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Upgrading to first class on USAir with miles


jillyfish

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We are in the very early stages of planning a trip to Hawaii, our dates are not even available for air yet. We have enough miles with USAir to upgrade to first class OR for coach class seats. We would really prefer to upgrade to first class, however, I am worried how good availability would be or when to try to purchase/upgrade. I've called USAir twice to ask if I can see the availability to upgrade to first class online and I've gotten two different answers. :rolleyes:

 

Anyone here have any insight?

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We are in the very early stages of planning a trip to Hawaii, our dates are not even available for air yet. We have enough miles with USAir to upgrade to first class OR for coach class seats. We would really prefer to upgrade to first class, however, I am worried how good availability would be or when to try to purchase/upgrade. I've called USAir twice to ask if I can see the availability to upgrade to first class online and I've gotten two different answers. :rolleyes:

 

Anyone here have any insight?

 

Unless I am very mistaken, upgrades on US Air without status are almost unavailable. This from the upgrade chart with US Air:

 

Terms & Conditions

 

*Any ticket with a total fare (including taxes, facility surcharges and US Airways fees) of $1,400 roundtrip or higher is eligible for upgrade. For one way ticket purchases, the total fare must be a minimum of $700.

 

So you have to buy a VERY expensive ticket to be able to upgrade. $1400pp is an outrageous price from Continental USA to Hawaii for a coach ticket.

 

It appears you have 70,000 (or more miles). You can get "saver" award business/first class tickets for 140,000 miles for 2. So start saving miles, getting new credit cards (pay for the cruise on a Starwood Amex/US Air credit card). LOTS of ways to get miles. You have a year it appears. Pay for EVERYTHING (cable, electric, groceries, gas, etc. etc) on the card. With the bonuses (and maybe having to buy some miles), you should be able to get business/ first class awards.

 

When you figure out if you can come up with the extra miles for a first/business award, please repost how to get the award. Your dates will need to be flexible, you will need to look at partner airlines (Hawaiian, Air New Zealand possibly, United).

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Unless I am very mistaken, upgrades on US Air without status are almost unavailable. This from the upgrade chart with US Air:

 

Terms & Conditions

 

*Any ticket with a total fare (including taxes, facility surcharges and US Airways fees) of $1,400 roundtrip or higher is eligible for upgrade. For one way ticket purchases, the total fare must be a minimum of $700.

 

So you have to buy a VERY expensive ticket to be able to upgrade. $1400pp is an outrageous price from Continental USA to Hawaii for a coach ticket.

 

I first thought this too! But the * corresponds to this:

 

Between the contiguous U.S./Canada/Caribbean / Central America/Hawaii/Alaska/or Mexico and Europe*

 

Travel to Europe from the US/Canada...............etc.

 

An upgrade is 17500 each way, 35000 miles total for round trip between US and Hawaii

 

I do already have a USAir Mastercard. It is lousy for points. 1 mile per $2 spent. :rolleyes: Believe me, I look high and low for anywhere I can accumulate some more miles. But I also want to know I have a realistic chance at being able to use them for this trip.

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Checking *A airline awards is a good idea. I can only provide information about UA.

 

F award tickets on UA from mainland to Hawaii will cost you 80,000 miles pp. Possiblity of award C seats is almost nil on UA. Whether or not UA would release seats for people using US miles, I can't say. Availability is usually pretty slim. UA has many elite status fliers that really want seats on that route.

 

No agent could possibly tell you availability for either award tickets or upgrades at this point, as ticketing hasn't even opened up for June 2010 yet. I assume that's when you are going by your signature on your post.

 

It would be unusual to have saver award tickets to Hawaii offered in June. That means each F ticket will cost you 140,000 miles plus $60.00 in fees.

 

Another option is sometimes buy-ups to F are offered at the gate, if F is not full. No way to guarantee that though.

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I first thought this too! But the * corresponds to this:

 

Between the contiguous U.S./Canada/Caribbean / Central America/Hawaii/Alaska/or Mexico and Europe*

 

Travel to Europe from the US/Canada...............etc.

