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Upgrading CHI to JNB when being reimbursed for Coach

Upgrading CHI to JNB when being reimbursed for Coach

Old Apr 28, 13, 7:20 pm
  #1  
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Upgrading CHI to JNB when being reimbursed for Coach

Sometime in the next week or so, I'll be flying from Chicago to Johannesburg for business. My company's policy is to reimburse for coach tickets. I do have 1K, a full complement of Global Upgrades and 648K miles with United. What's my best strategy to get upgraded on this trip? Is there a general strategy for maximizing upgrades on international travel while getting reimbursed?

Thanks for any help and of course please let me know if this belongs elsewhere.
creade is offline  
Old Apr 28, 13, 7:40 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by creade View Post
Sometime in the next week or so, I'll be flying from Chicago to Johannesburg for business. My company's policy is to reimburse for coach tickets. I do have 1K, a full complement of Global Upgrades and 648K miles with United. What's my best strategy to get upgraded on this trip? Is there a general strategy for maximizing upgrades on international travel while getting reimbursed?

Thanks for any help and of course please let me know if this belongs elsewhere.

Only real option is to fly UA/LH via FRA or MUC. You could upgrade the LH between MUC/FRA and JNB with paper GPUs.
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Old Apr 28, 13, 7:52 pm
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If you want to use GPUs, sannmann is right -- Lufthansa is your only option. However, per the Lufthansa rules, you'd have to use one GPU per LH flight. The entire trip would take four GPUs, even if you take UA to a Lufthansa hub.

If your company will pay for full-fare coach, a Star Alliance upgrade with miles may be an option. That would make it possible to upgrade on other Star Alliance airlines, such as South African. I'm not sure which *A airlines fly to Johannesburg, but it might be worth a look.

You could also consider flying United to Lagos, Nigeria. South African has a Lagos-Johannesburg route. Although the South African segment would be in Coach (unless you can arrange a Star Alliance upgrade), you would only have to burn one GPU each way. Unlike some Lufthansa fares, the upgrade could be confirmed in advance, and your 1K status would improve your position on an upgrade waitlist.
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Old Apr 28, 13, 7:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Lori_Q View Post
You could also consider flying United to Lagos, Nigeria. South African has a Lagos-Johannesburg route. Although the South African segment would be in Coach (unless you can arrange a Star Alliance upgrade), you would only have to burn one GPU each way. Unlike some Lufthansa fares, the upgrade could be confirmed in advance, and your 1K status would improve your position on an upgrade waitlist.
I haven't flown through Lagos before, but I like Lori's suggestion. I personally prefer as long a flight as possible for the overnight flight to try and get a decent night's sleep, especially in BF.
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Old Apr 28, 13, 9:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Lori_Q View Post
If you want to use GPUs, sannmann is right -- Lufthansa is your only option. However, per the Lufthansa rules, you'd have to use one GPU per LH flight. The entire trip would take four GPUs, even if you take UA to a Lufthansa hub.

If your company will pay for full-fare coach, a Star Alliance upgrade with miles may be an option. That would make it possible to upgrade on other Star Alliance airlines, such as South African. I'm not sure which *A airlines fly to Johannesburg, but it might be worth a look.

You could also consider flying United to Lagos, Nigeria. South African has a Lagos-Johannesburg route. Although the South African segment would be in Coach (unless you can arrange a Star Alliance upgrade), you would only have to burn one GPU each way. Unlike some Lufthansa fares, the upgrade could be confirmed in advance, and your 1K status would improve your position on an upgrade waitlist.
Correct with 4 GPUs.

Unfortunately, South African does not participate in the Star Alliance Upgrades program. Additionally, there is no waitlisting for Star Alliance Upgrades.

See for more info: https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...rade/saua.aspx
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Old Apr 28, 13, 9:19 pm
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Many options

Originally Posted by creade View Post
Sometime in the next week or so, I'll be flying from Chicago to Johannesburg for business. My company's policy is to reimburse for coach tickets. I do have 1K, a full complement of Global Upgrades and 648K miles with United. What's my best strategy to get upgraded on this trip? Is there a general strategy for maximizing upgrades on international travel while getting reimbursed?

Thanks for any help and of course please let me know if this belongs elsewhere.
If you are allowed, buy full fare coach (Y or B fare class) and use miles for a Star Alliance upgrade. Search on UA.com for ORD-JNB itineraries with business class Saver award availability on participating airlines (UA, LH, AC, MS, ET, TK, LX, etc) as that generally correlates with upgrade award availability. The 1K desk can help you. Buy the desired itinerary then submit for the upgrade award. If the award doesn't clear right away refund the ticket and try one of the many other options until one clears. I am sure you will find one.

