GS GPU & Miles -- Best way to Upgrade 6 to LHR

Old May 28, 18, 3:37 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 169
GS GPU & Miles -- Best way to Upgrade 6 to LHR

Hi,

New to flying UAL. I'm Global Services and have 10 GPUs, 4 RPUs, and roughly 750,000 award miles.

I would like to take 6 people (me, in-laws, wife, and my 2 kids) to LHR in J. What's the best way to do this with spending minimal cash out of pock?

Thank you!
CDSEA is online now  
Old May 28, 18, 4:04 pm
  #2  
sb3
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: SFO
Programs: UA-1K
Posts: 304
Originally Posted by CDSEA View Post
Hi,

New to flying UAL. I'm Global Services and have 10 GPUs, 4 RPUs, and roughly 750,000 award miles.

I would like to take 6 people (me, in-laws, wife, and my 2 kids) to LHR in J. What's the best way to do this with spending minimal cash out of pock?

Thank you!
A few questions - when do you want to go, where are you trying to leave from, do you all need to be on the same flights? With that asked, the RPUs aren't usable US to an international destination, if you have to buy a ticket(s), make sure one is yours. To use the GPUs, you'll need to look for PN>0 and fare of W and above. To use miles to upgrade, there is a co-pay but you can purchase a lower base fare.
sb3 is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 5:29 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NYC, LON
Programs: *
Posts: 1,930
Originally Posted by CDSEA View Post
Hi,

New to flying UAL. I'm Global Services and have 10 GPUs, 4 RPUs, and roughly 750,000 award miles.

I would like to take 6 people (me, in-laws, wife, and my 2 kids) to LHR in J. What's the best way to do this with spending minimal cash out of pock?

Thank you!
Six people is tough - even when paying. You would need a lot of flexibility. What month of the year are you going?

Out of curiosity, how are you GS and have 750,000 miles when you are new to UAL?
ani90 is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 6:15 pm
  #4  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.85MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 47,622
Originally Posted by ani90 View Post
.... Out of curiosity, how are you GS and have 750,000 miles when you are new to UAL?
One year as GS/1K and $50K PQD will be 550K miles
WineCountryUA is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 6:46 pm
  #5  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: GVA (Greater Vancouver Area)
Programs: DREAD Gold; UA 1.021MM; Bonvoy Au-197; PCC Elite+; CWC Au-197; CCC Elite; WoH Dis
Posts: 49,332
Originally Posted by ani90 View Post
how are you GS and have 750,000 miles when you are new to UAL?
Using an MP credit card for business can garner a ton of points. And there are ways to get GS without flying at all.
mahasamatman is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 6:56 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Programs: United GS, Marriott Ambassador Elite
Posts: 232
Worth noting that there is a $100 airport tax associated with business class upgrades through LHR. I don't recall if it's outbound only.
supergabe is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 7:56 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Rowley, MA / Edgartown, MA / Christiansted, St. Croix (USVI)
Programs: UA LT GS/4.8MM, Marriott LT Titanium, IHG Platinum, Global Entry, TSA Pre✓, Korea SeS, APEC
Posts: 502
With 6 paid J seats your looking at, assuming $4K+ per seat, a minimum of $25K so any fractional savings would be good. As noted above getting 6 seats is a long shot to LHR. Without the details of from where and on what date everything is just speculation. My only generic advice is do your planning early.
John Aldeborgh is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 8:04 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 169
Originally Posted by sb3 View Post
A few questions - when do you want to go, where are you trying to leave from, do you all need to be on the same flights? With that asked, the RPUs aren't usable US to an international destination, if you have to buy a ticket(s), make sure one is yours. To use the GPUs, you'll need to look for PN>0 and fare of W and above. To use miles to upgrade, there is a co-pay but you can purchase a lower base fare.
Originating in Seattle. Can go any time in 2019.

Originally Posted by ani90 View Post
Six people is tough - even when paying. You would need a lot of flexibility. What month of the year are you going?

Out of curiosity, how are you GS and have 750,000 miles when you are new to UAL?
Stopped flying AA just over a year ago. Most of my trips max out at 75,000 miles and cost $5000 to $7000 (approx).

Haven't used UA for leisure yet.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; May 28, 18 at 8:12 pm Reason: merging consecutive posts by same member
CDSEA is online now  
Old May 28, 18, 9:04 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SFO
Programs: UA GS 1.8MM / UC / AS Gold 75K / Marriott Plat / SPG Plat
Posts: 530
I booked 7 of us this summer from SFO to Africa via FRA on the outbound and ZRH on the return. Basically, the GS deal of the century...

I purchased two $4k J fares (my SO is also GS), which allowed us to open up two saver J award seats for my in-laws (IN class). I then booked the other three in Economy Saver (XN Class) and applied 6 GPUs, which were waitlisted. They cleared around 48 hours after I waitlisted them in both directions, which seemed like a miracle. The flights were wide open, traveling midweek (important for LHR, FRA, and ZRH ... group upgrades much less likely to clear Sat/Sun/Mon in these markets), and fare class inventory showed P9, which Ive found to be the best possible indicator of upgrades clearing on a route.

Bottom line it can be done, if you are prepared to be flexible and sweat it out a bit. Call the GS line and a helpful and patient agent will help you look through options with you. From SEA options via ORD will likely work out best.
greenpau is offline  
Old May 28, 18, 10:06 pm
  #10  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10,236
Originally Posted by supergabe View Post
Worth noting that there is a $100 airport tax associated with business class upgrades through LHR. I don't recall if it's outbound only.
The Air Passenger Duty is applicable only to outbound flights. Someone looking to avoid it should consider returning from an airport in Ireland, Northern Ireland, or continental Europe.

Originally Posted by CDSEA View Post
Originating in Seattle. Can go any time in 2019.
Flexibility is key. As a GS, you're going to have options that most passengers don't, including the ability to upgrade award tickets and the ability to create award inventory. For example, for a roundtrip from Tuesday, April 9 through Thursday, April 18, there is PN9 / XN9 on one of the two daily SFO-LHR flights each day. PN is the booking class for GS upgrades, and XN is the booking class for economy award tickets for elites, including GS. You can see this booking class information by activating Expert Mode (there's a board thread on this). Note that if you're willing to risk sitting in coach for part of the way (e.g., SEA to SFO), you should search just the long-haul segments, since Expert Mode will only show you inventory that's available across the entire journey.

With "only" 10 GPUs, your cheapest path to getting six tickets would be five economy award tickets, supported with GPUs, plus one cash ticket upgraded with miles (yours). Each companion ticket would cost 60K miles RT plus 2 GPUs, taxes, and fees; your ticket would be a $720 base fare, $1100 in upgrade co-pays, and 40K miles total. Waiting until you earn two more GPUs would save $1800 at the cost of an extra 20K miles -- definitely worth it if that's feasible. You could book all of this today on those days -- no waitlisting needed. And those aren't cherry-picked dates; they're literally the first two I came up with. Weekdays are easier to upgrade than weekends.

Note that GPUs expire on January 31st, the second year after they're earned. In other words, if any of these GPUs are from calendar year 2017 spending, they'll expire on January 31, 2019. GPUs earned from 2018 spending will expire on January 31, 2020.
jsloan is offline  
Old May 29, 18, 12:04 am
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 169
Thank you for the insight. I'm hoping I can hit 12 GPUs in 2018.. That would take 250 PQMs? Might be tight. I'm currently getting just over 26,000 PQM a trip. I think I can do it. That would be six rount trips after I hit the 1K requal threshold for the year which I will do in mid June.

If I can do that, I get need to look for flights with R>/=6? and PN>/=6?
CDSEA is online now  
Old May 29, 18, 12:21 am
  #12  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10,236
Originally Posted by CDSEA View Post
Thank you for the insight. I'm hoping I can hit 12 GPUs in 2018.. That would take 250 PQMs? Might be tight. I'm currently getting just over 26,000 PQM a trip. I think I can do it. That would be six rount trips after I hit the 1K requal threshold for the year which I will do in mid June.

If I can do that, I get need to look for flights with R>/=6? and PN>/=6?
Yes, you'd get to 12 GPUs at 250K PQMs for the year. However, depending upon the timing of your trip, you may not need to get 12 in a single qualification year in order to use 12 on a trip. If your trip is in January of 2019, then you could use any of your existing GPUs plus any that you earn during 2018 qualification. On the other hand, if your trip is later in 2019, your existing GPUs may have expired, but you'd have all of the ones you earn during 2018 qualification plus any that you earn during 2019 prior to the trip. Also, UA has offered the ability for members who re-qualify for 1K or GS status to extend the expiration of 2 GPUs until April 30. This offer normally comes out in November -- but, of course, there's no guarantee they'll do it this year.

As long as you're GS, you're looking for PN space; R doesn't matter. If you were to drop down to 1K, you'd be looking for R space, and that would be a much tougher nut to crack -- it's rare to see R > 0 on the longest flights like SFO-Europe, but when it is there, it's normally R1 or R2. R6 is not particularly common.* And, 1K members can't apply GPUs to award tickets. So, it's definitely in your best interest to stay GS -- it's going to save you thousands of dollars (list price, anyway) on this one trip. But, that caveat aside, exactly -- you need PN >= 6.

Hope this helps.

* Unless you can plan your trip at the last minute; UA will sometimes open up a lot of last-minute R inventory when sales failed to meet their projections. But, even then, you might find R9 to get to LHR but no R space to get home.
jsloan is offline  
Old May 29, 18, 12:29 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL PM, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 9,949
Although PN9 is comparatively easy to find, it may also be helpful with only 10 GPU to book a paid Business ticket for yourself. If you do so, you may force another upgrade or Saver Business ticket to accompany your paid fare, dropping the requirement for PN4 XN4 on the flight.

This is definitely something that is plausible as GS and basically impossible as 1K.
findark is offline  
Old May 29, 18, 12:47 am
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10,236
Originally Posted by findark View Post
Although PN9 is comparatively easy to find, it may also be helpful with only 10 GPU to book a paid Business ticket for yourself.
Agreed, but I'd watch for a fare sale before doing something like that. I thought about suggesting that option, but OP asked to spend as little as possible, and a $4K+ P fare didn't seem like a bargain.

That said, if the overall price is acceptable to the OP, this may be the way to go, if only because that trip would count toward GS re-qualification.
jsloan is offline  
Old May 29, 18, 11:14 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SFO
Programs: UA GS 1.8MM / UC / AS Gold 75K / Marriott Plat / SPG Plat
Posts: 530
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
As long as you're GS, you're looking for PN space; R doesn't matter. If you were to drop down to 1K, you'd be looking for R space, and that would be a much tougher nut to crack.
One slight orientation on R space ... GS can convert R space to Saver J Award space (IN class) ... this can be very beneficial if you are short on GPUs, especially going into the new calendar year beyond January 31. For March 2019 I can see LHR flights with both PN and R class available ... OP could perhaps grab some of those seats now and others later with GPUs.
greenpau is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread