SWISS First Class Cash Upgrades (Including On Partner Award Tickets)

SWISS First Class Cash Upgrades (Including On Partner Award Tickets)

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A couple of years ago, I wrote about how SWISS sells cash upgrades to first class (for those booked in business class), including on partner award tickets. I wanted to revisit this topic, in hopes of getting some more data points. That’s because I’m hoping to review SWISS first class again soon, so I’m trying to figure out the most economical way to do so.

SWISS first class is pretty exclusive

SWISS offers first class on its long haul fleet, including 777s, A330s, and A340s. It’s the only major airline in the world to offer first class on all of its wide body aircraft. The product is solid, and ranks on my list of the world’s dozen best first class experiences.

The catch is that redeeming miles for SWISS first class isn’t easy:

  • SWISS doesn’t make first class award seats available to members of partner frequent flyer programs
  • SWISS first class award seats can only be booked by Miles & More Senator elite members and above; not only is Senator status hard to earn, but Miles & More has steep carrier imposed fuel surcharges on award tickets, and the points currency is hard to come by (Miles & More doesn’t partner with any major transferable points currencies)

For a vast majority of people, the only real way to book SWISS first class is to outright pay for it. Fortunately SWISS sometimes has good paid first class fares, in which case first class could be a bargain. However, this is usually between more competitive city pairs (like Stockholm to Dubai, for example), rather than for itineraries to & from Zurich (where SWISS has a lot more pricing power)

There is one other way to get into SWISS first class, which I think is worth highlighting.

SWISS’ 777-300ER first class seat

SWISS sells first class upgrades at the airport

I fly SWISS a fair bit — typically in business class, and almost always with miles earned through a partner airline frequent flyer program, like Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles. This way I can get a great award rate and don’t have to pay carrier imposed fuel surcharges (which for a one-way award ticket from the United States to Europe in business class would run nearly $1,000).

SWISS has a first class bid upgrade program, whereby you can bid on an upgrade that could clear between 48 and 132 hours before departure. The catch is that you have to be traveling on a ticket issued directly by SWISS. That could be useful if you find a discounted business class ticket, but isn’t ideal if you’re booking a ticket with miles through a partner program (in which case another airline would be issuing your ticket).

This is where there’s an interesting trick — SWISS allows upgrades for cash at the airport from business to first class, including for partner award tickets. In other words, subject to availability, you can upgrade a SWISS business class partner award ticket to first class on the day of departure for cash.

The cost seems to vary quite a bit, and I’ve heard of some upgrades costing $1,000, while other upgrades cost $2,000+. It seems to be based on the flight length, the load, and even on some level there’s discretion from the station manager (both in terms of whether upgrades will be sold, and to some extent, the pricing).

Now, I’d love more data points from OMAAT readers. If you have a partner SWISS business class award ticket anytime soon, I’d appreciate if you could ask how much a paid upgrade is at the airport (or maybe it’s even offered during online check-in?). I’m curious if it’s different if originating in Europe vs. the United States, and if the upgrade cost is consistent for a given market.

My theory is that the “shorter” long haul flights start at around $1,000 to upgrade, while the “longer” long haul flights start at around $2,000 to upgrade.

I’m asking in part because I’d finally like to review SWISS first class again — it has been many years since I’ve flown it, and I’d also like to review the ground experience in Zurich. So once I can figure out exactly how this works, I’ll be sure to plan a quick trip.

SWISS’ first class catering

Is a SWISS first class cash upgrade worth it?

It goes without saying that SWISS first class cash upgrades aren’t some incredible value on the day of departure, unlike the opportunities to upgrade Emirates flights with Skywards miles on the day of departure.

That being said, depending on how you look at it, this could be a good value for a special occasion:

  • I’d definitely say an upgrade cost closer to $1,000 could represent a good value, while an upgrade cost of around $2,000 is much harder to justify, since there aren’t really any incremental services on longer long haul flights
  • Assuming that pricing is the same if originating in Zurich, I’d say this could be worth it on a daytime flight to the United States, especially if you can use SWISS’ incredible first class lounge, which I rank as one of the best in the world

This really is all about how you frame it. On the one hand, many people would correctly wonder why they’d pay an extra $1,000 for first class on an eight hour flight when they already have a flat bed in business class, with solid food & drinks.

