Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

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noco-hawkeye
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Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by noco-hawkeye » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm

We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.

livesoft
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by livesoft » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:46 pm

This month I upgraded on a flight to China to economy plus mostly because the rest of the airfare was paid by somebody else. It wasn't worth the $130. I did not upgrade on the way back. I didn't notice any difference in comfort. I actually slept better on the way back.

I am taller than the tallest height you mentioned.
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BV3273
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by BV3273 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:48 pm

Personal preference. For me anything over 3-4 hours is worth the upgrade. I find it miserable having someone's seat reclined and in my face.

travellight
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by travellight » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:58 pm

I would definitely pay for that upgrade. I don't have specific rules but I can do economy for around 2 hours or less. More than 4 hours and I would be willing to pay up to about $200. International travel, I prefer business class. I would pay up to $2500 per person for that.

RudyS
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by RudyS » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:12 pm

I'm 6'3". No question! I use Delta Comfort Plus whenever it's offered. Some decisions can be easy.

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by Nearly A Moose » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:23 pm

Hard to say without knowing the financial situation, but I'd consider the upgrade both ways. But that's about $1000, so not an amount to sneeze at. But my philosophy is increasingly that airline travel is a systemically miserable experience and I'm willing to spend gratuitous amounts of money to make it even marginally better. I'm trying to figure out where you're flying - from the durations and redeye placement, I assume you're flying from middle of the country to Hawaii. I think Asia from the West Coast would be longer. Or maybe you're European or something. I digress.

The challenge you're facing is the opposite of what I usually have flying from the East Coast to Europe. I value getting some sleep on the redeye over because it decreases the "wasted first day" effect, and having any amount of room helps me get more comfortable and get a bit more sleep. I actually usually don't have problems flying West while staying awake during the day for a non-business flight because I just read a book and/or watch a couple movies, neither of which really requires that much space (different story if I'm flying for business, I will go to great lengths to have my laptop screen fully extended thank you very much). You're flying the opposite direction, but unless you're willing to give up the first day back home to recover, you probably would also value some sleep.

So, if it's in the budget, I'd consider the upgrade. I'd prioritize the redeye for sleep benefits (but based on personal preference), but would go for both if I could. But for the amount, I'd also spend a few minutes exploring whether there are any paid upgrades to a lie-flat business class seat for the redeye available at 2-3x the cost of the upgrade you're considering (or a comparable amount of miles). If so, I'd strongly consider upgrading the redeye to lie-flat and flying basic economy for the daytime flight. But I'm also assuming that's a pipe dream...
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

livesoft
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by livesoft » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:40 pm

I want to say that I get an aisle seat when I do not intend to sleep, but get a window seat if I will sleep. And then the placement of the window with respect to the reclined seat is of utmost importance. I want my head to "fit" against the inside wall of the airplane. Where my legs go and what the seat in front of me are of almost no consequence.
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noco-hawkeye
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by noco-hawkeye » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:41 pm

The flight is Denver -> Hawaii. Going out there will be a long day, but we can manage. If we can sneak in 2hrs of a nap on the way out, that would be great (but I'm not planning on it). I also value getting there and being in a better mood and having that extra bit of space.

Coming back we are always a wreck on the return day, but we can complain all we want to those that didn't go to Hawaii. 8-) For that flight, I think econ plus is not worth it. Everyone tries to sleep, and it's just marginal in the best of cases. Plus, no one wants to be headed back. It's like prisoner transport on the way back.

I'd trade the upgrade to econ plus on the return flight - and instead spend money on a helicopter tour or boat ride. (thats my current line of thought at least)

Thanks for the feedback all! Shopping the seats right now!

ssquared87
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by ssquared87 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:13 pm

Generally anything over 3 hours I try to get some extra space. If it's over 6 hours, then business class or whatever option provides lie flat seats.

