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Upgrade: 72 Hours Before Flights and Open 1st Class Seats

Upgrade: 72 Hours Before Flights and Open 1st Class Seats

Old Jun 16, 19, 3:07 pm
  #1  
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Upgrade: 72 Hours Before Flights and Open 1st Class Seats

I recently reached PPro and I'm trying to better understand the upgrade system.

I have a RT from TUS to CMH through DFW, departs tomorrow (Monday) return Wednesday. I was upgraded on the DFW - CMH leg an hour after I booked the flight on Friday the 14th (so was in the 72 hour window). I was not upgraded on the TUS - DFW leg but there were only 2 FC seats showing open on that flight, so they sold or went to higher status folks.

Then I got an email this AM that I was upgraded on the return leg CMH-DFW but nothing yet on DFW-TUS. There's 5 FC seats showing open on the app when I look at that flight as a new booking. All this is to ask 3 questions:

1) The obvious question is why isn't it upgrading that leg as soon as it hits the 72 hour window with 5 open seats? I assume if there's one or two they want to sell them so wait till the last minute to upgrade status folks. But why no UG with 5 open seats?

2) I assume the system waits for each leg to reach the 72 hour mark, is that correct? So if my first leg hits 72 hours that doesn't mean the 2nd leg is eligible until it reaches the 72 hour mark for that flight.

3) I guess I'd also like to know if this changes when I reach EP or are UGs confirmed at the 100 hour mark as long as there are FC seats open?

I'm just trying to figure it out. I fly for business and book last minute a lot, I often have flexibility to to try to book flights with more seats open in 1st to increase chances of upgrades. Any other tips for increasing odds of UGs?
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:11 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by LibertyLobbyist View Post
I recently reached PPro and I'm trying to better understand the upgrade system.

I have a RT from TUS to CMH through DFW, departs tomorrow (Monday) return Wednesday. I was upgraded on the DFW - CMH leg an hour after I booked the flight on Friday the 14th (so was in the 72 hour window). I was not upgraded on the TUS - DFW leg but there were only 2 FC seats showing open on that flight, so they sold or went to higher status folks.

Then I got an email this AM that I was upgraded on the return leg CMH-DFW but nothing yet on DFW-TUS. There's 5 FC seats showing open on the app when I look at that flight as a new booking. All this is to ask 3 questions:

1) The obvious question is why isn't it upgrading that leg as soon as it hits the 72 hour window with 5 open seats? I assume if there's one or two they want to sell them so wait till the last minute to upgrade status folks. But why no UG with 5 open seats?
Precisely. AA wants to try to sell those seats. They will wait until the last minute, or until the algorithms predict that the seats are very unlikely to be sold. AA's computers have lots of historical data to use in making these predictions.

2) I assume the system waits for each leg to reach the 72 hour mark, is that correct? So if my first leg hits 72 hours that doesn't mean the 2nd leg is eligible until it reaches the 72 hour mark for that flight.
Correct.

3) I guess I'd also like to know if this changes when I reach EP or are UGs confirmed at the 100 hour mark as long as there are FC seats open?
When you become EXP, upgrades will be confirmable starting at the 100-hour mark, but again, only when and if Revenue Management decides to release the inventory.

I'm just trying to figure it out. I fly for business and book last minute a lot, I often have flexibility to to try to book flights with more seats open in 1st to increase chances of upgrades. Any other tips for increasing odds of UGs?
Use a contrarian strategy....book the least desirable flights for premium/business travelers. Book those painful domestic midcon redeyes, or book 5am departures, Tuesday/Wednesday flights, Saturday flights, etc. Avoid the peak, desirable times for road warriors who fly out on Sunday/Monday and back home on Friday. Avoid traditional holiday/break times like the week after Christmas, Spring Break, Presidents Day, etc.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:15 pm
  #3  
 
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"Open seats" are you referring to EF and the fare bucket or the seat map?
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:20 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by ESpen36 View Post
Precisely. AA wants to try to sell those seats. They will wait until the last minute, or until the algorithms predict that the seats are very unlikely to be sold. AA's computers have lots of historical data to use in making these predictions.



Correct.



