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Airbus A321T / 321T “32B” Transcon JFK <--> LAX / SFO Upgrade Success / Help

Airbus A321T / 321T “32B” Transcon JFK <--> LAX / SFO Upgrade Success / Help

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Old Jul 11, 19, 11:01 am   -   Wikipost
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A321T / 321T / Transcontinental JFK to/from LAX & SFO: Upgrade Success & Assistance


American flies the transcontinental A321T with three classes including solo First and Business pairs that fully recline horizontally. (Note the "32B" designation applies to all Airbus A321-100 and -200 - aircraft with "Sharklets" blended winglets in accord with ICAO standards, including two and three class A321s used by AA.)

It appears demand in J is high, supply less so, making this a tricky upgrade from coach to business. First sometimes looks like there’s good availability until close to departure, and it’s common that this cabin is filled deadheading.

Upgrading is challenging, and Y to J SWU or miles + copay always trumps 500 mile or DODU / courtesy upgrades within an elite tier. (500 mile and courtesy upgrades from Business to First is not allowed).

Remember, upgrade priority for these flights is:
  • Elite status tier
  • SWU & miles and copay
  • Business Extra and “special corporate agency upgrade certificates”
  • 500 mile (“stickers”) and complimentary / DODU upgrades*
  • Award upgrades (CK, EXP, PRO)*
  • Last 12 months’ rolling EQD spend
  • Etc.
*Y to C/J only; C to F not allowed


Cabins will generally not be “rolled” forward (e.g. J to F) to accommodate upgrades.

Those confirmed in Flagship First on these (between JFK and LAX or SFO) can access Flagship Lounges as well as Flagship First Dining at JFK or LAX, or the Admirals Club at SFO (or the LAX TBIT Qantas First lounge).

Related threads:

Aircraft guide: Which Airbus A321? (including “321”, “32B”, A321neo)

A321 Transcon / A321T / "32B" 3 class began service Jan 2014 (consolidated)

Best Business / First seat on AA transcon Airbus A321 / A321T / "32B" (consolidated)

Best Economy / MCE seat on AA transcon Airbus A321 / A321T / 32B (consolidated)

Posts from 2014 through 2016 have been archived, and may be read here.

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Old Jul 31, 16, 3:17 pm
  #1  
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Airbus A321T / 321T “32B” Transcon JFK <--> LAX / SFO Upgrade Success / Help

(I posted this on the main 321T thread, but I'm really desperate for the info, so I'm posting it here, too, because I wonder if this thread has more activity due to this being about upgrades clearing. Apologies to the moderators if this is a problem.)

Anyone flying transcon business class on a 321T soon and willing to get me the length and width of the floor space by the window seat?

I'm flying with my medium-sized service dog in a few weeks and bought her a window seat (I'll be sitting in the aisle). I want to get the largest soft crate that is able to fit in the floor space. Apparently even if you buy the seat, dogs are not allowed to sit on the seat (although I've found some photos online showing the opposite!)

Getting these dimensions ASAP would be *greatly* appreciated. And remember, measure twice, cut once.

Thanks in advance!
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Old Jan 4, 17, 7:22 am
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As a follow-up to my previous post, I flew NYC-LAX New Years Eve.

I originally booked tickets in economy for a 9pm flight about a month beforehand and requested an upgrade for my wife and I during booking. As a reminder, I'm PLT so the upgrades for two passengers would require 10 stickers.

At the time of booking, and all the way to the day of the flight, AA's site showed the J cabin being completely open except for two seats. The upgrade didn't clear in advance, and my wife and I were placed #1 and #2 on the waitlist (which had a total of three people on it, including us).

We arrived at the airport around 5:30pm, and I explained to the TA that our top priority would be sitting together in J, and the 2nd priority would be moving to an earlier flight. She explained the following cabin loads:
7pm flight: 6 seats in J were available with 4 people on the waitlist. My wife and I could standby for it, but would become #5 and #6 on the upgrade waitlist due to our unconfirmed status on the flight.
8pm flight: The J cabin was almost 100% open, and only 1-2 people on waitlist. Again, my wife and I would be at the end of the upgrade waitlist due to standby status (moot).
9pm flight: The J cabin was almost 100% open, and we were already #1 and #2 on the upgrade waitlist.

As the 7pm flight boarded, I explained to the GA that we were on standby but would only change flights after we knew we could sit in J. This overwhelmed her a bit, but a more veteran GA came in and knew exactly what to do. After they boarded everyone else on the plane, the agents printed-out two boarding passes for us in J (sitting together).

The inflight service was nothing special for the holiday. The flight had to wait a bit on the runway, but we were about 2/3rd's through the flight during midnight EST and were able to get to the hotel by midnight PST.

tl;dr Unsurprisingly, there's extremely good upgrade availability on evening flights New Years Eve.
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Old Jan 4, 17, 10:04 pm
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EXP Best Chance at Upgrading to/from LAX-JFK?

Booking a trans-con trip and wondering what is the best day and time of day to fly to clear for upgrades as EXP.

