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FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: AA "instant upgrade" (-UP) fare discount First - Coach backup (master thd)
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AA "instant upgrade" (-UP) fare

These are often referred to as "instant upgrade" fares; they upgrade into the class of service P, A or I internationally with positive space; OSO / schedule disruptions mean unless the P, A or I fare is offered on the new flight they "downgrade" to Coach on the next available flight. (One can wait for the next flight with P, A or I available, but this might require overnights etc. at one's expense.)

Refunds may be limited to $0.50 per mile to a maximum of $50 per downgraded segment, and are limited to vouchers good forbfuturevtravel on AA.

The detailed fare codes for these flights might look like (international) GNE7C0Z1/CRUP or SNE7C0Z1/CRUP. Reaccommodation in Coach Evans these will be treated like an N class fare. As well: "The most restrictive set of fare rules applies to the entire itinerary. In addition other fare rules may apply."

Purchasers should carefully read the Detailed Fare Rules, as many of these are, as essentially "instant upgrades", punitive in effect during IROPS / OSO", "change of gauge" aircraft substitutions, cancellations and missed connections because if the necessary fare inventory isn't available one is generally given the option to fly now, in Economy, or wait until such inventory becomes available (which may entail hours or days at the passenger's own expense).

In the detailed fare rules, instant upgrade fares may include something like this:

Quote:
ECONOMY FARE WITH AN INSTANT ONE-CLASS UPGRADE AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE TO FIRST/BUSINESS. APPLICATION CLASS OF SERVICE THESE FARES APPLY FOR ECONOMY CLASS SERVICE. CAPACITY LIMITATIONS SEATS ARE LIMITED BOTH ECONOMY AND FIRST CLASS BOOKING INVENTORIES MUST BE AVAILABLE AT TIME OF BOOKING. THESE FARES PERMIT A ONE-CLASS UPGRADE AT THE TIME OF BOOKING.
E.G. During irregular operations or missed connections, one may continue in that class of service if A, P or I is available, or the passenger can take a voluntary downgrade to the lower class of service / Y on an earlier flight. Some may do this if waiting for A, P or I requires one or more overnights.

Link to compensation offered for an involuntary downgrade of "instant upgrade" fares:

Quote:
Instant Upgrade tickets are booked in the Main Cabin. However, Instant upgrade ticketholders who travel in the Main Cabin due to an involuntary seat change, equipment change, routing change, flight cancellation, or missed connection as a result of a late incoming flight may request a travel voucher. The voucher value shall be equal to $0.10 per mile, or $50, whichever is greater, for each flight segment flown in the downgraded cabin. Refunds will be rounded to the nearest whole dollar amount, and can be requested at www.aa.com/refunds.
One explanatory post (15 Apr 2015) might be:

Quote:
Originally Posted by FWAAA View Post
...

Just moments ago, I priced out a trip from LAX to DFW, and two different discounted First Class ticket options were presented, the fare class of one was SA00ZNI1 (books into P) and the other was MA00ZRI1 (books into A).

At the bottom of the purchase summary screen, AA provides this warning:

Quote:
■ First/Business Fares may be an Instant Upgrade and therefore subject to restrictions.
The fare rules for both tickets provide the following as the last entry:

Quote:
Rule Application
and Other Conditions


NOTE THE FOLLOWING TEXT IS INFORMATIONAL AND NOT VALIDATED FOR AUTOPRICING. ECONOMY FARE WITH AN INSTANT ONECLASS UPGRADE AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE TO FIRST/BUSINESS. APPLICATION CLASS OF SERVICE THESE FARES APPLY FOR ECONOMY CLASS SERVICE. CAPACITY LIMITATIONS SEATS ARE LIMITED BOTH ECONOMY AND FIRST CLASS BOOKING INVENTORIES MUST BE AVAILABLE AT TIME OF BOOKING. THESE FARES PERMIT A ONECLASS UPGRADE AT THE TIME OF BOOKING.
Why does this matter? Because if I buy either of these tickets and then I decide that I want to fly an earlier or later flight, these fares will not permit me to walk up to the counter and claim a last-minute F seat if my capacity-controlled inventory is not available. For instance, if that last F seat is in F (not P or A), then I'd have to pay the fare difference in order to confirm a change to that seat.

We can (and have for years and years) argued around here that these fare practices are misleading - and I agree. Nevertheless, AA is most certainly still selling what it considers to be "instant upgrade" fares, and savvy travelers should read the fare rules* and plan accordingly.

*Or at least download them to your hard drive as a pdf at the time of reservation/purchase so that others might help decipher them when things go inverted. So often around here, people post questions where reading the fare rules is vital to an accurate answer, and they respond "who reads/saves those when buying a ticket?"

