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Flying up front:Upgrade fee may be more or less then up-faring/purchase directly,Why?

Flying up front:Upgrade fee may be more or less then up-faring/purchase directly,Why?

Old Sep 24, 2023, 2:02 pm
  #1  
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Flying up front:Upgrade fee may be more or less then up-faring/purchase directly,Why?

I read that it's usually cheaper to upgrade to first class after you have reserved an economy seat instead of reserving a first class seat at the beginning. So I reserved a $475 economy seat (the first class seat was $1,050). I then tried to upgrade my seat to first class but was given the upgrade price of 1,002. Which means the total cost of my first class seat would have been $1477. I watched the price for the next several days. The first class ticket fluctuated about $10-$20 but the upgrade price stayed the same. I then texted United and asked for a free upgrade (I figured why not, LOL!). They declined but eventually (after connecting me to 3 different people) agreed to give me a first class ticket for a total of $920. Not sure why I read in several articles that to upgrade after reserving will be cheaper.
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Old Sep 24, 2023, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by ceny
I read that it's usually cheaper to upgrade to first class after you have reserved an economy seat instead of reserving a first class seat at the beginning. So I reserved a $475 economy seat (the first class seat was $1,050). I then tried to upgrade my seat to first class but was given the upgrade price of 1,002. Which means the total cost of my first class seat would have been $1477. I watched the price for the next several days. The first class ticket fluctuated about $10-$20 but the upgrade price stayed the same. I then texted United and asked for a free upgrade (I figured why not, LOL!). They declined but eventually (after connecting me to 3 different people) agreed to give me a first class ticket for a total of $920. Not sure why I read in several articles that to upgrade after reserving will be cheaper.
This can depend on lots of things, including the original cost of the ticket, any changes in fare class availability between the time you booked and the time when you're trying to upgrade, and whatever first class offers the airline might want to make to entice possible upgraders.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 3:50 am
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There are no guarantees the upgrade offers will be less than simply paying fare difference. If you think about it, if this was always true and predictable, it could potentially cannibalize their FC fare prices. The main differences of the online upgrade offers is that you can upgrade individual segments on trips that involve a connection (not possible on a upfare as generally all segments in each direction will be on a single fare component), and they don't touch the underlying ticket (not an issue if you buy your own tickets, but it can be important for people on agency issued tickets when flying for work).

I just flew UA roundtrip on DTW-MSP last week and the upgrade offers were consistently $80 for DTW-ORD leg and $90 for ORD-MSP in each direction up until a week or so before flights. The nominal fare difference between Main and First on UA DTW-MSP fares is currently $130 each way if you upfare at time of purchase (it can be more if there is limited inventory in FC fare classes, but outside of that it should generally be $130). So clearly if one wanted to upgrade both legs in a direction, the $130 upfare option is a better deal than paying $170 for the online upgrade option on both flights. But if you only want to upgrade one leg, the online upgrade offer would be a better deal since you can't just upfare a single leg when there are multiple legs on one fare component (you can upfare each direction independently, since a roundtrip has separate fare components each way, but not individual flight segments).

Last edited by xliioper; Sep 25, 2023 at 4:04 am
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 8:11 am
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Originally Posted by xliioper
There are no guarantees the upgrade offers will be less than simply paying fare difference.
Quite the opposite: UA calculates domestic upgrade prices based on the differential from Y to F. This can sometimes result in a discount to the current F fare because it calculates based on the theoretical difference rather than the actual differential.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 10:03 am
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I find it to be rarely cheaper tbh. That said, depends on what you need it for. Gave advise to a colleague last week; mother flying back and now (after buying too much stuff) has 2 bags at 70 lbs. Told him to upgrade BOS-EWR for cheap and not the entire overseas flight ... that'll be enough to get the bag allowance and cheaper than buying excess luggage.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 11:28 am
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Originally Posted by ceny
.... Not sure why I read in several articles that to upgrade after reserving will be cheaper.
Just like all the articles you read about dressing nicely and ask for a free upgrades, all these writers in the popular press and many boggers have little real understanding / experience for what they write. They write the headline based to sech you in and get clicks and really have no clue on what is happening.
Originally Posted by cfischer
I find it to be rarely cheaper tbh. ..
First rule is never act until you have checked upfaring vs cash upgrades. Neither is cheaper 100% of the time. For me it tends to run very slightly in favor of cash upgrades but other times the cash upgrade price is ridiculous. Second rules is check more than once can change quickly.
Domestic does seem to be linked to FCM pricing most so then international.

