RUMOR: American Airlines Confirmed Upgrade Availability About to Get Much Worse

Last night JonNYC tweeted that confirmed upgrade availability on American is about to get worse. In my experience Jon is usually correct, he shares things that he knows and doesn’t point folks in the wrong direction often.

The post he links to talks about the update American is doing to its booking classes in order to accommodate the sale of their new international premium economy product (which needs its own classes).

American Airlines Premium Economy

And A –> C [booking class change for confirmed upgrade to domestic premium cabins] is unfortunately confirmed as well. That will likely mean considerably less availability for confirmable upgrades going forward.

When the schedule change runs this weekend, bookings with confirmed upgrades currently confirmed in A will temporarily change to D. However, before too long these upgrades will change to C.

Right about now might be a good time to lock in domestic upgrades for flights in January/February and beyond.

Changing booking classes does not in itself mean that confirmed upgrade availability has to change, but it also is an opportunity to start fresh with how the booking class is being managed.

American already has worse award availability than United and worse availability than Delta for transatlantic flights at least. One bright spot has long been domestic upgrade space.

I have long assumed that American made domestic confirmed upgrade space (“A” inventory) widely available for all except premium New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco routes because American doesn’t waive the cash co-pay required for upgrades using miles for elite frequent flyers the way that Unites does. American gets cash for the upgrade, not just miles.

American Airlines Domestic First Class

Of course 15,000 miles and $75 cash doesn’t even make sense to do when a first class fare is less than $200 over the coach price one way. You’re getting less than a penny per mile.

Nonetheless, American has made upgrade space available even when first is a greater premium over coach so it’s strategically useful to spend miles to confirm a seat especially when it’s getting so much harder to obtain a complimentary upgrade.

Gosh I remember when American’s eVIP international upgrade certificates confirmed into revenue inventory when they were used domestically! Now they may become tough to use even domestically, at least if the rumor of tighter availability when American shifts its booking classes is accurate.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Free agent, made the transition this summer and could not be happier. Even cancelled my last transatlantic upgraded booking with American, partly because there was a reasonable chance I’d end up in a cradle seat anyway, and partly because as a free agent I now longer have any incentive to make trips unless they are exactly where and when I want to go. Still wondering why anyone who does not live or work in Dallas would be loyal to Dougie, the guy hates people who spend $10,000+ per year with his airline.

  2. Everything will change again in 2018 when:

    1) The 2017 recession weeds out all that fake helicopter cash in the stock market.
    2) All of the (unearned) US Airways and many American EXPs that got Emerald (in One World) for $3000 or less are weeded way out—-$12K + 100K miles. Hahaha! Someone has to pay their crazy “shared responsibility” imposed by socialists as if it were a tax.
    3) Too many elite members will have been weeded out—-many will be stuck inside “Pentium Pro” (a joke of a high-tier level, created by Silicon Valley leftists so that you can have Facebook and Instagram for free), thus AA will cut their revenue based program in half, or remove it all together, going back to [maybe] 120K for EXP (with 6 SWUs) and 250K for Concierge Key (both will be Emerald).
    4) Out of nowhere a new major carrier will become a “Big Four”. I can see a Jet Blue merger with Alaska (to help in their [really dumb] merger with Virgin America).
    5) As what always happens, Premium Economy will be discontinued. It never, never, never works. It’s a joke, it stinks, it’s a waste.

    Repeal and replace American Airlines FF program. Yeah…..American will do that in 2018. It will get better.

    Oh did I say “Pentium Pro”, I meant “Platinum Pro”. Don’t fall for that leftist Marc Zuckeberg crap with a name like that.


  3. request to delete melissa comment and ban her
    – almost all of her points are dumbfounded with little base for reality or the airline industry.” premium economy will be discontinued” even though we are seeing record demand across the globe for a class in-between eco and J
    -too many irrelevant points “The 2017 recession weeds out all that fake helicopter cash in the stock market”
    -really melissa just f*ck up you obviously don’t know the aviation industry and are crying for political attention. you thoughts would be much better of on twitter where only people who actually care about your opinion will see them.

    regards, H

  4. “A” was also a revenue code for discount first? So did that mean if there was discount first A class available, upgrades were also available (in the past)?

    It isn’t just LAX/SFO-JFK that doesn’t have any SWU space into business, but LAX-MIA. Also, LAX-BOS doesn’t have any A class currently (looking for early March).

  5. @beachfan discount first was P, A was confirmed upgrade inventory (different from complimentary upgrade inventory), A was usually > P for domestic flights

  6. Not sure where there’s outrage, but does seem like something worthwhile to give folks a heads up about the possibility here, goal was to give folks an opportunity to confirm some upgrades vs waiting. Where there has been some outrage has been in the form of award availability, and it’s outrage that had been felt internally at AAdvantage and was genuinely embarrassing to them but as you observe not theirs to fully own.

  7. Based on previous posts Melissa is a conspiracy white Power nut case. She should be deleted and or ignored.

  8. Delete and ban someone. Do yiu people really care? Is this not a “safe space” for yiu? Grow up or get the hell out of here if you can’t handle it.

  9. Looks like this is the case. Two weeks ago, the domestic flights, post 1/11/17 that I was eyeing to apply a SWU to were A7. I didn’t apply then, as I possibly had an int’l trip in January. Today, I went back to apply them – and A class doesn’t exist. It’s C0, and looks to be C0 on a ton of flights. Flights are showing D7, but after calling EXP line to apply SWUs, I’m told that I must waitlist them – this is BS. Utter BS. No C space on any segment (CLT-PHX-BUR and return).

    AA has completely shut down the ability to use SWUs on domestic flights now, it seems.

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