Upgrade or free ticket?

Discussion in 'Air Canada | Aeroplan' started by Wageslave, Sep 22, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Wageslave

    Wageslave Active Member

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    Ok, with all the changes, I don't see much benefit for me (someone who's been flying economy every flight) to fight for status (it's nice to have, but it doesn't help when you flight once, maybe twice a year). I do have a whack of points (and growing) due to having the VISA card.

    So the question is, which is of more value. Buy a T+ ticket and apply to upgrade the flight or just get a free ticket? From the looks of it, it would benefit me more to get a T+ ticket and then upgrade it, but I thought I would see what you think. Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    Generally speaking there is much more value in upgrading. The price of a business or first ticket is substantially more if flying international. If flying domestic it is still a benefit, but generally not as much as an international flight.

    I seldom use miles for anything other than upgrading unless I fly first international. Then I will use for a free ticket as I don't want to pay for business to upgrade to first.
     
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  3. ACMM
    Original Member

    ACMM Gold Member

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    The issue with T+ tickets on AC and especially if you have no status, is your window to upgrade is small-to-none and upgrades on the legs you want to take make alrady be gone by status flyers higher than yourself.

    Wageslave what is your current (or planned 2013) status with Air Canada?
    If your travel is flexible, you may have a better chance on using your AE miles for reward travel (of course do not forget the fees that are still there - so it is not 100% free). If it is just for a single ticket, very often those are available, sometimes for a higher mileage charge, but again it depends on how many miles you want to spend.

    Without knowing your situation better, nor the routes you want to fly, I am thinking you may have better luck with reward travel.

    I know that AC had recently provided some new rules for *A upgrades using points, but those may be prohibitive in terms of # of miles needed.
     
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  4. PtsHawg
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    PtsHawg Silver Member

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    I would say the best value in terms of point redemption is reward travel in a premium cabin (J or F), and particularly on international routes. Having done it a couple of times, IMHO it's well worth it, even with the fees. It's a bit of a pain to book since you need to know what you're doing, but if you have the points (single ticket will run you between 90 - 175K points depending on where you want to go and what class you want to fly in) and like to travel, it's the way to go.
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I disagree.

    Unless you're flying enough that you're earning high elite status and need the paid ticket + upgrade to get to that status level then the costs to buy + upgrade is almost always higher than just redeeming for the premium cabin ticket outright. It gets even more pronounced when you start looking at partner carriers and wanting to upgrade on them; those are horribly expensive.
     
  6. Wageslave

    Wageslave Active Member

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    Currently I have prestige and will fall back to regular user next year. Travelling at the moment will be limited to Asia and possibly Australia. The UK if work decides to send me to train the team there (next to no chance of this happening in the foreseeable future), but if they send me there, it'd be on their dime and points (if any) would most likely go to them.

    Part of the concern is that even if I use points and book a reward trip, I'm still paying a sizable amount of taxes and surcharges. So if I'm still paying that much, why not use the points to upgrade flights (if possible). The value would seem to be much better there (even if it's just for one segment of the trip). The only catch is I'm not sure how the upgrades part work when using AE points.

    One of these days I might book a business class ticket (mostly to experience the new seats vs. the economy ones) on points, but another part of the appeal for upgrades is that I can stretch the points out (ie: upgrade for my parents the next time we take a whole family vacation together).
     
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  7. ACMM
    Original Member

    ACMM Gold Member

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    The trick is to use your AE points to book the same routing on other *A carriers ... you will find (I think) that the taxes and other charges will be less on *A carriers than on AC itself. Others can confirm as I have not done other *A carriers with my AE miles.
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If you book on partners the surcharges can be much less. Depends on the partner but it can be significant. AndI don't fully understand the eUpgrade scheme but it seems that those are somewhat limited. Award upgrades on *A partners will be silly expensive.
     
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  9. The Lev
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    The Lev Silver Member

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    Here is how it works: you need to buy an almost full fare economy ticket to use points to upgrade (typically Y or B). You can frequently buy discounted business class for less than these tickets.

    Don't think for a moment that you can buy a $1,000 - 1,500 ticket to Europe/Asia and then use points to upgrade.

    As others have posted, the best value is to book a J/F reward - often requires booking almost a year ahead to find availability, especially on AC.
     
  10. Wageslave

    Wageslave Active Member

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    I wouldn't necessarily think that I could get away with $1500 (especially with the downgrade to T instead of T+), but I think it should be possible around the ~$2000 range.