 

An upgrade is 17500 each way, 35000 miles total for round trip between US and Hawaii

 

I do already have a USAir Mastercard. It is lousy for points. 1 mile per $2 spent. :rolleyes: Believe me, I look high and low for anywhere I can accumulate some more miles.

 

It appears you are correct about the $1400 minimum ticket TO EUROPE/MidEast. BUT have you found out just what fare class you have to purchase to be able to upgrade a ticket to Hawaii??? I still bet it is a high dollar one-NOT the super discounted tickets.

 

35,000 miles x 2 people=70,000 miles. Enough for ONE business/first award ticket.

 

1-you need to find out just how much the tickets are going to cost you to be able to upgrade them. 2. Decide whether the price is worth it to you 3. Decide if there is some way to come up with another 70,000 miles to be able to get TWO award tickets.

 

Wow-bad return rate on you MC. Check out some of the other US Air cards-maybe open another account (READ the fine print-you may not get the bonus miles if you have two accounts at the same bank). The Premier World Mastercard (Barclay's-$79.00 annual fee) has 25,000 miles for first purchase and 10,000 bonus miles for balance transfer. PLUS 2 companion certificates, first class boarding, priority seating and US Airways club pass. Those features alone are worth MORE than the annual fee. Check into Starwood Amex. LOTS of ways to get miles.

 

But your first priority should be finding what fare class you have to book to be able to upgrade your coach tickets. Could be worth it to just go for the extra miles.

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Checking *A airline awards is a good idea. I can only provide information about UA.

 

F award tickets on UA from mainland to Hawaii will cost you 80,000 miles pp. Possiblity of award C seats is almost nil on UA. Whether or not UA would release seats for people using US miles, I can't say. Availability is usually pretty slim. UA has many elite status fliers that really want seats on that route.

 

No agent could possibly tell you availability for either award tickets or upgrades at this point, as ticketing hasn't even opened up for June 2010 yet. I assume that's when you are going by your signature on your post.

 

It would be unusual to have saver award tickets to Hawaii offered in June. That means each F ticket will cost you 140,000 miles plus $60.00 in fees.

 

Another option is sometimes buy-ups to F are offered at the gate, if F is not full. No way to guarantee that though.

What are F award and C award seats? edit.........First class Coach class ???

 

When talking with the USAir rep I used a 'dummy' date to see if there were any upgrades available. For the date I asked about she said there were upgrades available from DFW to PHX but not PHX to HNL............thanks, but no thanks :rolleyes:. She also said they use the any/all of the first class award seats for upgrade seats. But this did not match up with what she said above since there were first class award seats avail. right through to HNL.

 

Seems their call center is in a foreign land and I am not going to get much info from them.

 

Checking alliance airlines is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. :)

 

 

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What are F award and C award seats? edit.........First class Coach class ???

 

When talking with the USAir rep I used a 'dummy' date to see if there were any upgrades available. For the date I asked about she said there were upgrades available from DFW to PHX but not PHX to HNL............thanks, but no thanks :rolleyes:. She also said they use the any/all of the first class award seats for upgrade seats. But this did not match up with what she said above since there were first class award seats avail. right through to HNL.

 

Seems their call center is in a foreign land and I am not going to get much info from them.

 

Checking alliance airlines is a good idea, I hadn't thought of that. :)

 

 

 

F= First

C= Business

Y= Coach

 

Rule of thumb when calling an airline is if you don't get the information you are seeking, just hang up and call again. If that doesn't work, try asking for a supervisor.

 

IMO, it's just a waste of time calling anyway, until these seats are available for booking. It doesn't matter what's available now.

 

Also, when trying to put together an award routing, try to find availability on each segment if you have to make connections. Sometimes the agents really don't put much effort into making it work for you; you need to do it before you call.

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Personally I think using miles for an upgrade domestically isn't worth it, especially to leisure destinations like Hawaii where the F tickets are actually reasonably priced right off the shelf. You then don't have concerns about being pegged to the airline schedule/flights and best of all, don't need to fly US Airways!

 

You'd do better to save the miles for longhaul trips to Europe in premium cabins.

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I first thought this too! But the * corresponds to this:

 

Between the contiguous U.S./Canada/Caribbean / Central America/Hawaii/Alaska/or Mexico and Europe*

 

Travel to Europe from the US/Canada...............etc.

