Old May 21, 19, 12:07 pm
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: DCA/IAD
Programs: AA - Platinum; 1W Sapphire; HHonors - Silver; UA dirt
Posts: 5,750
My issue with doing it at the airport is that, in general, as every minute passes, inventory gets more and more constricted and your options become fewer and fewer. Now you can benefit from other people's misfortune (flat tire, missed connection, etc.), but being downgraded to Y often means 1) being downgraded and receiving very little to cover the miles difference let alone the fatigue factor from a downgrade from J to Y and 2) being given whatever cast off seats are left on the plane - middle seats, last row with no recline, seats near the lavs.

If J means it to you (for the OP), I would go with the MAN route and then work for some type of recompense after the trip is over.
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