I meant to write about this yesterday, until 3PM rolled around and I looked into my calendar and noticed I had a major exam at 8PM, which I thought was actually today. Yeah, ouch. Anyway, there’s more great news for United flyers beyond confirmed regional upgrades sticking around and reciprocal upgrades on Continental. Once the reciprocal upgrades go into place for Continental and United, United 1K and Global Services members will be able to buy “M” fares and instantly upgrade. While not as attractive, all United elites will have access to elite instant upgrades for Y or B fares.
“M” fares are often quite reasonable. For some transcontinental flights they’re even $600 roundtrip. That seems like a lot on one hand, but you’re typically getting confirmed first class for that. Now I’ll continue to stick to United, book $200 fares and hope for upgrades, but there’s simply no better way to get into first class on a Continental transcon flight, where upgrades are impossible.
There’s a reason upgrades are so tough on Continental, and it has a lot to do with their low first class fares (relatively speaking) and their instant upgrade fares. So this is probably actually bad news for Continental elites since it’ll make upgrades ever so slightly harder, but good news for United elites that find it practical to fly Continental and are willing to pay a bit extra to fly first class.
The next step is United making first class fares lower and joining the instant upgrade camp. Then we can bye-bye to upgrades too.