Those who fly this route often, do you clear more often on weekday or weekends? Day flights or red-eyes?
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Old Jan 5, 17, 2:42 am
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Originally Posted by Yarons View Post
Booking a trans-con trip and wondering what is the best day and time of day to fly to clear for upgrades as EXP.

Those who fly this route often, do you clear more often on weekday or weekends? Day flights or red-eyes?
In my experience the Red-eyes on thursday& friday, the early mornings on monday, tuesday, and saturday, as well as the late (LA) arriving inbounds on sunday are usually full in the premium cabins. Unfortunately without knowing the specific dates and knowing what conventions/meetings/event/etc is going on it can be a crap shoot in either direction. General observation I have made looking at loads is that middle of the day tends to be the lowest premium booking and Saturday&Wednesday the lightest days for premium delays. That said, because of the nature of the two markets what you could see as a 100% guarantee could not clear cause *Literally any reason here*.
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Old Jan 14, 17, 8:27 pm
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Considering booking this flight, on the way to YUL(Montreal). Want to do midweek red eye to maximize time in Montreal and Quebec City, leaving early next day gets me in later than desired. But, want to be able to sleep and need lie flat to have a good sleep. Business is lie flat as well as first? Two options, right? In the 10 to 11:30 range to JFK? No other lie flat options I assume?.
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Old Jan 15, 17, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by Jonesdds View Post
Considering booking this flight, on the way to YUL(Montreal). Want to do midweek red eye to maximize time in Montreal and Quebec City, leaving early next day gets me in later than desired. But, want to be able to sleep and need lie flat to have a good sleep. Business is lie flat as well as first? Two options, right? In the 10 to 11:30 range to JFK? No other lie flat options I assume?.
All business and first seats on SFO/LAX-JFK nonstop are lie-flat. Business is quite comfortable as well, probably not worth it to spring for first.
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Old Jan 15, 17, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by patmcpsu View Post
tl;dr Unsurprisingly, there's extremely good upgrade availability on evening flights New Years Eve.
I would imagine so.

I've been fortunate enough to fly the LAX/JFK flight only in F.

The fight for the Y>J upgrade always seems to be crazy. I've never been on a flight where J had empty seats / fewer than 10 on the UPG list. (The most I've seen was 45!! When there's only 60 Y seats! haha)

I'd say 90% of my celebrity sightings have been on this route though, never know who you'll cross paths with!
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Old Jan 16, 17, 5:12 pm
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I know it is frustrating how they handle the premium cabins on this flight, but let's say they have sold 72 Y, 15 J and 4 F seats.

They could cut off Y sales and just show J5/F6 in the fare inventory.

Instead, they will probably show Y7/J5/F6 (I'm not going to drill down to the individual buckets). For every Y they sell, they will decrement one of the premium seat buckets.

Prior to departure, the gate agent will sort out the fact that they ended up selling 76 Y, 17 J and 5 F by rolling 1 person to F and upgrading 4 people to the J cabin.

By doing it this way, they sold some premium seats and a few economy seats. If they just upgraded everyone to open up Y seats, they would only be able to sell more Y fares.

I know that nobody likes it, but it's hard to argue that it doesn't make sense as a way to maximize revenue. It would hurt less if they would upgrade 4 more people from J to F and then upgrade 4 more from the waitlist, leaving the open seats in Y, but AA has never done this as far as I am aware.

Last edited by makfan; Jan 16, 17 at 5:15 pm Reason: Fix some things that didn't make sense
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Old Jan 16, 17, 6:20 pm
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This is my first post, but wanted to contribute since I've learned a lot from this forum the past year. I flew AA flight #118 this past Sunday (7AM), LAX to JFK. I made EXP this past October, and this was my first transcon A321T flight with AA.

I dont have EF, but when I checked the AA website for open J seats, there seemed to be 4 open, and another 4 open in F. I was #1 out of 16 on the upgrade list, up until 1 minute before boarding, and then got bumped down to #2. Unfortunately, only 2 people were upgraded (the person that bumped me from the top, as well as #16). Obviously I was not happy with the results, but I'm not sure how the last person on the upgrade list got upgraded (perhaps SWU?).

However, on my flight to LAX from MIA (flight #275 this past Friday departing at 5pm), i was #9 out of about 45 people, and 12 of us were upgraded, a few minutes before boarding. the great thing was this was on their 777-300, which is much nicer than the J seats on the A321T.

So far this year, I am 4 out of 5 on complimentary upgrades, but the other 3 upgrades were on 737's (2 cleared @ T-4 and 1 cleared @ T-72).

I have a JFK-SFO roundtrip later this month (i depart early AM on both flights, Friday and Sunday), so let's see what happens.
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Old Jan 16, 17, 6:41 pm
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Originally Posted by makfan View Post
I know it is frustrating how they handle the premium cabins on this flight, but let's say they have sold 72 Y, 15 J and 4 F seats.

They could cut off Y sales and just show J5/F6 in the fare inventory.

Instead, they will probably show Y7/J5/F6 (I'm not going to drill down to the individual buckets). For every Y they sell, they will decrement one of the premium seat buckets.