SWISS’ 777-300ER business class seat

On the other hand:

  • The $1,000 upgrade cost is only marginally more than the fuel surcharge you’d pay if booking a first class award from the United States to Europe through Miles & More, and that’s not even accounting for the fact that most of us don’t even have the status required to book these awards
  • Paid upgrades on the day of departure generally get you last seat availability, rather than being restricted to award availability
  • SWISS has some pretty incredible seasonal menus in first class, depending on how much you’re into that; we’ve seen the airline offer everything from caviar to truffle tastings in first class

Is the upgrade worth it in absolute terms? It depends who you ask, and how you value premium travel. But in relative terms I’d say this is almost on par with the only option to redeem miles for SWISS first class, which is only available to select elite members of Miles & More.

SWISS’ first class lounge Zurich

Bottom line

SWISS sometimes offers upgrades to first class for cash on the day of departure, even if you’re traveling on a business class award ticket booked through a partner airline. The data points I’ve seen suggest that upgrades start at around $1,000 for a “shorter” long haul flight (like Chicago to Zurich), while they start at closer to $2,000 for a “longer” long haul flight (like Los Angeles to Zurich). There seems to be some variability to the pricing on a particular route, and I can’t quite figure out exactly what triggers that.

I’m not at all suggesting that this is a great deal, but rather just that it’s worth being aware of, given how elusive SWISS first class is otherwise. If you’re flying in SWISS business class anytime soon on a partner award ticket, I’d love some more data points about upgrade costs (even if you have no intention of actually upgrading)!

Does anyone have experience with paid upgrades to SWISS first class on day of departure? At what price would you upgrade to SWISS first class?

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  1. Rick L Guest

    My family of 4 flew in Business Class ZRH-ORD on 12/31/23. Avianca Life Miles award ticket. 30 min before departure I asked gate agent about buy-up to First. Gate agent said there were 5 open seats. She asked to see my boarding pass. As I was handing it she said my current ticket basis affects buy-up price. She took less than 5 seconds to look at computer and said "2010 per person". She couldn't finish...

    My family of 4 flew in Business Class ZRH-ORD on 12/31/23. Avianca Life Miles award ticket. 30 min before departure I asked gate agent about buy-up to First. Gate agent said there were 5 open seats. She asked to see my boarding pass. As I was handing it she said my current ticket basis affects buy-up price. She took less than 5 seconds to look at computer and said "2010 per person". She couldn't finish her sentence before I said No thank you. I assume that's CHF. So, with todays conversion that would have been $2365 ...per person. Whaaa??

  2. Marc Guest

    On June 27th I was booked in Business Class for the Chicago-Zurich flight. I enquired at check-in and was offered an upgrade to first class for $888USD. I accepted and had the best flight of my life.

  3. Senator Guest

    One experience I have for cash upgrades at the airport one being denied when booked on UA prefix and UA ticket stock as revenue.

    I own a small business which is connected to PartnerPlus Benefits, the LHG small business program. I am also a M&M Senator. Pre-Covid I would upgrade almost 10 segments a year from Z-class to A-class mostly via PartnerPlus. The other segments using either bidding.

    There is one more trick: 96 hrs...

    One experience I have for cash upgrades at the airport one being denied when booked on UA prefix and UA ticket stock as revenue.

    I own a small business which is connected to PartnerPlus Benefits, the LHG small business program. I am also a M&M Senator. Pre-Covid I would upgrade almost 10 segments a year from Z-class to A-class mostly via PartnerPlus. The other segments using either bidding.

    There is one more trick: 96 hrs for HON and 72hrs for SEN, you can buy an upgrade as long as A-class if offered via SEN and HON hotlines in Basel. The price last time was €1,000.

