Observations on Buy Up to F Offers

Old Feb 4, 20, 6:29 am
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Observations on Buy Up to F Offers

Last night I reviewed my upcoming trips on AA just to make sure everything looked ok. On every reservation a buy up offer popped up. A few were way out of my ballpark, over $1400 for MIA/SFO, $1081 each way for MIA/PHX. However, some were more than reasonable. These all are off low priced Main Cabin fares.

MIA/PIT ($311, which I declined because the F ratio on an E175 is fairly high, a Tuesday evening flight)
PIT/DCA/MIA ($260, I accepted mostly for the DCA/MIA leg)
MIA/RDU, RDU/MIA ($144 each way, accepted)
DCA/MIA ($229, accepted)

I find these buy up offers well more than reasonable and worth not playing the upgrade lottery,.which as a PP I usually end up losing even for non peak business travel days and times.

Is this growing evidence that the complimentary upgrade is ultimately going away or will normally be limited to high spend EXP/CKs (a fair number which buy premium anyway)? Also, are these offers individual? Would someone at a different elite level or even a general/non member see the same offer for the same flights? I'd have to wonder on these more affordable upfares offers what the acceptance rate is? Seems as though AA is becoming like DL in aggressively monetizing the premium cabin.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 6:45 am
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My husband had one a few weeks ago for ILM to CLT to New Orleans (donít know the code). $23. He thought it was a mistake. He took it. It was real.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
Last night I reviewed my upcoming trips on AA just to make sure everything looked ok. On every reservation a buy up offer popped up. A few were way out of my ballpark, over $1400 for MIA/SFO, $1081 each way for MIA/PHX. However, some were more than reasonable. These all are off low priced Main Cabin fares.

MIA/PIT ($311, which I declined because the F ratio on an E175 is fairly high, a Tuesday evening flight)
PIT/DCA/MIA ($260, I accepted mostly for the DCA/MIA leg)
MIA/RDU, RDU/MIA ($144 each way, accepted)
DCA/MIA ($229, accepted)
.
My understanding is that these in-app offers are just buy-ups to the lowest first class cabin fare - the difference in fare between the ticket you purchased and the current front cabin selling price. So essentially no different than someone going to AA.com and buying a F seat.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
(edit to add: and they have )

Last edited by bse118; Feb 4, 20 at 11:03 pm
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Old Feb 4, 20, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
My understanding is that these in-app offers are just buy-ups to the lowest first class cabin fare - the difference in fare between the ticket you purchased and the current front cabin selling price. So essentially no different than someone going to AA.com and buying a F seat.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
Here I am!

In my experience last November this was not the case. The online upgrade offer was quite a bit more than the difference between (current market price for FC) - (what I paid for Y). I had apparently "overpaid" for Y, which had declined meaningfully since my original booking leaving the fare difference at a quite reasonable $112 for EYW-MIA-JFK (including the second leg on a 772), even if upgrade chances seemed good on MIA-JFK (and if not, PE seats designated as MCE as a good backup). If I had to guess (and I don't have the details now), the online upgrade offer was probably priced as the current fare difference between Y and F.

In any event, I called and asked to up-fare, and that was quoted at the expected price based on the fare difference vs. what I originally paid. Of course this led to all sorts of issues as I was charged a change fee (despite no mention of it) and in the ensuing fight for a refund they canceled the ticket.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
My understanding is that these in-app offers are just buy-ups to the lowest first class cabin fare - the difference in fare between the ticket you purchased and the current front cabin selling price. So essentially no different than someone going to AA.com and buying a F seat.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
I've seen more and less than the F seat, often more. For example Y is 500 one way, J is 700 one way and the buy up from Y is another 400, which greatly surpasses the lowest J fare. Now, the lowest J fare on aa.com could be a YUP fare and that's why, but not sure.

