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Old 03-08-2016, 07:32 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
3,203 posts, read 3,197,255 times
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I'm looking at booking a flight for myself and my mom to visit my brother in Tokyo for his graduation.


Originally I just figured I'd get coach seats for us and endure the pain, then started wondering about upgrading. For such a long flight and for my mother who's only flown one time domestic, I'm trying to determine if it might be a good idea.


But first I admit I honestly don't understand the upgrade rules with United. I know they charge a fee + miles. But by looking at the award chart I was having trouble determining what each letter class represents and thus trouble determining what I would pay in miles and fees to upgrade.


I'm currently a Premier Gold member with ~100k miles saved up...
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Old 03-08-2016, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
4,241 posts, read 8,080,146 times
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Dunno what the current upgrade 'charge' is, miles/dough...

I did 25 trips to JFK/EWR to NRT over the course of 9 years, doing a joint venture there.

My company did not pay for Biz class, but I got upgraded to Biz usually on one leg, over and/or back, due to the old Platinum status I had when I was still carrying the bag.

Having done Tourista class on the NY to Tokyo run several times, (at least on one leg), I can only say that the steerage class seat situ is no fun for anyone: gymnasts, tiny people, whomever.

The food, 'service', 'attention' is besides the point: it's a long non-stop flight from NY or ORD...I would pick off an upgrade for you and your Mother to Biz, imo.

Upon arrival in Narita, long walk to get your bag, a usual wait to get through C&E with your bags, and then Limo Bus to whatever hotel you are going; skip the pricey cabs. Most hotels are ~ hour from NRT. Figure on getting to your hotel aprox 2+ hours after wandering off the plane.

Enjoy the time difference, ( ) but the metro area is remarkable, as is the food. And, everything 'works'.

Some of the Flight Mavens here will be able to detail the upgrade methods/options.
GL, mD
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
3,203 posts, read 3,197,255 times
Reputation: 2031
Quote:
Originally Posted by motordavid View Post
Dunno what the current upgrade 'charge' is, miles/dough...

I did 25 trips to JFK/EWR to NRT over the course of 9 years, doing a joint venture there.

My company did not pay for Biz class, but I got upgraded to Biz usually on one leg, over and/or back, due to the old Platinum status I had when I was still carrying the bag.

Having done Tourista class on the NY to Tokyo run several times, (at least on one leg), I can only say that the steerage class seat situ is no fun for anyone: gymnasts, tiny people, whomever.

The food, 'service', 'attention' is besides the point: it's a long non-stop flight from NY or ORD...I would pick off an upgrade for you and your Mother to Biz, imo.

Upon arrival in Narita, long walk to get your bag, a usual wait to get through C&E with your bags, and then Limo Bus to whatever hotel you are going; skip the pricey cabs. Most hotels are ~ hour from NRT. Figure on getting to your hotel aprox 2+ hours after wandering off the plane.

Enjoy the time difference, ( ) but the metro area is remarkable, as is the food. And, everything 'works'.

Some of the Flight Mavens here will be able to detail the upgrade methods/options.
GL, mD
Thanks for the info.


I actually flew to NRT from CHI about 4 months ago, but that was for work it was in business class. I was so tired returning I slept the entire flight back without any meal service, etc (flight attendant woke me up).


I just got off the phone with United and they stated 30,000 miles each way plus $600 each way. That's 60k miles and an additional $1200 (per ticket). If I can get my mother to pay her own way I am fine with the $1200 fee. I don't "want" to pay it but after flying there I also can't really imagine doing that route in Economy. And I really can't see her getting through it too well as her first international trip.
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:20 AM
 
12,275 posts, read 18,401,528 times
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Heck for that amount I would just get business class reward travel and forget about the "upgrade" part. For a trip last year one business class ticket as I remember was 140,000 R/T on Delta - I got 2 tickets. Doesn't seem you have enough miles saved up however.
Another thing about intnl upgrades (at least on Delta) - I think you need to buy a full fare coach ticket to be eligible. Just not worth it.