 

An upgrade is 17500 each way, 35000 miles total for round trip between US and Hawaii

 

I do already have a USAir Mastercard. It is lousy for points. 1 mile per $2 spent. :rolleyes: Believe me, I look high and low for anywhere I can accumulate some more miles. But I also want to know I have a realistic chance at being able to use them for this trip.

Get rid of that MasterCard (I did) and get the Visa with Bank of America. I pay the yearly fee, however the customer service with BofA is awesome. I can walk into any BofA Bank and pay off my credit card, plus we get two yearly $99 companion tickets (offer) and two vouchers for entry into the US Airways Club. They do a nice end of the year statement (which now you have to request).

 

You may want to look into the Starwoods Card. I never stayed at a Sheraton until recently and can't believe I received 2,500 points for a 2 night stay. When I went to register I could not believe their CC is only $40.00 per year and 1:1 ratio transfer on many airlines 2:1 on others. It looks like the best deal I have seen. However being with BofA for over 10 years, I am willing to continue to pay for their service. I like whenever I call they say, "Thank you for using us from x year"s.

 

Additionally, whenever I have had a vender problem, they have been so easy to deal with the dispute process and for small amounts have juat credited me as they say it costs to much to even bother with the merchant. I don't care for Barclays service or having to mail payments. That has been my experiance.

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It appears you are correct about the $1400 minimum ticket TO EUROPE/MidEast. BUT have you found out just what fare class you have to purchase to be able to upgrade a ticket to Hawaii??? I still bet it is a high dollar one-NOT the super discounted tickets.

 

35,000 miles x 2 people=70,000 miles. Enough for ONE business/first award ticket.

 

1-you need to find out just how much the tickets are going to cost you to be able to upgrade them. 2. Decide whether the price is worth it to you 3. Decide if there is some way to come up with another 70,000 miles to be able to get TWO award tickets.

 

Wow-bad return rate on you MC. Check out some of the other US Air cards-maybe open another account (READ the fine print-you may not get the bonus miles if you have two accounts at the same bank). The Premier World Mastercard (Barclay's-$79.00 annual fee) has 25,000 miles for first purchase and 10,000 bonus miles for balance transfer. PLUS 2 companion certificates, first class boarding, priority seating and US Airways club pass. Those features alone are worth MORE than the annual fee. Check into Starwood Amex. LOTS of ways to get miles.

 

But your first priority should be finding what fare class you have to book to be able to upgrade your coach tickets. Could be worth it to just go for the extra miles.

You are thinking the same lines as me. ;)

I did ask if there was a minimum amount I needed to spend on the coach class fare to upgrade and the USAIR rep said there was no minimum. BUT again I'm not sure how accurate the info is they are giving. As I said two different reps gave me two different answers as to what to look for online for upgrade availability.

 

Basically I want to find out just how generous they are at doling out first class upgrades at 17500 miles each way/per person. If it just ain't happening than I want to know so I can move on to plan B.................which I don't know what plan B is yet. :o

 

Your point about 70000 for one business/first class ticket???? Should I then buy DH a coach class seat? :p Our first class tickets have been/are over $2000!! I don't think we are wanting another credit card at this time.

 

I will give another call to ask again about the fare price required to upgrade.

Thanks for brainstorming with me!! If you wake up in the middle of the night with any bright ideas please log on and type away!!

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Personally I think using miles for an upgrade domestically isn't worth it, especially to leisure destinations like Hawaii where the F tickets are actually reasonably priced right off the shelf. You then don't have concerns about being pegged to the airline schedule/flights and best of all, don't need to fly US Airways!

 

You'd do better to save the miles for longhaul trips to Europe in premium cabins.

Could you please define 'reasonably priced' Our First class tickets have been/are over $2000 to HNL.:eek: Where do I find a better fare? This is another part of the equation, is it REALLY a better deal to package the air/hotel and car?

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Get rid of that MasterCard (I did) and get the Visa with Bank of America. I pay the yearly fee, however the customer service with BofA is awesome. I can walk into any BofA Bank and pay off my credit card, plus we get two yearly $99 companion tickets (offer) and two vouchers for entry into the US Airways Club. They do a nice end of the year statement (which now you have to request).

