Drupal Association members fund grants that make connections all over the world.
Currently if you have a wrong db_url configured (or none configured at all), the upgrade process will first do a lot of stuff and ask you 2 questions, and only then it will tell you that it fails to connect to the database.
I think it would be a good idea to do it the other way round.
Otherwise, great that this can be done with Drush! The instructions to do this manually are really scary.