I just returned from my long weekend trip from Singapore (my current home) to Hanoi, Vietnam. Let me tell you about my Vietnam Airlines upgrade experience with Optiontown.
This is officially my first trip since launching Rewards Guy, and I must confess – I sinned, I paid for my flights. Any savvy award points user knows that points have an certain “minimal acceptable value” – in most cases I place the value of frequent flier miles around 1.5 cents per point (see valuation chart from ThePointsGuy). In this case, the cost of the super saver economy seats I found on Vietnam Airlines, a Skyteam alliance member, trumped using what few Delta miles I do have.
I then discovered Optiontown, a website that offers business class and first class upgrades for a discounted price. I can understand why some airlines would join Optiontown – it assures that they can at least fill their premium class seats if they wish and gain some additional seat revenue. Currently, the list of participating airlines is limited and scattered, mostly constituting 2 or 3 star Skytrax rated airlines:
– Adria Airways (A Star Alliance)
– Aeromexico (Skyeam)
– Air Baltic
– Air Europa (Skyteam)
– Air India (Star Alliance)
– Air Asia X
– Biman Bangladesh
– Cyprus Airways
– Insel Air
– SAS (Star Alliance)
– Ukraine International
– Vietnam Airlines (Skyteam)
All said and done, I would pay approximately $80 each way for the option to upgrade to Vietnam Airlines business class – if available and accepted by the airline (you get refunded if not upgraded). I got lucky, I think…because I have no prior experience with Optiontown so I don’t know what the success rate is. Both my outbound and inbound flights were upgraded for the total of $160. That is pretty good considering it is a 3 hour flight in each direction.
The business class seats on this short haul Airbus A321 were of the basic “old school” variety. A wider and more bolstered seat with extra legroom and pitch, it got the job done. After all, who does not enjoy taking a holiday flight in business class rather than economy? With Optiontown, you too might find yourself a discounted upgrade to business or first class for your next vacation.
**Note that according to Optiontown’s website, travelers who receive discounted upgrades are not necessarily granted access to usual premium class benefits such as Lounge access and additional bonus frequent flier miles. However, there have certainly been cases where flyers have received these benefits from airlines. For example, I was allowed to use the Skyteam lounge at Singapore’s Changi Airport and the Vietnam Airlines lounge at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport.