hey MP'ers! so, i'm planning my first international trip of 2013 with my partner (companion) and i'm EXP from all my travel in 2012. i'll be using SWUs for the first time and want to confirm/get some help on a few things. First, the details! Travel: DFW to TLS Dates: Weeks are flexible but am constrained to leaving on a Fri (maybe Thu) and coming back on Sat/Sun (so spending the full week). Tentative dates investigated are 8Feb-17Feb, 15Feb-24Feb and so on Misc: I'm EXP and my companion will have no status on the trip (they will drop from GLD this year ). I plan to use SWUs to upgrade us both on the AA legs. Here is what I have done so far: Researched using Hipmunk and AA's new pricing engine to find flights. I believe I have to have all AA to be upgraded (marketed and operated by AA) so I'm trying to limit my search to only AA metal (I realize LHR or MAD to TLS will be on something other than AA) I'd like to maximize miles going/coming so am open to doing a layover/stopover (since they are permitted) in ORD/LAX/SFO etc from DFW. When I searched this though the fares went from about 952RT to 1400RT. This likely means I'm looking at fares that do not permit such adventures or that I'm not pricing them correctly Would using ITA be more effective here? I've never used it so am hesitant BUT I'd love to know how to work it to find what I need I've looked at the planes heading over and for the AA leg(s) I'd love to fly the 777. I believe that has 3 classes of service right? (or the 777-2 has 2 classes of service). So... how do I ensure I get a good upgrade with my SWU? I understand that you book economy and premium E is available you upgrade into that instead... which would suck So... whats my best pathway forward? I know you guys could easily figure this out and while I'd love some recommendations here I'd also love to be taught how to fish a little so that when I do my next international next year (considering NRT!) I'll be much more self-sufficient. Thanks in advance for reading/helping/teaching!