VIP Upgrades (difficulty of using SWU)

Old Mar 31, 18, 2:55 pm
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Cool VIP Upgrades (difficulty of using SWU)

There used to be a time when the VIP was automatic, now regardless of when you try and use them they never seem to be available. An agent told me today that they do not release them until closer to the flight on the chance someone might buy the seat....I get that and that is what i expect on my explat upgrades but VIP's used to be special....now not so much! AA "Going for Great"????? Going for mediocre is more like it. Certainly no real VIP experience these days.

YUK, Stars!
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Old Mar 31, 18, 5:09 pm
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Originally Posted by DFWHockeyguy View Post
There used to be a time when the VIP was automatic, now regardless of when you try and use them they never seem to be available. An agent told me today that they do not release them until closer to the flight on the chance someone might buy the seat....I get that and that is what i expect on my explat upgrades but VIP's used to be special....now not so much! AA "Going for Great"????? Going for mediocre is more like it. Certainly no real VIP experience these days.

YUK, Stars!
Perhaps that’s why AA doesn’t call them VIP anymore?

It’s still possible to find inventory and apply SWU, but it’s harder to do so since AA has decreased capacity, reduced the size or eliminated upper class cabins and changed the wait list priority to favor status (in order, CK, EP etc.) followed by last 12 months’ EQD spend.
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Old Apr 1, 18, 2:51 am
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I am 4/4 on Y-->J longhaul SWUs in 2018, 3 of which cleared at booking. The other cleared a month before the (upcoming) flight.

I have still never missed an SWU during my years as EXP.

I find no issues with SWU availability. YMMV.

Last edited by bse118; Apr 1, 18 at 3:21 am Reason: Typo
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Old Apr 1, 18, 4:13 am
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I'm 5 for 5 on TPAC sectors in the last two months and in my history of an EXP I've only ever missed one; a Sat night HKG flight. So agree with bse.

My coworker who flies United almost never gets upgraded when we travel to Asia and I'm always up front. And he has to buy more expensive fares just to try to use his GPUs. And my friends who fly DL struggle to use their GUCs too. We have it better than they do. The reality is that today airlines hardly release confirmable space. I find that the c space usually comes available a few days before flying, with my upgrade sometimes coming day of.
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Old Apr 1, 18, 4:14 am
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Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
I am 4/4 on Y-->J longhaul SWUs in 2018, 3 of which cleared at booking. The other cleared a month before the (upcoming) flight.
.
Can you tell us what routes, please? I see nothing available US - Asia at the moment.
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Old Apr 1, 18, 5:14 am
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Originally Posted by broland View Post
Can you tell us what routes, please? I see nothing available US - Asia at the moment.
LHR-ORD (January)
ORD-NRT (January)
LHR-DFW (later this month)
AMS-PHL (later this month)
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Old Apr 1, 18, 1:58 pm
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better luck than I

Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
I am 4/4 on Y-->J longhaul SWUs in 2018, 3 of which cleared at booking. The other cleared a month before the (upcoming) flight.

I have still never missed an SWU during my years as EXP.

I find no issues with SWU availability. YMMV.
You have much better luck than i do. I have tried to get my wife upgraded on 6 domestic legs in the last 4 months with only one coming on the day of and of course we were unable to sit together.
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Old Apr 1, 18, 7:32 pm
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Originally Posted by broland View Post
Can you tell us what routes, please? I see nothing available US - Asia at the moment.
I've had my last two HKG-LAX RT's immediately UPG'able, one in August and the other around T-Day (that also had a DFW-HKG return that immediately UPG'd,) plus a JFK-LHR in April. They're out there, you just need to select the days (midweek is best) that are available and immediately go to ticketing on the phone to make sure it UPG's. Click on the Systemwide upgrade link on the flight selection page and it will tell you what's available.
UA has a similiar feature (shows R fare when you're logged in and specify W or higher,) but higher fare required and seems like less availability than AA.
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Old Apr 2, 18, 12:36 am
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SWU have been a great asset so far, if you can be flexible in your booking behavior. As other have said, flying out midweek to and fro Asia is a great option (HKG-LAX, DFW-HKG cleared instantly).
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Old Apr 2, 18, 1:17 am
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Thanks for the suggestion! I always check with ExpertFlyer before buying.
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Old Apr 2, 18, 1:48 am
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It is "rumored" that special SWU availability for EXPs (only) may exist--not listed on EF, is this only a rumor?
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Old Apr 2, 18, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by nrr View Post
It is "rumored" that special SWU availability for EXPs (only) may exist--not listed on EF, is this only a rumor?
yes, a rumor. There may be extra coach award availability (there was in the past) but I"m not sure on that. But only a rumor for SWUs.
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Old Apr 2, 18, 8:45 am
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Originally Posted by lds89 View Post
And he has to buy more expensive fares just to try to use his GPUs. And my friends who fly DL struggle to use their GUCs too.
Strong +1.

Not only am I 4/4 on SWUs for the year and 4/6 on Miles+copay upgrades last year (all to/from Japan, including some weekend flights), but those upgrades were confirmed on super cheap Y tix. Even assuming a similar success ratio on UA/DL, purchasing that many upgradeable tickets on either of those carriers would be prohibitively expensive.
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Old Apr 2, 18, 8:56 am
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Originally Posted by nrr View Post
It is "rumored" that special SWU availability for EXPs (only) may exist--not listed on EF, is this only a rumor?
I've heard direct, anecdotal evidence in the past (early 2010s) of the EXP desk clearing SWUs when EF was not showing publicly available C, which suggests that EXP-only C inventory was available at one point. Not sure how common it was.
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Old Apr 2, 18, 9:06 am
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Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
I am 4/4 on Y-->J longhaul SWUs in 2018, 3 of which cleared at booking. The other cleared a month before the (upcoming) flight.

I have still never missed an SWU during my years as EXP.

I find no issues with SWU availability. YMMV.
Same here - I've never missed an upgrade as an EXP in my 8 consecutive years as an EXP. I've had a couple come down to the wire, but they've always cleared. I'll admit, as the business cabins shrink, it could get more difficult. I've never had to waitlist on a 787 or A 330. When I've flown on those, I've purchased business, or been able to confirm at the time of booking (rare, but it does happen).
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