Even up to 6 hours regular seats could be fine for me unless the flight is packed or the airline has abnormally small economy seats. I'm at the point where I'd rather not risk it though and just upgrade anything over 3 hrs to economy +. The experience of a bad flight can linger and ruin an otherwise spectacular trip.

curmudgeon
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by curmudgeon » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:12 am

Lots of circumstances factor into it for me. I don't have a simple rule. A couple of years ago we were flying to Hawaii, which is only a 5 hr flight for us. We were on Alaska, which doesn't abuse the economy passengers quite so much as some of the others. The day before the flights (off-season) they offer upgrade for $50, going to 2-2 instead of 3-3 seats with more legroom and a meal. At that price, we took it. Even then, though, one of the directions seemed marginal value, as the meal was lukewarm and the flight attendant pretty much vanished for most of the flight.

For just a bit of extra legroom on an 8 hour flight, $130 for upgrade might not make the cut for me, it's hard to say. Throw in a bunch of legroom and wider seats, and maybe so.

I'm chewing over a somewhat similar dilemma. I have an 11 hour flight to London coming up, and miles on both AA and UA. AA miles are somewhat hard for me to use in general (not many flights from my local airport), but in this case I could use them for business class on British Airways for the most convenient route/time. The catch is, there would be about $500 in fees each way (BA is obnoxious on mileage tickets). Alternately I could fly United from a slightly less convenient airport and spend more valuable miles but minimal fees. Or I could fly Norwegian "premium economy" for about the price of the BA fees and save the miles for another time.

For the most part, there's no "right" answer; we should really just pick one and move on, rather than fret about it...

SrGrumpy
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:37 am

I assume you are flying United, and you mention "Basic Economy" - which is their new cheap/nasty option and will not allow the four of you to sit together. I'm surprised they gave you the buy-up option. If you can upgrade to Economy Plus for $130 each, all you get is a few extra inches of legroom and the joy of sitting together in chosen seats. (I note that you already have some c/c-related perks.) If you stick to Basic, it's likely that one or two of you will get middle seats while others may get aisle or window, so you could do some quick horse-trading. Either way, flight enjoyment depends largely on the behavior of those around you rather than $$ spent.

fourwheelcycle
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by fourwheelcycle » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:24 am

I think the answer to your question depends on the airline you are flying and the difference in seating and services for the upgrade. My wife and I do not really care about meals and other services, but we do care about legroom and our ability to sleep when we want to. Sleeping is only a concern to us on overnight flights; we generally stay awake the whole time on daytime flights.

Services may be a concern for you, or, like us, you may only care about the type of seat and the amount of leg room. Either way, you should be clear on the differences in features that are important to you before you make a decision on the upgrades.

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Artful Dodger
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by Artful Dodger » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:56 am

I'm not sure rules is the right word. You'll get a lot of varied opinions; personal preference, how you value the spending of your dollars, how often you travel, and how long the trip will impact the choices. Some folks will spend thousands more for business if the trip is six hours or more. Livesoft above just did a likely 15+ hour transpacific trip and didn't see the extra $130 a good value.

I almost always get the econ plus when we fly American or United, and I think it is worth it. I'm 6'1". My wife is maybe 5"6", so not a big deal for her. But you are getting at least an additional 3 inches, so instead of 6 or 7 inches between you and the seat in front, it's more like 10. That makes a difference to me, especially if the person in front leans back. The seat itself isn't more comfortable, but I like having the additional space. I have flown business a lot, but I won't spend the money to buy a business ticket. If I paid $500~ for a RT ticket, and they offer a one way upgrade for $2-300 ($4-600 for a couple) on a 3 or 4 hour flight, I have done it. When we fly to Europe, if I can upgrade with miles plus $350, I'll do it. But, when I price the ticket, regular RT is $1500~, Econ Plus RT is $1900, but Business RT is $3800 to $4400. I just have a hard time justifying the additional expense for business. Maybe I'll get 4 hours of half way decent sleep vs 2 hours of crappy cramped sleep, but it won't make that big a difference on my first day. As others have noted, the return flight is pretty ordinary - just long, and it's easy to read or watch some movies to pass the time. The extra $2000-$2500 I would have spent for the bz ticket price X 2 is an $4000-$5000, and covers pretty much all of the lodging, food, etc for the rest of a 10 day trip. Or, it's enough to cover the flights, lodging & food for a week long winter getaway to Playa.

