Purchase / mileage upgrade on AA

 
Old Oct 14, 15, 1:13 pm
  #1  
b2e
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Purchase / mileage upgrade on AA

Curious for your insight. I purchased a ticket DFW -> LHR for mid November and a return approx. 2 weeks later. Hoping to get an upgrade for $700 / 50k but nothing confirmed (Gold status here). I know the whole rehearsed spiel from AA: not guaranteed, could clear at any time including up to the hour of departure, etc. What's frustrating is that their outbound business section is very slowing booking up, though it's eased up over the last week, and the return is wide-open in business class. Has anyone been surprised with an upgrade confirmation days or weeks prior to departure?

Also interesting that when I call AA Gold desk, they can't tell me what place I'm in. Further, I asked if she (the agent) still showed open seats in business. "I show around 7 or so, sir," she replied. "Seven? There are 16 open on AA.com." "I'm sorry sir, we're not allowed to give seat counts out over the phone." "Well, should I trust AA.com or leaning towards more what you say?" "My advice would be to stay up to date with AA.com" and there was a slight giggle. What gives with that?

I'd appreciate any feedback you all have on this highly convoluted, pain in the backside process. Any tips for confirming an upgrade?
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Old Oct 14, 15, 2:50 pm
  #2  
 
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Yes, we are all surprised to get an upgrade days, weeks before the flight.

No, they will never tell you which number you are in the list, only up to 3 or 4 hours prior to departure, once the upgrade goes to airport control and you can clearly see it online, or via the AA app. Weeks prior to the flight many things can change, therefore the order is very flexible and fluctuates constantly.

Not sure why you should be surprised after all, we will be getting numerous posting/complaints from people saying that they called 3 weeks ago and they where told they where #1 in the list and now they are #5, what happened?

Suggest you get an expertflyer subscription and monitor the upgrade accordingly. You can also use them to see which routes may have more open seats.

You are gold and upgrading on miles and point, I'm EXP (higher tier than gold) and I can tell you that I've missed several upgrades in the past. The days of easy upgrades are gone, numerous posting on this. You are not alone.

Welcome to FT, do stick around and you will learn more on how things work with the flyer community. Good luck.
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Old Oct 14, 15, 4:09 pm
  #3  
b2e
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Appreciate the insight. Just wish AA was a little more customer savvy and upfront. None of this mysterious "maybe, maybe not."
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Old Oct 14, 15, 4:32 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by b2e View Post
Appreciate the insight. Just wish AA was a little more customer savvy and upfront. None of this mysterious "maybe, maybe not."
Well how are they supposed to know? Your position on the wait list can change significantly so what's the point in telling somebody who's just going to get annoyed when they get pushed down (see any number of threads on the standby upgrade list). What exactly are you looking for AA to be more "customer savvy" about? This is a dynamic process they don't want to give seats for upgrades if they can sell them. Most business class seats (particularly the most profitable ones) are sold in the ~1-3 weeks before departure. That's why it's filling up. Yeah, they're maybe more cautious/stingy about releasing seats earlier, but if there are any seats left before departure, then they'll clear the upgrades. And surely you can appreciate that at that time the higher status customers on the list should get first dibs?

It's been said before, but if you really want the more comfortable seat, then find a flight where you can confirm it (they do exist), pay for the seat outright (AA Vacations offers *very* good prices on air & hotel/car combos), pay for Premium Economy on BA or whoever, or redeem AAnytime miles. No shortage of ways to get a better seat!
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Old Oct 14, 15, 4:37 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by b2e View Post
Further, I asked if she (the agent) still showed open seats in business. "I show around 7 or so, sir," she replied. "Seven? There are 16 open on AA.com." "I'm sorry sir, we're not allowed to give seat counts out over the phone." "Well, should I trust AA.com or leaning towards more what you say?" "My advice would be to stay up to date with AA.com" and there was a slight giggle. What gives with that?
When you say there are "16 open on AA.com", are you looking at the seat map? The seat map only shows which seat assignments have already been pre-reserved and is not indicative of how many seats are actually available for sale. It's possible that there are people who have bought tickets but have not reserved their seat assignments yet.

When an agent pulls up availability, if there are 7 or more seats available in a given inventory, 7 is all that will be displayed. The agent won't know if there are actually more than 7 seats available until she tries to sell more than 7, hence the reply of "around 7 or so". Not only is the agent not permitted to give seat counts, but she's unable to do so in the first place.

My advice would be to invest in an ExpertFlyer subscription so you can check availability for yourself. In many cases purchasing a load factor-based upgrade outright is a better value than using miles + copay, and both come out of C inventory.
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Old Oct 14, 15, 4:38 pm
  #6  
b2e
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Valid feedback ijgordon. I might add that I booked my airfare with a very encouraging pushing from an AA agent who assured me this was the better way to go (vs. say, trying to do world flyer with BA and using miles). It was never guaranteed, but certainly felt like a shoe-in or that I had a really decent chance of getting it.
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Old Oct 14, 15, 5:50 pm
  #7  
b2e
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Originally Posted by ThreeJulietTango View Post
When you say there are "16 open on AA.com", are you looking at the seat map? The seat map only shows which seat assignments have already been pre-reserved and is not indicative of how many seats are actually available for sale. It's possible that there are people who have bought tickets but have not reserved their seat assignments yet.

When an agent pulls up availability, if there are 7 or more seats available in a given inventory, 7 is all that will be displayed. The agent won't know if there are actually more than 7 seats available until she tries to sell more than 7, hence the reply of "around 7 or so". Not only is the agent not permitted to give seat counts, but she's unable to do so in the first place.

My advice would be to invest in an ExpertFlyer subscription so you can check availability for yourself. In many cases purchasing a load factor-based upgrade outright is a better value than using miles + copay, and both come out of C inventory.
Thanks for that information. That's odd though, I've had agents before (regarding this flight) quote the same seats I saw on AA.com seat map (live, I presume, showing me available seats for purchase). Good feedback!

Forgive me, "load factor-based upgrade," what's that?
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Old Oct 14, 15, 9:01 pm
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by b2e View Post
Forgive me, "load factor-based upgrade," what's that?
When all upgrades are accounted for, upgrades are offered for sale upon check in at the airport kiosk. The price of the LBFU depends on the distance. There is no set price per se, and they might take priority over cash and miles. Suggest you read up on the wiki on top of page.
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Old Oct 15, 15, 2:22 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by b2e View Post
...an AA agent who assured me this was the better way to go (vs. say, trying to do world flyer with BA and using miles).
That probably would have ended up being a disaster for you for several reasons, so if you were hell bent on using miles to upgrade into business class, I think she gave you reasonable advice.
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