Sitting in first or business class is a luxurious experience everyone should try at least once in their life. Few people can afford to dish out the cash for a seat that costs $3,000 or more. For the average person, Its absurd to spend that much money for a plane ticket. This post will cover upgrade options for paid fares while we will explore how to upgrade a ticket paid for with miles at a later date.
Using miles to upgrade yourself from the back of the plane to the front is a great way to redeem miles if you don’t have enough points to book a premium cabin award. An upgrade can be requested any time after the ticket has been purchased, even at check-in at the airport.
When attempting to upgrade a paid fare on an international flight, keep in mind that airlines may restrict what kind of paid tickets are eligible for upgrades. For example, heavily discounted Economy and Business Class tickets may not be eligible for an upgrade with miles. Upgrade eligibility is determined by fare class that is provided at the time of booking.
In addition to the miles for the upgrade, some airlines require a cash co-pay as well. When you get an upgrade, traditionally you are limited to upgrade to the next available higher class. Meaning, that you won’t be able to upgrade from Economy to First Class.
Most importantly, upgrades are strictly capacity controlled and are subject to availability. There is no guarantee for an upgrade unless the airline confirms your upgrade before departure. Travelers often get anxious during the dreaded waiting period to see if they get the upgrade or not.
Below is a table for some major airlines and how much it would cost for an upgrade for an international flight.
|Airline||Upgradable Fare Classes
|American Airlines||Almost all||Starting at 15,000 miles||Starting at US$75|
|Delta Airlines||Y, B, M, H, Q, or K (most markets)||Call Delta for information||Call Delta for information|
|United Airlines||J,C,D,Z,P,Y,B,M,E,U, H,Q,V,W,S,T,K,L,G||Starting at 17,500 miles. Check here for exact miles needed.||Starting at US$125. Check here for exact co-pay.|
|All Nippon Airways||G,E,Y,B,M,U,H,J,C,D,Z||Starting at 12,000 miles||Call ANA for information|
|Japan Airlines||J,C*,D*,X*,W*,E*,Y,B*,H*,K*||Starting at 9,000 miles with discounts available for upgrades processed at the airport||Call Japan Airlines for information|
|Cathay Pacific||Y,B,H,K,M,W,R,J,C,D,I||Starting at 5,000 miles||Starting at 70 HKG for Premium Cabin taxes|
|Singapore Airlines||Almost All||Starting at 9,000 miles||Request Upgrade Online for information|
|Etihad||Almost All||Use mileage calculator to figure out upgrade cost in miles||Call Etihad for information|
|Emirates||Almost All||Use mileage calculator to figure out upgrade cost in miles||Call Emirates for information|
|Qatar||All except O,T,W,G||Call Qatar for information||Minimum of US$10|
|Turkish Airlines||Almost All||Starting at 10,000 miles||Call Turkish Airlines for information|
|British Airways||Almost All except Q,O, G||Avios difference between upgrading cabin classes – use Reward Flight Calculator to figure this out||Call British Airways for information|
What is your experience with upgrading international flights?