What do you do when there are no upgrades available? (Kenyan Safari)

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by Bill Day, Jul 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. :oops::oops: Well, I guess I made a big-time newbie mistake. I booked the safari first, then started looking into flights. Details:

    Booked my dream safari for Jan 18 - Feb 8. Hubby and I cannot face flying economy to Africa again, we have done it twice. He is 6' 4", and I have MS and have difficulty sitting up for long periods of time - for some reason I need to lie down.

    Hoped to go through AA, so we both got AA cards and Chase Sapphire, SWG and Priority Club. But I just called AA and there are no upgrades to be found around that time.

    I did put a deposit on the safari, but have trip insurance on that deposit so I will just lose a few hundred if I cancel. But I also probably stand to lose the chance of getting to Africa again. My MS is getting worse, and this was my big "fling". Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t...

    So my guess is that we will soon each have around 85,000 AA points, 50,000 on Chase Saphire Preferred, 20,000 SPG, and who knows what else. I have thrown myself into accumulating points, and enjoying all of your sites and threads. I even have $1,000 worth of gold coins to enjoy. Credit scores 764 and 783,

    If anyone has any thoughts as to what is the best thing to do, I would appreciate it. Even with MS, I have made it to SA, Botswana, Australia, Hawaii, Ecuador, and Honduras in the last 10 years. Never got FF miles, believe it or not (I can't) I love Africa, and really wanted to go there again.

    Cheryl
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP. Is there a chance that upgrade inventory will be released later or are the flights already full in biz? Have you looked for discounted business class (advanced purchase) tickets that sometimes can be almost the same price as coach?
     
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  3. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    What city do you fly out of?

    And when you say January 18, is that your outbound travel date or the day you need to arrive in NBO? Because on January 17 and January 19 there are upgrade seats available on British AIrways to get into business class from London to Nairobi, though you'd need to buy premium economy in order to do it.

    I wonder if we might come up with some suggestions for you, and I wonder whether you might be able to shift the dates of your safari even though you've already put down money on it? Talk to the folks you are working with, whether the camp directly or your agent, to see if it's possible to shift dates and what the penalty would be, and then research when you can secure the upgrades you're looking for.
     
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  5. Thanks for the answers, and my apologies for such a whiny post. I fly out of mtj or gjt, and the safari does start Jan 18. So I was looking for flights around Jan 15.

    I don't think I can work around the actual dates of the safari, because the places we booked only have 6-8 rooms, and they get booked quickly. But I can work on the dates flown in/out.

    Can you tell me how you found out there were upgrade seats on BA on those dates? I have used the ANA website to check out possible upgrades on Star Alliance(not many there either), but really haven't figured out how to find out if there are upgrades available on AA or BA. I finally called AA international reservations, and the woman was very nice and did seem to spend some time looking. And she explained some options to me.

    She said it would be 50,000 miles plus $700 per person to upgrade from economy from mtj to London. And she made it sound like I would have to book the trip completely through AA or BA, which is what I thought.

    Thank you for the Newbie forum, it does seem overwhelming at first, and I very much appreciate the help.

    Cheryl
     
  6. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    If British Airways has business class award availability, they will have upgrade availability, I believe they pull both from the same inventory bucket. So I looked up London - Nairobi award space (this can be done on the British Airways website, you need to join BA Executive Club for this, or on the Qantas Frequent Flyer website, again just join their program). Business was available. But to use American miles to upgrade a paid ticket to British Airways business class, you are going to have to have American Airlines set up your ticket and it will have to be in British Airways Premium Economy (aka World Traveller Plus), not in regular economy.
     
  7. Thanks, I understand. The trouble I have with the airline websites is that AA tells me they can only fly MTJ to LHO, and British Airways say they can only start from a city they fly from, Denver, etc. Denver is a five hour drive over three passes, tough to do in winter. And I want my first flight from my small airport in with the whole ticket in case there is a problem, and I miss all connections, etc.

    So I would have to check AA website for upgrade tickets from mtj to London, then check BA website for upgrade seats in Premium Economy, and then call AA international reservations with the information, and to see what I can do with the miles I have.

