UAL Saver/Mileage Upgrade Awards

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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,961
2,060
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Maui Hawaii
#22
Thanks for your excellent information. I figured my lack of status had an impact. For cruises out of Europe, we fly a red-eye two days in advance (arriving 1 day in advance). This particular cruise is September 9 - 20, so trying for an award on evening of September 7th. We then stay in the city of disembarkation for a few days. We are somewhat flexible, but not too flexible. I will check JFK as well but we are 2 hours closer to EWR. I also try to avoid connections whenever possible, even if it comes at a price. My experience with connections is not very positive.
I would STRONGLY advise that you plan to arrive at your European port of embarkation 2 (or more) full days prior to cruise departure. If your scheduled flight is canceled you would then arrive on the day of departure, never a good idea for a cruise, even when traveling in the US to a US port of departure. If you miss your cruise by arriving late, insurance will not fix the mess you will have.
 
Dec 28, 2018
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#23
Saver awards by their own nature, have limited availability and are not available on all flights or routes. Sometimes an airline may post no available inventory on a specific flight route. Sometimes they may post only 1 seat (and you need 2, so it won't show up as available). Airlines may not post saver awards in advance, or may add saver seats to inventory at any time to reflect anticipated sales.

Be careful with upgrade awards as there may be restrictions as to the fare type that may be upgraded.
Thank you. I usually search a single seat first to see any availability. I'll just keep checking.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,961
2,060
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Maui Hawaii
#24
Agreed. We always fly the red-eye two days in advance, arriving one day in advance.
Neil means arrive at the port of embarkation two days in advance, not leave the US two days in advance. If your flight is canceled you may be forced to purchase full fare last minute tickets to get you to your cruise on time if you have no flexibility in your timing.
 
Dec 28, 2018
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#25
I would STRONGLY advise that you plan to arrive at your European port of embarkation 2 (or more) full days prior to cruise departure. If your scheduled flight is canceled you would then arrive on the day of departure, never a good idea for a cruise, even when traveling in the US to a US port of departure. If you miss your cruise by arriving late, insurance will not fix the mess you will have.
Excellent point. I'll move the flight date search back a day. That would actually give me more choices, as it would then not necessary need to be the red-eye.
 
Jun 11, 2016
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#26
expertflyer.com has a paid service ($9.99 a month or $99 for a year) which allows you to set up alerts for when saver seats become available. I've used it on United and American flights with some success. I've had a United flight clear as little as a day in advance and American flights at varying times and, of course, sometimes the saver doesn't clear if the cabin sells out . One could book the LH/LX seats currently available with connections and then cancel if the non-stop opens at saver rates. In that case, the miles used get redeposited for a relatively small fee and used for the Ua Flight. It's a bit of work but can be rewarding.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#27
One reason to consider Lufthansa out of JFK and EWR is Eu 261 protection — it does mean a connection through FRankfurt or Munich —if one takes a connection have 3 hours between flights. The lounges are nice. I fly Lufthansa with a connection at least 2 times a year and have not had a problem with luggage or terribly late flights. But with East Coast weather such as storms one never knows so better to arrive at least 2 days in advance.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Mar 29, 2016
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#28
I have successfully booked dozens of first and business class international award tickets. The trick is flexibility of dates, persistence and looking at alternate city pairs that are close enough. Look at one airline out and another back, again with different city pairs. Intra-Europe travel is relatively cheap and easy, often with options of mode of transportation. I use these alternate cities to expand my vacation. I have frequent flyer accounts with most of the airline alliances and I check each of them for flight options and availability. Not all flights are released or viewable on a given airline portal.
Here is a sample booking for 2 which I am taking in a couple of months. Miami-London on Virgin Atlantic (booked with Singapore Airlines). London to Cairo on British Airways (booked with Iberia). Cairo to Amman on Egyptair (Booked with Air Canada). Amman to Copenhagen on Royal Jordanian (Booked with American.) Copenhagen to Paris on Air France (booked with KLM). Paris to Key West on Delta (Booked with Delta). All booked with miles, all first or business class and all separate tickets. I mostly use transferable points from AMEX, Chase and Citi.
Finding award tickets is a game that bears little resemblance to buying a ticket.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#29
I agree, playing with points and miles is definitely a game, fortunately I enjoy it. I don't think you'll get what you want without constant checking on United's website. I rarely look for award tix, but prefer to upgrade from coach. I book way out most of the time and I don't want to wait-list anything. I don't think I've seen a confirmed upgrade available in two years; I'm silver but my status ends next week. There's just no point in being loyal to an airline that makes it so difficult to find a seat up front.

However ... and this is why I advise persistence ... two weeks ago I snagged tix SFO-Beijing up front for 30K miles and less than $1K on 10/31 ... and it's a real Polaris flight. I was stunned and walked away, came back the next morning to find them still there and booked them on the spot. So the upgrades are out there ... just have to peck away on those computer keys. Good luck and I hope you find something good very soon.