A Quick Survey About Domestic Upgrades

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Pizzaman, May 22, 2011.  |  Print Topic

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How Do You Feel About AA's Domestic US Upgrade Policy (Status Level)

  1. I'm Gold and like the existing policy

    3 vote(s)
    8.3%
  2. I'm Gold and think all elites should have unlimited upgrades (no paid/earned 500-mile upgrades)

    1 vote(s)
    2.8%
  3. I'm Plat and like the existing policy

    6 vote(s)
    16.7%
  4. I'm Plat and think all elites should have unlimited upgrades (no paid/earned 500-mile upgrades)

    4 vote(s)
    11.1%
  5. I'm EXP and like the existing policy

    17 vote(s)
    47.2%
  6. I'm EXP and think all elites should have unlimited upgrades (no paid/earned 500-mile upgrades)

    5 vote(s)
    13.9%
  1. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    I've watched the discussion here and there recently about the domestic upgrade policy on AA. For clarification, when traveling in the domestic US, AAdvantage members can request an upgrade to first class. EXP members received an unlimited number of upgrades (space available), while Gold and Platinum members must earn or purchase 500-mile certificates to use for their upgrades.

    I'm curious what most people think of this policy. My opinion as an EXP is that I love it (compared to UA's policy of unlimited upgrades for all elites, for instance). I also preferred this policy when I was a Gold and Plat member. I like to sit up front, and didn't mind purchasing certificates to do so, even on short flights. Since some members that didn't see the value in this, it was easier for me to grab an upgrade booking tickets on short notice with AA vs. short notice on UA.

    Please vote and share your thoughts!
     
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  2. demkr
    Original Member

    demkr Silver Member

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    Thanks for the opportunity for discussing this! I am in the minority (seemingly) of EXPs who feel Unlimited domestic upgrades for all elites would be a good idea and be strongly beneficial for everyone.

    I think that first off, for competitive reasons, AA should adopt the UDU policy. The airline has shrunk from #1 to #3 and they need to offer their low tiers some incentive to stay with them. If I was a PLT-level flyer, I'd think twice about AA because $0 vs $X is a good way to close the sale (atleast with me).

    Lastly, I have been finding as an SFO-based EXP that upgrades have been clearing much later and I've had a lot more battlefield experiences from Summer 2010 on. Some of this may be due to capacity cuts combined with more business travel. Knowing several AAdvantage card holding PLTs, many are more inclined to use miles+copay to get an instant upgrade on a flight that they feel their chances would be low on otherwise. EXPs are not waived the copay for domestic upgrades like the other airlines do, and thus, if said PLT determines miles+copay is sometimes less out of pocket and an instant upgrade, it's got to be very tempting for them to do this instead of risk using stickers and being #10 on the standby list.

    I feel that this is likely making X inventory harder to come by for EXPs. PLTs and GLDs may be more likely to risk not getting upgraded in order to have 0 out of pocket to attempt the upgrade. Adopting this policy will also help late-booking EXPs get their upgrades.

    --

    Another option might be to create a new upgrade window for PLTs and GLDs. If they choose to buy stickers, their upgrades will clear at the normal 72 hours and 24 hours respectfully. If they choose to get a free upgrade, that upgrade window could change to 24 hours for PLTs or at the gate for GLDs. It'd be kind of a compromise option.

    As an EXP I am happy to get UDU. I can only speak for myself-but I would definitely shop elsewhere if I were not an EXP due to better competitive offerings.
     
  3. gleff
    Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

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    As a Plat 2MMer (rather than butt-in-seat) I like that it's not free for Platinums. That means when I want the upgrade and am willing to pay for it, I have a better shot, I'm not competing against every other Platinum who may be higher up on the list than me since they won't request the upgrade every time. Actually, I wish they didn't offer UDUs to EXPs, my chances would be better still...
     
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  4. Pizzaman
    Original Member

    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    Let's not get carried away. ;)
     
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  5. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

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    As a 10-year EXP I'm fine with unlimited domestic upgrades for everyone. AA would still control capacity and could hold a few seats for departure for EXP flyers that have to buy tickets at the last minute (I see a lot of flights where it looks like they are holding at least two seats, so they may already be doing this on some routes with the intention of selling the seats, and then releasing them if not sold). Maybe just a matter of blocking a couple extra seats and releasing them a few hours ahead if not sold with an UDU program. That would hopefully muffle any EXP complaints about Gold and Platinums stealing their upgrades due to a late purchase.

