Impact of AA clearing upgrades later than in the past

 
Old Feb 9, 10, 12:43 am
  #1  
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Impact of AA clearing upgrades later than in the past

I've noticed over the past 6-12 months that it appears AA has tightened up the availability of upgrades.

While domestic upgrades (as an EXP) used to almost automatically clear at T-100 hours, they now clear far close to departure -- even in mostly empty cabins.

International upgrades also seem to be clearing far closer to departure than before. While clearing at booking was fairly common in the past (anywhere from 1-3 months in advance), now i'm waiting down to the final two weeks prior to departure.

Two examples --

1) LAX-ORD-STL this Thursday. 767-300 LAX-ORD shows 16 of 30 seats empty on the seatmap and 7's across the board on ExpertFlyer. MD-80 ORD-STL shows 14 of 16 seats empty and 7s across the board. Neither upgrade clears at 100 hours -- although they do clear a day later.

2) ORD-PVG-ORD in March. Booked in early January, 2 1/2 months prior to departure. Seat maps showed 6-8 seats taken (including 8H/J which are blocked) at time of booking. In the 4 weeks since, cabins now show 11 booked seats. Still no upgrades available. (Yes.. I do realize seat maps are not perfect representations but do tend to have some resemblance of reality.)

Two questions --

1) Is this the same experience of others? Is AA opening upgrade availability closer to departure in the past?

2) Who does this impact? As a party of 2 on an international flight, if AA opens upgrade space later and in smaller quantities, I could see us (with EXP priority) getting passed up while others get confirmed only to find no seats let in the end.

Thoughts/comments?

Greg
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Old Feb 9, 10, 1:28 am
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PVG is never going to get the standard EXP "500" Mile" upgrades -- it's an international destination. SWU, Miles+Copay, or the ever so unlikely op-up are the only ways to avoid paying to be up front.

For domestic flights, I think this is the result of the capacity cuts. Fewer seats in coach means more oversold conditions in back. They are saving seats up front longer than before for what I'd call "op-ups lite". They hold the front cabin seats as long as possible hoping for a sale; then if they don't get the sale they turn it over to the GA to move EXPs forward to maximize back cabin fares. I'd like to claim to be smart enough to have inferred this on my own, but I'm not. An EXP Desk rep told me this was happening when I inquired about an upgrade (LAX-HNL -- a reportedly easy upgrade to score) that had not cleared at T-100.


Jim
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Old Feb 9, 10, 2:10 am
  #3  
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A lot depends on the route and date.
I regular have flown the non-stops between jfk and las; the afternoon flight from jfk to las generally clears at T-100, but on the last two trips it was at T-96; the reverse direction, a morning flight has always cleared at T-100, this past Monday, 2/8, the seat map showed 0 empty seats and EF was showing nearly 0 in all booking codes(for over a week)--I attribute it to the superbowl game this past weekend.
jfk-lax, particularly, the first flight out, at 6:20 am (on Fridays) seems to be a case of extremes--it is either wait to the last minute for J (business) to open up or T-100+. This past Friday, 2/5, EF showed everything with -7, and the seat map showed the plane about 1/3 occupied.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 4:34 am
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Originally Posted by jkearns View Post
PVG is never going to get the standard EXP "500" Mile" upgrades -- it's an international destination. SWU, Miles+Copay, or the ever so unlikely op-up are the only ways to avoid paying to be up front.
Yes, clearly. The OP is EXP and will have some eVIPs at his disposal. OP doesn't hint at wanting to use stickers to upgrade to PVG.

OP: you're getting your upgrades in the end, so at least that hasn't changed. Seeing AA's performance last year despite waning capacity would hint that they need somehow to maximize revenue, and what the EXP agent told you seems a likely way to do so. Considering nobody is buying seats up front, how else might AA hike Y seats?

Peace.

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Old Feb 9, 10, 6:01 am
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Originally Posted by GregL View Post
1) Is this the same experience of others? Is AA opening upgrade availability closer to departure in the past?
5 domestic flights since Jan, 4 cleared at 100 hrs, 5th flight booked 3 days before flight an upgrade cleared when I held the ticket (love it when that happens)

Originally Posted by GregL View Post
2) Who does this impact? As a party of 2 on an international flight, if AA opens upgrade space later and in smaller quantities, I could see us (with EXP priority) getting passed up while others get confirmed only to find no seats let in the end.

