Over the weekend I explained that it’s possible to ask American Airlines to release seats as award space under certain circumstances.
If you have built most of an award itinerary, but you need space on an American flight to complete it, you can ask for that seat to be released even if it isn’t showing award space (“to complete an itinerary”).
If you have found space for part of your traveling party, but need one more seat than is showing as available, you can ask for that seat (“to complete a party”).
Factors like how full the flight is and your perceived value as a customer affect whether American will approve these requests. They are responded to automatically and near-instantaneously by a system called “QMAX.”
In recent times there have been fewer approved requests, and those that are granted are usually done so close to departure. But the process remains.
In fact, it remains despite American confirming that the process had been eliminated.
Agents weren’t clearly told what had changed, had been telling customers these requests were no longer possible, and American even confirmed they were no longer possible.
Something did change, however, but what?
My guess is that the old process, that was more or less moot a long time ago, of ‘desiring’ (DS) several specific segments and seeing what comes back confirmed is no longer possible. But I’m not sure how meaningful that elimination is, as the QMAX process largely replaced it anyway.
An American spokesperson finally confirmed the change:
In the past, an agent could queue any request for unavailable AAdvantage space for review (QMAX) instead of only requests to complete a party or to complete an itinerary.
So there’s now a limitation on requests to these specific situations… which is how I generally thought things were already operating, but apparently there was greater latitude previously.