SRenaeP
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by SRenaeP » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:33 pm

BV3273 wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:48 pm
Personal preference. For me anything over 3-4 hours is worth the upgrade. I find it miserable having someone's seat reclined and in my face.
Ditto. I upgrade to economy plus for anything more than ~3 hours unless I am able to book the exit row or bulkhead when making my reservation.

-Steph

iamlucky13
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by iamlucky13 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:06 pm

5' 11" here. I figure I'm willing to consider spending up to 20% more to get the 10-15% increase in seat pitch provided by most upgrade economy seats.

I've never seen it offered for less than 50% more, and usually 100% more, so I've never opted for it. Maybe on 1/10th of legs or slightly more, I end up there anyways, because those seats are what is available.

There's another direction to this, too - how much would you have to save to go smaller? Most economy seats are 31-32" seat pitch (31" is the new norm, with the latest seat designs having trimmed roughly an inch from the thickness). Ultra low cost carriers like Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant, offer pitches as low as 28" (and other takeaways, like charging for carry-ons).

I haven't figured out a value for those yet, and am not really sure I want too.

randomguy
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by randomguy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:10 pm

noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
Google the thread on bussiness class versus economy. Half of bogleheads squander money for a couple hours of comfort. The other half suffer to save a few pennies.

Economy was fine for you. Why would you pay more money?

Shallowpockets
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by Shallowpockets » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:49 am

Upgrade the seats for yourself and wife. Let the others go economy. Looks like two of you are only 5'2". That's an easy fit for an airline seat.

Going Lufthansa to Munich at 10 hours coming up here. Looked into upgrade to premium Economy. It would be $335 each, one way. That is $35 an hour. More per hour than I made for most of my working life.
Total $670. That could buy us some real nice dinners in destination, Rome. I always translate any dollar savings into tangible possibilities. $10 savings is a 6 pack of craft beer. $20 is almost a round of golf.

A big part of flying in the economy section is height and weight. And, how good a shape are you in. The average Amercican would then probably be better off upgrading.

guitarguy
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by guitarguy » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:05 am

noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
We have the opposite sentiment actually in that we thought the extra room, recline, and "only 2 per row" style seating would be better served on the way home when we wanna try to get some sleep.

We're going DTW to Hawaii in Sep 2018 and chose to go with regular economy on the way out on two 5-6 hr legs (DTW-SEA-LIH). We'll be excited to get out there and IMO this makes for a much easier flight, even in regular economy. Watch a couple movies, maybe order a cocktail, and we're good to go.

On the way home, we're flying HNL-ATL-DTW (after an island hop over). This has an 8+ hour leg to ATL, and then short leg home. We went with Delta C+ on this flight in hopes that we'll get some sleep on that 8.5 hour red eye to ATL.

EDIT: Mrs Guitarguy and I are both avg build, I'm 6'3" and she's short enough that her legs aren't bothered in coach. :mrgreen:

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lthenderson
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by lthenderson » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:09 am

My rule of thumb is asking myself what I could do with the cost of the upgrade when I arrive at my destination and if that is worth more to me than a few hours of discomfort. $1000 in Hawaii could make a lot of memories for a family.

SRenaeP
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by SRenaeP » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:38 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:09 am
My rule of thumb is asking myself what I could do with the cost of the upgrade when I arrive at my destination and if that is worth more to me than a few hours of discomfort. $1000 in Hawaii could make a lot of memories for a family.
I've seen a few posters make similar statements. Are you saying that you set a fixed budget for the trip so that if you spend on an upgrade, for example, that is truly money that can't/won't be spent elsewhere?

-Steph

an_asker
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by an_asker » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm

noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!

That said, how about splitting the difference to get two upgrades and switching seats with the other two family members half-way into the flight (or whenever it becomes intolerable)? :-)

ResearchMed
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:51 pm

an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm
noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!

