elementary upgrade question

Old Mar 3, 05, 11:58 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
Programs: AA 4MM EXP; Starwood Lifetime Plt
Posts: 2,474
elementary upgrade question

I have had EXP status with AA for a long time as a result of extensive international travel, but I have no experience with free domestic upgrades because I have never traveled inside the US on an economy class ticket. For that reason, my question is very elementary: what are best days, and times of day, for these upgrades to actually come through? Are certain destinations harder than others (specifically, dfw, ord, slc)? Any tips for a beginner would be most welcome!
ajnaro is offline  
Old Mar 3, 05, 12:10 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Programs: AA EXP, 5MM; BA GLD
Posts: 15,481
It's hard to answer these general questions except in the most general way. Your odds of upgrading will increase by (1) flying during off-peak times, which will vary by route; and (2) submitting your request as far in advance as possible. For example, my success flying BOS-DFW has only been around 50% or so because I frequently fly last minute during peak times (I have started buying "YUP" fares to compensate for this, which is exactly what AA wants me to do; my upgrade, thus, is no longer free, but effectively is $100, which is the difference in price). That said, as an EXP, you generally only need one of the two factors I have listed in order to be successful. So if you are flying on an off-peak flight, you often will be successful upgrading even if the request is submitted closer to departure time. On the other hand, if you are able to submit your request a few weeks out, you will be successful in clearing on most routes, even popular routes during peak times. There are many EXPs out there with close to 100% success rates.
Blumie is offline  
Old Mar 3, 05, 12:22 pm
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: MSP (and will only fly NWA in re-routes if I HAVE to)
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As an Exec Plat also .. I do several things to make a flight decent.

1. When booking, look at the number of open First seats available. In other words KNOW going into the trip your chances. If you book today for a flight next week with two open first seats, your chances are pretty slim. If there are two seats TAKEN .. chances are really good! (I looked at a flight once domestic 777 SFO-DFW where first was FULL and the business seats were also full - tho these would be economy - I did not book it!)

2. Once I have found a flight with a good upgrade potential (see #1) reserve the BEST SEAT IN COACH! To me .. this is any exit row seat (personal preference is window first exit row for good sleeping). That done in case you do not get the upgrade at least you will have a decent seat. (BTW.. ExpPlats only can reserve exit row seats on the internet so they are almost always open).

3. Monitor the flight .. at 100 hours if your upgrade does not come thru, check the seat map. They hold 20% AT LEAST of the seats for last minute purchase .. so on an MD80/737 with 16 seats in First they will probably hold 4 seats until departure. So get to the airport early and GET ON THE GATE UPGRADE LIST.

Not to brag, on my Sunday/Monday outbounds and late Friday returns as ExecPlat I am averaging about 90% upgrades. And sometimes when I don't get it (or it looks like I will not) I head to the airport in time to catch the earlier flight and ask THEN for an upgrade on that flight (or get on the list for the regular flight). THAT seems to help too .. being flexible.

And at the airport you can ASK about the list. Ask where you stand .. how many first full fare and ExecPlats are ahead of you (if any) and how many seats are open (unassigned). I then ask 'should I bother to wait' for an upgrade and the agents are pretty honest about telling you yes or no. [If it is a meal flight I always ask should I wait on the upgrade or go buy some food? That normally gives them an indication you know the 'routine' and they tend to give you a straight answer.] When it's a NO .. thank them for their time and go on board.. do not make a scene. That is why upgrades get a bad image is the temper tantrums from someone who does not get an upgrade! By being nice and professional to the ticket counter or gate staff when you are on the 'at gate upgrade' list .. you stand a better chance. Two ExecPlats asking for an upgrade .. one whining and yelling at the agent or you just standing there (where they ask) and waiting .. who do you think will get the upgrade!

Sorry to admit domestic upgrades aint that wonderful any more .. boring meals and full cabins.. but it is better than coach!

JGR01 is offline  

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