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American Airlines Upgrades Employee before Elite

American Airlines Upgrades Employee before Elite

Old Nov 21, 2021, 7:00 pm
  #1  
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American Airlines Upgrades Employee before Elite

Who's noticing American Airlines upgrading their own employees before elite status paying cusomters? I'm Executive Platinum, 175K this year. 150+ segments. Have witnessed several times employees get the last 3 or 4 first class seats before paying customers. Not just once or twice, have witnessed this first hand about 20+ segments the past few months.

Who else is seeing this with American Airlines? How can we constructively inform the loyalty program management about this monkey business the staff seems to be pulling off?

Side note. Seems to be more frequently with the old timer self entitled legacy AA staff and not so much of the original perky America West employees.

Last edited by Hotelwings; Nov 21, 2021 at 7:02 pm Reason: typo error
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 7:11 pm
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I‘ve also heard that some employees get paid while flying on AA aircraft!
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 7:14 pm
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Welcome to FT! 😊

Have you done a search for "Shena"? Personally, I've never seen her. She's kind of like the Yeti.
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 7:52 pm
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If no elite's are using an upgrade instrument, then those seats are available for employees to upgrade. There is no "monkey business" here. Welcome to Flyertalk!
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 8:11 pm
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Originally Posted by skylady
If no elite's are using an upgrade instrument, then those seats are available for employees to upgrade. There is no "monkey business" here. Welcome to Flyertalk!
That's not true because my friend who's Plat was on an MIA-MCO several months ago and requested an upgrade to First, all the sudden an hour before departure his name was wiped off the list and 6 employees got put into First. He was still in MCE. Went to the Admirals Club and the agent there said that was weird and not supposed to happen. When he went to the gate the gate agent was all upset about it and grudgingly bumped an employee and gave him a First seat, so yes, there is monkey business and I've heard stories of this from other AA elites. This is indeed a widespread problem on them.

EDIT: I've also heard stories of AA gate agents putting employees into First over elites because they want to take care of their people. Sounds great and all but they wouldn't be able to take care of those people if it weren't for their elites giving them boatloads of money. Corrupt and shady stuff going on with that.

Last edited by coke cans and winglets; Nov 21, 2021 at 9:12 pm
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 9:12 pm
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I thought this is pretty hard to do in the 21st century with all the automation software and algorithms plus some backend data warehouse job should flag this is happening internally. 20th century I know this happened a lot. Sad to see this going on again.
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 9:23 pm
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Hotelwings Welcome to FT. Hope you keep contributing to FT

Originally Posted by coke cans and winglets
....... all the sudden an hour before departure his name was wiped off the list and 6 employees got put into First.
What you do not know is the reason why those 6 were travelling and what they are entitled to under their union labor contract. They may not have been "upgraded" but entitled to fly up front from the start.
There is a difference between AA employees travelling for work(duty) and those travelling for themselves(off duty commuting etc)

We get threads like this every few weeks (often a rant). The threads can get locked
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by miles_navigator
I thought this is pretty hard to do in the 21st century with all the automation software and algorithms plus some backend data warehouse job should flag this is happening internally. 20th century I know this happened a lot. Sad to see this going on again.
AA's IT system is from the 11th century. Unfortunately, rogue employees can do such things.

And given AA's seeming inability to fire bad employees.... See PHL as an example of what happens when the rot spreads.

That said, all threads about shenanigans aren't necessarily so. But shenanigans do exist.
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 9:45 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi
Hotelwings Welcome to FT. Hope you keep contributing to FT


What you do not know is the reason why those 6 were travelling and what they are entitled to under their union labor contract. They may not have been "upgraded" but entitled to fly up front from the start.
There is a difference between AA employees travelling for work(duty) and those travelling for themselves(off duty commuting etc)

We get threads like this every few weeks (often a rant). The threads can get locked
That doesn't make a difference at all, that wouldn't completely wipe someone off the upgrade list. If they were entitled to that, then one of them wouldn't have gotten bumped after the rogue gate agent was confronted either and the Admirals Club agent wouldn't have said that the situation shouldn't have happened and was clueless as to why that happened. Also doesn't answer the second part of my post about AA gate agents knowingly doing this.
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 10:30 pm
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Happened to me twice this year so far. Both times I'm the only one on UG list. And I'm a AS 75k (UG priority after platinum pro)

First time happened on LAX-RNO, CRJ7, 2 empty seats in F, 2 non-rev traveling together on standby list. They cleared into F. I talked to GA and supervisor was nearby. He apologized and gave me the UG. I was the only one on UG list.

