Advice for SFO-JNB May 2024

Old Jul 4, 2023, 6:26 pm
  #1  
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Advice for SFO-JNB May 2024

Hi, long time Flyertalk reader but first post, looking for collective advice. Husband and I (and 2 friends) are traveling SFO-ZRH-JNB (May 4) and return JNB-EWR-SFO (May 22). I'm a bargain hunter and don't mind riding in E+, husband REALLY wants to be in J for JNB-EWR leg. We have W fares ($1376 r/t, which I thought was a very good fare)- and have miles and/or PP to use, but he really really wants to be in J for that flight. Right now I can buy up to PP for $500 and J for $2050. Any experience on upgrades on this route, whether I am better off waiting and see if the price goes down, counting on PP likely clearing, or if I should just buy up to J for him right now? Is this a route that normally fills up? Thanks everyone.
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Old Jul 4, 2023, 6:40 pm
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May be a moot point if you've already purchased but I've seen some extraordinary business fares ex-JNB on carriers that are worth it (e.g. Qatar in q-suites) or first with Emirates. On a trip that long might be worth the splurge, but I hear you on the bargain hunter front.

In any event, if he really wants to be in J you should buy up - "WFBF". The upgrade lottery is a fools errand these days if you have to be on a particular flight on a particular day. Even if you find a day with really low loads, a few days of bad weather and cancellations the day before or other carriers having issues can fill up the cabin out of nowhere.
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Old Jul 4, 2023, 8:45 pm
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Upgrades are rare and uncertain.
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Old Jul 4, 2023, 9:05 pm
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kellydey Welcome to FT
Originally Posted by kellydey
Hi, long time Flyertalk reader but first post, looking for collective advice. Husband and I (and 2 friends) are traveling SFO-ZRH-JNB (May 4) and return JNB-EWR-SFO (May 22). I'm a bargain hunter and don't mind riding in E+, husband REALLY wants to be in J for JNB-EWR leg. We have W fares ($1376 r/t, which I thought was a very good fare)- and have miles and/or PP to use, but he really really wants to be in J for that flight. Right now I can buy up to PP for $500 and J for $2050. Any experience on upgrades on this route, whether I am better off waiting and see if the price goes down, counting on PP likely clearing, or if I should just buy up to J for him right now? Is this a route that normally fills up? Thanks everyone.
ZRH-JNB would not be on UA aircraft. Swiss? Makes upgrades with ff mile a magnitude harder. If a UA codeshare on LX as magnitude harder again.
JNB-EWR on UA
Pay the $$ now if you want to be in a better seat.
JNB/CPT-EU/USA are long routes that passengers will pay the full price for business class.
People flying on the employers dime (=corporate TA) often only confirm/book a few days before travel.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zurich_Airport
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._R._...tional_Airport
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Old Jul 4, 2023, 9:34 pm
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Assuming this was UA ticketed, obviously you can use PP miles on UA operated flights, you may be able to bid or get upgrade offer for the Swiss operated flights (expect $800+ each leg), but there isn't a UA mileage upgrade route on those legs. Is SFO-SRH UA or Swiss operated? Star alliance upgrade would require up-fare to expensive fare classes so is not considered viable route.
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Old Jul 4, 2023, 11:44 pm
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Thanks everyone for the advice- just to clarify, the routing we chose on purpose- to have a day in Zurich and break up the trip. Yes, ZRH-JNB is on Swiss. On the return we wanted to take the quickest/most direct routing, hence JNB-EWR-SFO. Everyone’s happy riding in E+ on every segment, except husband on the 16-hr JNB-EWR only. It sounds like the consensus is to just buy it now, rather than hoping for an upgrade which may not come, or a lower upgrade cost which is not likely to happen.
Thanks for the benefit of your experience, and my husband will be very happy to have his confirmed lie flat seat.
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Old Jul 4, 2023, 11:55 pm
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Lately at least (in my experience) the JNB/CPT UA routes have been pretty business-heavy so I wouldn't count on an upgrade. I suggest booking/upgrading to PP if possible - thus balancing an upgraded experience vs. cost vs. upgrade potential (which is better if you are already in paid PP)
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Old Jul 5, 2023, 5:35 am
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Originally Posted by kellydey
Thanks everyone for the advice- just to clarify, the routing we chose on purpose- to have a day in Zurich and break up the trip. Yes, ZRH-JNB is on Swiss. On the return we wanted to take the quickest/most direct routing, hence JNB-EWR-SFO. Everyone’s happy riding in E+ on every segment, except husband on the 16-hr JNB-EWR only. It sounds like the consensus is to just buy it now, rather than hoping for an upgrade which may not come, or a lower upgrade cost which is not likely to happen.
Thanks for the benefit of your experience, and my husband will be very happy to have his confirmed lie flat seat.
with a 1-day layover in ZRH your ZHR-JNB flight should have an LX flight number. With that you can look for upgrade pricing at Swiss.com or bid for an upgrade as well. Is it worth it? You'll have to decide.
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Old Jul 5, 2023, 5:46 am
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What’s the cost of plain re-ticketing the return in J? I’ve been seeing Z and P fares to/from CPT (haven’t followed JBB) with a OW price differential ~$1700 over econ. To get a cheaper differential you may need to change your EWR-SFO leg to one with matching inventory—if UA would even consider Z/P on that PS route this far out.
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Old Jul 5, 2023, 7:32 am
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Originally Posted by prometa
What’s the cost of plain re-ticketing the return in J? I’ve been seeing Z and P fares to/from CPT (haven’t followed JBB) with a OW price differential ~$1700 over econ. To get a cheaper differential you may need to change your EWR-SFO leg to one with matching inventory—if UA would even consider Z/P on that PS route this far out.
To reticket (or to have bought originally) J for just the JNB-EWR segment (which is the only one we care about upgrading) would have increased the total fare by $2350. Post-ticketing, it's $2050 to buy business upgrade for that segment, so still a better deal than reticketing.
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Old Jul 5, 2023, 7:39 am
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Originally Posted by kellydey
To reticket (or to have bought originally) J for just the JNB-EWR segment (which is the only one we care about upgrading) would have increased the total fare by $2350. Post-ticketing, it's $2050 to buy business upgrade for that segment, so still a better deal than reticketing.
Upfare is non-refundable. So, please do not change plan. The less risky move is to buy up to Premium Plus for you and your husband and apply for PlusPoints upgrades. In case that upgrade fails, you and your husband will still sit together. So, you will have some risks and some rewards.
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Old Jul 5, 2023, 8:22 am
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Originally Posted by kellydey
I'm a bargain hunter and don't mind riding in E+, husband REALLY wants to be in J for JNB-EWR leg. Thanks everyone.
What E+ seats do you have on the ZRH-JNB flight?
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Old Jul 5, 2023, 8:47 am
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Originally Posted by TomMM
What E+ seats do you have on the ZRH-JNB flight?
We paid Swiss $127/ea for the exit row.
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