SWU Strategy

Old Sep 13, 2023, 1:35 pm
  #1  
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Looking for flights to use my Systemwide Upgrade

I am Exec Plat on AA so I have access to see which flights have SWU's however it is an exhausting search to find seats on both the flight out and back. I have 4 to use so really do not care where I go I am up for an adventure of 3 or 4 nights hopefully over a weekend. My home airport is CMH and I am willing to go anywhere in the World, hopefully to another Country in Asia or Europe. Is there another trick I can quickly search besides a paid site like ExpertFlyer. Anyone have time on their hands to suggest some long distance routes I can book? Thanks in advance
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Old Sep 13, 2023, 1:39 pm
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Expertflyer is worth it because there's no other easy way unfortunately.
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Old Sep 13, 2023, 1:52 pm
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Here was some advice I gave to someone in a similar predicament

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...l#post35377969

The $10 you spend on an ExpertFlyer subscription is well worth the help it will be in burning a few SWUs. If you have flexibility in dates and destinations you will for sure find something.

I made a large spreadsheet of a few dozen long-haul AA routes I might conceivably be interested in, vs dates I could travel. Get acquainted with major destinations from a handful of hubs (JFK, ORD, CLT, DFW) using Wikipedia and search those routes individually.

I found a fair amount of availability JFK-LHR, and also CLT/DFW-FRA. Some from ORD and JFK to Europe, and a bit to SCL and EZE (try their winter). Don't get your hopes up for Asia or Australia, They are busy routes and AA's capacity is a fraction of pre-pandemic. But I did score 4x HND-LAX this past August so it's worth looking.
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Old Sep 13, 2023, 1:53 pm
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Originally Posted by djvand
I am Exec Plat on AA so I have access to see which flights have SWU's however it is an exhausting search to find seats on both the flight out and back. I have 4 to use so really do not care where I go I am up for an adventure of 3 or 4 nights hopefully over a weekend. My home airport is CMH and I am willing to go anywhere in the World, hopefully to another Country in Asia or Europe. Is there another trick I can quickly search besides a paid site like ExpertFlyer. Anyone have time on their hands to suggest some long distance routes I can book? Thanks in advance
There are no other tricks besides ExpertFlyer, it is a must if you really want to be a "power user" when it comes to looking for SWU space and setting up alerts, etc. Searching aa.com for SWU space is for the birds. So cumbersome.

That said, if you're truly flexible on dates and destinations then there is ample space out there right now (at least to/from Europe) this fall and winter. When trying to secure space in advance you must be able to travel midweek; You'll find the most space on Tues/Wed, with some released on Mon/Thurs depending on route and season. You will almost never see much space released in advance on Fri/Sat/Sun.

When looking in advance my go-to routes are always JFK-LHR and CLT-FRA/MUC but in the fall and winter it's really wide open right now.

For example, I just picked a random weekend in November, ample space on CLT-MUC outbound Thurs Nov. 9 and back MUC-CLT Tues. Nov. 14. Also see some PHL-ZRH-PHL around that time, and of course JFK-LHR, etc.

If you can go in January then it's REALLY wide open, JFK-LHR/MAD/MXP/BCN, PHL-ZRH, CLT-FRA/MUC, RDU-LHR, the list goes on. Even lots of C7's on Fri/Sat/Sun.
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Old Sep 13, 2023, 1:56 pm
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I don't currently have any SWU's in my account... have plenty of LP milestones but waiting to cash them in. I am logged in and currently can't see the systemwide upgrade box by specific flights when I look at fares on AA.com. Did they remove the functionality to see SWU availability when you have none in your wallet (or was it always that way)?

I know they exist for these specific flights because I see them on EF.
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Old Sep 13, 2023, 1:58 pm
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Originally Posted by dave_261
I don't currently have any SWU's in my account... have plenty of LP milestones but waiting to cash them in. I am logged in and currently can't see the systemwide upgrade box by specific flights when I look at fares on AA.com. Did they remove the functionality to see SWU availability when you have none in your wallet (or was it always that way)?

