DC to SFO Options / Upgrades

 

Old Jul 13, 14, 10:39 pm
  #1  
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Question DC to SFO Options / Upgrades

Hi all:

I am planning to travel weekly from DC to SFO and I'm trying to figure out how to make this work. Unfortunately, there are not many options coming out of DC for AA. My initial thought was to book DCA->JFK->SFO->JFK->DCA to be able to hop on the 321T(32B), which appears to offer the most comfort. My question here is how feasible is it to get an upgrade from Economy to Business if you're AAdvantage Platinum? I am assuming Business and First class are probably in high demand, and I can't fathom the idea to be stuck in an economy seat for 6hrs twice a week. Should I consider instead the non-stop service on United IAD-SFO? Problem is I don't have status on United, but I do have Gold Medallion on Delta, so what about Delta?

Please help...
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Old Jul 14, 14, 1:29 am
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Originally Posted by egarcia9330 View Post
Hi all:

I am planning to travel weekly from DC to SFO and I'm trying to figure out how to make this work. Unfortunately, there are not many options coming out of DC for AA. My initial thought was to book DCA->JFK->SFO->JFK->DCA to be able to hop on the 321T(32B), which appears to offer the most comfort. My question here is how feasible is it to get an upgrade from Economy to Business if you're AAdvantage Platinum? I am assuming Business and First class are probably in high demand, and I can't fathom the idea to be stuck in an economy seat for 6hrs twice a week. Should I consider instead the non-stop service on United IAD-SFO? Problem is I don't have status on United, but I do have Gold Medallion on Delta, so what about Delta?

Please help...
Booking lots of shorthaul RJs into an East Coast airport (DCA-JFK and JFK-DCA) is a recipe for flight delays, missed connections and cancellations. I don't think I would be doing that unless I had no life and didn't care about getting to places on time.

Keep in mind that you're only going to be sitting in F a good percentage of the time you fly on A321s with your e500s unless you $hell out additional ca$h anyways.

If I was being loyal to AA, I'd strongly consider DCA-DFW/ORD-SFO (maybe even DCA-PHX-SFO in a pinch). Yes, you're going to be sitting in Y a lot, but as a Plat, you won't get enough free upgrades to stay out of Y all the time anyway. Treat your upgrades as pleasant surprises instead of divine right and you'll be OK.

This changes a bit if you're going to make EXP- how much flying are you looking at?

If I was more interested in getting home quickly, I'd figure out whether UA or VX on DCA-SFO worked for me (UA flies to both IAD and DCA from SFO). It's going to be difficult to stay out of Y unless you shell out additional cash, midlevel elite is unlikely to cut it for anything close to a 100% upgrade percentage on routes like the ones you'd fly on AA/DL/UA...
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Old Jul 14, 14, 3:58 am
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Originally Posted by egarcia9330 View Post
Hi all:

I am planning to travel weekly from DC to SFO and I'm trying to figure out how to make this work. Unfortunately, there are not many options coming out of DC for AA. My initial thought was to book DCA->JFK->SFO->JFK->DCA to be able to hop on the 321T(32B), which appears to offer the most comfort. My question here is how feasible is it to get an upgrade from Economy to Business if you're AAdvantage Platinum? I am assuming Business and First class are probably in high demand, and I can't fathom the idea to be stuck in an economy seat for 6hrs twice a week. Should I consider instead the non-stop service on United IAD-SFO? Problem is I don't have status on United, but I do have Gold Medallion on Delta, so what about Delta?

Please help...
With regards to UA:

If you really want to be a masochist, UA is currently offering some status matches. They don't list AA, but they list US & I'm sure if you email them, they'd probably accept you [EDIT: Plus, you said you had Gold on Delta which they do match to Premier Gold]. Bear in mind, this is a really, really elite heavy route, so the likelihood of getting an upgrade as Gold (what you would transfer over as) is still pretty low.