    In general I find the ZRH-YUL sector Eastbound being the easiest to clear.

  4. John Guest

    ORD-ZRH J->F $1,080 USD per person; offered for our party of four. Ticket booked with SQ KrisFlyer

  5. John Guest

    ORD-ZRH J->F $1,080 USD per person; offered for our party of four. Ticket booked with SQ KrisFlyer

  6. Bradley Pinzer Guest

    I inquired on my EZE to GRU flight as there was no one booked in first but they said it was $1300 on the 3 hour flight, and they did not have any food catered for first. That was a hard pass. Business was relatively empty and my wife, infant, and I had forward mini cabin to ourselves. (Apparently infants aren’t allowed there typically but the FA let us move there as there was no one there)

  7. Globe trotter Guest

    23rd Dec ZRH-DEL. United ticketed D class paid fare. $725 J-F. Might do it. It’s been same upgrade amount for past 2 months.

  8. Tobi Guest

    HKG-ZRH booked with Miles and More in Business.
    Flight Beginning for December was completely full in C, just 3 F seats were free. Upgraded the whole family for 1100 USD per person.
    Not bad for a 14hr flight!

  9. D3kingg Guest

    I’d be willing to pay $1200 to upgrade from Y to F on SWISS. I would be willing to pay $50-$75 for a premium meal in Y if I was originating in ZRH. I don’t fly SWISS.

  10. Pablo Guest

    SFO>ZRH offered CHF 1,280 (about $1450) on a LifeMiles J ticket during online check-in. The last three upgrades I have taken have all been offered to me during online check-in, which is great, and for SFO/LAXZRH have all been about the same price.

    1. InternationalTraveler Gold

      I was quoted a similar price to upgrade ZRH-SFO on a paid Swiss business ticket in the P fare class during online check in. I had a great seat in business so I did not take the offer. Otherwise I would have been tempted.

  11. Cedric Guest

    Mirrors my experiences. I've seen as low as 1500 CAD from YUL but its always much more expensive from ZRH. You have a much better chance of there being upgrades available on YUL-ZRH or BOS/JFK-ZRH than longer flights.

  12. Dany Guest

    It depends on the load in F and J. If J is oversold upgrade is about 1000-1500 depending flight distance. If not oversold or F is already booked more than 4 seats it gets more like 1500-2500. best chance for a in ZRH at the transfer desk not at the check in nor the gate.

  13. kjb Guest

    We had a booked ARN-MUN-DEL on Lufthansa (flying two weeks ago), the first segment was cancelled the morning of the flight. After some quick chatting with customer support we managed to get on the routing ARN-ZRH-DEL on Swiss. At the airport we there was 6/8 first class seats available and inquired at the service desk about paid upgrades. Ended up paying 1200 CHF per ticket to upgrade then went direct to the first class lounge....

    We had a booked ARN-MUN-DEL on Lufthansa (flying two weeks ago), the first segment was cancelled the morning of the flight. After some quick chatting with customer support we managed to get on the routing ARN-ZRH-DEL on Swiss. At the airport we there was 6/8 first class seats available and inquired at the service desk about paid upgrades. Ended up paying 1200 CHF per ticket to upgrade then went direct to the first class lounge. Interestingly at the gate they then made several calls for “great upgrade offers to first class” ... it ended up 5/8 seats occupied en route. Well worth the cost for the experience and a terrific flight.

  14. David H. Guest

    LAX - ZRH on a United Biz Award. Upgrade was not proactively offered, I had to ask. They first looked at me like I was crazy, but then after 5 minutes on the computer and a phone call they said one was available for $1200. I felt bad for making them jump through so many hoops only to decline the offer. But I was tempted.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      I prefer the other way better leaving Europe back to the states. A morning flight in Europe when it’s the middle of the night back home ; a flat bed would be great.

