United Premiere Upgrades

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Jessfish, Sep 3, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jessfish

    Jessfish Active Member

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    Looking on some guidance on using my UA miles most efficiently between NYC and CO. Is it best to book a coach ticket and look to use premiere upgrade or use miles to book a business class ticket? I have the United Explorer card since none of my Amex points work with UA anymore. I am looking to book tickets for multiple dates in 2014.

    Also, is there any other way to obtain status than flying?

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  2. owenbrowntrout

    owenbrowntrout Silver Member

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    The best use of miles in my opinion is for upgrading on international flights. Normally flying is necessary to get status. If you marry or travel with one with status, you may be able to share the benefits of their status. You can also get status with one airline by doing a status match - many airlines will match your status with another airline for a 90 day period and then extend it to a year or more if you complete so many segments or fly so many miles during that 90 day period.
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  3. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    This depends a lot on how many miles you have, how much you value your miles, how much you typically spend on a coach ticket, and whether you have any flexibility in your travel dates.

    A low fare economy ticket (S, T, K, L, G, N fares) will cost you 20,000 miles each way to upgrade. In addition, if you are not a Premier member, it will also cost you a $75 copay, each way. By comparison, a first class (there is no business class typically between Colorado and New York) ticket will cost 25,000 miles each way at the Saver Award level, and only $2.50 in taxes/fees. Standard Award on that route will cost 50,000 miles each way.

    However, Saver Awards on domestic flights can be hard to find, although in my experience they can open up very close to departure if the first class cabin isn't sold out. However, you run the risk of not getting any award seats at the saver level, or having to travel on dates/times that are not ideal.

    So if you want a guaranteed flight with a possibility of an upgrade, you can buy an economy ticket and use miles to upgrade. But with a bit of additional risk you could get those same flights in first for just 5,000 more miles each way, and without having any outlay of cash.

    You can use tools like ExpertFlyer to set alerts on specific flights to see if/when award space opens up.

    Assuming you don't have status with any other airline, flying is the only way to get status (I'm also assuming that you won't be interested in the United PassPlus program which is a prepaid plan that small- to medium-sized businesses can use with United, which can get some Premier status members, based on initial investment).

    Note about upgrading on international itineraries...the copay can be quite significant, so factor that into your decision making process. For example, a low fare Economy ticket between the US and SE Asia could cost $1000, but the upgrade will cost 30,000 miles plus a $600 copay (each way). A mile is worth about 2 cents (that's what you can typically purchase them for), so 30,000 miles is equal to about $600, making the total cost of an upgrade $1,200 each way. Thus, an upgraded ticket would cost you $3,400 a.i.

    The rules and rates for awards and upgrades can be found here:
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  4. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    And I'd say that's the worst value, especially on domestic trips where the value of the upgrade is very, very low and the cost to secure it very high.
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  5. Gtitan
    Original Member

    Gtitan Gold Member

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    Agree WA. Now many moons ago when UA (ie PMCO) offered reasonable "B fares" using miles and upgrading internationally was a fairly sweet gig. :)
  6. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    NYC-DEN is like 3 1/2 hours. Rarely worth it, IMHO.

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