I spent way too much time on Continental.com and later, the phone, trying to put to use a voucher for a first-class upgrade. It would have made things a lot easier if Continental had leveled with me that the vouchers make sense mostly for travelers on expense accounts (who feel few scruples about socking it to their companies). The math: I can fly coach Newark-Portland for about $380 roundtrip. To take advantage of my "free" upgrade, the coach ticket would run about $950.

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