If you need to stay within a budget and/or don't mind the risk of not getting upgraded, then search for discount coach fares on UA (W or higher) and/or LH (V or higher) to FRA and LH to JNB and use the GPUs you have. Fly mid-week and as long as there is nothing big going you should clear the upgrade, as there are 3 flights ORD<->FRA and an Airbus 380 flying FRA<->JNB. Again, the 1K desk can help. You will need to order paper GPUs for any LH legs in advance, so you need to know the itinerary before ordering.

As others suggested, you can mix and match UA, LH and other Star Alliance carriers to use GPUs on discount coach and miles on full-fare coach. It may take some digging (and/or time with the 1K line or other savvy travel agent) but it is highly likely you will find an upgradeable itinerary.
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Old Apr 28, 13, 9:30 pm
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OP indicates travel will be in the next week or so, very short notice and will likely make clearing GPUs more challenging. i like the idea of a Y fare and *A award upgrade for that reason. the ticket will likely be expensive on such short notice anyways, making the full Y easier to justify, and the opening of short notice saver biz award windows will help the OP as well.

i would also encourage OP to take a casual glance at biz class fares, since on short notice the difference in cost may be smaller. OP, can you be reimbursed for the cost of coach but buy outright biz yourself and be out of pocket for the $$ difference?
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Old Apr 29, 13, 12:51 am
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Originally Posted by ddrost1 View Post
i would also encourage OP to take a casual glance at biz class fares, since on short notice the difference in cost may be smaller. OP, can you be reimbursed for the cost of coach but buy outright biz yourself and be out of pocket for the $$ difference?
That's a great suggestion which I know many people follow. You get a quote from your travel department for Y and then purchase a C ticket. My idiot travel people make me do it even if I'm staying the weekend somewhere and adding on a few days on my own dime.
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Old Apr 29, 13, 12:59 am
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Your company will reimburse for coach tickets, but do you actually have to buy the coach tickets? Can you book the whole itinerary in J using miles, then pocket the cash that it would have cost you to do it in Y?
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Old Apr 29, 13, 3:00 am
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Originally Posted by Jorgen View Post
Your company will reimburse for coach tickets, but do you actually have to buy the coach tickets? Can you book the whole itinerary in J using miles, then pocket the cash that it would have cost you to do it in Y?


This would be the best policy ever if my company only allowed coach fares
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Old Apr 29, 13, 3:47 am
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Book a B fare through FRA on LH/UA and use Star Alliance upgrade with miles on the JNB/FRA and GPU on ORD-FRA.
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Old Apr 29, 13, 7:08 am
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Originally Posted by ddrost1 View Post
OP indicates travel will be in the next week or so, very short notice and will likely make clearing GPUs more challenging. i like the idea of a Y fare and *A award upgrade for that reason. the ticket will likely be expensive on such short notice anyways, making the full Y easier to justify, and the opening of short notice saver biz award windows will help the OP as well.

i would also encourage OP to take a casual glance at biz class fares, since on short notice the difference in cost may be smaller. OP, can you be reimbursed for the cost of coach but buy outright biz yourself and be out of pocket for the $$ difference?
Agree, getting the paper GPUs for LH in time and clearing UA upgrades will be difficult this close-in.

If he can indeed show screen captures for the coach fare and then get reimbursed and just cover the difference, that would likely be the ideal situation. It depends on his company though, as I know the way we book and expense travel that wouldn't fly.

For OP, I would recommend NOT connecting in Lagos... just don't do it when there are plenty of other viable options.

I just flew JFK->JNB non-stop in coach a few months ago and it wasn't too bad. So, perhaps just suck it up and fly ORD-JFK-JNB in coach if you have no other options.
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Old May 8, 13, 7:09 am
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OP here. Thanks everybody for the responses, its good to know what to look out for.
I ended up doing ORD->IAD->FRA->JNB. ORD->IAD was a PN automatic upgrade and I used a GPU on the IAD->FRA segment. It was too close in to try and get a paper GPU for the final leg, but I ended up with an A380 row to myself. By far the highlight was the ten hour layover I spent in the Z terminal Senator Lounge in FRA. I ate more hot pretzels and mousse than may have been professional. All this ended up being costing under $1250 which my company is happy paying.

Thanks again!
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Old May 8, 13, 7:18 am
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Glad this worked out, but one approach to company policies is to obtain the quote for the fare the company is willing to pay and print that out. Whether that's Y or something below that. Then figure out the routing and class of service you want and what that will cost.

It's often possible, if done at purchase, to fly in the higher class of service for not that much. Impossible to tell whether "not that much" is "too much" for a given individual. You buy the more expensive fare and submit the receipt + quote for reimburseable for reimbursement. The company pays what it should and you fly for a premium you are willing to pay.

Most corporate software will acommodate a second personal CC for this purpose. Some companies choose not to permit this for their own weird reasons, but that's an employer-employee matter.
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Old May 8, 13, 7:27 am
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Upgrading CHI to JNB when being reimbursed for Coach

With ten hours at FRA you didn't venture out of the airport? Even to nearby Köln?
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