checking the "MileagePlus Upgrade Award" box on the res screen vs looking for R or RN buckets > 0?

Finally, it looks the main UA hubs over there that I should be checking are Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai. Any others. My large city destinations include Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Kuala Lampur and Bangkok.

Thanks again for all the help. Sincerely appreciated.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 10:27 am
  #8  
 
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You might want to consider adding Beijing, Hineda, Osaka (KIX) and Seoul/Incheon to your big city search list. Singapore, too, although it's a stretch.

Last edited by Hawk Circle; Aug 16, 12 at 10:38 am
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Old Aug 16, 12, 11:03 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by archymcn View Post
Also one more technical question if I might. Is there any difference between checking the "MileagePlus Upgrade Award" box on the res screen vs looking for R or RN buckets > 0?
No - they are the same.
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Old Aug 16, 12, 2:19 pm
  #10  
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Considering it's during Canton, I'd suggest looking at overwater flights to PEK (Beijing) for upgrade space. That's what I did when traveling during the spring Canton Fair, and I'm a 1K.
TravelManKen is offline  
Old Aug 16, 12, 3:01 pm
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Originally Posted by donlind View Post
You might want to consider adding Beijing, Hineda, Osaka (KIX) and Seoul/Incheon to your big city search list. Singapore, too, although it's a stretch.
FWIW: IME for 2x this year, SFO-KIX upgraded on booking (outbound midweek, return on Saturday). YMMV, But then, where to once in KIX?
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