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I purchased a QF fare that I could upgrade to J class for travel September 2004 from SYD-LAX, but when I tried to upgrade I was advised that there was no available seats in class. I was not advised that J class was completely booked, but at least I got an aisle seat in about row 50. I thought I would have received an upgrade seeing my travel was out of school holidays etc etc, but more experienced people on this forum will no doubt advise you of your chances of an upgrade and whether an upgrade can be guaranteed, as I may have gone about it the wrong way.
International upgrades cannot be guaranteed or confirmed. You have to join the waitlist and the waitlist is cleared on the day of travel, starting with the CL members, then Platinum, then Gold, then Silver then the rest. Within each category the priority is based on when you joined the waitlist.
So being Platinum and applying early to join the waitlist is going to help in the lottery of QF international upgrades.
Chances are best on the non-busy business travel days, so avoid travelling between Friday and Monday as they are generally the busiest, especially for USA travel.
Best price, on an upgradeable fare, has already been quoted by NM. I presume that he checked on the dates quoted (assuming SYD/LAX/SYD looking at his post); so it was available at the time he checked. Just which flights he checked (because there are multiple flights)....only NM can tell you.
No upgrades are guaranteed (even to Plat :cry: or CL members); we all wait in the orderly queue until the day of travel and hope at check-in we've been upgraded (although the smart ones are checking the loads to have a good idea). Go for the ones that leave in the middle of the day, or ones that business people, who usually buy J class seats or are Platinum members, will not look to fly on). It will also depend on when you join the queue, what is your status and who's ahead of you of similar status or higher.