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More expensive economy ticket = cheaper upgrade to 1st?

More expensive economy ticket = cheaper upgrade to 1st?

Old Jul 14, 18, 5:19 pm
  #1  
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More expensive economy ticket = cheaper upgrade to 1st?

I am going to a conference which will pay for an economy ticket for me. I'd like to fly on the Polaris 757, which there are a number of daily flights for from Boston on my route. My plan is to upgrade from economy to first. Questions:

1. If they buy me an economy ticket, can I immediately upgrade it to first by paying the actual fare difference?

2. If so, given the same first class price, say $1300, would I pay less for the upgrade if the original economy ticket was more? ie, if first is $1300 on 3 different flights, and economy costs $400, $500, or $600 on those flights, should I ask the conference to buy the $600 economy ticket since the upgrade will only be $700, or does it not work this way?
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Old Jul 14, 18, 5:48 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by dpakman91 View Post
I'd like to fly on the Polaris 757, which there are a number of daily flights for from Boston on my route
If you're talking about BOS-SFO, note that while it's a lie-flat seat, you won't get the full Polaris service.

Originally Posted by dpakman91 View Post
1. If they buy me an economy ticket, can I immediately upgrade it to first by paying the actual fare difference?
Yes. However, UA will often offer a discounted upgrade price, either immediately upon ticketing, from the Manage Reservation screen, or during check-in.

Originally Posted by dpakman91 View Post
2. If so, given the same first class price, say $1300, would I pay less for the upgrade if the original economy ticket was more? ie, if first is $1300 on 3 different flights
UA often tries to keep a minimum difference between economy and first, although, yes, you will sometimes see this. When this is the case, the full buy-up to first will be smaller for the higher fare, although the discounted upgrade price probably won't be

Originally Posted by dpakman91 View Post
should I ask the conference to buy the $600 economy ticket since the upgrade will only be $700[?]
That depends upon what kind of impression you'd like to make on the conference hosts.
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Old Jul 14, 18, 5:53 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post

That depends upon what kind of impression you'd like to make on the conference hosts.
Haha, of course I wouldn't be explaining it in these terms, I'd just request the flight I want
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Old Jul 14, 18, 6:10 pm
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Depends on which of UA's several buy-up/upgrade schemes you're using. The cost of first over economy could be the same, more, or less on the more expensive flight in economy.
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Old Jul 14, 18, 6:49 pm
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Originally Posted by dpakman91 View Post
ie, if first is $1300 on 3 different flights, and economy costs $400, $500, or $600 on those flights, should I ask the conference to buy the $600 economy ticket since the upgrade will only be $700, or does it not work this way?
Well, based on the conference policy on travel, maybe you could. Most corporations have relatively stricter policies these days than they used to, and if they’re only willing to pay economy, you can bet they didn’t intend you to buy a more expensive economy ticket so you could personally get a cheaper upgrade price. If that’s the true reason you’re buying a more expensive ticket, then I’d say you probably should be referred to some sort of ethics training.

But if there are legitimate reasons for buying the pricier ticket that match with the travel policy (I.e, timing is more convenient, nonstop vs. one-stop, daytime vs. redeye, etc.) then that is obviously something to take into consideration. Probably best to discuss the specifics with the party buying if it wasn’t clear in the guidance you’ve received.

To be honest, if I found out someone working for me bought a more expensive ticket for strictly personal reasons like you are suggesting above, well, they likely wouldn’t be working for me much longer. Not just for that specific decision, but it would make me doubt if their motivations of other decisions were made for proper business reasons.
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Old Jul 14, 18, 10:26 pm
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Do you know how the conference will be booking? Through a corporate travel portal like Concur or direct? I'm more familiar with AA than UA, but sometimes who sold the ticket affects your options. I paid AA a fee once to "take over" the ticket plus the fare difference in a similar situation. I never considered, until after, what that might have done if Carlson Waglit (the corporate TA) needed to adjust it.

Best would be if they'll just pay a stipend and allow you to book yourself and if they aren't using a corporate portal, that may be worth asking about.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Gig103 View Post
Best would be if they'll just pay a stipend and allow you to book yourself and if they aren't using a corporate portal, that may be worth asking about.
This is certainly worth asking about, even if they have a corporate TA or use a portal like Concur.

For the one client* we have where we have to use their TA, the TA will build a "benchmark" fare which is the lowest logical economy fare for the specified dates/city pairs specified with a small buffer that depends on the flight length.

You can accept the itinerary, suggest an alternate itinerary within the buffer, or go wild (e.g. buy business class, add side trips, etc.) -- in the first two cases the ticket is booked by the TA and billed to the org directly, in the latter the TA will charge the fare and their service fee to your personal CC and the org cuts a check to reimburse the "benchmark" fare value + the TA service fee.

[*-Most of our clients see a turnkey price for our services including travel, this one we donate our services and indirect costs, but they're responsible any direct costs]
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