For instance, this morning's 7am UA (A320) flight from IAD to SFO this morning has ~30 people on the upgrade list currently with a fully checked in F.
The 6am: 757 - 34 people on waiting list, fully checked in F (24 seats).
8:09am: 737 - 48 PEOPLE on the upgrade waiting list with 13/15 checked in for F.
etc- etc-

You'll be competing with GS, 1k, Plat, and other golds on higher fare classes, so it'll be pretty tough.

You can check more here on the timetable:
http://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps...umFlight=&FLN=
Just check the status and then hit "First Upgrade Standby List" to see the numbers.

Status match offer & details:
http://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps...omoCode=TB8230

Second edit: Do you know what fare class you would be purchasing? If it's Y/B & you're Gold, then you get instant upgrade to First (depending on availability of course), which would make it a lot easier to secure a seat in First. If you end up at 1k, then that becomes Y/B/M. + You'll get Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs) once you hit Plat and then again at 1k, which can also help. I would say it could be worth it to take UA just because it's a direct flight and if you're doing it twice a week, the last thing you're going to want to do is sit in a connecting airport for an extra hour every flight. That being said, there are a lot of tradeoffs with regards to UA's service levels and it's on-time performance (though, since you're not connecting, this will generally be better than it would be if you were going through ORD/IAH or something on UA).

Last edited by SmokeyTheBear; Jul 14, 14 at 4:23 am Reason: Delta match
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Old Jul 14, 14, 9:36 am
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Why not take Virgin America? They're far nicer than UA and fly DCA-SFO nonstop.
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Old Jul 14, 14, 9:49 am
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1. Flying AA micro-hauls to JFK is not only a prescription -- but a close to certainty -- for cancellations & delays. Those flights are the first delayed & cancelled. This means misconnects at JFK and that translates into rebookings on AA in middle seats in Y. Also, if you are commuting this route, adds to your commute and that is something to be avoided if you want a life.

2. UA service may not be the greatest, but there are 11 non-stops xIAD and one xDCA. Means lots of options, which is key if you are on business. There are often decent deals on discounted FC and as long as you are Silver or better, a Y/B fare qualifies for instant UG. These can be done at time of booking, especially if you can lock yourself in well in advance. This means that you effectively beat out GS, 1K, Plat & Gold on cheap tickets.

3. But, beware. IAD-SFO is generally as tough an UG as exists in the domestic system. This means that if you need to make a change, you will almost certainly be in steerage.
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Old Jul 14, 14, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
1. Flying AA micro-hauls to JFK is not only a prescription -- but a close to certainty -- for cancellations & delays. Those flights are the first delayed & cancelled. This means misconnects at JFK and that translates into rebookings on AA in middle seats in Y. Also, if you are commuting this route, adds to your commute and that is something to be avoided if you want a life.

2. UA service may not be the greatest, but there are 11 non-stops xIAD and one xDCA. Means lots of options, which is key if you are on business. There are often decent deals on discounted FC and as long as you are Silver or better, a Y/B fare qualifies for instant UG. These can be done at time of booking, especially if you can lock yourself in well in advance. This means that you effectively beat out GS, 1K, Plat & Gold on cheap tickets.

3. But, beware. IAD-SFO is generally as tough an UG as exists in the domestic system. This means that if you need to make a change, you will almost certainly be in steerage.
4. Fly Virgin American DCA-SFO. Very good product even in coach. If you upgrade into First class, it is the best domestic first class product on flights not involving JFK.

5. If you go with AA, your best routings are DCA-DFW-SFO and DCA-ORD-SFO. DCA-PHX-SFO and DCA-LAX-SFO are options as well.

6. On DL you would be doing DCA-MSP/DTW/ATL/SLC-SFO. Choose which option best fits your schedule.
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Old Jul 14, 14, 10:01 pm
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As American Airlines and US Airways are still operating as distinct airlines, this question is being moved to the appropriate pre-merger airline forum.