Does not United have an upgraded economy section? - Delta calls it Economy Comfort. Free to FF members at a certain level if there is room. Slightly bigger seats, slightly better service. That may be an alternative.
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Old 03-08-2016, 06:52 PM
 
2,288 posts, read 3,932,930 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
Heck for that amount I would just get business class reward travel and forget about the "upgrade" part. For a trip last year one business class ticket as I remember was 140,000 R/T on Delta - I got 2 tickets. Doesn't seem you have enough miles saved up however.
Another thing about intnl upgrades (at least on Delta) - I think you need to buy a full fare coach ticket to be eligible. Just not worth it.

Does not United have an upgraded economy section? - Delta calls it Economy Comfort. Free to FF members at a certain level if there is room. Slightly bigger seats, slightly better service. That may be an alternative.
With United you can upgrade from just about any coach fare but the miles/cash upgrade cost will change depending on how discounted your economy ticket was. United indeed has Economy Plus seatswhich I have never experienced, but from what I have read you don't get anything except 5 extra inches in seat pitch.

OP, it's your call, I wouldn't do it but I am fine with long flights. Your mom may hate it anyway, even if you paid all the way to GlobalFirst.
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
3,203 posts, read 3,197,255 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barneyg View Post
With United you can upgrade from just about any coach fare but the miles/cash upgrade cost will change depending on how discounted your economy ticket was. United indeed has Economy Plus seatswhich I have never experienced, but from what I have read you don't get anything except 5 extra inches in seat pitch.

OP, it's your call, I wouldn't do it but I am fine with long flights. Your mom may hate it anyway, even if you paid all the way to GlobalFirst.
You're saying my mom might hate the upgraded (business class) seating?
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Old 03-09-2016, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,967,264 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southkakkatlantan View Post
You're saying my mom might hate the upgraded (business class) seating?
I think he means your mom may hate the flight anyway, even in First Class. Personally, I'd ask her what she thinks.
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,312,423 times
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For the time being business class fares to Asia from Canada are much cheaper (in US dollars) than from the USA; for example a round trip in business class on Air Canada from Toronto to Tokyo is US$2350 throughout June. You could use some miles to fly from Chicago to Toronto (or same fares available from Calgary or Vancouver) to position yourselves for the Japan flights. You'd earn a bunch of miles, including premium cabin bonuses, for the purchased tickets.

In general using miles and co-pays to upgrade on the likes of United or American is a pretty lousy deal. When you add the underlying coach ticket price and the co-pays, it reduces the value of the miles you'd spend hugely, and compared to alternatives like the above Canada fare, actually can result in a negative value.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
3,203 posts, read 3,197,255 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
I think he means your mom may hate the flight anyway, even in First Class. Personally, I'd ask her what she thinks.
My mom is a very simple person with no home phone, job, and very very very little life experience. She won't be able to (and very rarely ever does) provide much of an opinion; she always just relies on what I think would be best.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:41 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
3,203 posts, read 3,197,255 times
Reputation: 2031
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
Heck for that amount I would just get business class reward travel and forget about the "upgrade" part. For a trip last year one business class ticket as I remember was 140,000 R/T on Delta - I got 2 tickets. Doesn't seem you have enough miles saved up however.
Another thing about intnl upgrades (at least on Delta) - I think you need to buy a full fare coach ticket to be eligible. Just not worth it.

Does not United have an upgraded economy section? - Delta calls it Economy Comfort. Free to FF members at a certain level if there is room. Slightly bigger seats, slightly better service. That may be an alternative.
You bring up an excellent point.


I believe it's 130,000 miles R/T to Asia from Chi for a business class ticket. I could buy the other 30,000 miles I need and just use the miles to purchase the ticket. Is that what you are suggesting?


Then that just leaves the issue of paying for a business fare ticket outright for my mom; I would have to check on that rate with United (I'm scared to see what that will be). This would be my first time paying out of pocket for a business seat...
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