United 1K’s: get your cheap first class tickets on Continental!

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.

Filed Under: Continental, Great Deals
  1. Ben, come on…putting school work BEFORE the blog and your faithful readers? I don’t know how I feel about that… 😉

  2. I guess that’s selective transcons, like EWR – SEA, with ~$600 fare. However, if you want to go somewhere desirable, like SFO or LAX, it’s at least $1100 with M class fare.

  3. Continental offered me a much better bargain first-class upgrade (EWR-LAS and LAS-EWR) when I used online check-in. On a $284 round-trip ticket (I connected to EWR via BWI), I was offered an upgrade to first-class for $99 each way. The web indicated 3 seats were available for this upgrade price.

    I took it from LAS-EWR and immensely enjoyed the great BusinessFirst seats and AVOD system on a 757-200. My only regret was declining the upgrade from EWR-LAS.

    Anyone else offered a super cheap transcon upgrade on CO? By the way, I am a 1K on UA and used my UA FF number.

  4. Ben-

    I’ve got an upcoming trip LAX-PWM to visit family. I booked it on UA as a A-fare one direction, and F the return (F on 3-class 777). I just checked the same trip on the CO website, as an M fare. The M fare is actually more!

    Does an M fare “work” like an A fare, or does there have to be upgrade space available?

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