    The question is (however), if I book and apply for an upgrade, how likely is it to be granted... the last time I flew to Beijing, there were a few unused seats. But not sure if that's normal (and no clue what it's like on other routes... although I would suspect no chance for YYZ to HKG).
     
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  11. ACMM
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    Some routes are better than others. NRT for instance is fairly good. PEK so-so (at least for me). HKG, you are correct, difficult, but sometimes it does open up. On any of these routes, however, you will still be trying to upgrade against SEs who will be doing this earlier than will you.

    If you are willing to spend 2500+ just to "try" to get an upgrade, I think you may be luckier trying to get a reward ticket and pay the fees which will be less that your 2500+ ticket IMHO.
     
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  12. SensFan
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    SensFan Gold Member

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    Wageslave, you say that you are Prestige and falling to nothing. Many of the suggestions that are saying that upgrading would be a good value are referring to eUpgrades which are a good value provided that you are a Prestige flying within North America (once you leave the continent they become much more expensive because you have to move up to a Y/B class fare).

    In order to get an answer to your questions you need to give us some basic information:
    What is your origin?
    What is your destination (inside NA or outside NA)?
    Will you have status when you fly?
    What types of upgrades are you looking at (eUpgrades, *A upgrades, LMU)?

    If you are looking at anything but eUpgrades, the premium on the fare you buy in order to upgrade is very high. Usually it is only a couple of hundred of dollars less than the lowest exec fare and in many cases the exec fare will be lower.

    Normally when someone says upgrade they mean eUpgrades and some of the advice you received reflected that. I don't think that is how you intend to upgrade though but maybe it is.
     
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  13. Wageslave

    Wageslave Active Member

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    This is all pre-planning at the moment, but origin would be YYZ and destination would be Asia. I most likely wouldn't have status.

    I am considering all possibilities, but I thought it might be nice if I could get my parents upgraded to more comfortable seats as they are getting up there in age. The regular seats would do, but business class would be better. Since I have a whole whack of points due to my visa card, I thought I might give them a treat whenever they are ready to go.

    Most likely I will attempt a *A upgrade when the time comes.

    Thanks for all the advice.
     
  14. SensFan
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    SensFan Gold Member

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    The *A upgrades are even worse than I thought, they are from Y/B fares only. In almost all cases it would be cheaper for you to buy a non-flexible business class ticket than a Latitude ticket on AC. It might not be quite as ridiculous on other airlines but unfortunately I think it is close. *A upgrades are mainly of use for people who work for a company that requires them to purchase economy tickets.

    Even if you did go the *A upgrade route, it would be 25k per segment from NA to Asia. So for two people rountrip that would be 100k. For 125k you could get an Aeroplan ticket to Asia. If you avoid flying on AC then the taxes would be fairly low. You could then get a revenue ticket in business class for the other parent. The grand total for this would be around $6k (for NRT, not sure where in Asia you are headed) but that would be cheaper than getting 2 Latitude fares and hoping that there is upgrade space available.

    Tons of points means different things to different people so if you had enough for both parents that would be ideal. You would need to look pretty far in advance though for awards in business and be flexible with the routing. There might also be a time of year when business class fares are a lot lower to Asia. For example, there were flights to Europe in business class for as low $1500 (from US gateways) around American Thanksgiving this year (and also in the past). Maybe there is something similar to Asia but I am not sure.

    To wrap my ramblings up, since you won't have status your best use of points would be to use them for award flights. In your situation the *A upgrades would almost certainly be a bad idea.
     
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  15. YULtide

    YULtide Gold Member

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    FWIW, Mrs YULtide and I do an annual trip to HKG and tend to book a side trip to elsewhere in Asia for a few days. A couple of years ago we booked a reward ticket HKG-PEK in J on China Airlines for 30,000 points and $50 all in for two. This year we've booked HKG-HAN in J on TG for 60,000 points and less than $100 all in for two. (Unfortunately, we have to fly through BKK on a 380; sometimes travelling involves suffering.)
     
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  16. SensFan
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    SensFan Gold Member

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    Make sure you skip your massage when you transit in BKK because they are anything but gentle :p.
     
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  17. ACMM
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    ACMM Gold Member

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    ... on the body or on the wallet? ;)
     
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  18. SensFan
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    SensFan Gold Member

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    Bah! I meant the free half hour at the TG spa.
     
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