Upgrading on Star Alliance to Europe

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by papakim, May 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. papakim
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    papakim Silver Member

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    I am traveling to from Bos to Barcelona and want to use Star Alliance (*a) miles to upgrade at least two coach seats. Here is what I have done so far:
    Searched flexible dates on Kayak using *a filter. Found good schedule on LH via Frankfurt or Munich. Went to LH website and searched for lowest upgradeable fare which listed as "V class" at $1070.00 "upgradable with miles". I want to compare against other options (miles, cash, equipment, avails). I have a Miles and More account and would need to transfer from SPG or USAir to execute.

    Am I on the right track with these steps? Is there a shortcut or do I need to look at all airlines one by one to compare? Are the same # of miles needed for all *a flights to this zone?

    Any tools out there to fare shop just upgradeable coach in the *a network? How many *a miles are needed for upgrade to Spain (30K?) Is this the same on all *a flights?

    How can I book the coach seat and nail upgrade at the same time so I don't lose option to inventory control? I assume these upgrades are all inventory controlled. Should I book with US Air where I have status? Or with *a partner directly? When is upgrading on int tickets a good use of miles? Which *a airlines are better for upgrades?

    Thanks for any advice on this. I hate doing things inefficiently and I could spend hours searching the blogs to piece this together....so I'm just asking. :)
     
  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Welcome to Milepoint, these are some great questions and you've already figured out quite a lot!

    First of all, it's almost always easier to upgrade on an airline with its own mileage program's miles.

    For instance, you already see that some but not all fares are upgradable on Lufthansa using miles in a Miles & More account. But if you wanted to use US Airways miles to upgrade on Lufthansa you would have to buy a full (Y or B) fare in order to be eligible to do so.

    Airlines like Continental and United and American allow you to upgrade from any fare using their own miles. But they will charge a cash co-pay in addition to the miles in order to do so, and that cash co-pay can be quite expensive (eg as much as $500+ per person each way).

    When you use Continental or United miles to upgrade on Lufthansa, again, you would first have to buy a full fare ticket. And that's often as much or close to as much as buying discounted advance purchase business class in the first place! Also when you are using miles from one Star Alliance program to upgrade on another airline, the upgrade is only good for one segment and not to fly an entire trip in one direction. So those alliance upgrades, while a great feature, can get pretty expensive -- both in terms of the required fare you would pay and also in terms of the miles you have to pay as well if you want to upgrade more than one flight each direction.

    For relatively reasonably priced upgrades, don't discount US Airways (although they don't offer transatlantic flights from Boston!), they are quite reasonable in offering upgrades from any fare for miles and $300 each way between the US and Europe.

    Of course all of this leaves out the subject of elite upgrade instruments that many airlines give to their top tier elites and which make international upgrades a bit easier and cheaper. But we're talking miles here of course.

    The Boston - Frankfurt and Boston - Munich flights often have upgrade space available. These are two of the better transatlantic flights in the Star Alliance for managing upgrades (along with Detroit - Frankfurt...).

    If you're locked into upgrading on Lufthansa using Miles & More miles you'll get the best answers over in the Miles & More forum:
    http://milepoint.com/forums/forums/miles-more-lufthansa-swiss-austrian-partners.90/

    But as a first approximation I do know that you cannot upgrade Lufthansa flights booked in L, S, W, or U class.

    Best to always book a Lufthansa flight with a Lufthansa flight number, don't book a codeshare. Find the availability of upgrade seats first. And an the agent to confirm the availability, then ticket, and then process the upgrade.

    Lots of stuff here, so if I'm not being clear or missing the mark at all let me know. :)
     
  3. Randy Petersen
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    Randy Petersen Founder

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    Welcome—we're glad you are asking and glad you are here.
     
  4. papakim
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    papakim Silver Member

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    Gary thanks so much for your reply. I'm glad you found my question here. You information is most helpful....as always.

    Here's my take-away on this.

    1) Sounds like pax have to spend more money to upgrade when using miles from another program.
    2) How many miles needed in *a for upgrade on longhauls? Is is 30k each way or RT?
    3) Do SPG points go in as LH miles (for ex) and treated like LH miles? Can I upgrade the V fare w SPG points?
    4) Do I book tix with the airline who holds the miles or the seats?
    5) US Air has a very circuitous routing with multi stops and code sharing from Bos to BCN. Not easy at all.
    6) United has code share flights on this route too so I'd have to wade into that complication.
    7) If one wanted to book just the longhaul flight in front, does the airline allow a booking rev in different fare buckets with just one segmented upgraded? So could I upgrade Bos-Muc and keep Muc-BCN in economy?
    8) Are flyers allowed to use lounges with upgraded tix.Both in and out or just one way?
    9) Do you recommend finding the award and upgrade seats using the ANA tool or some other site? Do you search by fare code?
    10) If all things are equal, I think LH might be my best bet and I do like their b class product which I used to Italy on a Z class fare. I'll have to balance all the fees and see where this ends up. Perhaps I'll look for award seats using ANA to see the value proposition for using miles this way.

