As we are reaching the point in our lives where we desire comforts when we travel, flying in business class has been something we're moving to more and more. But as we typically cannot afford these tickets outright (as conventional routes can be $2,000, $3,000, $5,000, or more roundtrip), we have been acquiring these coveted seats in recent years using points.
In the past, we would go the conventional route for snagging a rewards business class seat- simply using a boatload of points to buy the ticket outright while only having to pay taxes on the flight (often a nominal amount). But our points-earning capabilities have dropped a bit in the last few years such that we have to be a bit more selective with how we redeem our points when flying.
Thankfully, many airlines also let you upgrade a paid economy ticket with a mix of miles and dollars as a bit of a hybrid approach to try and snag a business class seat for less of a hit to your bottom line (pending availability). We tried this on a recent flight from Newark to Lisbon, Portugal, and had success in getting upgraded on our red-eye flight outbound.
So in this one, we thought we'd take a look at the process to score a United upgrade with miles and dollars, who has the best odds of snagging a seat in this process, and what happened when we didn't get upgraded on our return flight home!
- Note: This article is based on our travel experiences flying United in October 2021. Rules can and do change regularly so please read current T&Cs of your particular airline before upgrading a future flight as things may change.