  15. Ly Guest

    NRT-ZRH booked via UA miles was ~$2000 at the counter. (a few months ago)

  16. Tyler Guest

    Last August I upgraded from J (booked via LifeMiles) to F on GVA-JFK for about $890 USD. Was prompted via email the day before check-in. Would do it again.

    1. Santos Guest

      Great deal and excellent data point. Congrats!

  17. Euro Gold

    Route was MXP-ZRH-ORD booked on Aeroplan. Didn't do online check in and didn't ask about an upgrade since I spent a bit too much on holiday already and had little time at ZRH so couldn't have gotten a proper F lounge experience. There was a woman at the gate at ZRH who was making an announcement about how upgrades to F were available in very poor German (like 1st year American high school student) but did not specify the price.

  18. Quinten Guest

    AMS-ZRH-DEL in P business - upgraded ZRH-DEL for €530 via bidding last June. Got accepted 2 days before the flights.

  19. SMR Guest

    $1000 is what i paid for 5 nights at the Rizt CArlton Berlin off season... so no..6 hours to sleep in a wider bed... haha., no. The food is crap..its airplane food.

    1. Mick Guest

      Very true. Lounge and airplane food even in first not up to restaurant quality. But it’s a fun hobby nevertheless.

  20. John Guest

    ORD-ZRH, offered upgrade J->F for &1,080 per person. Ticket booked via SQ KrisFlyer.

  21. Anna Guest

    I’m wondering if you have data points on Economy to Business upgrade price? I’m looking at SFO to ZRH and only plan to upgrade that overnight leg. I’ve seen in the past it’s cheaper to pay economy and upgrade each leg, or just upgrade the overnight leg :)

  22. Adam Guest

    1,580 CHF quoted during online checkin to upgrade from business to first on ZRH-ORD on a ticket booked with LifeMiles. Business was showing 9+ seats available at the time.

  23. criostal Guest

    Just checked for JFK to ZRH. Couldn’t find out since the checkin agent told me “there are only two classes on this flight and you are already in Business.” This morning, the F cabin showed 50% unoccupied.

  24. GM Guest

    I want to share my experience attempting to upgrade to Swiss First from Business on JFK to GVA and to clarify misconceptions for a recent flight in July 2022.

    I booked an award I class ticket with Aeroplan miles and was getting an option on the website/app to upgrade for an astounding $1920! But I decided to wait until the airport to ask...

    At the airport, I spoke with a clueless Hawaiian agent who wasn't...

    I want to share my experience attempting to upgrade to Swiss First from Business on JFK to GVA and to clarify misconceptions for a recent flight in July 2022.

    I booked an award I class ticket with Aeroplan miles and was getting an option on the website/app to upgrade for an astounding $1920! But I decided to wait until the airport to ask...

    At the airport, I spoke with a clueless Hawaiian agent who wasn't clear at all on what to do for an upgrade to first. After he spoke with someone at Swiss--who intentionally made themselves scarce--I got a quote for $1920 yet again! Shockingly, the price hadn't dropped out hours from departure. Keep in mind, only 3 F seats had been sold out of 8 and the business cabin was full. Economy was very empty.

    After declining the offer, I went through security and thought that at the gate the price might be lower. Instead, Charles, the gate agent with Swiss told me that the ticket was NOT upgradeable nor could a cash co-pay be used to upgrade I class. I told him this was false, but he didn't believe me and was confrontational.

    Overall, the ground staff at Swiss have "attitude". The check in process is chaotic.

    I ultimately asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor told me that ONLY when the cabin is oversold (he didn't specify which cabin but I can assume economy) do they do "kiosk" dumps / airport cash upgrades for prices around $999. So in summary, the price for these could range from probably around $1000 to $2000 depending on the situation.

  25. Russell Guest

    I just upgraded from business to First with cash, Zurich to Chicago, on an award ticket booked through United. Cost was 889 CHF (about $990 USD at time of writing). I recommend doing the upgrade at the transfer desk at the Zurich airport as I they had some system issues at the gate when trying to do the upgrade. They eventually escorted me to the transfer desk to complete the transaction. Happy travels to all!

