If you’ve read any of my posts, or know me personally, you will know that I am a huge fan of airline upgrades. I mean, who isn’t though!?
There’s a very good reason for my fanboy behaviour though – and it’s not just that I like seat 1A (although that is a thing).
Upgrades present possibly the best value you ever get for your points. In this post, I’ll talk about why that is.
Taxes & Fees
Airline ticketing is awash with all sorts of taxes and fees. Most of these you don’t see unless you look at the ticket breakdown. But this becomes quite important when you do an upgrade. You see, let’s say you upgrade from Premium Economy to Business, you have already paid some of the taxes and fees you would have paid on a Business class ticket. So therefore you only pay whatever difference there is left to pay. On some routes, this can be less than $50.
The taxes and fees are route, date and carrier dependant. Which essentially means they are never the same. Even the same flight, on the same carrier on the same day, can present two different upgrade fee differences.
Net points loss
When you upgrade from a ticket paid for with cash, as well as having already pre-paid some of the taxes and fees, you also have a ticket that earns points. When you upgrade from Premium Economy to Business, on most airlines you will still be credited for the underlying fare. I.e. you will still get the points from your Premium Economy ticket. This is great because it reduces the net points loss you have endured. For example, if your flight earns 20,000 points and the upgrade costs 30,000 points you’ve only really spent 10,000 points from your original balance because the points you earn during the flight help make up the difference.
My advice for anyone travelling on a full-service airline is to enquire about upgrades at every possible opportunity. Do it at check-in, in the lounge if you are visiting there and at the gate too. If you are doing this at the gate, you will need to do so before boarding commences.
If an upgrade is available, you have the points and the fees & taxes are low, it’s probably great value.