    The only negative I see is upgrade lists with UDU than can run 100 passengers or more long. If you're Gold on an elite heavy route, an UDU program may give you the false sense that you may be getting lot of upgrades, and you'll be sorely disappointed when you get to the gate and see where you are on the list. If Platinums are all upgraded, will there be a lot of seats left for Golds? I've never been a flyer at that level, having been comped in at Platinum, so no personal experience to share at all.

    Eve as a 1K with over 100,000 miles on UA last year I did not clear on elite heavy routes (SFO-IAD and SFO-ORD being typical ones for me). I bought a last minute ticket once and made it down to #14 on the list on SFO-SEA, the lowest I've ever been over there. It's rather intimidating to see lengthy upgrade lists over there where you know lower elites just don't stand a chance.
     
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  6. Pizzaman
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    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    While I don't have a lot of info to go on, I don't think UA really holds much in the way of seats back for last-minute 1K bookings. Not sure AA would do this, either. I'm still much happier with the current system, especially if I ever drop out of the EXP ranks.
     
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  7. demkr
    Original Member

    demkr Silver Member

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    I think Tom makes a good point. The term "UDU" makes it almost like "expect to get an upgrade." If they were to change the policy, I'd present it as a "Complimentary upgrades when available" and still require that the upgrades be requested if desired.

    Another important statistic is asking the PLT and GLD members how well they do on 1000+ mile routes (ORD-SFO for instance) in clearing? This is a hard route to clear for me as an EXP-especially in the evening hours, mainly because F fills up quickly before the upgrade window and long seat holdbacks. So, if on the longer midcon and transcon routes, PLTs and GLDs are ultimately clearing less often than they were, allowing for the benefit of free upgrades may not be too large of a hit on AA's bottom line.
     
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  8. tom911
    Original Member

    tom911 Gold Member

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    Prior to being EXP, though, or back before UDU for them, did you buy upgrades? In 20 years of elite status with either UA or AA I've never bought a single upgrade, so my chances to clear upgrades, when an upgrade instrument would be required, would be less, no matter what elite level, just because I won't buy them. I have the same point of view on mileage upgrades--haven't done a single one of those, either.
     
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  9. moa999
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    moa999 Gold Member

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    Ahh to live in a country where this is the norm.

    In Oz people actually buy First (Business) tickets, there is no expectation about an automatic upgrade (only the very ocassional opup), or you can spend points on an upgrade (but not a good use of points vav international travel).

    You all have it good.
     
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  10. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    As an EXP, I feel like I don't have much skin in this game. Either way my chances of getting an upgrade are pretty high. Not to mention I'm almost purely a leisure flier, so my requests under the current system go in months ahead of time on most of my itineraries.

    For the short time I was GLD & PLT, I didn't struggle for upgrades using my stickers. I only missed 1 as far as I can remember. I was on short hops at the time, so I never felt the pain of having to buy the upgrades. The system worked as far as I was concerned.

    That being said, if I wasn't EXP, I can see the allure of UDU. I know I will always be flying enough to maintain at least mid-tier status, and if $ started coming into the picture, I'd be swayed away from AA. I can see AA's vested interested in getting some revenue out of upgrades from GLD/PLTs and protecting accessibility to its premium cabin.

    It's a delicate balance between keeping your fliers happy and keeping the airline flying. AA has to make a strong decision about whether offering UDUs will attract enough fliers to offset the cost of loosing the cash flow from sticker purchases. Either way, I plan on maintaining EXP status, so my impact from a change would be minimal.

    Spoiled Americans. :D
     
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  11. Pizzaman
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    I bought stickers frequently, and was happy that over 70% of the time, my upgrade cleared as a mid- or bottom-tier elite. it just cost me a few bucks.
     
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  12. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I was EXP for years and almost always was upgraded. Now I am Platinum and still get my upgrades, but of course I have over a hundred of them from when they were issued to EXP's so I'll never need to pay for one anyway. Leave it as it is please!
     
  13. miamigrad
    Original Member

    miamigrad Silver Member

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    I like the existing policy. It gives me a chance, as a PLT, to actually score the upgrade on those routes that I really want to be in the premium cabin.

    If I'm on an EXP-heavy route, and don't think that my electronic upgrade chances are so good, I still have the option to use miles + co-pay (if available). Moving toward UDU would mean that I would (likely) miss out on upgrades. Even as a PLT, I still have a really good upgrade ratio thus far (LOVED being EXP last year, but my travel has slowed to a crawl this past 1.5 years).
     

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