Back to the OP's question: How to find instant upgrade tickets? Nearly every domestic first class fare I've seen on aa.com is an instant upgrade ticket. Finding a domestic first class fare that isn't an instant upgrade fare is quite a chore. The OP can rest assured that if their fare books in P, A or F, they're going to earn their hoped-for tier points. As Microwave pointed out, the best/correct place for that discussion is in the British Airways forum where there are numerous BAEC members with experience in buying and flying on AA's instant upgrade F tickets.
Updated 3 Jun 2016 by JDiver

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Old Jul 29, 10, 4:02 pm   #1
rty
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Smile AA "instant upgrade" (-UP) fare discount First - Coach backup (master thd)

I saw on their website that you can buy an instant upgrade ticket for 600 dollars one way to San Fransico while a first class ticket is around 1600 dollars. When you buy the instant upgrade ticket do you get upgraded to the next class of service say business class or first class if only two classes? What am I missing.
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Old Jul 29, 10, 4:39 pm   #2
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Originally Posted by rty View Post
I saw on their website that you can buy an instant upgrade ticket for 600 dollars one way to San Fransico while a first class ticket is around 1600 dollars. When you buy the instant upgrade ticket do you get upgraded to the next class of service say business class or first class if only two classes? What am I missing.

"Instant upgrade" tickets are KUP or YUP fares that book into discounted premium cabin inventory. If the flight in question is marketed with three classes of service, you will be in Business Class. If the flight is marketed with two classes, you will be in First Class. So, yes, it's an instant upgrade to the next class of service.


This thread belongs in the AA forum.
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Old Jul 29, 10, 8:33 pm   #3
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And, here it is...

You get upgraded as Espen36 says, and you earn 1.5 Elite Qualifying Points per mile, etc. as if you were on a Business or First fare. Often, you will notice, these are cheaper than unrestricted coach / economy fares.

But they don't go to San Fransico, nor should you cal lit "Frisco" - tehy do go to San Francisco / SFO. (Glad I am not the only one whu makes typoes. )
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Old Jul 29, 10, 8:42 pm   #4
  
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The other difference is that if something goes wrong and you are put on a different flight in coach, they don't owe you anything. And some agents get confused about whether it is a paid first class ticket (it is) vs. a coach ticket with a free upgrade. It matters when determining the order of upgrades on your rerouted flight.
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Old Jul 29, 10, 9:55 pm   #5
  
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Originally Posted by MikeBOS View Post
The other difference is that if something goes wrong and you are put on a different flight in coach, they don't owe you anything. And some agents get confused about whether it is a paid first class ticket (it is) vs. a coach ticket with a free upgrade. It matters when determining the order of upgrades on your rerouted flight.
They usually book into "I" for biz (on rare occasions "D"), or A or P on 2 class flts. Although the underlying fare is usually a Y or K basis.

For reaccommodations, I've always suspected that "I" was accommodated in premium cabins above others ticketed using upgrade instruments booked into C, A, X, or R rebooking priority. Perhaps someone with more first hand experience can confirm that.
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Old Jul 29, 10, 10:06 pm   #6
  
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Originally Posted by LAXNYER View Post
They usually book into "I" for biz (on rare occasions "D"), or A or P on 2 class flts. Although the underlying fare is usually a Y or K basis.

For reaccommodations, I've always suspected that "I" was accommodated in premium cabins above others ticketed using upgrade instruments booked into C, A, X, or R rebooking priority. Perhaps someone with more first hand experience can confirm that.
I have never purchased an "Instant Upgrade" ticket but I do have "first-hand" experience by way of listening to conversations between AAngels and passengers with such tickets.

When one of the SFO-JFK flights was cancelled and passengers were rebooked, one irritated passenger inquired as to why he was booked in coach though he had booked a Business Class ticket while others had been booked in F/J on other flights. The AAngel informed him that because he had an "Instant Upgrade" ticket, he received lower priority for the limited First Class seats than did those who had purchased the non-instant upgrade premium class tickets. She said that they would try to accommodate him in First Class and he would have priority above elites requesting upgrades but he was not guaranteed anything.

Because IRROPs are not always so "irregular", I would never purchase an "I" fare. When you use miles+copay to upgrade, you are entitled to a refund (of miles/copay)if you are not accommodated. When you use stickers, your stickers are refunded. I would feel uncomfortable paying 4x the price of a coach ticket only to sit in coach and be entitled to nothing more.
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Old Jul 29, 10, 10:52 pm   #7
  
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Instant upgrade fares are also sometimes eligible for promotions such as the current TRNSN 12500 miles for one way travel in business class between SFO and JFK. Regular economy tickets are not eligible for this promo.

Thanks to the other posters for pointing out that Y-up fares are not guaranteed for class of service during irregular ops. I'd be pretty disappointed if that happened to me and there was no financial recourse.
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Old Jul 29, 10, 11:12 pm   #8
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Well, it kinda works that way. On an "instant upgrade" fare SAT-DFW-SMF, weather happened in DFW, the EXP agent messed up big time and did not book me on the next flight in an F seat, so when I showed up to pick up my boarding pass at the Admirals Club some time later, no cigar.

My choices were to wait until the next day (no hotel voucher - weather, remember?) or take Y seats to SFO. So, one can usually wait for the next F seats to be available, which might be some time in the future, or take Y seats on the next available flight. No guarantees, that's right. OTOH, under more normal conditions, they can work out quite well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by biggreen View Post
Instant upgrade fares are also sometimes eligible for promotions such as the current TRNSN 12500 miles for one way travel in business class between SFO and JFK. Regular economy tickets are not eligible for this promo.

