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AS Routes That Are the Toughest Upgrades (Include Day of Week, If Applicable)

AS Routes That Are the Toughest Upgrades (Include Day of Week, If Applicable)

Old Mar 17, 21, 10:54 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: SEA (Transplant from MCO, HNL, and DEN)
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K
Posts: 225
AS Routes That Are the Toughest Upgrades (Include Day of Week, If Applicable)

Hi guys -

I was just wondering what AS routes everyone has problems getting upgraded on.

My experience in the past was that anything to HNL/KOA/OGG was pretty much a lost cause, but I'm 1/4 on my last few trips to/from FLL, and I'll be 1/4 on SEA-ATL. (All solo 75K booked 30+ days prior in R) My one successful upgrade to FLL was at the gate, and the only advance upgrade was approx 4 days prior to my trip to ATL. I always check in the second check in starts, I usually start 1/1 of 2/2 on the waitlist, but I just watch my name continue to drop down the priority list. (just dropped from 2/2 to 5/10)

Are there any things I'm missing for securing an upgrade, or are my most frequent routes all that horribly overloaded with 75Ks paying Y fares and paid F passengers?
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Old Mar 17, 21, 11:04 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: LAX
Programs: AS MVPG, IHG Spire Elite
Posts: 1,016
SEA is packed w/ elites so your odds are going to be lower there, particularly on the longer routes where there's less frequency. SEA-DCA is notoriously bad, and as Gold I almost never got an upgrade, while LAX/DCA it was more common than not that I'd be upgraded, even when they were flying VX planes w/ 8 F seats.

Flights w/ more frequency (LAX/SFO/PDX/ANC, etc) you'll have a better chance, particularly if using ExpertFlyer to monitor flight loads, or on flights on off-peak days.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 12:00 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: USA
Programs: AS MVPG75k
Posts: 328
Since Alaska stopped blocking middle seats in Y, I think elite upgrades have become more difficult across the board. My mom is one anecdotal example--the difference between Y and F was $80 on her last flight, and staying as socially-distanced from others is high priority since she is high risk, so it was an easy decision. Pre-covid, she would have never paid $80 extra for F.

Agree with @be_rettSEA that SEA transcon flights were always the hardest to score upgrades on. Also morning transcons going east, and evening transcons going west are more difficult for upgrades. red-eyes are always the easiest. Lastly, preferred airports are always the most difficult. Ie. DCA is harder to score upgrades on than IAD, and BWI was always the easiest (before the COVID route cuts).
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Old Mar 17, 21, 12:26 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: SAN
Programs: AS Mileage Plan 75k, Bonvoy Titanium
Posts: 343
You mention FLL, but I am assuming you mean SEA-FLL. The new SAN-FLL has light loads in F and very few elites on board so I've gotten it a few times as a 75k. Last week the FA mentioned I was the only 75k on the plane.

I have never received an upgrade on SAN-SEA in either direction. 75ks everywhere and plenty of people paying for F.

I am waiting to see how things start to shake out post-COVID, will business travel resume for everyone (it already has for me) and will that mean greater competition for upgrades from fellow elites.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 1:19 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: PDX
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Originally Posted by FloridaFlyers View Post
Hi guys -

I was just wondering what AS routes everyone has problems getting upgraded on.

My experience in the past was that anything to HNL/KOA/OGG was pretty much a lost cause, but I'm 1/4 on my last few trips to/from FLL, and I'll be 1/4 on SEA-ATL. (All solo 75K booked 30+ days prior in R) My one successful upgrade to FLL was at the gate, and the only advance upgrade was approx 4 days prior to my trip to ATL. I always check in the second check in starts, I usually start 1/1 of 2/2 on the waitlist, but I just watch my name continue to drop down the priority list. (just dropped from 2/2 to 5/10)

