Using SWU for first time; want to confirm strategy

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by snowpuff, Dec 12, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. snowpuff

    snowpuff Silver Member

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    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 :p 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!
     
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  2. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    really? AA's Prem E is MCE ... which you should get free as EXP at booking. Not sure why an SWU would upgrade u to it, if you're already entitled to it.
     
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  3. John777

    John777 Silver Member

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    This is not the case, as MCE isn't a different fare or class, but rather an add-on or elite benefit. Your SWU would put you in Business from Coach, or First from Business.

    If you used miles to upgrade a full-fare international economy ticket on BA, that would upgrade into World Traveler Plus as that's a separate cabin.
     
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  4. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Congratulations on your new status snowpuff! It seems you've been keeping up on AA news and information, but it also seems (IMVHO) that you've confused quite a few things. Hopefully we can sort some things out.
    • When you say "stopovers are permitted", that's typically language we see used when discussing AA award tickets. They allow a stopover at your North American gateway city. When it comes to purchasing tickets, your fare may allow for a stopover in some cities, but your EXP status in no way "permits" you to get a stopover at no additional cost on a revenue fare.
    • The 772 is going to be converted in the future to a 2 class plane, but that has not happened yet and will be some time before it's an issue for AA customers looking to understand which plane to pick.
    • As others have noted, your economy to premium economy scenario only applies toward using miles to upgrade on BA or IB, not for your SWU use on AA metal.
    That being said, I would end with this: Get yourself an ExpertFlyer subscription or free trial and use it to find flights around your dates that have SWU space confirmable. The 772 is a nice ride across the pond, but if you're looking to upgrade to business, similar seats are offered on the 767 AA operates TATL as well. There are some minor differences in product (772 has seat back IFE, 767 offers tablets with pre-loaded content) but many of the catering differences have been resolved under the new dining program that was started this month.
     
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  5. Juanefny

    Juanefny Silver Member

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    But I believe that what he means is that you can upgrade for free while being in an itinerary with a stop over, I believe that is the case. So you could do a multicity ticket and upgrade in one direction all three segments.

    Is that not the case?
     
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  6. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Yes you can use a SWU with a valid stopover.

    But he talked about the stopover increasing the cost of his ticket, so I assume he was concerned that he "wasn't doing it right".
     
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  7. snowpuff

    snowpuff Silver Member

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    Thank you, yes, I knew this but was confusing it with the SWU in my head during my very late in the evening/morning post last night :)
     
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  8. snowpuff

    snowpuff Silver Member

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    Thanks! Just means I'm gone from home way too much (like the rest of us!)
    • Actually, I was referring to using a SWU for the stopover. I do not think my EXP permits me to get anything in no additional fare cost. I was just saying that I was probably not looking at booking a fare that permitted the stopover; I'm not really sure how to find them
    • Great to know!
    I have a premium sub already! I've used it primarily to try and find what planes are full in first domestic to try and get the EXP complementary upgrade (though I havent had much success with that... <10% upgrade rate this past year (a real <10%))... so I guess I just need to learn how to use it to view SWU space?
     
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  9. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Gotcha. I've never had success booking a stop over when the fare allows it on my own. Might try calling EXP Desk and having them help you with the booking.

    When you login, use the "Awards & Upgrades" tab.

    Enter your departing airport, arriving airport, and any connecting airport you would us on the trip, including your dates. Select AA from the drop down box.

    If you are upgrading from economy to business, you select the "Business - Upgrade (C)" button.

    If youa re upgrading from business to first, you select the "First - Upgrade (A)" button.

    These are the C and A inventories that you might see AA FFers discussing when talking about SWUs.

    On a sidenote, 10% is a ridiculously low upgrade percentage for an EXP. What exactly are you doing when you purchase your tickets? How far out do you buy? Where are you traveling between?
     
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  10. snowpuff

    snowpuff Silver Member

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    Perfect, thanks! I'll give that a shot!

    I've been flying DFW > EWR or LGA weekly (outbound on Mon morning, inbound on Thu evening) and usually purchase 1-2 weeks in advance. I know DFW is a FLOODED market with EXPs so I guess it is to be expected... and on top of that I flew the consultant schedule so my odds were likely somewhat artificially stacked against me (though in reality it meant rarely ever getting an upgrade)
     
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  11. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Yeah, those are prime time for business travelers, plus you are not purchasing that far out. DFW is a bad airport for upgrades if you are originating since any EXP that is connecting has higher priority than you as well. You're requesting your upgrade when you purchase the ticket, correct?
     