 

You may want to look into the Starwoods Card. I never stayed at a Sheraton until recently and can't believe I received 2,500 points for a 2 night stay. When I went to register I could not believe their CC is only $40.00 per year and 1:1 ratio transfer on many airlines 2:1 on others. It looks like the best deal I have seen. However being with BofA for over 10 years, I am willing to continue to pay for their service. I like whenever I call they say, "Thank you for using us from x year"s.

 

Additionally, whenever I have had a vender problem, they have been so easy to deal with the dispute process and for small amounts have juat credited me as they say it costs to much to even bother with the merchant. I don't care for Barclays service or having to mail payments. That has been my experiance.

I appreciate your suggestions but I don't believe in paying an annual fee for a credit card. My main credit card is a Hilton Amex, there is no annual fee and their points add up very quickly and easily and are easy to USE!! .................and yes, once we make it to Hawaii, we will be using some Hilton points for at least part of our stay. ;)

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I don't believe in paying an annual fee for a credit card.

 

Yes, but if paying $40 for a credit card gets you a free ticket worth $2000, that's a heck of a deal. You always have to calculate the cost-benefit ratio of these cards; sometimes paying a little saves you a lot in the long term.

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Let's say that the fee is $100 per year. How many miles is that, using a 2 cent metric? 5000, by my math. Now think that you are "paying" a 50% discount on your mile earning by going with the "free"card. So, when you charge $10000, you earn $200 of miles on the paid card, but only earn $100 of miles on the "free" one. So, if you charge less than $10K per year, the "free" is a better deal. If more, then you are losing out by the false savings of a "free" card.

 

If the card cost is only $50 per year, the numbers are even lower for the break-even point - $5000.

 

Do your own math and don't be lulled by that "free" aspect.

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1-you need to find out just how much the tickets are going to cost you to be able to upgrade them.

 

But your first priority should be finding what fare class you have to book to be able to upgrade your coach tickets. Could be worth it to just go for the extra miles.

I got a very nice USAir rep on the phone today. She was 110% more helpful than the other two I had talked to previously. She did say they have a call center in Manila.:rolleyes:

 

Anyway................she said ANY coach class fare is upgradeable. Seems they release those seats later than earlier though.

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In Jan 2008 I tried for FC upgrade seats and no matter what dates I used, there was nothing available on the PHX-HNL and the HNL-PHX routes. So that seems to be the norm.

 

On the other hand, I had no problem with FC upgrade seats all the way from CMH-PHX-YVR and ANC-PHX-CMH. However, they have changed times twice, changed equipment once and lowered the price and each time I had to spend an hour getting back my FC seats. Every time the customer service rep said that FC seats were not available for upgrade, but when I insisted, they had a supervisor go to inventory and I was able to get my original seats back.

 

It certainly has been a pain and I am checking my reservations twice a day looking for changes. But, it will be worth it.

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I got a very nice USAir rep on the phone today. She was 110% more helpful than the other two I had talked to previously. She did say they have a call center in Manila.:rolleyes:

 

Anyway................she said ANY coach class fare is upgradeable. Seems they release those seats later than earlier though.

 

Does anyone know when the airlines generally releases the coach class to first class? 8 months, 6 months?

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I appreciate your suggestions but I don't believe in paying an annual fee for a credit card. My main credit card is a Hilton Amex, there is no annual fee and their points add up very quickly and easily and are easy to USE!! .................and yes, once we make it to Hawaii, we will be using some Hilton points for at least part of our stay. ;)

 

Yes, but by paying $85.00 or $90.00 per year, in the past 4 years we have had 2 round trip tickets to Rome in 2008 (50,00 points each, the coach tickets would have cost $1,200.00-$1,600.00 each before taxes in high season July), 2 round trip tickets to Rome in 2007 (50,000 points each), two round trip tickets to Montreal in 2006 (25,000 points each), two round trip tickets to Tromso, Norway this year 2009 (50,000 points each) and used two $99.00 companion vouchers last year to get to FL & MIA (on all of these flights we had the exact dates we wanted - including afternoon flight on disembarkation for the cruises and preferred international airlines on most flights including Lufthansa and SWISS). Note on the $1,000 ticket to Florida (received two $99.00 vouchers tickets, so $1,200 total) we did get updated to First since I was Silver Preferred at the time (Celebrity air would have been $525.00pp). I think 8 international round trip tickets in 4 years (plus I forgot the US Air club passes) is a great return on my investment.