    1. Petri Diamond

      Where can I buy 889 CHF with 910 USD? The rate should be 1CHF = 1.16 USD, which concerts 889 CHF as 1,031 USD.

  26. Jacob Guest

    SFO- CPH Dec 24, offered upgrade $1289 to first class from business booked on LifeMiles 68,000.

  27. Risto Guest

    I asked about this (upgrading a biz ticket booked with United miles) on a ZRH-ORD flight in late October 2021. I was informed that the price to upgrade from biz to first was $1749 CHF. I played dumb and said that I had heard it was only $949 CHF, but was told that this promo price only applied when biz was oversold and that $1749 was the "normal" price. I was unable to get them...

    I asked about this (upgrading a biz ticket booked with United miles) on a ZRH-ORD flight in late October 2021. I was informed that the price to upgrade from biz to first was $1749 CHF. I played dumb and said that I had heard it was only $949 CHF, but was told that this promo price only applied when biz was oversold and that $1749 was the "normal" price. I was unable to get them to budge, even after quizzing four different agents (ticketing, check-in, customer service, and biz lounge). I will say that all were quick to quote the price when I asked, so they definitely knew what I was talking about. I declined the upgrade.

  28. MIA Traveller Guest

    MIA to ZRH
    Upgrade $1499 - 10 hour flight. I stayed in business.

  29. Ludo Guest

    Any chance to have a paying upgrade from miles and more business award?

  30. Jared Guest

    Flying ZRH-BOS biz on a LifeMiles award. upgrade to F at Check-in was 1499 chf

  31. Bear Guest

    I got my wife spoiled during the good old days when great first class fares were sold out of CMB, RTW fares were a great value from, BKK, JNB , Mru etc. those days are gone. Mostly.
    We are both way past retirement age and are still working. We went back to work to help during the pandemic . With Covid we have traveled more domestically to hospitals in crisis to take care of...

    I got my wife spoiled during the good old days when great first class fares were sold out of CMB, RTW fares were a great value from, BKK, JNB , Mru etc. those days are gone. Mostly.
    We are both way past retirement age and are still working. We went back to work to help during the pandemic . With Covid we have traveled more domestically to hospitals in crisis to take care of covid patients all over the USA. But we have not traveled internationally since February of 2020.
    We will take our hard earned money and spend it buying fist class tickets internationally
    Still cheaper than paid business class, in some situations.
    If we live through the pandemic after our exposure working in Hospitals full of people with Covid. Why not live a little. We have seen too many people deprived of life.
    Get your Jabbs and stay out of my hospitals! Leave the hospitals for people who are sick and have no alternatives!
    Life is too short to fly coach.

    1. UncleRonnie Gold

      Enjoy it Bear, you've earned it!

  32. Miramar Guest

    Over this labor day, the upgrade at check in for EWR-ZRH was 1700 USD from business to first, and 1729 CHF from ZRH-JFK. If it matters both flights were direct, like I was traveling to Zurich/Lucerne from NYC.

  33. Jack Attack Guest

    Was quoted $2k for SFO > ZRH late 2019 (paid business ticket issued by United). On return the cabin was full but day before departure one seat opened—I called United to reprice the ticket with second leg in First, fare difference was $187 :) best $187 I’ve ever spent

  34. Ben Guest

    I flew IAD-ZRH-FCO one way on a United reward ticket last week and they offered a me a business to first upgrade for $1,499.

    They lost my bags too…

  35. VD Guest

    While this not about Swiss but about Air France but I was offered an upgrade to La Premiere on a business award ticket from IAH to CDG for $2,300.

  36. Frederik Guest

    I personally would not worry about First class disappearing on SWISS, it is probably Europe’s most premium heavy carrier and the Flagship of Central Europe’s Lufthansa Group. Of all the global carriers even including Emirates (post a380), I can see SWISS most likely keeping First class, it is actually Asian carriers who are following America in dumping International First at a rapid rate eg Malaysian and Korean. Whereas Air France, Lufthansa and BA do still...