Are there any things I'm missing for securing an upgrade, or are my most frequent routes all that horribly overloaded with 75Ks paying Y fares and paid F passengers?
The fact that a 75K is 1/4 on virtually any route is honestly pretty sad. I moved from MVP to MVPG last year and honestly, I think the main difference now is that I'm not necessarily clearing a lot more often, but I'm just ending up higher on the upgrade list. The other factor that plays into this is plane type--even as an MVP, the E175s always seemed good for upgrades...even as a Gold now, I can pretty much forget about any mainline flight with a 12 seat F cabin which eliminates a lot of the Hawaii flights. In the past, the oddball flight that I had a lot of trouble clearing on was any mainline flight from PDX-SEA....not a big deal since it's such a short flight, but still a tough upgrade. I really did think the move from MVP to MVPG would dramatically improve my upgrade success rate, but so far, that's not happened.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 1:21 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: PDX
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I've flown over 50,000 BIS miles this year and the only upgrade I've missed was SEA-FLL. I was likely going to miss it on a FLL-SAN flight too but had to cancel at T-20. That said, a combination of cheap I/P fares and more elites flying has made for some close calls and I've definitely been on flights where there were 75Ks in the back (PDX-FLL, SEA-FLL, LAX-PDX, SAN-SEA). I tend to book my flights months in advance, which gives me a slight edge over some 75Ks. It's only going to get worse as more people start flying and more start reaching 75K with the 1.5x EQM.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 1:21 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: PDX
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Originally Posted by navydevildoc View Post
You mention FLL, but I am assuming you mean SEA-FLL. The new SAN-FLL has light loads in F and very few elites on board so I've gotten it a few times as a 75k. Last week the FA mentioned I was the only 75k on the plane.

I have never received an upgrade on SAN-SEA in either direction. 75ks everywhere and plenty of people paying for F.

I am waiting to see how things start to shake out post-COVID, will business travel resume for everyone (it already has for me) and will that mean greater competition for upgrades from fellow elites.
Just took the new FLL-SAN flight last month...VERY light load in the back, but still couldn't clear as an MVPG.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 1:55 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Programs: AS, WN, Hyatt, Hilton
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Originally Posted by be_rettSEA View Post
SEA is packed w/ elites so your odds are going to be lower there, particularly on the longer routes where there's less frequency. SEA-DCA is notoriously bad, and as Gold I almost never got an upgrade, while LAX/DCA it was more common than not that I'd be upgraded, even when they were flying VX planes w/ 8 F seats.
So true- the SEA-DCA and PDX-DCA routes would have upgrade lists 35+ long pre-covid. However, haven't flown these routings since Feb 2020.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 3:11 pm
  #9  
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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AS1 DCA-SEA this morning (Wed 17 Mar) was full up front (12F); 8 on the upgrade list, 4 cleared into PC

Last edited by jrl767; Mar 18, 21 at 2:03 pm Reason: added day/date
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Old Mar 17, 21, 3:25 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Originally Posted by GabeDCA View Post
So true- the SEA-DCA and PDX-DCA routes would have upgrade lists 35+ long pre-covid. However, haven't flown these routings since Feb 2020.
Try JNU-ANC during legislative season. Iíve seen over 75+ on the upgrade list on that route.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 4:31 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Carlsbad,CA USA
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Posts: 1,345
As a lowly recent MVP due to a status match from United Silver got an upgrade on an award ticket SLC-SAN last Saturday.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 4:43 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: PDX, OGG or between the two
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K
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Yeah, anything west coast to Hawaii is tough. Lots of elites or paying people vacationing. That being said, as a gold I have seen a couple on roughly 12 legs this year.

Anything in/out of DEN seems like a pretty good bet for an upgrade.

PDX -LAS a few months ago I was upgraded both ways.

I made a block of reservations for PDX >OGG at end of the December and it does seem that as I work to the last ones I'm getting at higher % of upgrades to FC. This brings up a good question - what is the average time in advance people make reservations? I'm sure there are lots of variables but it's an interesting question. Anyway, even with middle seat blocking I've always been able to at least get to premium.
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Old Mar 17, 21, 6:20 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Chugach View Post
Try JNU-ANC during legislative season. Iíve seen over 75+ on the upgrade list on that route.
reminds me of one of my Thursday evening BWI-ATL-SEA trips on DL a few years ago ... I was Platinum, 18/75 for one seat on a 20F 739
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Old Mar 18, 21, 8:07 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Programs: AS MVP Gold 75K, Marriott Lifetime Titanium
Posts: 1,105
2017-2019 I was regularly doing SEA-DCA. Thursday and Friday night DCA-SEA would regularly show 50+, with the worst being close to 100. It's a popular route. I've personally sat next to members of congress, who got stuck in middle seats. I cannot tell you how many times I've ended up between #8-10 on the upgrade list, while holding a Y ticket. Honestly, the best thing AS could do to make this a more pleasant experience for 75Ks would be to segment the boarding process by allowing the 75Ks to board first, then the MVPG, MVP, then the rest. 90% of the plane is occupied by the time they get through the first boarding group.

Last edited by WillTravel4Food; Mar 18, 21 at 8:17 am
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Old Mar 18, 21, 1:00 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Dec 2020
Programs: Alaska Airlines MVP Gold
Posts: 12
Went 5/6 as a regular old mvp on sea-phl phl/sea last yr. Always went east on the morning flight and my return flight was the morning 2x and evening 1x.
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