Please note the sticky at the top of the consolidated thread which is titled PLEASE READ ME BEFORE POSTING! Welcome to the New American Airlines Forum!. With all of the changes about, it is important to know where to post, and reading that thread before posting (as the title suggests ) will help get you in the right place.

~Moderator
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Old Jul 14, 14, 11:43 pm
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Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
If I was being loyal to AA, I'd strongly consider DCA-DFW/ORD-SFO (maybe even DCA-PHX-SFO in a pinch).
This, +1.

austin_res also suggested DCA-LAX-SFO. Might work as well.

Last edited by negs; Jul 14, 14 at 11:44 pm Reason: To korrect spelling.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 12:58 am
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Originally Posted by negs View Post
This, +1.

austin_res also suggested DCA-LAX-SFO. Might work as well.
Shorthaul flights out of SFO have many of the same problems as ones out of East Coast hubs, high cancellation/delay rates.

In SFO's case, a runway design that doesn't work well with certain approaches in common weather patterns means there are often ATC flow control/ground holds going on. The flights that take it in the shorts are shorthaul ones like LAX. Midcons/transcons are less likely to get delayed. So I would prefer ORD or DFW to PHX or LAX. (CLT might be OK, depends on how often CLT-IAD/DCA gets hosed.)
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Old Jul 15, 14, 2:44 am
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DC to SFO Options / Upgrades

My advice is to connect in DFW and get an American Express Platinum card for Centurion Lounge access. This is your best shot at upgrades as ORD-SFO is tough and there are a lot more DFW-SFO flights. With the lounge for layovers it's not bad ...
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Old Jul 15, 14, 7:27 am
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Originally Posted by egarcia9330 View Post
Hi all:

I am planning to travel weekly from DC to SFO and I'm trying to figure out how to make this work. Unfortunately, there are not many options coming out of DC for AA. My initial thought was to book DCA->JFK->SFO->JFK->DCA to be able to hop on the 321T(32B), which appears to offer the most comfort. My question here is how feasible is it to get an upgrade from Economy to Business if you're AAdvantage Platinum? I am assuming Business and First class are probably in high demand, and I can't fathom the idea to be stuck in an economy seat for 6hrs twice a week. Should I consider instead the non-stop service on United IAD-SFO? Problem is I don't have status on United, but I do have Gold Medallion on Delta, so what about Delta?

Please help...
Weekly? Ugh.
I'd just move if I were you - the idea of weekly transcons into some of the busiest airports with the worst weather is asking a lot of lady luck.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by negs View Post
This, +1.

austin_res also suggested DCA-LAX-SFO. Might work as well.
DCA-LAX is not an easy upgrade, possibly more difficult than JFK-SFO.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 8:29 am
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Originally Posted by egarcia9330 View Post
Hi all:

I am planning to travel weekly from DC to SFO
Are you really going to be in the city or rather traveling to the Bay Area/points south? If the latter, then look into SJC as an alternative. It isn't as big an airport as SFO but it has no where near the delays that plague SFO.
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Old Jul 15, 14, 10:11 am
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Other possibilities that will earn you AA miles include:
AA: IAD-LAX-SFO/SJC
AS: DCA-LAX-SFO/SJC (for an antepenultimate resort)
AS: DCA-PDX-SFO/SJC/STS/OAK (for a penultimate resort)
AS: DCA/BWI-SEA-SFO/SJC/STS/OAK (as an ultimate resort)
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Old Jul 15, 14, 12:55 pm
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I do the reverse SFO-DCA/IAD about once every two months. For the past year I'd been doing it on DL but just recently switched to AA. Depending on how you want to connect and your time of day, the shot of getting cleared as Silver weren't too bad. However, a lot of the widebodies have been swapped out for 739's since I've done it.

There's always the option to do AA IAD-LAX-SFO but with only six or so flights a day timing might not be the best for your situation, at least until the Mesa RJ's start this route in Sept.
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