So, I won a trip to Australia on United...

 

Old Sep 18, 08, 8:29 am
  #1  
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So, I won a trip to Australia on United...

Hi! I just signed up since I've been lurking here for a few days now. I just recently won a trip to Sydney (WOOHOO!) from the US, and I leave in just about a week. One problem, though...

The prize pays for coach class airfare, which is great... except that I'm 6'5" and around 300lbs. Last time I flew anywhere it was a 6 hour flight, and it was excruciating. I'm not really sure how I'm going to survive a flight cross-country to LA first, and THEN a 14.5 hour flight to Sydney. The worst part is that I've already gone online to try and reserve the best seat possible for the flight, but nothing good is left... all the bulkheads, exit rows, and even most of the aisle seats are taken. I checked into maybe paying extra on my own for an upgrade to the "Economy Plus" seats, but all of them were apparently taken already! Just for kicks I looked into a business-class seat, and whoa... I can't believe how expensive they are! Almost $19,000 just for the LA to Sydney leg!

Anyway, I'd really like some advice from you frequent flyers. Is cramming me into a coach seat in row 50 or back on a 747-400 going to work? Even if it works, am I going to make the people sitting next to me miserable? I've been reading some threads on here about different ways to get upgrades and such... is there any chance I could snag one of those? My ticket is a "K" class fare though, which I don't think is very high on the totem pole.

Help, please!
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Old Sep 18, 08, 8:59 am
  #2  
 
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Have you tried calling UA and asking for a bulkhead seat? Do you have any status on UA or a *A carrier? Exit rows aren't usually released to the general flying population until 24 hours before. You might be able to get E+ then, too. I would call UA and explain the situation, perhaps they can put a note in your file about your request. If not, the best advice I can offer you is to check in as early as possible to try and get a better seat. Depending on how full Biz/First is, they may offer upgrades for price, but UA tends to be VERY expensive on these.

Obviously, if you have status, this whole process is easier.

Good luck. I do sympathize. I'm headed to SYD myself in November, and I'm a bit worried about seat pitch myself.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 9:24 am
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Congratulations, and welcome to FT!

This should probably be moved to the UA forum.

Originally Posted by Monolith2 View Post
I checked into maybe paying extra on my own for an upgrade to the "Economy Plus" seats, but all of them were apparently taken already!
When is your flight? In all likelihood, the E+ seats just "look" taken. Anyone without E+ access will see the seats as filled. You can call and ask if it is actually filled, or a friendly forum member with access can check for you. This is your cheapest bet for a significant increase in comfort, I think.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 9:27 am
  #4  
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Monolith2, welcome to FlyerTalk and congratulations on your good luck!

We're going to transfer this over to the United Airlines forum where the helpful folks will be able to give you some additional input.

Best of luck on the trip!

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Old Sep 18, 08, 9:36 am
  #5  
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Is UA sending you a 1099 for winning the trip?

Depending on what they're reporting, your tax implications, all combined with the coach class trip, no FF miles, etc., it may not be worth accepting the "free" trip to SYD.

Sorry to be so grim, but such is life with prizes. Many game show contestants ultimatley decline their prizes once they realize the burdens they come with.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 9:44 am
  #6  
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Congrats on your trip to SYD!! (my favorite city!)

Like the above posters have said, if you let us know which flight you're on, we can look at the available seats in E+ for you. Without status and if the flight isn't oversold, the chances of getting an E+ seat complimentary are slim. However, during check-in (either online or at the airport), you are usually offered to "buy-up" to E+, or better yet to Business Class. I don't know what E+ usually sells for, but Business upgrades are usually around $700-$800 one way.

I also recommend checking out seatguru.com and seatexpert.com for more details on UA's 747 seating.

Again, congrats on winning a trip to SYD!
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Old Sep 18, 08, 10:22 am
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Welcome to Flyer Talk and the United forum.

As alluded to above, there are quite likely Economy Plus seats available for your flight. You just can't see them online because the website only shows them to users who are "qualified" to purchase them. If you will provide date and time of your flight, we can look that up. Assuming there are seats available in E+, you may wish to consider purchasing the Economy Plus Access Pass from United. It is a bit pricey at $349.00 but will give you access to those extra inches for any United flights for a full year, including your planned trip to SYD. You are about the same size as me and I can tell you E+ makes the difference between a tolerable transpacific trip and real agony.