    I personally would not worry about First class disappearing on SWISS, it is probably Europe’s most premium heavy carrier and the Flagship of Central Europe’s Lufthansa Group. Of all the global carriers even including Emirates (post a380), I can see SWISS most likely keeping First class, it is actually Asian carriers who are following America in dumping International First at a rapid rate eg Malaysian and Korean. Whereas Air France, Lufthansa and BA do still seem to be planning keeping both First Class specific amenities and lounges and smaller First class cabins on their new next generation aircraft.

    If you are wanting to try some current First Class before it disappears, better trying it in Asia eg Thailand, Korea and Japan. As like the states, I can actually see it going in the East on international aircraft before Europe.

  37. Cedric Guest

    There is an entire thread on FT about this. 1k USD is the cheapest for sure. Lowest I’ve seen from MTL is 1500 CAD for the night flight. Keep in mind the E First Class lounge is closed. I would say it’s way more interesting flying F FROM Zurich on a day flight but the prices from Zurich are not as low and in CHF.

  38. mateo Guest

    im confirming, johannesburg to zürich (business class ticket using miles) was 1000 usd to upgrading to first.

  39. Alex Guest

    I get it that if you're already ticketed in J on Swiss, the following comparison won't help but I still think it's fair.

    LH F will normally cost you extra 24K-44K miles over J depending on how you book it. I would much rather pay these miles than $1000+ for a similar upgrade on LX.

    Monetary $1000 will buy you 2-3 great meal experiences, each way better than LX F food.

    So really hard for...

    I get it that if you're already ticketed in J on Swiss, the following comparison won't help but I still think it's fair.

    LH F will normally cost you extra 24K-44K miles over J depending on how you book it. I would much rather pay these miles than $1000+ for a similar upgrade on LX.

    Monetary $1000 will buy you 2-3 great meal experiences, each way better than LX F food.

    So really hard for me to see how this upgrade makes sense. And yes, a bunch of screaming kids in J is no fun but I presume it was their initial reaction and they quickly calmed down once the plane took off.

  40. Tom Guest

    I’ve normally used the bid upgrade on LX/LH and usually offer either 1100 USD/ 1100 EUR as this is what I find worthwhile for LAX-ZRH/FRA or SIN-ZRH/FRA. Not much more. And thus far, 100% of the time I got the bid. Because if one is to pay more, may as well just buy the F fare directly instead of J. Nowadays, often we can find F fares roundtrip for about 6000 USD or 5000 EUR...

    I’ve normally used the bid upgrade on LX/LH and usually offer either 1100 USD/ 1100 EUR as this is what I find worthwhile for LAX-ZRH/FRA or SIN-ZRH/FRA. Not much more. And thus far, 100% of the time I got the bid. Because if one is to pay more, may as well just buy the F fare directly instead of J. Nowadays, often we can find F fares roundtrip for about 6000 USD or 5000 EUR from smaller EU destinations such as OPO/LIS/NCE. I’ve never tried to ask for cash upgrade at check in though. Will ask next time when I fly out of ZRH at the end of September.

    1. kul2beyond Guest

      Hello Tom. Am looking to do a paid award upgrade on LH to F, for a SIN-FRA itinerary. I am wondering if it will usually be 1100EUR based on your experience? Thank you.

  41. AJ Guest

    Flew ZRH-SFO J class and the price was around 1600 CHF if I recall correctly. I considered it, and passed. I would do it for about $1,000, not more. I do think that LX F class is absolutely delightful, though.

  42. Hiro Guest

    Swiss (& Lufthansa) really tries hard to sell their premium products these days. From Tokyo where I'm based now, the return fare to Johannesburg via Europe is sold from US$6,300 in F and US$2,700 in J, where all 4 segments are 10hr+ flight. The itinerary can also be split between half Swiss and half Lufthansa as well.

