How to Upgrade to First Class

Jon Douglas outlines the basic strategies for flying first class instead of coach.


I don’t agree with all of it. For instance:

    But if you have the 20,000 miles that a round-trip upgrade costs, it’s probably worthwhile to save up a few thousand more for a coach-class award, or wait until you have the miles needed for a free first-class ticket.

I consider upgrades (at least on flights of over three hours each way) to be a better value than a domestic coach ticket. Why? Because I can buy a roundtrip ticket to California for less than $300. I’d gladly pay a $300 premium to sit in first class on those flights! Plus, I’m earning miles on my paid ticket, but not on my award ticket. And finally, the miles on a paid ticket count towards elite status (and more upgrades) but the miles on an award ticket do not.

Remember that the best value in award tickets is generally international upgrades, followed by international premium class award tickets, followed by domestic upgrades.

Nevertheless, the article is on the whole sound if a bit too general since the nuances for each program are going to be different. Worth a read if you’re unfamiliar with the upgrading landscape — and then drop me a line for specific suggestions on your preferred carrier or for a specific trip.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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