    The final deposit for the safari is in October, so I have until then to keep checking flights, getting more miles, etc. If I can't get the dates I need, I will cancel the safari and go somewhere else. I just forgot the magic rules of travel, which is to take things in a stride, not get upset, and have a sense of humor. These get more difficult when you have a progressive illness, but if you can't follow them you shouldn't travel. (hmmm, talking to myself again)

    MSPeconomist, I haven't found any discounted biz class tickets.

    Everything would be a lot easier if I lived and could fly out from a large city, discounts are easier to find.

    Again, thank you, I feel I might have been torn to pieces in other forums. I have always worked out all our travel plans, and managed great trips on a good budget. But trying to work with airline miles just seems to befuddle me...
     
  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    It might well be worth it to pay for a ticket to/from a major hub, but if you do this, be sure to allow lots and lots of time for problems. In fact, you could get creative and try to have fun with this, such as spending a few days in Miami as part of your trip.
     
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  9. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    Cheryl, as someone with Lupus, I understand your frustration with your illness, and applaud you for continuing to be as active as possible. I know for a fact having something to look forward to, and plan, can work wonders.

    You're making this much more difficult on yourself building your flight from Montrose into the award booking. I'd suggest building into your schedule flying from Montrose to Denver a day early, preferably early in the day, and of course also a couple days in Nairobi before your safari begins to rest, recover (and if necessary pad in case of flight irregularities and problems). While it's optimal to have everything on one ticket, sometimes you have to prioritize, and I'd definitely put getting the upgrade above having your regional flight integrated. If you see a storm coming, it's much easier to catch an earlier (even day earlier) flight from Montrose than it is to recover from not being in Business.

    One thing in your original post, quoted above, caught my eye. Just want to be sure you purchased not just regular trip insurance covering the typical medical pre-trip cancellation issues but cancel for any reason coverage? Most policies won't allow for cancellations due to lack of appropriate air, even if "medically necessary" unless you have a specific "any reason" clause in the policy. Since you have pre-existing conditions, I'm sure you purchased within the right time frame, just want to be sure you have the correct coverage, too.
     
  10. Yup, that occurred to me last night, that my trip insurance did not cover "cancel trip for any reason". So in a much calmer state of mind, and with the help of JasonH's guide to "Award booking without Elite Status", I started looking again. This guide is such a great resource for newbies.

    I realized I can change the end of my safari, since we are spending the last four nights on the small island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya. That makes life easier.

    And you are absolutely right about leaving out the first, short segment. I will be looking into flying from AA hubs. We hoped to find a direct flight DFW-LHR, because it is easy for us to get to DFW. But I can check Denver, etc. This was great advice.

    And thanks for understanding how much these trips mean to someone with a chronic illness. I spend most of my days in bed, and so I have a lot of time to plan, research, etc. It gives me something to do, and something to look forward to. But I do have cognitive problems, so the awards mileage has been difficult. But I am getting it, finally.

    One question for the forum - it looks like we can only upgrade on one long segment, ie DFW-LHR on AA, or LHR-NBO on BA (I realize the fuel costs on BA). Any thoughts as to where to put most of my energy getting an upgrade?

    Many thanks,

    Cheryl
     
  11. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    Cheryl, that's a personal preference type of thing. While the DFW-LHR is an overnight, and most would want that upgraded to be able to sleep, I'd personally choose the last segment, when the travel fatigure is really hitting and I'd do anything to be comfortable (and be more likely to rest longer as well). But you know your MS and how you are flying. Will a night sitting up make everything else worse, or would a comfortable night make the rest of it okay?
     
  12. We have decided to TRY for Business on BA, DFW-LHR on Jan 17, and with a 4 hour layover do Economy on LHR-NBO. I think I will cancel our Giraffe Manor reservation in Nairobi for the 18th, stay at a generic hotel close to the airport, and maybe do Giraffe Manor on the way back. It's way overpriced, but I would love to be kissed awake by a giraffe first thing in the morning...

    Returning, we have decided to TRY for Club World, BA, on Feb 8, making a stopover in London for a night to recoup, and flying economy BA LHR-DFW.

    I will let you all know how it turns out. Burbunny, best of luck to you in your travels with your illness. And thanks to all,

    Cheryl
     
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