The Woes of an EXP Flying from LGA

 
Old Oct 1, 15, 10:58 pm
  #1  
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The Woes of an EXP Flying from LGA

I decided to leave LGA from meetings a day early because of the weather and bought an LGA - ORD ticket last night, which I assume meant I was probably about the last EXP to buy a ticket. I thought I'd share some experiences.

1. The flight was zeroed out in all classes. I was in no hurry to get to ORD and checked with the AAngels when I got to the AC to see if they were taking volunteers for overbooking. I learned the flight was at zero availability but there was no oversell or overbooking.

2. The gate started calling out ConciergeKey members for preboarding by name They were very open that these were ConciergeKey members and U have never seen this before. There were 14 CK members on my flight. When I boarded, I saw several of them were sitting in coach.

3. I was in the mid-20's on the upgrade list (none cleared). So taking into account that there were 16 in F, that suggests to me that there were at least 30-35 EXP's on board the flight.

4. I thought it was odd that the GA's went to such care to preboard CK's (which I haven't seen elsewhere) but then boarded EXP's and PLT's together, which I presume made up the majority of the flight.

5. I learned that the 738 has 30 rows. The seats in my area must have been misaligned because it didn't seem like there was much leg room either. The flight attendants also have these things they roll down the aisle to serve drinks. I wasn't familiar with this I should say that notwithstanding my experience in the far back of the plane, the FA's knew my name and were looking for me with the food and beverage cart.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 1:26 am
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Yikes -- didn't know there were so many CK's and EXPs in LGA -- although wonder if this is also the norm in non-impending hurricane weather.

At least you got your free snack item
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Old Oct 2, 15, 5:35 am
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Originally Posted by supermintyfresh View Post
Yikes -- didn't know there were so many CK's and EXPs in LGA -- although wonder if this is also the norm in non-impending hurricane weather.
During weather events, definitely. Separate boarding for CKs. Dozens upon dozens of CKs and EXPs sitting in the back. Literally hundreds of names on the standby list, and dozens on the upgrade list.

Outside of weather, I've seen it happen, but generally at peak business travel times. You're never going to hear that kind of boarding on a sunny Saturday morning. Then, it's Group 1 FTW.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 5:59 am
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Re #5, the 737s have been reconfigured, only 7, 8 & 9 are MCE. The rest make a sardine can seem roomy
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Old Oct 2, 15, 6:53 am
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I don't think any of this is typical. You're at the end of a week with a HUGE conference (Advertising Week) in town and with a combination of bad weather for the past couple of days and an impending possible hurricane.

Also, for the purposes of your calculations, I'd assume that most of the F seats on the flight have been paid for (not necessarily by EXPs) and that, in fact, some of the people ahead of you on the upgrade list may be people who paid for first but have had their flights cancelled or are trying to proactively move to earlier flights. (This would also explain why the flight is zeroed out but not oversold--AA is presumably trying to deal with or anticipate IRROps)
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Old Oct 2, 15, 9:03 am
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When I lived in NYC my upgrade rate as an EXP was very good but things happen like weather or irregular ops to ruin that, particularly to high paid F markets like ORD and MIA. Some years back I was number 16 on the upgrade list going to ORD on a Monday morning. Interestingly, this year now MIA based my upgrade success rate has vastly improved, some of that likely due to more US flying (which in 2 weeks becomes a mute point). The only CK boarding I have ever seen was when an AA rep actually walked a CX to the gate and preboarded-seen it a lot at JFK and LAX-the Hollywood crowd.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 9:35 am
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Must have been the conference(s) + bad weather. NYC & Chicago are MAJOR advertising markets so it makes sense for these flights to be jammed especially with crappy weather we've had this week.

I do this route monthly and have only been in Y once in the past 2-3 years and that was when my own flight (was upgraded) cancelled and everyone got jammed on the few flights that were operating.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 10:18 am
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Glad that they boarded CK members separately. It's always nice when a company offers a little something extra to its best customers.

No, I'm not CK.

Mike
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Old Oct 2, 15, 10:23 am
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
3. I was in the mid-20's on the upgrade list (none cleared). So taking into account that there were 16 in F, that suggests to me that there were at least 30-35 EXP's on board the flight.
This is a weird jump of logic. Being in F does not mean someone is EXP. A lot of people just buy discount A.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by reeg2 View Post
This is a weird jump of logic. Being in F does not mean someone is EXP. A lot of people just buy discount A.
True that some people buy F or A but don't otherwise travel a lot -- but if there were 25 EXP's on the upgrade list, and 16 in F, then I'm suggesting that at least a third of those in F were likely EXP. That seems reasonable.

And I've never seen CK so openly discussed at any hub. At LAX, they have escorts that bring people on from time to time, either before any boarding announcement or (in the case of stars) right before the door closes. I sometimes see the same thing at ORD or JFK, but just haven't seen the announcement before.

Then again, out in the spoke hinterlands of another airlines hub, I'm not sure the GA's understand EXP, much less CK. The FA's, on the other hand, definitely do.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 12:58 pm
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Even though we are having terrible weather here, I'm not surprised. Most business travelers go out of LGA, esp since so many come from Manhattan, so you're far more likely to get EXPs there. Even though I'm EXP, I've been flying from JFK to CLT since late last year. They have a morning flight at the same time as LGA, and I'm a lock to get upgraded to F (haven't missed this year, and had a pretty high average last year even when I was PLT).
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Old Oct 2, 15, 2:04 pm
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The fundamental poor assumption here is that F is full of freebie UG's. This is a route heavy with paid F traffic, including passengers headed onward from ORD. With bad weather closing in and a ticket which allows you to simply change without weird SDC rules, those seats are gone as people run to LGA.

The F cabin could have been full of people who fly 1x/year, but this is it.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 2:22 pm
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Sounds like any flight home from LGA on any random Thursday evening over the years.
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Old Oct 2, 15, 6:49 pm
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I'm dual homed in Chicago and NYC and fly back and forth about 40 times a year. Been doing this for about 10 years. I'm also an EXP. I fly to LGA late afternoon on Sunday and fly back to ORD on Friday morning. I have seen the CK pre-boarding at LGA and ORD a handful of times recently. I usually buy my tickets 3-4 weeks out to minimize my costs. Upgrade rates are about 80%. Many times I am the last upgrade at the gate. Although often it clears at 100 hours. It does seem to usually be the Friday morning LGA-ORD that does not clear. From my experience in F on that flight, it seems to have a fair number of paid J customer connecting to the PRC flights at ORD hence fewer seat available for paid upgraders.

I did fly for a couple years as a 1K on UA. Upgrade rate was about 40% on UA. UA did have an upgrade priority system that rewarded travelers buying more expensive tickets vs. AA's which rewards flyers who buy their tickets earlier.

I have noticed upgrade percentages have dropped. I went 18 months in 2008-2009 without missing an upgrade. I assume the drop in upgrade percentage is a combination of capacity discipline and the improving economy.
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Old Oct 3, 15, 4:23 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
3. I was in the mid-20's on the upgrade list (none cleared). So taking into account that there were 16 in F, that suggests to me that there were at least 30-35 EXP's on board the flight.
How did you make that conclusion? It is possible none of the people in F were EXP. They could have been
1. People paying for first class
2. People upgrading with miles
3. FAM
4 etc
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