Second time happened on DEN-LAX, A321S, 6 empty seats in F, 6 non-rev on standby list. GA cleared all 6 into F. Confronted GA as I was really furious. I was the only one on UG list yet even under that condition they gave all 6 seats to non-rev. GA shrug and gave me the UG and bumped someone else. No apologies.

It happens once in a while, but the majority of GA follow the rules, revenue pax first, then standby non-rev, if seats are still available.
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 10:33 pm
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When you see an employee in uniform boarding a flight with a boarding pass, there are several possible scenarios ...

1) the employee is flying on a "pass"
Passes are an employee benefit at most airlines. They are "space available" meaning there is no confirmed reservation and you're only given a seat assignment when it's clear that all confirmed passengers can be accommodated. Depending on the flight, the boarding pass might be issued hours in advance or just a few minutes before departure. If requesting First Class, the assignment will most likely not happen (if at all) until boarding. The employee is flying on their own "dime & time" and might owe a small service charge.
It's common for crew members who live in one city (IE: AUS) but are based out of another (IE: DFW) to "commute" to/from work using passes.

2) the employee is being "deadheaded"
This is when an employee assigned at one station is needed to cover schedule at another station.
Depending on the specific reason to get the employee to another station, they may be designed "space available" (standby) or "must ride" (bump a confirmed passenger if needed). Either way, the employee is traveling on the airline's "dime & time".
This is rare among Agent and other groups, but common among crews (Pilots & Cabin Crew) who are not based at all stations.
Depending on the length of the flight the employee is covering, union contracts sometime call for the employee to be accommodated in First Class to ensure they're 'rested' for whatever long haul flight they're covering. The airline will gladly inconvenience one passenger a complimentary upgrade on the 'deadhead' flight versus affecting 100+ passengers by cancelling the flight that needs employee coverage.

3) the employee is actually a paid passenger. They might even be an Elite. They might even be an Elite level higher than yours.
This is common among crew members. Many simply choose not not live at any of their airline's crew bases. Some live at one of the bases, but as they moved to higher positions (IE from First Officer to Captain) the higher position often means being based at a lower seniority station. They chose not to relocate, knowing that they will eventually have the seniority to hold their new position at the base where they live.
Either way, they need to commute to work for awhile. They have the great benefit of option #1 and using passes to commute, but passes don't garuntee transportation, leaving the the commuting employee being (seriously) late for work.
Therefore, many commuting airline employees buy a ticket just like you and me. That paid ticket entitles them to the same benefits you and I get.

When you see a uniformed employee boarding a flight, you most likely have no idea which scenario they fall into. You seem to be assuming all employee travelers are "space available/pass riders"
As an ex Gate AAgent, I'm going to say that upgrading "pass riders" over eligible "ticket holders" (regardless of their employer of uniform) is rare do to the possible repercussions.

Originally Posted by Hotelwings
Side note. Seems to be more frequently with the old timer self entitled legacy AA staff and not so much of the original perky America West employees.
I'm curious as to how you can tell the difference ?
For a long time time now, the uniforms have been the same.
Even the station doesn't say too much. Starting as a Gate AAgent at DFW in 1983, I assume I'm an "old timer self entitled legacy AA staff", yet I ended my career in PHX. I'm not gonna say if I ever considered myself "perky" or not other than I feel my station assignment had nothing to do with it
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 10:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Hotelwings
Who's noticing American Airlines upgrading their own employees before elite status paying cusomters? I'm Executive Platinum, 175K this year. 150+ segments. Have witnessed several times employees get the last 3 or 4 first class seats before paying customers. Not just once or twice, have witnessed this first hand about 20+ segments the past few months.