  43. Weymar Osborne Diamond

    Since First Class appears to be a dying breed, I've been making it a point to spend the extra miles/cash to be able to experience it while I can, and then long-term down the road I'll be happy to fly in Business Class all the time. This is something I'd probably pay for just once to be able to experience it, and then I probably wouldn't do so again, unless the experience absolutely rocked my socks off.

  44. MKLDH Gold

    Booked roundtrip P fare between ORD and ZRH for November. The online bid upgrade section is shown as unavailable. Will check what can happen during check-in

  45. Xyz Guest

    Last week LAX - ZRH with paid business class ticket, upgrade offer to F was USD 1,609 when checking in on the LH app.

  46. Frank Valentino Guest

    I have a Swiss biz flight coming from Venice to Bos next May through Zurich . Would I ask when I check in at Venice airport regarding the paid upgrade to first ? Thanks

  47. Dan Guest

    Two years ago on a paid ticket from ORD to ZRH inquired at check in and was offered $1,000 to upgrade to F. Was told that it is special pricing due to business being overbooked. Didn’t take the offer. The same was true a year prior to that on a business award booked through United.

  48. jordan23 Guest

    AF offered an upgrade from J to F on award booked directly. Was about 1700 cdg-ord. I passed

  49. Veldo Guest

    Confirming ORD-ZRH business to first upgrade is $999. My P2 and I both took the offer when checking in at the airport in July 2021. For the experience, it was absolutely worth it!

  50. El Plauzo Guest

    Hello Ben,
    This is unrelated but may be of interest to you. I searched FRA-SIN in December and January and saw that the cheapest business class fares on QR are now P fare, not R fare. P is still listed as First Class on American Advantage. So if you are looking for a status run, this would be a good opportunity.

  51. Daniel Guest

    ZRH->DXB award ticket in February 2021 (booked via M&M). Same-day upgrade into an empty F cabin was ~1000 CHF per person.

    For comparison, cash upgrades from Y to J on the same flight were 750 CHF.

  52. Dean Flynn Guest

    I flew SFO-ZRH in Dec 2020 on an UA award in Business, when I asked at the gate about the F upgrade, I was quoted $1500...I declined as I was perfectly happy being in the Stübli mini cabin.

  53. Clem Diamond

    In July, I had an award business class ticket CDG > ZRH > JFK booked through Lifemiles. I had every intention to ask for a F upgrade at the airport, but to my surprise, when I checked in online, they offered me an F upgrade for 1000 euros. I jumped on it, knowing how hard it is to fly that product and I thought it was very worth it (although in the end I've never...

    In July, I had an award business class ticket CDG > ZRH > JFK booked through Lifemiles. I had every intention to ask for a F upgrade at the airport, but to my surprise, when I checked in online, they offered me an F upgrade for 1000 euros. I jumped on it, knowing how hard it is to fly that product and I thought it was very worth it (although in the end I've never flown Swiss in J so I guess I can't compare, hah). The caveat is that the F lounge was still closed so the ground services were inexistent.

    I wonder if it's like those cheap discounted upgrades that Air France offers to lure people in, that they will give you once every few years, since it was my first time flying Swiss ever.

    1. Peter Guest

      Into which booking class does it book? Did you get any miles for that, if yes, earning as F cabin?

    2. Clem Diamond

      @Peter it remained in I, the original class, and I didn't earn any additional miles. I believe that's pretty standard for check in/discounted upgrades, at least with the other airlines that I regularly do that with.

    3. John Giannone Guest

      Not necessarily, I took a buy up offer from Economy to Business on Qatar and it was reticketed into a discount business class fare, I received the appropriate mileage.

      But yeah, It was mentioned in the offer online for LX- no additional mileage or elite credits.

  54. Stuart Guest

    Everyone is doing this now, but was also a thing pre-pandemic. I have used this at the airport check-in numerous times, often on award tickets in Business. To IAD on BA they usually want around $900.00. Air France has been around $1200.00. They seldom offer it. You normally have to ask the counter check-in agent.

