Travel Betty

Encouraging Fearless Independent Travel For Women

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Want To Get Upgraded To Business Class? Avoid Travel Betty’s Rookie Mistake.

October 20th, 2007 · 3 Comments

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Upgrades are rare. Even if you’re willing to dole out miles for the pleasure. If you’re willing to dole out money, more power to you, Richie Rich.

Here’s a recent lesson I lived and learned so you don’t have to make the same mistake.

My grand plan back when I first conceived of the Bali trip was to buy a coach ticket on Singapore Airlines (a Delta partner) and then use my Skymiles to upgrade to business class. A looooong-ass flight. Alone. Recovering aviatophobe. Sounded like a good plan.

But when I called to book, the SA agent told me that I’d have to buy a full-fare coach ticket in order to use miles and that would cost over $4,000. Um, no thanks. I decided to stick to steerage.

Now I’m not sure why I went through Singapore Airlines directly to book instead of contacting Delta. I guess I thought it would be better to cut out any middlemen.

By the way, that is what’s called foreshadowing.

Cut to a few weeks ago when I mentioned to you about getting married in Bali. Now cut to two days ago when I finally realized that somehow I’d have to transport a fluffy wedding dress, my laptop, a digital SLR camera, 3 lenses, reading material, my comfort bag, a change of undies and myself all as carry-on. Well, I guess my own body doesn’t count, but the point is, it’s a lot of shite.

Only slightly concerned, I naively assumed international travelers get allowance for two carry-ons. Especially on an airline touted as the world’s best airline. But a nagging little mite whispered in my ear that I should at least check SA’s website to make sure.

Thank you, mite.

Singapore Airline’s policy is one carry-on and one small barely imperceptible personal item. A garment bag full of taffeta counts as a real live, life-sized carry-on. And so does a roller bag full of technology and books.

Dilemma.

I decided that since the flight was only a few days away, maybe chances were good that I could now get a business class upgrade.

I figured first I’d try the batting-of-the-solo-flying-bride’s-eyelashes approach to getting upgraded for free. Then, if that didn’t work, I’d offer up my miles. If they have seats available at this late date, why wouldn’t they jump at the chance to strip them from me? Even if I hadn’t paid full fare.

So I call Singapore Airlines and get a male phone rep (chances for wedding dress sympathy greatly diminished). I explain the two carry-on bag necessity and hope for the best. He, very kindly, thinks about it for a while and then informs me that I’ll need to check the dress.

$#%^! Plan B.

I ask if I can upgrade with miles and he transfers me to their mileage program department. I explain the scenario again. She hears me out and says that I’d need to talk to Delta since that’s whose miles I have.

“Even though I bought the ticket through you,” I ask?

“Yes, even so,” she assures me.

Then I call Delta. I get an extremely kind agent who listens to my story, but doesn’t know the details of the Singapore/Delta relationship. Then she transfers me to someone who does. I explain my story for the fourth time, resigned that there’s no free upgrade in sight. Pretty sure there’s not even a mileage upgrade in sight.

The very sweet woman on the other line let’s me know that there’s no way to access my reservation and that because I bought my ticket through Singapore Airlines from the get-go, there’d be no way to use my Delta miles. And since I’m not a member of the SA mileage program, I’m basically SOL.

To be honest, I’m actually kind of shocked by my own lack of thinking things through from the get-go. I don’t begrudge either airline for not offering an upgrade (or even a solution past “check the dress”). Instead, I have now rejiggered my entire bag strategy. Travel Boyfriend was able to loan me a bag smaller than a roller, but bigger than anything I have to carry my necessities. And I have tried to lovingly shove my dress into a garment bag whose proportions I still worry will cause distress at the boarding gate. So now, I must rely on faith.

The moral: If you even care to entertain the thought of an upgrade, don’t rely on partner relationships. Always have miles for the airline you’re flying (or buying) through. Otherwise, I’ll be seeing you in coach!

Tags: Air Travel · Tips

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  • 3 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Stephanie // Oct 24, 2007 at 6:26 pm

      Aaargh! I feel your pain. Mike kept promising to upgrade us to business class for the flight home from our honeymoon, but he kept putting it off. Then, suddenly, we’re in London 24 hours before it’s time to fly home and he can’t do it online and even though we speak English we still couldn’t figure out how to use a pay phone. When we showed up at Heathrow we must have looked really pathetic, because the counterperson seemed to pity us. We still couldn’t fenagle an upgrade but got seats in coach with no one on either side of us. (Maybe it’s just because we smelled bad.)

      MyAvatars 0.2
    • 2 Billigflug // May 6, 2008 at 1:17 am

      Hi Betty,
      you´re so right. We had a customer booked on United Airlines flightnumber (operated by Lufthansa/Star Alliance Partner). She got much miles on Lufthansa “Miles & More” (also usable on United). We tried do do the upgrade for her with Lufthansa. They said, we have to do it with United, because it´s a united flightnumber. So we does. United told us, sorry, it is the wrong booking class, no upgrade possible. So we called Lufthansa again, cause they told us to book “M” Class. “That´s right, but on Lufthansa flights.”
      Me: “But we booked a Lufthansa flight, on United flight number, cause it is a codeshare flight, but it´s a Lufthansa operated flight.” At the end, we had no chance for an upgrade.
      So Betty, you´re so right, just book the Airline and the flightnumber you have miles from.
      And the Airlines name this “Star Alliance”.
      I cannot stop laughing…..

      MyAvatars 0.2
    • 3 Travel Betty // May 7, 2008 at 7:48 am

      Stephanie, I hope he makes it up to you in the near future. There’s nothing worse than expecting you’ll be flying in a better class only to find yourself stuck in coach!

      Oh, Flug, they’ll do everything they can to keep from giving you those miles! I swear. “Sorry, it’s Tuesday and you’re wearing a green sweater. No miles for you!” I say if you fly on their plane, you get the miles. End of story.

      MyAvatars 0.2

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