Who else is seeing this with American Airlines? How can we constructively inform the loyalty program management about this monkey business the staff seems to be pulling off?

Side note. Seems to be more frequently with the old timer self entitled legacy AA staff and not so much of the original perky America West employees.
We will need more information in order to launch an investigation. Please provide the date , flight number , and city of origin when you believe your Executive Platinum confirmed upgrade did not clear ahead of employees. Thank you. - Management
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Old Nov 21, 2021, 10:47 pm
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Originally Posted by steve64
When you see an employee in uniform boarding a flight with a boarding pass, there are several possible scenarios ...

1) the employee is flying on a "pass"
Passes are an employee benefit at most airlines. They are "space available" meaning there is no confirmed reservation and you're only given a seat assignment when it's clear that all confirmed passengers can be accommodated. Depending on the flight, the boarding pass might be issued hours in advance or just a few minutes before departure. If requesting First Class, the assignment will most likely not happen (if at all) until boarding. The employee is flying on their own "dime & time" and might owe a small service charge.
It's common for crew members who live in one city (IE: AUS) but are based out of another (IE: DFW) to "commute" to/from work using passes.

2) the employee is being "deadheaded"
This is when an employee assigned at one station is needed to cover schedule at another station.
Depending on the specific reason to get the employee to another station, they may be designed "space available" (standby) or "must ride" (bump a confirmed passenger if needed). Either way, the employee is traveling on the airline's "dime & time".
This is rare among Agent and other groups, but common among crews (Pilots & Cabin Crew) who are not based at all stations.
Depending on the length of the flight the employee is covering, union contracts sometime call for the employee to be accommodated in First Class to ensure they're 'rested' for whatever long haul flight they're covering. The airline will gladly inconvenience one passenger a complimentary upgrade on the 'deadhead' flight versus affecting 100+ passengers by cancelling the flight that needs employee coverage.
It can be a bit more complicated than that. Some levels of management at most airlines (often Director and above for economy and MD and above for business class) get confirmed (positive space) leisure travel. It usually extended to their families too. And lower-level corporate employees (and potentially crew) get a certain number of confirmed (positive space) flights per year.

Business travel (duty travel) is nearly always "positive space," and the onboarding cabin (economy, business, or first) depends on level of the person and whether it's domestic or international. Where employees are not onboarding into a premium cabin for duty travel, they usually have a high priority for upgrades to premium cabins. I believe, depending on the airline, that can be above unconfirmed elites. Positive space is between "standby" and "must ride." Positive space tickets are confirmed bookings and take a seat out of inventory, but in an involuntary denied boarding situation, positive space passengers are likely the first to be offloaded. "Must ride" passengers will not be off-boarded regardless of how many passengers need to be bumped off a flight (though now carriers will not remove already boarded passengers to accommodate even must rides).
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Old Nov 22, 2021, 5:03 am
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Sometime you never really know I guess.

I was just on a paid F flight this week from GNV to DFW and the flight was F1 with 3 people on the waitlist. I was in 1A and was listening in when the GA came onboard with a jump seat pilot who went straight to the cockpit and dropped her stuff. They discussed moving the pilot to 1F over the next passenger on the upgrade list. The GA left it to the FA to decide and left and pulled back the jet bridge. The FA offered the pilot the seat and she declined and stayed in the cockpit jump seat. By the time all this happened it was time to close the door and the seat went out empty.

The person on the UG list probably never knew the seat went out empty.

Stuff happens. If you want to sit in the big seat, pay for it. That’s what I do…

ymmv
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Last edited by jhalapin; Nov 22, 2021 at 5:06 am Reason: I can’t spell
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Old Nov 22, 2021, 5:34 am
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I've taken close to 1,000 AA flights and have never noticed the phenomenon that the OP and others speak of. I'm also usually minding my own business and not looking for things to get outraged about.

I mostly buy premium cabin now but my upgrade record as an EXP since 2004 has been over 95% (100% on international).
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