Strategy for domestic segments on international SWU itinerary

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by mtkeller, Mar 6, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. mtkeller
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    mtkeller Silver Member

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    It looks like I might actually be selecting SWUs for my choice benefit, since work is letting me book premium economy fares for some upcoming trips. Given the idiosyncrasies of AF O inventory (travel dates fixed, but departure/arrival times 100% flexible on those dates), this will require some creative routing to get between LHR and SAN. I don't really mind that, since ExpertFlyer and I have become fast friends. I won't book something where I can't have an O upgrade on the TATLs at booking, but it looks like I might have some issues finding the required G/Z space at booking on the domestic sectors.

    Any particular thoughts on how to go about selecting the domestic flights to maximize my chances? Right now, it looks like my best bet is to come into the US at ORD and leave North America via YUL (maybe YYZ). This basically makes ATL and MSP the connecting points for SAN, but it seems like upgrade inventory on ATL-SAN and SAN-ATL (operated by 757s when I'm flying) is nonexistent. The early SAN-MSP that I'd need to be on to get to YUL in time is on an A320 with no upgrade inventory either. As a PM booked into the Y bucket for my W fare with a correctly coded SWU (I've read enough horror stories to know what to call and ask for on the UP2B coding.), I should be in pretty good shape, right? Any thoughts on which routing would be the better bet? My gut says to take the 757, since it's got more than twice as many F seats and the only people ahead of me on the gate upgrade list will be DMs using SWUs

    On a related subject, in an ideal universe I'd fly LHR-CDG-LAX-SAN and the reverse (or really anything that got me a longer eastbound TATL than YUL/YYZ-CDG), but there's no O right now. If O were to open up in advance, could I call up, change my routing, pay the £100 change fee (and by that I mean make AmEx Platinum eat it), and apply the same SWU on the new routing since it's not actually been used to fly? The T&C suggest that you can change the ticket, subject to change fees and upgrade inventory, but we all know how good DL is at writing T&C :rolleyes:
     
  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I've always gotten my upgrade at the window as a DM, but MSP-SAN is a tough upgrade with PMs commonly sitting in the back.

    My sense of things is that DL rarely opens domestic G/Z space beyond the initial upgrade seats, so that you could be more likley to be upgraded as a free elite benefit than to get the seat as a result of advanced SWU usage. When I had this issue the flight was listed as both DM upgrade requested and SWU upgrade wait list, but I have since heard that this is wrong and one cannot be correctly listed for the SWU upgrade and request your free elite upgrade, so you should check these rules carefully.

    I agree with your idea of looking for long TATL AF flights with O space. From ORD, instead of hopping through MSP to SAN, would DTW or SLC work? I know there are lots of ORD-DTW flights, but this might be illegal backtracking. If there are convenient flights through SLC, this would avoid the MSP-SAN upgrade anxiety.

    I assume that SWUs cannot be used for advanced upgrades on Alaska, right, and that a DL PM on a full Y fare does not get an advanced upgrade either?

    I also assume that by your travel date, AF is no longer operating the CDG-SEA flight. That would have been a nice one for SWU usage. What about SFO or PDX? Have you checked all AF operated TATL routes? Are you looking for the A380 or just flights with PV cabins in order to do the upgrade into Affaires?
     
  3. mtkeller
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    mtkeller Silver Member

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    I'm mostly concerned with getting it, not how it happens :) I guess as a PM on a Y fare, I'd be bumped up as soon as V comes available (well, after DMs on Y fares are ticketed when V opens)

    I'll have to ask the rep when I call in. I know for gate upgrades, you go to the front of the queue (well, PMs after DMs) if properly coded, but I'm not sure what happens when you're sitting there with "Upgrade requested". I suppose I could set EF alerts for V and G in case they make either available and then call in to see what's up.

    The day I'm travelling, SAN upgrades are a nightmare. Nothing available into SAN from any of the major hubs that connects with the CDG-ORD flight. However, I did finally put together ORD-DTW-LAX-SAN with V and G available on all segments. Gets me to SAN just as quickly as anything else, too.

    Definitely no SWUs on AS. Looks like the only upgrades are close to departure, even for full fares.

    Yeah, AF has already handed over SEA by my travel date. SFO is a 747, so no PV cabin to upgrade out of. IAH was looking good inbound for a nice long flight, and then the O evaporated. On the return, there's no IAH-CDG the day I need it for some reason (it appears to be daily any other week).

    Unless there's a route to North America that Wikipedia's AF entry doesn't list, I've been over every single AF-operated TATL route with PV looking for O on my travel date. Unfortunately, it appears that I'm in the bad window where the advance O has been consumed, but the travel isn't close enough for last-minute O. It looks like the initial ticketing is going to have to be via YUL or YYZ. (I'm leaning YUL, since it'd be the A380 and I really don't want to spend over two hours on a 50-seat CRJ doing MSP-YYZ.) Unfortunately, DL's flight times into YUL aren't that well-synchronized with the YUL-CDG flight, so I'll need to book one of the V0/G0 SAN-MSP/ATL flights initially. (The LAX trick doesn't work because of flight times.) I'll probably wind up keeping my fingers crossed for LAX-CDG to open up in O at the last minute and pay the change fee if it does, as it does appear there's some last-minute O a week or so out right now.
     
  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I'm glad that at least my idea about trying DTW rather than MSP to get from ORD to SAN was successful for the upgrade, but I'm surprised that LAX-SAN has FC. Isn't this American Eagle from the terminal in the middle of the field?
     
  5. mtkeller
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    mtkeller Silver Member

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    Definitely thanks for inspiring me to think even further outside the box on my routing. As to the aircraft, it's a SkyWest CR7. I flew it years ago as an American Eagle flight for NW, but it looks like DL is running their own flights on the route now. All but the last of the day are 50-seat CRJs. Even if it were a 50-seater, that flight is so short I wouldn't mind it so long as I can get 1B or 1C.
     
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  6. mtkeller
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    mtkeller Silver Member

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    My first experience using a SWU to upgrade is more or less complete, and without too much pain. (Although I do have to say that my ExpertFlyer subscription has just paid for itself for another year.) LHR-CDG-ORD-DTW-LAX-SAN, all in F/J (including LHR-CDG, which I wasn't sure they'd give me), and SAN-ATL-YUL-CDG-LHR, with only SAN-ATL still in Y. The Y:F ratio on the A320 is not appealing (even as a PM on a Y fare using a SWU), so I'm taking my chances on the 757 to ATL. After verifying that O was available, Rob at the platinum desk quickly realized that the flights needed to be rebooked to AF flight numbers and transferred me to reissue. Reissue then spent 15 minutes coming to the same conclusion that Rob had reached in five :mad: (The agent kept insisting that she knew what she was doing and it should be doable with the DL flight numbers until her support desk finally set her straight.) Once she got it all sorted, she couldn't see my SWUs in my account, so I head to read out the certificate numbers. Took a total of 30 minutes on the phone between the two agents.

    It appears that SAN-ATL is waiting for V inventory instead of G at the moment, which seems to be what I want as it will enable upgrading at the window if they release a bit of V. I've set an EF alert in case G opens earlier so I can call and have it upgraded. Otherwise, I'll make sure I get on the gate list as UP2B using the SWU when check-in time rolls around.

    The one thing I need to do yet? Ensure that the ticket is reissued (again) into O. I figured since I was already on the line with reissue, it would be awkward to insist that she do another reissue.
     
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