When you become EXP, upgrades will be confirmable starting at the 100-hour mark, but again, only when and if Revenue Management decides to release the inventory.



Use a contrarian strategy....book the least desirable flights for premium/business travelers. Book those painful domestic midcon redeyes, or book 5am departures, Tuesday/Wednesday flights, Saturday flights, etc. Avoid the peak, desirable times for road warriors who fly out on Sunday/Monday and back home on Friday. Avoid traditional holiday/break times like the week after Christmas, Spring Break, Presidents Day, etc.
Ok great, that confirms what I have been trying to do lately. Also, I suspected there was an algorithm determining sale history for those open seats, it makes sense.

Thank you!
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:23 pm
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Originally Posted by LibertyLobbyist View Post
...there were only 2 FC seats showing open on that flight...
...There's 5 FC seats showing open on the app ...
the seat map that AA shows are unassigned seats, it is not an indication of how many seats are actually sold.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:30 pm
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Originally Posted by cynicAAl View Post
the seat map that AA shows are unassigned seats, it is not an indication of how many seats are actually sold.
Ah, OK that makes sense. Thank you!
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:32 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Antarius View Post
"Open seats" are you referring to EF and the fare bucket or the seat map?

It's the seat map on the app. When I look at the flight I'm already booked on as a new flight it shows empty slots in FC. I just learned below that those aren't "available" but "unassigned" apparently.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:55 pm
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I'm PPro this year, my first time in the "free" upgrade class. I've been upgraded at T-71 and at T-28. I had two flights this year that I purchased F tickets on and wound up changing my flight at the last minute (one time I simply made it to the gate early enough for an earlier departure, another time AA screwed up my connection ticket) and there was an F seat available, so obviously even at T-30 minutes not all the F seats were taken.

EF is probably a good investment for you since you're booking last-minute.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 3:57 pm
  #9  
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Even if they are available for sale, it does not mean that AA's predictive algorithm has released them for free upgrades. AA will typically hold no less than 2 seats for sale to the gate. You still retain your upgrade priority.

Look at it the other way. It's not good for either AA or a potential F pax who needs a last minute seat to find that they've been given away.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 4:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Even if they are available for sale, it does not mean that AA's predictive algorithm has released them for free upgrades. AA will typically hold no less than 2 seats for sale to the gate. You still retain your upgrade priority.

Look at it the other way. It's not good for either AA or a potential F pax who needs a last minute seat to find that they've been given away.
Yes agreed! "Last minute" just like me! I buy lots of last minute seats and frequently its in FC because the fare difference is nothing. I have even bought FC seats for literally $2 less that main cabin.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 5:07 pm
  #11  
 
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I wish they would change all upgrades to be done at the 4 hour mark or so. Right now when flying with a group in F (in my case 4 people) its pretty much impossible to change flights within last 48 hours or so. Only 1 or 2 seats are left open after upgrades.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 6:08 pm
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Originally Posted by LibertyLobbyist View Post
Yes agreed! "Last minute" just like me! I buy lots of last minute seats and frequently its in FC because the fare difference is nothing. I have even bought FC seats for literally $2 less that main cabin.
I get the luxury of always buying. My gripe is often the better seats are gone when I prefer aisles and non bulkhead. Itís not a specific problem to AA, but if a carrier could solve for that- it would really influence me.
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Old Jun 16, 19, 8:03 pm
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Originally Posted by DataPlumber View Post

I get the luxury of always buying. My gripe is often the better seats are gone when I prefer aisles and non bulkhead. Itís not a specific problem to AA, but if a carrier could solve for that- it would really influence me.
I fly UA and book last minute as well - same problem non bulkhead aisles go first - somedays I get lucky
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Old Jun 17, 19, 7:50 am
  #14  
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The only carrier I know of that is NOT "first-come-first-served" in terms of seat selection in a premium cabin is BA. I'm not really sure there's anything to "solve for."
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Old Jun 17, 19, 3:13 pm
  #15  
 
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Expertflyer shows accurately how many tickets are left in each fare bucket, including first class buckets. Using that data, one can, generally speaking, improve one's chances for upgrades by buying coach seats on flights with larger first class availability.
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