/
Close
Newsletters  | Mobile

The Truth About Frequent-Flier Upgrades

What It Costs to Upgrade Using Miles

On top of your economy fare, here’s what you can expect to pay to upgrade on major domestic airlines.

American Airlines
Domestic

Miles*:
30,000 (or $600)
Co-Pay:
$150
Cost:
$750 plus airfare

Europe
Miles*:
50,000 (or 1,000)
Co-Pay:
$700
Cost:
$1,700 plus airfare

Continental Airlines
Domestic

Miles*:
30,000 (or $600)
Co-Pay:
$350
Cost:
$950 plus airfare

Europe
Miles*:
40,000 (or $800)
Co-Pay:
$1,000
Cost:
$1,800 plus airfare

Delta
Domestic

Miles*:
25,000 (or $500)
Co-Pay:
no co-pay
Cost:
$500 plus airfare

Europe
Miles*:
50,000 (or $1,000)
Co-Pay:
no co-pay
Cost:
$1,000 plus airfare

United
Domestic

Miles*:
30,000 (or $600)
Co-Pay:
$100
Cost:
$700 plus airfare

Europe
Miles*:
40,000 (or $800)
Co-Pay:
$1,000
Cost:
$1,800 plus airfare

US Airways
Domestic

Miles*:
30,000 (or $600)
Co-Pay:
no co-pay
Cost:
$600 plus airfare

Europe
Miles*:
60,000 (or $1,200)
Co-Pay:
$600
Cost:
$1,800 plus airfare

* Based on cash value of 2 cents per mile on lowest qualifying airfare.

Upgrade Policies of the Major Domestic Carriers

Each of the major domestic airline has its own unique rules and restrictions on getting an upgrade using frequent-flier miles. United, for example, has the highest co-pays—up to $500 each way on flights to Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Delta, on the other hand, has no co-pays but restricts more fares from upgrades. And on all the airlines some upgradeable fares require more miles and higher co-pays than other qualifying fares for the same flight.

There’s only one way to know for sure whether your ticket qualifies for an upgrade and, if so, how much you’ll pay: You have to go to the airline websites to find their upgrade policies. To save you the time of tracking them down (it’s not always easy), we’ve given you links below to the policies of the five major domestic airlines. And we don’t even charge you a co-pay.

American Airlines
Continental Airlines
Delta
United Airlines
US Airways

Advertisement

Sign Up


Connect With Travel + Leisure
  • Travel+Leisure
  • Tablet
  • Available devices

Already a subscriber?
Get FREE ACCESS to the digital edition


Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Marketplace