Thanks to the other posters for pointing out that Y-up fares are not guaranteed for class of service during irregular ops. I'd be pretty disappointed if that happened to me and there was no financial recourse.
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Old Jul 30, 10, 12:26 am   #9
  
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Originally Posted by LAXNYER View Post
They usually book into "I" for biz (on rare occasions "D"), or A or P on 2 class flts. Although the underlying fare is usually a Y or K basis.

For reaccommodations, I've always suspected that "I" was accommodated in premium cabins above others ticketed using upgrade instruments booked into C, A, X, or R rebooking priority. Perhaps someone with more first hand experience can confirm that.
Do instant upgrade tickets always book into I class? I got a deal from SFO-JFK-MIA-MGA that booked into I class for business. However when I went to purchase the actual tickets there was three columns: Instant Upgrade, Business Special, and Business Flexible. I purchased Business Special, so I guess I would still have higher priority than a Y-up fare?
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Old Jul 30, 10, 9:21 am   #10
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Originally Posted by glenny84 View Post
Do instant upgrade tickets always book into I class? I got a deal from SFO-JFK-MIA-MGA that booked into I class for business. However when I went to purchase the actual tickets there was three columns: Instant Upgrade, Business Special, and Business Flexible. I purchased Business Special, so I guess I would still have higher priority than a Y-up fare?

Yes. "Business Special" means that you're actually purchasing an I fare.

"Instant Upgrade" means you're purchasing a YUP fare that instantly books into I inventory, but it's still a Y fare.

So, to play it safe, buy the "Business Special" if you're worried about maintaining the upgrade in the event of IRROPS.
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Old Jul 30, 10, 9:28 am   #11
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Maybe I've just gotten lucky, but I purchase Y-up tickets often and have never had an issue being re-accommodated in F in cases of irrops on AA. I can't imagine myself paying for full F when Y-up is available...

On DL, they usually make a comment about how "it's not really a first class ticket."
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Old Jul 30, 10, 11:14 am   #12
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If I purchased a ticket that booked directly into "I" or "A" or "P" class, and then got involuntarily downgraded, and AA refused to refund me the difference to the lowest available coach fare on that flight, you can bet there would be a lawsuit. I might even make it a class action, because I'm sure they've tried to screw other people this way.

Think of it this way: I can buy a "Q" fare and confirm a seat in economy for $200 (one-way), or I can buy an "I" fare and confirm a seat in business class for $1000. I choose the $1000 "I" fare. If something happens and I end up flying in coach, I will be arguing for an $800 refund. What jury will refuse? The argument is pretty straightforward in the absence of any explicit language in the fare rules or contract of carriage indicating otherwise.

I'd point out that there are $2,200 one-way -UP fares on JFK-SFO that book into D inventory (fare basis YA0UPDMR). If you think AA can get away with providing coach service at that fare with no fare differential refund, you're sorely mistaken.
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Old Jul 30, 10, 11:16 am   #13
  
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
If I purchased a ticket that booked directly into "I" or "A" or "P" class, and then got involuntarily downgraded, and AA refused to refund me the difference to the lowest available coach fare on that flight, you can bet there would be a lawsuit. I might even make it a class action, because I'm sure they've tried to screw other people this way.

Think of it this way: I can buy a "Q" fare and confirm a seat in economy for $200 (one-way), or I can buy an "I" fare and confirm a seat in business class for $1000. I choose the $1000 "I" fare. If something happens and I end up flying in coach, I will be arguing for an $800 refund. What jury will refuse? The argument is pretty straightforward in the absence of any explicit language in the fare rules or contract of carriage indicating otherwise.

I'd point out that there are $2,200 one-way -UP fares on JFK-SFO that book into D inventory (fare basis YA0UPDMR). If you think AA can get away with providing coach service at that fare with no fare differential refund, you're sorely mistaken.
Good luck with your law suit.
On the day you are potentially downgraded the lowest coach fare available is probably higher than your UP fare.
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Old Jul 30, 10, 11:21 am   #14
  
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
If I purchased a ticket that booked directly into "I" or "A" or "P" class, and then got involuntarily downgraded, and AA refused to refund me the difference to the lowest available coach fare on that flight, you can bet there would be a lawsuit. I might even make it a class action, because I'm sure they've tried to screw other people this way.
Think of it this way. If you read the rules and conditions (the same rules you agree to by buying the ticket) of the *UP fares, it clearly spells out you may be accomodated in the Y cabin.
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Old Jul 30, 10, 11:27 am   #15
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Originally Posted by DataPlumber View Post
Think of it this way. If you read the rules and conditions (the same rules you agree to by buying the ticket) of the *UP fares, it clearly spells out you may be accomodated in the Y cabin.
Where? Do tell.

Even if it did, there's a difference between being "accommodated in the Y cabin" and being "accommodated in the Y cabin without any appropriate refund".

If you're on an F fare basis, you can be accommodated in the Y cabin if there are no seats left. But you will get an appropriate refund.
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