That said, how about splitting the difference to get two upgrades and switching seats with the other two family members half-way into the flight (or whenever it becomes intolerable)? :-)
We haven't experienced this, but we asked about this when it looked like we might end up in one F and one B seat back from Asia in June.
We heard fairly strongly, from a few sources, that it is *not* allowed, that flight crew wouldn't allow it and also other F (in this case) passengers would probably be mightily upset and thus would probably complain... leading back to flight crew actions if that hadn't yet happened.

A second awards F seat opened up at just about the predicted "2 week prior to flight date", so fortunately, we didn't need to learn first hand.

I'm not so sure why the strong negatives about this, especially if one - er, two - aren't trying to eat double the "top category" meals, but just want the extra seating comfort for a few hours.

RM
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an_asker
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by an_asker » Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:37 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:51 pm
an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm
noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!

That said, how about splitting the difference to get two upgrades and switching seats with the other two family members half-way into the flight (or whenever it becomes intolerable)? :-)
We haven't experienced this, but we asked about this when it looked like we might end up in one F and one B seat back from Asia in June.
We heard fairly strongly, from a few sources, that it is *not* allowed, that flight crew wouldn't allow it and also other F (in this case) passengers would probably be mightily upset and thus would probably complain... leading back to flight crew actions if that hadn't yet happened.

A second awards F seat opened up at just about the predicted "2 week prior to flight date", so fortunately, we didn't need to learn first hand.

I'm not so sure why the strong negatives about this, especially if one - er, two - aren't trying to eat double the "top category" meals, but just want the extra seating comfort for a few hours.

RM
Hmm ... probably there are some security concerns. Hadn't thought of that.

ResearchMed
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:54 pm

an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 2:37 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:51 pm
an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm
noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!

That said, how about splitting the difference to get two upgrades and switching seats with the other two family members half-way into the flight (or whenever it becomes intolerable)? :-)
We haven't experienced this, but we asked about this when it looked like we might end up in one F and one B seat back from Asia in June.
We heard fairly strongly, from a few sources, that it is *not* allowed, that flight crew wouldn't allow it and also other F (in this case) passengers would probably be mightily upset and thus would probably complain... leading back to flight crew actions if that hadn't yet happened.

A second awards F seat opened up at just about the predicted "2 week prior to flight date", so fortunately, we didn't need to learn first hand.

I'm not so sure why the strong negatives about this, especially if one - er, two - aren't trying to eat double the "top category" meals, but just want the extra seating comfort for a few hours.

RM
Hmm ... probably there are some security concerns. Hadn't thought of that.
Hmmm again...

Our thinking was that they want to do their best to force someone to purchase two premium tickets, rather than one and one, and then switch.
But who knows what's in the background of some rules these days.

Also, note that we did not end up needing to try this, as we ended up with two F seats.
(They did allow us to look at the B seats, for future reference, and a flight attendant brought us back, mentioning that there were many empty seats, so she may have also been figuring that we wouldn't disturb others if we just looked at empty seats. But i'm not sure if she/they would have allowed "sightseeing" in F :wink: )

RM
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LiterallyIronic
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by LiterallyIronic » Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:13 pm

Rule: Cheapest seat always wins.

I'm 5'7", so whatever. I'll even take the seat next to the toilet if it's cheaper (I have anosmia, so whatever). If it's a short flight, then I don't see the point for paying for more space. And if it's a long flight, then I'm going to sleep the whole way anyway, so I don't see the point of paying for more space. My longest flight was from San Francisco to Hong Kong (or was the longest from Taipei to Seattle?). Cheapest seat was fine.

curmudgeon
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by curmudgeon » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:29 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:38 pm
lthenderson wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:09 am
My rule of thumb is asking myself what I could do with the cost of the upgrade when I arrive at my destination and if that is worth more to me than a few hours of discomfort. $1000 in Hawaii could make a lot of memories for a family.
I've seen a few posters make similar statements. Are you saying that you set a fixed budget for the trip so that if you spend on an upgrade, for example, that is truly money that can't/won't be spent elsewhere?

