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Answers (4)

Buy Economy, Upgrade Myself

Buy Economy, Upgrade Myself

  1. PeterW

    Dear Lucky,
    My employer reimburses me for economy (not “basic” but not “flexible” either) air tickets. That’s fine. I’d like to be able to upgrade myself to business on flights to Asia (>10 hours). I’d pay with points (I have a fair number of Thank You points as well as miles with the US legacy carriers) or even my own funds if not so much. The two things that are important are: (1) I need the receipt with the economy-class fare so I can claim it; and (2) I’d like to get the upgrade arranged at the time of booking, rather than hope for the best in some window before take-off. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. David W

    I know that for American, if there are seats available as an upgrade, you can first purchase your ticket and get a receipt and then call AAdvantage to process the upgrade. It’ll cost a varying amount of cash and miles, depending on the originally ticketed fare class. Find out more here: [URL][/URL]

    United and Delta both have a similar system in place though I believe they are more restrictive…



    You [I]could[/I] also book any paid ticket, get a receipt for your employer and then, within 24 hours, cancel the ticket with no penalty. Then you could book award flights instead of going for upgrades.

  3. PeterW

    Thanks David. I think what I lack is experience in canceling a ticket … I’ve never done that and didn’t know I could at the Standard Economy level. Nice to know

    So with your first solution I’d first see about upgrade availability, then buy a (employer-reimbursable) ticket, then call to upgrade; and then if somehow that didn’t work cancel.

    I like your second approach, but … Morally it’s fine; but I can almost hear our Compliance Officers: “Finally we’ve got something to do! Let’s go all-in on Peter, who claimed reimbursement on a ticket he canceled.” [Then we hear something like this: [MEDIA=youtube]4HAUzVJPM2g[/MEDIA]

  4. David W

    Yep! I’d definitely call the airline and see which upgrades have confirmable space [I]first.
    With American, it’s easy because all paid fares are eligible for upgrades, if there is space. United and Delta only allow upgrades on more expensive fares. However, considering your employer lets you book economy flex (which are generally more expensive), those fare buckets should allow for paid/mileage upgrades. For the latter two airlines, you can ask phone agents to price out a ticket that allows for upgrades.

    Canceling a ticket is pretty easy and it can be done online or over the phone.

    Lastly, sometimes economy flex tickets are more expensive than discount business class tickets, depending on the route. If you find that to be the case for the flight you need, consider asking your employer to allow you to book the business class ticket outright? May not be a flex business class ticket though.

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