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In Jan 2008 I tried for FC upgrade seats and no matter what dates I used, there was nothing available on the PHX-HNL and the HNL-PHX routes. So that seems to be the norm.

How far in advance were you trying to book your tickets for your Jan 08 trip? Did you book your coach seats and THEN try to upgrade or did you call first to see what was available to upgrade --- in both of your experiences. Were you able to figure out which FC seats they actually use for the upgrades? The rep today first said just the milesaver FC seats and then she said ANY of the FC award seats were available for upgrade tix. :confused:

 

I appreciate any info you have to share..............:)

 

 

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Yes, but by paying $85.00 or $90.00 per year, in the past 4 years we have had 2 round trip tickets to Rome in 2008 (50,00 points each, the coach tickets would have cost $1,200.00-$1,600.00 each before taxes in high season July), 2 round trip tickets to Rome in 2007 (50,000 points each), two round trip tickets to Montreal in 2006 (25,000 points each), two round trip tickets to Tromso, Norway this year 2009 (50,000 points each) and used two $99.00 companion vouchers last year to get to FL & MIA (on all of these flights we had the exact dates we wanted - including afternoon flight on disembarkation for the cruises and preferred international airlines on most flights including Lufthansa and SWISS). Note on the $1,000 ticket to Florida (received two $99.00 vouchers tickets, so $1,200 total) we did get updated to First since I was Silver Preferred at the time (Celebrity air would have been $525.00pp). I think 8 international round trip tickets in 4 years (plus I forgot the US Air club passes) is a great return on my investment.

You have done VERY well!! ;)

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In Jan 2008 I tried for FC upgrade seats and no matter what dates I used, there was nothing available on the PHX-HNL and the HNL-PHX routes. So that seems to be the norm.

 

Other people I know have had the same problem trying to get to Hawaii with US Air - absolutely no availability to or from Hawaii in first class.

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Other people I know have had the same problem trying to get to Hawaii with US Air - absolutely no availability to or from Hawaii in first class.

The other thing I don't get is the rep I was talking to today was saying she didn't see anything but when I look on the award chart on their website it looks like oodles of availability. I even went as far as trying to book a first class award seat and it appeared it was allowing me to do it. ?????? :confused:

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How far in advance were you trying to book your tickets for your Jan 08 trip? Did you book your coach seats and THEN try to upgrade or did you call first to see what was available to upgrade --- in both of your experiences. Were you able to figure out which FC seats they actually use for the upgrades? The rep today first said just the milesaver FC seats and then she said ANY of the FC award seats were available for upgrade tix. :confused:

 

I appreciate any info you have to share..............:)

 

 

 

You need a subscription to Expertflyer ($5.00 per month for the basic edition) when you get close to 12 months pre airline booking. One of the easiest ways to see award and upgrade availablity on MOST flights. And you need to spend some time BEFORE you want to book the tickets looking at routings and airlines. You also need to spend quite a bit of time learning ALL the rules and all the tricks for using your miles-what fare classes upgrades are in, what fare classes award tickets are. AND you need to be very flexible. You may have to fly a very weird routing to get those tickets/upgrades.

 

There are NO PARTICULAR seats set aside for first class upgrades. But don't think by looking at an airline seating chart that there are seats available. Very often, there are NO seats available, sometimes even for sale seats, in first class, even though the seating chart shows seats available. Often, corporate travel depts book seats for their employees and do not pick seats. Travel agents/cruise lines/tour operators also book seats and do not pick seats.

 

You have a hard road to hoe trying to get an upgrade to Hawaii on US without status. You will need to use every research tool available to you. I was with them (well, America West) as well as AA for a lot of years. I gave up on US few years ago. All my miles are OneWorld now.

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