I know they exist for these specific flights because I see them on EF.
Yea, you must have SWU's in your account for the "systemwide availability" to show up during searches at aa.com.
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Old Sep 13, 2023, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey
Yea, you must have SWU's in your account for the "systemwide availability" to possibly show up during searches at aa.com.
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Old Sep 14, 2023, 5:44 pm
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SWU Strategy

I've spent several hours looking over all sorts of international routes using ExpertFlyer and have found essentially no availability ever for SWU usage. I thought I'd reach out to the forum to see if there might be a better way of thinking about this.

First, it could entirely be possible that there is good availability, but because the SWU's are processed automatically, they'll essentially never show on ExpertFlyer. If so, here are a few questions:
  • Does anyone have a good sense of how far out SWU's tend to be processed? Inherent in this question is how far out AA tends to open inventory for SWU's.
  • Is measuring current business class occupancy generally reflective of future SWU inventory availability, on average? Of course, demand could pick up closer in, but in general I've found there to be a good correlation between my probabilities for upgrades as Executive Platinum with domestic/Mexico business class upgrades and prior inventory. Do SWU's tend to work similarly?
  • Is there a general sense of how likely SWU's are to clear? Are they extremely rare, or decently probable on less full flights? Again, if I look at a flight such as DFW-GDL and I see 3 open business class seats 2 weeks before, I've got a pretty good shot at clearing. This helps me book flights. Is there similar logic to SWU's - any strategies out there people use to maximize the probabilities of clearance?
My issue is that I have multiple SWU's that I'd like to use for long-haul travel, and I'm actually pretty open as to where to go. I'd rather not use them for 2-3 hour domestic flights, but I also don't want to just chance their use last minute and book flights to Japan or New Zealand in hopes of snagging an upgrade.
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Old Sep 14, 2023, 7:04 pm
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This very recent thread asked basically the same thing with some answers and strategy provided by myself and others:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...e-upgrade.html
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Old Sep 14, 2023, 7:39 pm
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey
This very recent thread asked basically the same thing with some answers and strategy provided by myself and others:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...e-upgrade.html
Awesome thank you. Spent the last hour combing through dates and yes - Europe seems to be about the only option. Not that that's a bad one. Haven't found a single C opening from LAX/DFW to HND/NRT, AKL, etc. - seems completely locked down, even in Jan/Feb which is off-season for Japan.
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Old Sep 15, 2023, 2:13 am
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If you're willing to buy premium economy and upgrade from there, BA has tons of space.
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Old Sep 15, 2023, 5:05 am
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AA SWU work on BA flights?
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Old Sep 15, 2023, 5:27 am
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Originally Posted by hbaeuerle
AA SWU work on BA flights?
There are some constraints - according to AA recently, they have to be booked on AA ticket stock (001.. ticket). I believe there must also be an AA flight (operated? marketed? not sure) on the reservation.


Here's an article I found. And another.

Thread here.
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Old Sep 15, 2023, 8:44 am
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Advance SWU clearing is so bad, and sometimes buy-ups so cheap, at this point I wish they would make SWUs be pegged to a fixed value of a buy-up plus permit us to be added to the day-of-departure gate waitlist.

E.g., if buy-up <$750 SWU can clear
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Old Sep 15, 2023, 10:07 am
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FWIW, on Tuesday, I booked PHX-LHR using a SWU for a January, 2024 departure. I was hoping SWU availability would open up on that flight and I have been checking that route for the last couple of months. During that time, I saw a variety of SWU availability from ORD, JFK, CLT and DFW to LHR in January, 2024. So, I believe SWU availability is indeed available for at least a few long-haul routes 4 to 5 months out during the off-season. As departure time approaches, another window may open up if there are still seats available.

An interesting side-note. I paid just under $1,000 for the PHX-LHR flight on Tuesday. On Thursday (yesterday), I noticed the fare drop to around $700 but no swu availability. Normally, I would cancel and re-book but that would not work as there weren't any swu availability and was unsure if I canceled that swu would then become available. Called EXP line and they were able to re-use my SWU on the same flight and gave me an approx. $300 credit. I thought that was a very nice gesture and proves it never hurts to ask.
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