I did have a funny situation happen. My flight upgrades cleared at T100. Despite all my segments clearing to J, AA was offering a buy up for 443 USD.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 8:44 am
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What's funny is that after I accepted the PIT/DCA/MIA buy up for $260 and went back to the reservation in the app I was then offered a buy up for the same flight for over $1K. Gotta love AA's technology.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 8:49 am
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Originally Posted by onanisland View Post
My husband had one a few weeks ago for ILM to CLT to New Orleans (donít know the code). $23. He thought it was a mistake. He took it. It was real.
Upgrade success at ILM seems really good. But I would jump all over a $23 buy up! Congrats to your husband!
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Old Feb 4, 20, 9:35 am
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Originally Posted by slpybear View Post
Upgrade success at ILM seems really good.
Really depends on the day/time/route. They are running the A319 often, which has me >3 on the upgrade list regularly. Fortunately, I'm about halfway between ILM & OAJ. Out of OAJ, it's mostly all military folks and F goes out >25% empty regularly. I've been the only one in F several times recently out of there.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 9:58 am
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Looked at AA buy ups for a flight next week, and did some UA buy ups for a trip in March. The UA buy ups appear to be a better deal than AA. Both out of AUS. This is something i will be paying attention to more often.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 11:49 am
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Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
My understanding is that these in-app offers are just buy-ups to the lowest first class cabin fare - the difference in fare between the ticket you purchased and the current front cabin selling price. So essentially no different than someone going to AA.com and buying a F seat.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
This is definitely not the case on DL, so I doubt it is true on AA. I've flown with my son a few times on separate fares on DL, and we've always gotten the same offer price even though the fares were different (including when he was on an award ticket, and I was on a revenue one). DL seems to have fixed prices per segment for each fare bucket and my prices go up and down as fare bucket availability has changed. I've got a DTW-OAK trip coming up and I've see three different offers for the DTW-SLC leg which have changed whenever the fare bucket availability changes. It's been as high as $425.87 when only D bucket was open, and then $291.50 when there was I bucket open, and dropping to as low as $184 when Z bucket opened up (DL's lowest FC fare class). In many cases, the fare difference is cheaper than the upgrade prices offered online (although upfaring requires upgrading all segments on fare, while the online upgrades can be done segment-by-segment). Although as you get closer to flight and cheaper advance purchase FC fares are no longer available, the online offer can be cheaper than fare difference.

Last edited by xliioper; Feb 4, 20 at 1:50 pm
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Old Feb 4, 20, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
What's funny is that after I accepted the PIT/DCA/MIA buy up for $260 and went back to the reservation in the app I was then offered a buy up for the same flight for over $1K. Gotta love AA's technology.
Chances are that with your purchase the fare difference between your ticket and the next available F seat was the new number you saw.

It suggests that AA is not selling deeply discounted upgrades in the way that UA & DL do, but rather simply automating the process of buying up.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
The online upgrade offer was quite a bit more than the difference between (current market price for FC) - (what I paid for Y).
I am seeing a similar thing on my upcoming one-way trip LAX-ORD. F is sold at $444 on aa.com but the app is asking for a whopping $1630. It has been like this at least past 3 days.
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Last edited by kentauta; Feb 4, 20 at 12:56 pm
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Old Feb 4, 20, 12:56 pm
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Originally Posted by bse118 View Post
My understanding is that these in-app offers are just buy-ups to the lowest first class cabin fare - the difference in fare between the ticket you purchased and the current front cabin selling price. So essentially no different than someone going to AA.com and buying a F seat.

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
Not always in my experience. I had a $135 Y ticket one-way from ORD-LGA. The offer in the app was to buy up to first "for as low as $959" (LOL), while the cost to upfare to I would have been $249.

There were earlier offers to buy up for ~$290, but neither of those prices was the difference between my fare and the lowest available I fare. I ended up 2/24 on the upgrade list with only 1 clearing, but not worth that to me for a 90 minute mid-day flight.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 1:08 pm
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In my past experience I had a BOS-MIA leg that was offered a $1800 upgrade to First class about a week before OLCI which I passed on. Checking normal prices, seemed like it was the fare difference.
Day before my flight during OLCI I was offered a $140 upgrade to First class which I accepted. The fare difference was still north of $1000, so not sure where the price came from.
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Old Feb 4, 20, 1:58 pm
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Originally Posted by IAHtraveler View Post
Really depends on the day/time/route. They are running the A319 often, which has me >3 on the upgrade list regularly. Fortunately, I'm about halfway between ILM & OAJ. Out of OAJ, it's mostly all military folks and F goes out >25% empty regularly. I've been the only one in F several times recently out of there.
Saturday morning we were in first on a broken plane. Came back to the gate and left four hours later. I use to do OAJ more often. Iím now closer to ILM. I love both of those airports.
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