It is possible that you would be able to purchase iindividual segment "upgrades" to E+ by calling United or at check-in for somewhat less than the $349.00 total but the E+AP is the only way I know of to guarantee E+ seating for all segments in advance (assuming it is available.)

JR
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Old Sep 18, 08, 10:43 am
  #8  
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Thanks for the help everyone! And sorry that I posted this in the wrong forum initially, thanks for moving it.

The flight is UA839 departing LAX at 10:37 PM on September 24th. The most "status" I have is a regular 'ole mileage account with something like 21k expired miles. lol

Channa, UA isn't sending a 1099, but I think the company paying for the whole prize is. Taxes are gonna be rough, you're right... but I did check into it all before accepting and it works out to be a pretty good deal. Besides, it's AUSTRALIA! How could I say no?

I guess my biggest concerns are whether or not I'm going to physically fit in the seats, and if I can, whether or not it's going to make people next to me really uncomfortable. I know if I were in someone else's shoes I'd be cursing my luck if I had to sit next to a 6'5" sasquatch for 15 hours. :/

Do any of you know if I'd be allowed to stand somewhere out-of-the-way for most of the flight? Like by the lavatories or exits?
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Old Sep 18, 08, 10:52 am
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It looks like there are a zillion E+ seats available.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 10:53 am
  #10  
Ari
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Originally Posted by Monolith2 View Post
The flight is UA839 departing LAX at 10:37 PM on September 24th.
On this flight, you have an excellent chance of being offered a buy-up to Business Class or to EconomyPlus. If you are willing to pay more to get a better seat, I'd just play it that way. If $700-$800 isn't a whole lot for you, then I'd go with the Business Class seat; otherwise, EconomyPlus.

Feel free to post your return flight info.

Originally Posted by Monolith2 View Post
Do any of you know if I'd be allowed to stand somewhere out-of-the-way for most of the flight? Like by the lavatories or exits?
I don't see that lasting for very long.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 10:56 am
  #11  
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Yes, lots of E+ available... whole rows in some cases. E+ are rows 35-44 (beware that rows 32-34 are NOT E+ although they are the first 3 rows of coach).

There are some exit rows open, too, but buying-up to E+ probably wouldn't grant you access to those, except at the gate.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 10:58 am
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Australia is really a great place, and you ought to see it sometime, but I might advise passing on it (or gifting) unless you can move the date to one where you can get a better reserved seat.

Saw a espisode of Dr. J medical examiner last nite, one of her segments was on DVT.

At your height and weight (didn't say what age), I would pass on trip unless you could get a E+ aisle seat. You need to get up every four hours or so.

If you're determined to go, see your doc for trip recommendation & possible blood thinners and/or aspirin.

Back when I did it, actually had row to myself, enjoyed it more than a business seat.
Wouldn't depend on GA/FA being open to change seat, this is too important.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 11:01 am
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How about finding a sponsor for upgrades to Business Class?
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Old Sep 18, 08, 11:01 am
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Originally Posted by msimons View Post

Saw a espisode of Dr. J medical examiner last nite, one of her segments was on DVT.

At your height and weight (didn't say what age), I would pass on trip unless you could get a E+ aisle seat. You need to get up every four hours or so.

If you're determined to go, see your doc for trip recommendation & possible blood thinners and/or aspirin.
Also, be sure to wear compression socks.
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Old Sep 18, 08, 11:12 am
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E+ on this plane isn't worth much, in comparison with regular ol' economy. (I'm 6'4", so I feel the OP's pain; before making 1K, flights to SYD were excruciating.) If you want to stand around out of the way, I like the last three rows of seats, on the sides -- 59-61. They're E-, but they feel a bit less cramped because there are fewer seats back there, and it's easy to get out and wander around the galleys in the back for a bit of a stretch.

The upgrade to business is very definitely worth it if the upsell is available.

Since everyone is offering medical advice, I'll put in a plug for Ambien. Here's my Australia sleeping methodology: Have dinner and fall asleep naturally -- it'll be late, and you'll be exhausted after the flight to LAX, so you should be able to sleep for a few hours. When you wake up, pop your Ambien and go back to sleep. You should wake up an hour or two before arrival into SYD.
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