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Odds of some sort of upgrade available SFO - FRA and LHR-SFO

Odds of some sort of upgrade available SFO - FRA and LHR-SFO

Old May 24, 17, 7:33 pm
  #1  
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Odds of some sort of upgrade available SFO - FRA and LHR-SFO

(mods, I couldn't find an appropriate uber-thread searching on my phone but if there is one I missed feel free to merge this)

I've got to fly SFO-FRA in mid-June, returning LHR-SFO near the end of the month. Unfortunately my company will only pay for coach, so both are V-class fares and thanks to less travel I'm a lowly silver these days. I really want to avoid flying these legs in coach, but the price difference is about $6K round trip.

Anyone with more experience on these legs want to speculate on the chances of either a miles and co-pay upgrade OR a cash at check-in upgrade offer being available both ways?

I know it's prime summer travel season to Europe, and there are no guarantees, but if that odds are pretty good of getting a $1500-2000 upgrade offer at check in, or a miles upgrade clearing before that I'll roll the dice. On the other hand, if both are those are very unlikely then I'll just spend the $6K up front and not worry about it. I just don't want to waste a couple of grand if the odds of a paid upgrade are very good (difference between 2K each way to upgrade vs 6K more to just buy the J class ticket).

Thanks for any thoughts/opinions.

Bob

Last edited by bpratt; May 24, 17 at 7:40 pm Reason: Hit submit too soon
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Old May 24, 17, 7:35 pm
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If you pay for it, 100%. If you're not planning on paying for it, you're wasting everyone's time by posting a question that's bereft of the information needed to respond.
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Old May 24, 17, 7:48 pm
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Originally Posted by 5khours View Post
If you pay for it, 100%. If you're not planning on paying for it, you're wasting everyone's time by posting a question that's bereft of the information needed to respond.
not sure what other info you would like to know. I'm trying to get anecdotal feedback on the chances of being offered time of checkin upgrades and/or having mileage upgrades clear (for a silver on a V fare) on two specific routes, SFO - FRA and LHR - SFO. The leg to FRA is on a Sunday and the return from LHR is on a Monday, but I didn't think that was terribly important to the question.
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Old May 24, 17, 7:54 pm
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Originally Posted by bpratt View Post
not sure what other info you would like to know. I'm trying to get anecdotal feedback on the chances of being offered time of checkin upgrades and/or having mileage upgrades clear (for a silver on a V fare) on two specific routes, SFO - FRA and LHR - SFO. The leg to FRA is on a Sunday and the return from LHR is on a Monday, but I didn't think that was terribly important to the question.
Actually, the day of week is exceedingly important in terms of clearing upgrades, but I think that response was written while you were editing your question.

The best answer I can give you is, that if J doesn't fill, you'll get a buy-up option at check-in, and if R space is available on your flight, a miles + copay upgrade would clear immediately. Besides that, I'd monitor the price of the ticket and see if it goes on sale, at which point you can call United and change to business. (Refer to GG BUYUP and they should waive the co-pay when buying up to a higher cabin).
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Old May 24, 17, 7:57 pm
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Buy ups are likely to be ~1k or higher. At the time of booking and until checkin the upgrade cost is likely to be the fare differential. At T24 you might get a cheaper offer but I wouldn't expect it much lower than $900 each way.

These can be hard routes to upgrade in general. Do you know how to look for "R" inventory? That is the fare bucket that your mileage supported upgrade would clear into if available.
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Old May 24, 17, 7:59 pm
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Originally Posted by SFO28L View Post
These can be hard routes to upgrade in general.
SFO-FRA generally one of the toughest upgrades in the system.
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Old May 24, 17, 7:59 pm
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SFO-FRA is one of the toughest upgrades in the system. I do it several times a year. For your status, it'll be almost impossible, certainly on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and June is even worse. When an upgrade for cash is offered, it's often but not always $829 one way, but then often only at T-40 minutes, when usually only lousy middle seats in the section of 4 are open. And at check-in up to T-1 hour, often it's $2400. In summary, "don't try this at home." If the upgrade is really important, add 4 hours to your trip by finding upgrade space open at time of purchase via a connecting city like ORD or IAD. Even then you're unlikely to be able to confirm J on the domestic connecting segment.
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Old May 24, 17, 8:04 pm
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Thanks all. That makes sense, especially the comment about the first reply coming while I was editing, since I did hit submit before finishing my question, so that first few minutes there was in fact no useful info provided.

I think the current J fare is already close to Full J ($8800 for the open jaw round trip). Sounds like my best bet is to just monitor it and buy up either IF I see a sale price under 6K or so round trip or if the cabin is close to getting full, and not bother waiting for a check-in upgrade or miles to clear.

That's what I needed to know.

Thanks all
Bob
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Old May 24, 17, 8:40 pm
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If you are willing to up-fare the ticket out of pocket for a total (including original basis) ticket cost of $4-5k, I would look for P space as you should be able to find flights in that range. If not, wait and keep looking.

The odds of being offered a buyup of less than $2,000 each way when you check in are extremely high.
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Old May 24, 17, 9:55 pm
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My recent experience is quite different. My only Eastbound bookings from SFO with R space available at booking have been to FRA - three times so far, two on Tuesdays and one on a Saturday. My flight yesterday from LHR had 12 non-rev upgrades and still one empty seat in Business.
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Old May 24, 17, 11:23 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
My recent experience is quite different. My only Eastbound bookings from SFO with R space available at booking have been to FRA - three times so far, two on Tuesdays and one on a Saturday. My flight yesterday from LHR had 12 non-rev upgrades and still one empty seat in Business.
This is a very weird time. In May the TATL schedule ramps up (capacity adds usually, ex. 901 becomes a 744 and gains 4F/12J) while demand for premium cabin really doesn't. I basically never miss a TATL GPU in May even on SFO-LHR/FRA. But by mid-June, that usually goes away.

I would add though that, unusually, I've had amazing success finding R on SFO-FRA in August on Sundays and Mondays (much better than prior years).
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Old May 24, 17, 11:35 pm
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Originally Posted by sfo789 View Post
I basically never miss a TATL GPU in May even on SFO-LHR/FRA.
FWIW, UA 58 SFO-FRA this FR was wide open in R a couple of days ago.
And 926 shows R1IN1I1 at this time.
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Old May 24, 17, 11:48 pm
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Advance purchase fares SFO-LHR mid-week mid-June were varying wildly in last two weeks, and got as low as about $3k round-trip in Polaris Business. Then you'd tack on a flight to FRA. Unfortunately, the cheap fares have gone for mid-June, but $3200 round-trip is available later in June.
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Old May 25, 17, 12:03 am
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Advance purchase fares SFO-LHR mid-week mid-June were varying wildly in last two weeks, and got as low as about $3k round-trip in Polaris Business. Then you'd tack on a flight to FRA. Unfortunately, the cheap fares have gone for mid-June, but $3200 round-trip is available later in June.
yup, unfortunately I'm date constrained and have to fly out on a specific Sunday and back on Monday two weeks later, so dollars will have to stand in for schedule flexibility :-)
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Old Jun 1, 17, 12:53 pm
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in case anyone finds this, I ended up getting a reasonable (relatively speaking) cost to upfare the ticket and not have to take the long odds of upgrades clearing.

The most curious thing I found was that on the return LHR - SFO the incremental cost to upfare from J to F was only $229. Kinda a no-brainer there, so I get to ride in the nose of a 747 one last time before United retires them.

Thanks for all the suggestions and tips.
Bob
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