    I'll read the LH thread to learn more.

    Many thanks Gary!
    Kim
     
  5. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Generally speaking that's correct.

    An amount like that is going to be each way at least unless buying a full fare ticket. You need to look up the upgrade award chart for the progam whose miles you're trying to use.

    Yes. You transfer the points to miles, they go into a Miles & More account, and then they are miles and more miles.

    The airline whose miles you have is the one that will confirm the upgrade for you.

    Yes

    InThe answer is 'it depends' but if you have a same-day Star Alliance business class boarding pass you will be allowed to use business class lounges throughout your journey, so on arrival in Frankfurt or Munich for instance with your transatlantic boarding pass before taking a flight elsewhere in Europe in Economy.

    Well, if there are award seats available to partner airlines then the ANA website is the best place to find them.

    But if you are using Lufthansa Miles & More miles then there will be inventory on Lufthansa that is not available to Lufthansa's Star Alliance partners and does not show up on the ANA website. You would find it by searching on the Miles & More website (which you need miles in the account in order to do). So using the ANA site you will find some but not all available seats. Using Miles & More you'll see that there are often more seats available for Miles & More customers than what shows up on the ANA site.

    [As an aside, I have zero miles in my Miles & More account but I still use the site to search for award space because I signed up through the Jetfriends kids program and that waives the requirement to have miles in the account in order to search for awards.]
     
  6. papakim
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    papakim Silver Member

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    Very grateful for your expertise.
    Many thanks,
    Kim
     
  7. Travelsavant
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    Travelsavant Gold Member

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    Gary & Kim: Very useful thread!
     
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  8. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Hi Gary - Could you expand on the jet friends kid program? Is this still open for new accounts?
     
  9. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    It's the children's program for Miles & More
    http://www.jetfriends.com/

    At least when I signed up a few year ago you had to fill out a parental permission slip to be allowed to join the program. And you have to wait for the registration welcome letter to come in the mail with your account number and PIN.

    But when you join via jetfriends there's no minimum miles required to search Miles & More award availability.
     
  10. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    This thread exemplifies what's so amazing about the spirit of MP. To have a real expert like gleff (who has a consulting sideline that does this for money) take the time to give such detailed and individual answers blows me away. I've seen other threads here where novices have been coached by experts on how to complain to an airline and get results. This is so very special!
     
  11. GUWonder
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    GUWonder Silver Member

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    Some people would buy BMI miles and then use them for a cash+miles award ticket in the premium cabins (if there was adequate premium cabin award space), but then (with such an approach) earning miles from the trip (usually) doesn't happen.
     
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  12. Blue Skye
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    Blue Skye Silver Member

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    thank you for that info. i appreciate you taking the time to pass along these very awesome, simple work-arounds to help us maximize our mileage etc.
     
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  13. dildooba44

    dildooba44 Silver Member

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    Thanks glef. I have tried several times to look for flights on Miles & More with much consternation. Your answer is quite a relief. I just need more points (which I'll get this July).
     
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  14. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Are you certain of this? Generally speaking *A policies do not permit lounge access unless departing in the premium cabin from the local airport. I know that FRA has the Welcome Lounge for arrivals but generally the policy as written is that you only get access based on your departure BP.
     
  15. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    I have never had any problems getting in anywhere in the world with a used boarding pass after arrival
     
  16. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    And without an onward departing flight? I'm quite surprised. The rules are pretty clear and I've been turned away at least once.
     
  17. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    Yes, without an onward flight
     
  18. rcs
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    rcs Active Member

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    With LH (with some exceptions for the Welcome Lounge in FRA and the FCLs) you will only be granted access upon arrival upon presentation of a SEN or HON card. With the exception of some lounge dragon having a good day, *G status is not sufficient for quite some time now to gain access to a LH lounge upon arrival (with the exceptions listed above).
     
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  19. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Must be your charming wit and smooth talking. You weren't supposed to get in at all in those circumstances per the rules.
     
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  20. Navysuby3

    Navysuby3 Silver Member

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    Great Thread and great lessons learned.
     
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  21. BWIflyer
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    BWIflyer Silver Member

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    I learned a lot reading the opinions expressed by the experts.
     

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