-Steph
Money is fungible. I'm sure some folks have a fairly fixed budget for a vacation, and others look at it as money saved in one area "entitles" them to spend it in another. When you save money by flying economy on a trip, and the savings just go into a general pot for some distant future, it doesn't feel very tangible. I like the idea of balancing seat upgrade money versus some other splurge that you wouldn't necessarily have included on the trip; maybe a meal at a 3* restaurant, or a box at the opera, or a really nice hotel suite.

This is actually actionable for me now. I'm getting ready to book a trip to Europe, starting with London, and I'd been thinking of doing business class on the overnight flight there. But the only saver business class availability is on British Airways, using AA miles, which for two of us would take 70,000 extra miles and over $1000 in fees (because of BA :annoyed ). While I think of miles as a decaying currency, I can still probably use them later, and the $1000 would make a real nice upgrade for the apartment we are renting during part of the trip. 10 hours of comfort in flight, vs a week of more space and convenience. And yes, we could have both, but somehow the extra expense goes down more easily this way. Since we are retired, having a recovery day on arrival isn't a problem.

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by basspond » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:37 pm

I wouldn't and don't for that amount. Only thing I would recommend is not to get an aisle seat. Less leg room and you get bumped by people coming down the aisle even if you are sitting within the arm rest.

noco-hawkeye
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by noco-hawkeye » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:04 pm

As stated in earlier post, we ended up upgrading the flight out there. Returning we are sticking with the cheaper seats. We are not the type to upgrade the entire family to business / first - but maybe that will happen when the kids are out of the house.

Sometimes the plane makes a difference as well. I've had a long flight on a Dreamliner in economy - and that is definitely a step up from other coach offerings.

I can understand a lot of the points of view in this thread. I've been on various sides of this decision at different points. Thanks for all the unique points of view. :sharebeer

SrGrumpy
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by SrGrumpy » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:39 pm

curmudgeon wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:29 pm
But the only saver business class availability is on British Airways, using AA miles, which for two of us would take 70,000 extra miles and over $1000 in fees (because of BA :annoyed ).
Actually, I believe the high cost relates to infamous London Heathrow taxes rather than airline greed. Fly Norwegian to LGW instead and save the $$ and miles for another time and place.

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by lthenderson » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:08 am

SRenaeP wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:38 pm
lthenderson wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:09 am
My rule of thumb is asking myself what I could do with the cost of the upgrade when I arrive at my destination and if that is worth more to me than a few hours of discomfort. $1000 in Hawaii could make a lot of memories for a family.
I've seen a few posters make similar statements. Are you saying that you set a fixed budget for the trip so that if you spend on an upgrade, for example, that is truly money that can't/won't be spent elsewhere?

-Steph
We really don't set budgets for our vacations. When we identify where we want to go for our next vacation and start looking for our plane tickets, we ask where we would get the greatest enjoyment from, upgraded seats for a few hours or spending that extra money at our destination. Generally the extra money at our destination wins out. We often don't spend all that extra money once we get there because we are bogleheads after all. But we don't feel bad about eating out at expensive restaurants or buying a few things we wouldn't normally do while there.

mak1277
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by mak1277 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:16 am

My rules:
Under 2 hours = coach
2 - 4 hours = economy plus
4+ hours = business/first

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randomizer
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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by randomizer » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:27 am

Long flights: economy plus. Can't see myself ever being able to afford business, unless the markets are very kind to me to me for the next 10 years (unlikely, that given the length of the current bull).

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by simas » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:56 am

4 + hours -> business class, especially if these are not US based airlines (for US airlines business class product is rather bad)

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by staythecourse » Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:03 pm

an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!
Unfortunately, I'm the same. I am not sure why, but can never justify the higher cost for comfort. I always think, "Oh I can save x dollars for something else". Do I like being cramped? No. But hate feeling like I wasted money even more which is what happens when I do this type of upgrade.

This is sort of why I figured out no matter how much money I have there are some things I will always be a cheapskate about.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by sco » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:05 pm

Upgrading to me doesn't involve $$$ it involves MIles, so it is tilted more towards the lower end. Me by myself > 5 hrs I'd like an upgrade. Same with the wife.

With kids, it depends on the plane and the trip. What good is upgrading if you can't be near each other?

