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Do flights ever travel empty? (free MCE ORD-NRT?)

Do flights ever travel empty? (free MCE ORD-NRT?)

Old Oct 18, 17, 10:50 pm
  #1  
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Do flights ever travel empty? (free MCE ORD-NRT?)

So, flying ORD-NRT in end November, and looking at the available seating chart, it seems there is a LOT open. I got pretty cheap tickets (traveling between thanksgiving and Christmas) but was wondering if I should spend the extra $150 for the Main Cabin Extra. Since there are so many open seats right now part of me is saying to just hold off and Ill get the upgrade for free at check in or once on board. Part of me also thinks that they will fill up by the flight date (its still almost 6 weeks to flight). Definitely not peak season, but I highly doubt there would be as many open seats as there appears to be. What do you guys think? Should I get the Main Cabin Extra?
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Old Oct 18, 17, 11:38 pm
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Late November ought to be fairly low season due to the holidays, but you never know -- it could fill up. Also, what if the only MCE seats available at check-in are middle seats? As always, the option is to pay for a (mostly) guaranteed MCE seat, or chance it for free.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 2:16 am
  #3  
 
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I don't understand what your reasoning is.

Are you saying that, if the flight is rather empty, a non-mce seat will be fine for you since you may have the whole row for yourself or nobody next to you? Is that the reasoning behind?

This is not 2002 anymore, and I doubt the flight will be empty enough for high chance of the above.

Second, the seat map is good indicator of NOTHING. Don't some fares not allow for seat assignment before check in? Other people (believe it or not) don't chose a seat when booking.

Finally, predicting load flights and setting pricing is a complicated science that AA has been doing for decades and using tools not available to you. Nobody here can predict how flight will look like.

If anything, your decision of purchasing MCE in advance should not be based on the seat map or an expectation that flight will be empty.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 8:26 am
  #4  
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The other day I flew the day flight on the 788 to LHR, even though I had free MCE the plane was half empty and I moved into a middle 3-seater in MCE which I treated like a lie flat bed, lol...however, that was a day flight so the loads were low. Your flight may also be relatively empty because not that many people will go to TYO in the winter between holidays, however, the stakes are higher in your case because this is a 12-hour flight, so if you are wrong you will suffer...in your case it may be worth to book MCE and hope that you get the two seats next to you empty...Or, book the MCE and if you see any empty trios move there quickly (do this when boarding has slowed down, a few minutes before the door closes, and before someone else does it first; you move to the middle of the 3-seater)

Last edited by nk15; Oct 19, 17 at 8:34 am
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Old Oct 19, 17, 8:33 am
  #5  
 
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Late November is near the Thanksgiving holiday, which is always a busy travel time so expect the flight to be nearly, if not completely, full.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by Austin787
Late November is near the Thanksgiving holiday, which is always a busy travel time ...
Generally not on flights to countries that don't celebrate Thanksgiving. In fact that week is often when fantastic international deals can be found (like my trip to SYD next month )
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Old Oct 19, 17, 8:37 am
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To answer your question, yes, but that is because of IRROPS. I once flew a crj where there were a total of 3 of us on the flight. It was originally full.

They have to fly the plane because even if your flight will be close to empty it might be full on its next leg.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 9:12 am
  #8  
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While not empty, I flew DFW-PEK mid-November last year (the day after the election) and from what I heard from the FA's it was maybe 1/4 to 1/3 full. I had 3 seats to myself in MCE, put the arm rests up and was able to sleep much of the time.

For the return the next week, at first glance the flight looked similar. But then...I think it was UA had a flight go mechanical the day before, and our flight was completely full. Plus there was a group who hadn't selected seats in advance.

So basically, you never know how full it will be. The seatmap isn't really a good indication.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 9:23 am
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Originally Posted by carlosdca
I don't understand what your reasoning is.

Are you saying that, if the flight is rather empty, a non-mce seat will be fine for you since you may have the whole row for yourself or nobody next to you? Is that the reasoning behind?

This is not 2002 anymore, and I doubt the flight will be empty enough for high chance of the above.

Second, the seat map is good indicator of NOTHING. Don't some fares not allow for seat assignment before check in? Other people (believe it or not) don't chose a seat when booking.

Finally, predicting load flights and setting pricing is a complicated science that AA has been doing for decades and using tools not available to you. Nobody here can predict how flight will look like.

If anything, your decision of purchasing MCE in advance should not be based on the seat map or an expectation that flight will be empty.
I've flown ORD-NRT and DFW-NRT several times, and had the whole row to myself--in 2016-2017.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 1:28 pm
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My 11/14 LAX to LHR is surprisingly empty
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Old Oct 19, 17, 1:30 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by JacksonOBrian
My 11/14 LAX to LHR is surprisingly empty
Or, a significant number of passengers haven't had seat assignments yet. Seat maps do not afford a high degree of reliability.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 2:14 pm
  #12  
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I traveled XIY-SFO (787-8 route) today and the flight was booked to 11/36 in Polaris and I'd bet no more than 20 in Economy Plus. Very empty, excellent service! ^
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Old Oct 19, 17, 2:52 pm
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I don't trust the seat map. Most of my flights end up full due to last minute seat assignments and standbys.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 3:37 pm
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Originally Posted by carlosdca
I don't understand what your reasoning is.

Are you saying that, if the flight is rather empty, a non-mce seat will be fine for you since you may have the whole row for yourself or nobody next to you? Is that the reasoning behind?

This is not 2002 anymore, and I doubt the flight will be empty enough for high chance of the above.

Second, the seat map is good indicator of NOTHING. Don't some fares not allow for seat assignment before check in? Other people (believe it or not) don't chose a seat when booking.

Finally, predicting load flights and setting pricing is a complicated science that AA has been doing for decades and using tools not available to you. Nobody here can predict how flight will look like.

If anything, your decision of purchasing MCE in advance should not be based on the seat map or an expectation that flight will be empty.
Actually this cant be more wrong lately. Outside of 1 or 2 flights, all of my Asia trips the past 2-3 years (NRT and PEK) have been fairly light in the back. But I fly in *great* months like January, April, September and December.

I've many a time wish I hadnt burnt a SWU when I realize upon boarding their are 75+ seats empty in Y on a 788.

And this is on 15+ RTs to Asia during that timeframe.

Originally Posted by vh_bu98
I don't trust the seat map. Most of my flights end up full due to last minute seat assignments and standbys.
You can guage better based on the non-elite, general population seats. If those have a bunch of aisle and windows available several weeks out, you're likely going to be on a light flight.

NEVER base it on MCE/Elite seats to NRT or PEK. I've seen flights with only 1-2 people in MCE but it fills in after 24-hour checkin when regular seats are filled up.

But if MCE is empty AND there are lots of non-elite regular coach seats available to choose, then yes, you're on one of those empty flights. Lots of them exist. Load Factors to Asia arent great year-round.

Originally Posted by JDiver
Or, a significant number of passengers haven't had seat assignments yet. Seat maps do not afford a high degree of reliability.
To LHR yes, that's true, as most onward connecting pax (on BA ticket stock) dont realize they can book seats at time of ticketing... since that's not a BA thing.

To China especially, where there are no onward passengers, seat maps are much more likely not to change... again especially if the non-elite/MCE seats are empty.

Last edited by JY1024; Oct 27, 17 at 7:15 am Reason: Merged consecutive posts
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Old Oct 19, 17, 7:17 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by JacksonOBrian
My 11/14 LAX to LHR is surprisingly empty
Why is that surprising? A Tuesday in November is a complete dead zone for travel to and from Europe.
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