How to buy miles for an upgrade?

I’m a newbie here and to be honest I find it difficult to keep up with all the different options (programs) that available in regards to purchasing and transferring miles for upgrades.

Firstly, I have previously completed the"Earn more points" email course which I found of value

However I wish to purchase miles through a program for upgrade purposes and find it quite confusing with all the options and opportunities to purchase miles maybe at a discount in one program and then it seems using smoke and mirrors transferring those points elsewhere for use.

I have just booked premium economy flights Syd-Hav via Canada on Air Canada after registering on the Aeroplan Membership site to at least earn some points for future use.

I am also a member of Qantas frequent flyer and Air Alaska programs.

I’m hoping someone can demonstrate how I would find miles that i can purchase for an upgrade to business class on our Air Canada flight and also how I decide if purchasing the miles is worthwhile?
Read: is it cheaper (by a fair bit) than flat out paying for a business class ticket?

I appreciate that purchasing miles can vary greatly depending what time of year it is and who is offering what kind of deal along with “bonus” miles etc at that specific point in time.

But I was hoping that someone could advise me, at this point in time ie: nov,Dec 17 if there is something out there I can investigate further? Also what advice on what I have mentioned above would be appreciated.


First of all let me say am not a “Guru” but my wife and I have enjoyed cheap first class and business class flights all around the world using purchased and earned points. We are flying to Europe again in August; Emirates First Class using Qantas points (earned) and returning Qatar First Class using American Airlines points (purchased) and by my reckoning we are saving over $30,000 on the retail price.

Air Canada is a member of the Star Alliance and thus you can use miles from United, Avianca and other Star Alliance members to upgrade your ticket.

There are however “waiting periods” once you join before you can purchase miles.

One trick I have learned to to join all the airline award programmes that you possibly can, and also your partner. Then you can purchase miles in both names as programs always have a maximum buy per year.

As far as the flight from Syd to Hav goes, the United Star Alliance upgrade chart Premium Economy is counted as economy. It would cost 30,000 miles per person, which at the moment would cost US$752.50 (AU$1,000) with 50% bonus. You would then have to apply for the upgrade, which is not guaranteed.

I have only purchased points after ensuring that the flights are available.

Hope this helps. Again I would stress joining all available award programmes. For BA you will need an address in Europe but most others are easy to join.


Thanks Ross

It does appear to be well worth it as you have demonstrated. It’s just working through the minefield of choices, options, availability, limitations etc that has me somewhat perplexed.

From what you have explained above I would have been better off buying economy tickets for our flight and then looking at upgrading

Again thanks for your input