I've done numerous trips in first (domestic) with a family of four, same in coach. It Just depends.

I've also upgraded a couple Business (company paid) to first, just because... For a whole 15k miles, which I didn't pay for in any way. Just because I could. It still took me 2 days to be recovered from the Jet lag (13+ hr difference)


If a longer Domestic trip was double for First, well I guess that would depend what I was doubling? $200 or $700?

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:59 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (flight upgrade).
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by hightower » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:27 pm

noco-hawkeye wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:31 pm
We've got a upcoming family trip, for four of us. On the way out, we have a single/direct 8 hr leg. On the way back, we have a 7hr redeye flight back. Right now we've got basic economy booked, and have the option to upgrade to econ plus. The fliers are 5'10", 5'6", and 2 fliers are 5'2" in height.

The price to upgrade is around 130$ / person / direction. The most appealing upgrade for us would be on the way out, when we are mostly awake. We can afford the upgrade, but in general we are cheapskates for flights. We've got a airline credit card, so baggage and the other perks are already covered with our base purchase.

I'd think bogleheads have an interesting way to view this option, and maybe some rules to use for when to upgrade vs when to stay put.

We made a similar flight this past spring in economy just fine - for what it is worth.
I fly only Delta and for most flights I do not upgrade at all (though I do request free upgrades to either delta comfort or first class when available from being a silver medallion member). For long, over seas flights, especially red eyes, I will pay for Delta Comfort IF I can't get an exit row seat. Usually it's a $99 dollar upgrade. I'd also keep my fingers crossed for a free upgrade to first class.

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by an_asker » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:47 am

staythecourse wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:03 pm
an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!
Unfortunately, I'm the same. I am not sure why, but can never justify the higher cost for comfort. I always think, "Oh I can save x dollars for something else". Do I like being cramped? No. But hate feeling like I wasted money even more which is what happens when I do this type of upgrade.

This is sort of why I figured out no matter how much money I have there are some things I will always be a cheapskate about.

Good luck.
I'm with you. And that is kinda why I hate it when folks are assign labels like 'cheap' or 'cheapskate' - everyone has a unique set of priorities. No way I'd spend full price for an iPhone and I might start a thread or two about purchasing a $100 tennis racket (and even consider getting a used racket), but on the flip side, I would hate to purchase used clothes for myself or anyone else in my family!

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by mak1277 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:50 am

an_asker wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:47 am
staythecourse wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:03 pm
an_asker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:42 pm
Call me a cheapskate, but I've never done it. I would even say I'd never do it, but there is that rule - never say never (at least for the future)!
Unfortunately, I'm the same. I am not sure why, but can never justify the higher cost for comfort. I always think, "Oh I can save x dollars for something else". Do I like being cramped? No. But hate feeling like I wasted money even more which is what happens when I do this type of upgrade.

This is sort of why I figured out no matter how much money I have there are some things I will always be a cheapskate about.

Good luck.
I'm with you. And that is kinda why I hate it when folks are assign labels like 'cheap' or 'cheapskate' - everyone has a unique set of priorities. No way I'd spend full price for an iPhone and I might start a thread or two about purchasing a $100 tennis racket (and even consider getting a used racket), but on the flip side, I would hate to purchase used clothes for myself or anyone else in my family!
Anyone who thinks they're better than you because you are "cheap" is a jerk.
Anyone who thinks they're better than me because I buy first class flights...also a jerk.

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by an_asker » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:16 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:50 am
[...]
Anyone who thinks they're better than you because you are "cheap" is a jerk.
Anyone who thinks they're better than me because I buy first class flights...also a jerk.
Haha! You got it :-) I hate labels... but I'll go with your definition of a jerk ;-)

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Re: Upgrading a flight - what are your rules?

Post by flyingaway » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:29 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:46 pm
This month I upgraded on a flight to China to economy plus mostly because the rest of the airfare was paid by somebody else. It wasn't worth the $130. I did not upgrade on the way back. I didn't notice any difference in comfort. I actually slept better on the way back.

I am taller than the tallest height you mentioned.
You might have the entire row for yourself.

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