  55. Philipp A Guest

    I flew ZRH-SFO early August and they offered first upgrades at the gate. I only overheard someone asking for the price and it was a little over 2000 (not sure if CHF or EUR).

  56. John G Guest

    @Ben

    I would suspect the chart they came back with is likely the same used at the airport. It was a region based chart, almost like an award chart. It was printed and laminated. I saw from Y to J was 1499 Euros (because the crew member at first pointed to this then I commented and he pointed to J to F at 2499 Euros).

    Also this trip out of 4 others in the past...

    @Ben

    I would suspect the chart they came back with is likely the same used at the airport. It was a region based chart, almost like an award chart. It was printed and laminated. I saw from Y to J was 1499 Euros (because the crew member at first pointed to this then I commented and he pointed to J to F at 2499 Euros).

    Also this trip out of 4 others in the past two years on LX was the only time I saw the online check in offer. First was nearly full, only two seats were left at the morning of the departure, so I suspect a few people may have took the bait as there was 4 open when I checked in.

    FYI, I was on a partner award ticket as well. Forgot to mention that.

    Hope this helps.

  57. Bubba Guest

    I'm curious if they even sell upgrades at ZRH. It's worth noting that you can also buy into Business from Economy in the US at check-in. In January, such a Y to J upgrade EWR-ZRH cost me $809. In the past, I've seen similar prices from SFO (so, maybe 8-900 bucks).
    Of course, there has to be availability, and their price might change for a variety of factors. But it never hurts to show up early and ask if they're selling upgrades.

  58. John G Guest

    Two weeks ago, I flew NCE-ZRH-LAX and during the online check in process I was offered an upgrade to First on the LAX sector for 1300 euros. Since I had a throne seat in J and intended on sleeping the entire flight, I didn't click the offer. When I got on the plane, I was surrounded by screaming children (behind me, in front of me and beside me).. I immediately asked the crew if it...

    Two weeks ago, I flew NCE-ZRH-LAX and during the online check in process I was offered an upgrade to First on the LAX sector for 1300 euros. Since I had a throne seat in J and intended on sleeping the entire flight, I didn't click the offer. When I got on the plane, I was surrounded by screaming children (behind me, in front of me and beside me).. I immediately asked the crew if it was still possible to upgrade. They inquired with the gate agent and came back with a chart and it was 2499 Euros and I was told the meal will still be from J. I declined.

    The deal seems to be during online check in.. those deals also go away pretty quickly so if you see one you should just take it and not think about it and it expect it to be there in an hour.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ John G -- Very interesting, thanks for the data point. For what it's worth, both of the other data points I had were from the airport rather than during online check-in, so I wonder if pricing is just higher onboard, higher ex-ZRH, or what.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      Or you could have tried to bribe the kids for 1300 Euros to shut up.

    3. Wilhelm Guest

      I’m sure the parents would have agreed to a much lower bribe than that hahaha

  59. jfhscott Guest

    I am just left to wonder WWED (What would Endre do?).

    1. Florian Guest

      He doesn't bother with miles or upgrades as we all know - straight to booking class F, fully flexible, of course.

      At least that was before he acquired his own fleet of jets.

    2. Endre Guest

      During Covid, I book all seats in First Class to have more privacy.

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Dany Guest

It depends on the load in F and J. If J is oversold upgrade is about 1000-1500 depending flight distance. If not oversold or F is already booked more than 4 seats it gets more like 1500-2500. best chance for a in ZRH at the transfer desk not at the check in nor the gate.

2
Quinten Guest

AMS-ZRH-DEL in P business - upgraded ZRH-DEL for €530 via bidding last June. Got accepted 2 days before the flights.

2
Russell Guest

I just upgraded from business to First with cash, Zurich to Chicago, on an award ticket booked through United. Cost was 889 CHF (about $990 USD at time of writing). I recommend doing the upgrade at the transfer desk at the Zurich airport as I they had some system issues at the gate when trying to do the upgrade. They eventually escorted me to the transfer desk to complete the transaction. Happy travels to all!

2
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