Just got a nice TATL 12 hour upgrade for $600 and in two days later the Polaris cabin was sold out.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 12:26 pm
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The upgrade ("sticker" type) should nearly always be equal or more than the difference in fare on the original booking date. I can think of a few edge cases where this isn't true, but the vast majority of the time buying F outright should be cheaper - fare difference won't be less than the differential unless there is an unmatched K fare or a typo in either the fare table or the upgrade offers.

Note this only applies to differentially priced routes (most or maybe all First-marketed routes), and not to Polaris markets. The differentials used for the upsells to Polaris don't seem to have any direct relation to the fare table.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 12:42 pm
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Nearly 100% of my HNL-LAX or HNL-SFO or vice versa buyups are $350 regardless of the F price which is always cheaper than buying F outright.
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Kacee
Quite the opposite: UA calculates domestic upgrade prices based on the differential from Y to F. This can sometimes result in a discount to the current F fare because it calculates based on the theoretical difference rather than the actual differential.
Not my experience. Here are a couple fare differentials on DTW-MSP (L and T fares) from EF. The $80 and $90 seat upgrade offers (total $170) did not match the $130 fare diff (which can't be split across segments due to being single fare component).




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Old Sep 25, 2023, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by xliioper
Not my experience. Here are a couple fare differentials on DTW-MSP (L and T fares) from EF. The $80 and $90 seat upgrade offers (total $170) did not match the $130 fare diff (which can't be split across segments due to being single fare component).
It's per-segment.

Not sure if you were going into Z instead of P, or if the tables are using the differentials to BE. MSP-ORD is a $60 differential ($90 to BE) and DTW-ORD is $50 ($80).
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Old Sep 25, 2023, 3:41 pm
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Originally Posted by xliioper
Not my experience.
Really? What domestic route have you purchased an upgrade that wasn't calculated based on the fare differential? As findark explained, it's per segment based on the differential at the date of purchase. For a given route, it's therefore fixed, but the actual pricing will depend on inventory. For example, for SFO-PHX, the current lowest differential is $140, which is what the upgrade will price at if there's P available, regardless how much you paid for your ticket.
Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer
Nearly 100% of my HNL-LAX or HNL-SFO or vice versa buyups are $350 regardless of the F price which is always cheaper than buying F outright.
I've seen this on HNL-SFO as well, though IME this is only for the immediate post-purchase upgrade.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 1:44 pm
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Buying up to First from Coach

Why is there a big difference in what it cost you to buy up from Coach to First on the UA website? I had a coach flight booked on UA from EWR-BOS that I paid about $90 for. If I go to my itinerary and click on "Upgrade Flight" it says that UA wants $80 to upgrade my flight. Currently, the flight I'm on is still $90 for coach, $120 for First. A difference of $30, not $80.

So I clicked on "Change Flight" instead and brought up the same day & same flight, First Class shown as the $120. So I changed to First Class for $30 difference. In the past I would have called and asked to buy up to First and it would have cost the same $30.

Why is UA trying to hose us if we click to Upgrade? $30 I will pay to upgrade an hour flight, $80 no.
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 1:47 pm
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Originally Posted by BobOscar
Why is there a big difference in what it cost you to buy up from Coach to First on the UA website? I had a coach flight booked on UA from EWR-BOS that I paid about $90 for. If I go to my itinerary and click on "Upgrade Flight" it says that UA wants $80 to upgrade my flight. Currently, the flight I'm on is still $90 for coach, $120 for First. A difference of $30, not $80.

So I clicked on "Change Flight" instead and brought up the same day & same flight, First Class shown as the $120. So I changed to First Class for $30 difference. In the past I would have called and asked to buy up to First and it would have cost the same $30.

Why is UA trying to hose us if we click to Upgrade? $30 I will pay to upgrade an hour flight, $80 no.
Don’t twist yourself into knots over airline pricing. You did the right thing.

UA is just fishing for suckers. There’s an ocean of them…
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 2:48 pm
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH
Don’t twist yourself into knots over airline pricing. You did the right thing.

UA is just fishing for suckers. There’s an ocean of them…
You'll never make it to GS with that attitude!!!!!!!!!!
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Old Oct 11, 2023, 3:41 pm
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Delta does the same thing. I paid $199 to “change flight” vs the ~$350 they advertised for an upgrade.
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