Prior to departure, the gate agent will sort out the fact that they ended up selling 76 Y, 17 J and 5 F by rolling 1 person to F and upgrading 4 people to the J cabin.

By doing it this way, they sold some premium seats and a few economy seats. If they just upgraded everyone to open up Y seats, they would only be able to sell more Y fares.

I know that nobody likes it, but it's hard to argue that it doesn't make sense as a way to maximize revenue. It would hurt less if they would upgrade 4 more people from J to F and then upgrade 4 more from the waitlist, leaving the open seats in Y, but AA has never done this as far as I am aware.
Right. This makes perfect sense from a revenue perspective.

Especially on this route, where they can and do often sell last minute, very expensive premium fares.

What sound businesss in their right mind would voluntarily turn down people willing to pay thousands of $$ in exchange for providing complementary upgrades to people... Makes 0 sense.
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Old Jan 16, 17, 6:54 pm
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Originally Posted by jaherer1 View Post
This is my first post, but wanted to contribute since I've learned a lot from this forum the past year. I flew AA flight #118 this past Sunday (7AM), LAX to JFK. I made EXP this past October, and this was my first transcon A321T flight with AA.

I dont have EF, but when I checked the AA website for open J seats, there seemed to be 4 open, and another 4 open in F. I was #1 out of 16 on the upgrade list, up until 1 minute before boarding, and then got bumped down to #2. Unfortunately, only 2 people were upgraded (the person that bumped me from the top, as well as #16). Obviously I was not happy with the results, but I'm not sure how the last person on the upgrade list got upgraded (perhaps SWU?).

However, on my flight to LAX from MIA (flight #275 this past Friday departing at 5pm), i was #9 out of about 45 people, and 12 of us were upgraded, a few minutes before boarding. the great thing was this was on their 777-300, which is much nicer than the J seats on the A321T.

So far this year, I am 4 out of 5 on complimentary upgrades, but the other 3 upgrades were on 737's (2 cleared @ T-4 and 1 cleared @ T-72).

I have a JFK-SFO roundtrip later this month (i depart early AM on both flights, Friday and Sunday), so let's see what happens.
When #16 upgraded, the only thing I can thing of, is that they were confirmed in J and were upgrading to F. The other possibility would have been that they were an employee traveling on positive space (therefore eligible for any cabin UPG) or a military UPG (also eligible for any cabin).

Keep in mind as well that when you view the seat map, that doesn't necessarily reflect the amount of open seats that are available. It's possible that someone doesn't have an assigned seat. Also, last minute confirmed changes are made on those flights all the time, especially since a lot of people hold flexible tickets on these routes.
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Old Jan 17, 17, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by joeypore View Post
Keep in mind as well that when you view the seat map, that doesn't necessarily reflect the amount of open seats that are available. It's possible that someone doesn't have an assigned seat. Also, last minute confirmed changes are made on those flights all the time, especially since a lot of people hold flexible tickets on these routes.
Actually, those points are related. When a corporate traveler calls the travel agent to change the flight because s/he's running early or late, they'll often just change the reservation and not put through a seat assignment.

And then there are just those situations where there's no good reason why the seat map seems so off. I was flying JFK-LHR the day after Xmas, and flight was completely sold out (per EF) at least a week in advance. Yet there were probably dozens of unassigned (non-premium/non-MCE) seats in Y (and ~10 in J). I believe Y was oversold, and there were op-ups to J, but I could never figure out why all those people couldn't assign seats in Y.
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Old Jan 17, 17, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
Actually, those points are related. When a corporate traveler calls the travel agent to change the flight because s/he's running early or late, they'll often just change the reservation and not put through a seat assignment.

And then there are just those situations where there's no good reason why the seat map seems so off. I was flying JFK-LHR the day after Xmas, and flight was completely sold out (per EF) at least a week in advance. Yet there were probably dozens of unassigned (non-premium/non-MCE) seats in Y (and ~10 in J). I believe Y was oversold, and there were op-ups to J, but I could never figure out why all those people couldn't assign seats in Y.
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Old Jan 17, 17, 1:45 pm
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I'm booked on JFK to LAX roundtrip on a D fare this weekend and would like to upgrade to first on at least one leg just to try the product. I called to upgrade with miles, and I was put on the waitlist. ExpertFlyer says there is no "A" availability on my flights, but there are currently open seats. Does American add A inventory to these flights as they get closer, or are I out of luck? There are F seats available for purchase on these flights.
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Old Jan 17, 17, 2:59 pm
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Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
I'm booked on JFK to LAX roundtrip on a D fare this weekend and would like to upgrade to first on at least one leg just to try the product. I called to upgrade with miles, and I was put on the waitlist. ExpertFlyer says there is no "A" availability on my flights, but there are currently open seats. Does American add A inventory to these flights as they get closer, or are I out of luck? There are F seats available for purchase on these flights.
They might add some last minute; however, I'd say you have a pretty decent chance of getting the upgrade if they're still selling seats, especially day of departure.

I've personally never seen the F cabin confirmed full, but I know it does happen on the more popular flights.
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