strategy on getting last minute upgrade on international flight

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by mlt1961, May 20, 2012.

  1. mlt1961

    mlt1961 New Member

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    Hi, I am going on my first trip to Africa in a few weeks. I purchased a ticket on United without realizing that it was a "non-upgradeable" class of ticket, and got a Mileage Plus VISA so that I could accumulate lots of miles before the trip. I have enough mileage to purchase the upgrade for the trip, but can't do it in advance because of the class of the ticket. However, mileage plus phone staff told me that sometimes it might be possible at the last minute on the date of the actual flight. Does this mean I shouldn't do in advance check-in on the computer the day before and would be better off to actually check in for the flight at the airport? I realize my chances of getting an upgrade are probably slim with this ticket, since others will have priority, but wanted to see if anyone had any hints on strategies! Thanks in advance for any ideas. I am flying LA-Dulles, Dulles-Johannesberg (the last half on South African Airlines). Can you sometimes get an upgrade for just the second leg? I don't really care about the LA-Dulles part.
    yaychemistry likes this.
  2. LizzyDragon84
    Original Member

    LizzyDragon84 Gold Member

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    If the second half is on South African, then I don't think that UA miles can be used to upgrade that leg.

    Welcome to MP, and I hope you have a great trip no matter what seat you end up in. :)
    FlyingFree and yaychemistry like this.
  3. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    Like LizzyDragon said, United Miles aren't useful to upgrade the IAD-JNB leg unless you purchase the fully refundable tickets (which can often cost nearly as much as a business or first class ticket anyway). If you really want to sit up front, I would ask at the gate at IAD (Dulles) if they have any upgrades available to purchase with cash. I'm not sure if South African Airways allows this, but it might be worth a shot - though the price they name might be quite steep and not worth it.

    For future reference, the best way to sit in premium cabins (first or business) with miles is to use them to directly book the premium cabin rather than purchasing economy and using miles to upgrade. Mileage upgrades often have many restrictions, require expensive copays (it can be $500 + miles to upgrade on united flights across the atlantic), and may not even be possible on code shares.

    Either way! Good luck getting the upgrade, and I hope you have a great trip!
    aptraveler and LizzyDragon84 like this.
  4. LoungeLover

    LoungeLover Silver Member

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    If you are flexible on your flights, ask to waive your seat at the gate. That might be useful if the flight is full and there is a standby list. You might get lucky. They might bump you to a better class the day after or just give you points or UA compensation that you can use to get the upgrade yourself.
    Gargoyle and FlyingFree like this.

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