if RM decides to open up 1 seat and your PNR has two; then you will indeed be passed over, nothing new there
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Old Feb 9, 10, 7:21 am
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I seem to be the only person in the universe who has not noticed AA upgrades clearing significantly later than a few years ago.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 7:33 am
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Originally Posted by vasantn View Post
I seem to be the only person in the universe who has not noticed AA upgrades clearing significantly later than a few years ago.
All of my (domestic) upgs have cleared at the 105 hour mark so far this year. For me its been the total opposite. Also, it seems that the flights that I have taken don't seem to be as packed as last fall (albeit its now the middle of winter). When I get up to use the lav and peak back in Y there seems to be a lot of empty seats.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 7:59 am
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Part of it is that if they wait to upgrade, there is a larger chance of not only overselling coach, but also selling higher revenue F seats. In the end, EXP will still get the upgrades first, even within the PLT window, but the extra couple of days might show a few extra F tix sold.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 8:19 am
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I have not noticed any difference in the past 5 or 6 years I have been ExPlat. Unfortunately I will be dropping down to Plat this year. Actually I have found the opposite lately. I was on a award ticket MCO-JFK and I asked the GA if there was any possibility of upgrading me and my son. It was the holiday after Christmas and F was still wide open at check-in. My son and I both got upgraded from the award ticket. I will be flying a JFK-LAX transcon later this month and had one SWU left to burn. To my surprise (and the ExPlat agent) it was available as soon as I called.

So I guess it is still YMMV for this stuff. BTW, in all my years as ExPlat I only missed one upgrade, a JFK-SFO. I was number 1 on the list at the airport put everyone showed up.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 8:25 am
  #10  
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I would say that, on average, it seems that we're clearing a bit later than before, but not much. International- fewer are clearing at booking, and we even had one miss- but all the rest are clearing. Domestic are about the same percentage- some still at 100-105 hours, but more maybe 1-2 days out than before. Nothing significant.

Cheers.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 9:17 am
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Perhaps I'm just a simpleton, but why in the world do I care whether I clear at 100 hours, 96 hours, or 72 hours if my EXP priority is handled correctly? Sounds like some folks need to call the waaaaah-mbulance.

Heck, I'd be all for clearing EVERYTHING day of departure by status and fare. Then you'd never have an EXP in the back wanting to upgrade while a PLT or GLD rides up front.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 9:20 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by McFlyPHL View Post
Perhaps I'm just a simpleton, but why in the world do I care whether I clear at 100 hours, 96 hours, or 72 hours if my EXP priority is handled correctly? Sounds like some folks need to call the waaaaah-mbulance.

Heck, I'd be all for clearing EVERYTHING day of departure by status and fare. Then you'd never have an EXP in the back wanting to upgrade while a PLT or GLD rides up front.
I think it's just an observation rather than a rant/whine. It's OK to notice things and doesn't mean that one is complaining.

Since there are two of us, earlier clearing is preferred as it allows us to select seats together rather than having to do it on the plane. Not a big deal- just a convenience. I don't know about you, but I prefer things to be more, rather than less, convenient.

Cheers.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 9:26 am
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Originally Posted by brp View Post
Since there are two of us, earlier clearing is preferred as it allows us to select seats together rather than having to do it on the plane. Not a big deal- just a convenience. I don't know about you, but I prefer things to be more, rather than less, convenient.

Cheers.
Ditto from a PLT. The SO and myself went to NY for New Years this year and I upgraded us both ways using stickers. They both cleared early A.M. before flight, but yet AA's system is too dumb to see that when two people are on the same PNR with upgrades requested that you should stick them together. Both times we had to readjust on the plane which is just a hassle. I love how people feel put out that you ask them to move from 4B to 5B or vice versa. So to me, the earlier the better to make sure that you get seat selection when involving multiple people. That's just my .02 though.

**EDIT: BTW, there were side-by-side seats (2 pairs) the night prior, hence my comment about AA's system.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 9:49 am
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GregL has experience much like mine. I have never used domestic US stickers so I don't know about them. The eVIP's used to clear typically at booking (2-3 weeks in advance for me). Now they're clearing 2-3 days out, or as in yesterday, about eight hours before flight time. The seat availability has not been too different, in the case today there were 5 open seats in various fare classes just before mine cleared, but they'd waited until the last minute. Even so, mine have cleared 100%.
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Old Feb 9, 10, 10:52 am
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We (5 exp) bought 5 tickets to Dublin 6+ month ago. The cabin was empty (2 seats sold) until 3 days before departure.

Took a phone call 2 AA to release them...not sure what the systems were waiting for (we were on the wait list, we were upgrading separately).

Returns tickets have still not cleared.
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