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  12. snowpuff

    snowpuff Silver Member

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    You know, I find that kind of crappy :) Makes me want to move somewhere else just so I can be one of those connecting priority people :)
    Yep!
     
  13. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Well hopefully your rate goes up. I know quite a few DFW-based elites, many who travel on heavy traffic days, too. They're upgrade success rate is lower than mine but still, much much higher than yours.
     
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  14. OceanBreezes

    OceanBreezes Gold Member

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    I was upgraded every flight but one this year out of DFW. i travel mostly on the weekends and buy my tickets a few months in advance.
     
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  15. anabolism
    Original Member

    anabolism Gold Member

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    Hi snowpuff, congrats on being EXP and on planning a nice international trip with your sweetie.

    You might consider routing DFW-LAX-LHR-TLS so you'll have a nice long LAX-LHR flight for the upgrade. Depending on the schedule you may be able to overnight in LHR if you like without it being a stopoff (if less than 24 hours).
    I suspect that will increase the cost of your ticket since those are likely to be more popular travel days. But it shouldn't be prohibitive.
    "they" will drop down to GLD? How many sweeties do you have? :D

    At any rate your status is all that matters, and ideally you'll book flights that have confirmable space so status won't be an issue.

    To be upgraded the flight has to be AA metal and booked as an AA code, but the BA or whatever connection can be booked under either code.
    You may have good luck asking an EXP agent for help. Just explain that you're looking for flights that have upgrade space and that will earn you a lot of miles and if you prefer a 777 or 767 or whatever :) most of the EXP agents are used to us and enjoy helping us out.
    I tend to use ExpertFlyer to first search for fares and see which codes they need to be booked in, then search for flights that connect where I want and have those codes available and have upgrade space. Are you looking to buy coach and upgrade to business? If so, do you care about EQP or only EQM or only RDM?
    No worries; all AA over the water planes have business class and that's where you upgrade to from coach. There are differences between the J cabins on the 767 and 777 that are more important when flying alone, but since you'll have your sweetie it's not as big a deal.
     
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  16. basiface

    basiface Silver Member

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    I'm confused.
     
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  17. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    By which part? Or is this just a general statement on life? ;)
     
  18. basiface

    basiface Silver Member

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    Well since the Mayan's got their math wrong I'm confused as to what's next because I only planned my life up to last week (decided to live wild and free my last week on Earth).

    My statement was about the complexity of flying that I've yet to reach. I get the basic stuff, but I need to do some homework to understand the nuances. To start off, is there a thread with all of the acronyms that you guys use so I can follow along better? That would be a huge help for us greenhorns!
     
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  19. DestinationDavid
    Original Member

    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Whenever you see an acronym you don't understand, even an airport code, just double click it. A definition should appear in the top right corner.

    Here, try it out:

    FEBO
    DAR
    LFBU

    Or if you want to just read through some things, you can always just go to the MP Glossary: LINK.

    :)
     
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  20. basiface

    basiface Silver Member

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    Thanks!
     
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  21. TRYING2BPLAT

    TRYING2BPLAT Silver Member

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    sorry for asking again, but my wife and son are going to Shanghai in Feb for 2 months, I am trying to book them flights with SWU but only available SWU are days where prices are more expensive almost $300 more/pp X 2 , I want to ask the Miler people in here, if they have try to be on the waitlist for the weekend flight (surprisingly is the cheaper rate but no SWU) and got upgraded using SWU, I know this is not an exact science but just trying to see if anyone had experience of getting the SWU upgrade for international flight. My wife and son dont have any status. If waitlisted, how many days or hours before they inform you? thanks in advance.
     
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  22. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    You mean how long before you clear (not how long after you clear until you're notified), right?

    No one here can tell you for sure. A lot depends on how far out the flight is, how empty it is, how many others (especially elites) are also waitlisted, and what AA expects to sell.
     
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  23. TRYING2BPLAT

    TRYING2BPLAT Silver Member

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    $300/person is a lot but to be upgraded I guess it is worth to pay specially it is long flight.but I am trying to be more sensible in spending.
     
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  24. anabolism
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    anabolism Gold Member

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    Personally, I'd pay $300 to be guaranteed an upgrade rather than worry if I'll get it or not. Both ORD-PVG and LAX-PVG are 14 hour flights, so it's even more worth it than on a short flight (such as JFK-LHR). Personally, I do whatever I can to have the SWU applied before I issue the ticket. But, these are all very personal choices. Many frequent flyers routinely waitlist SWUs and many of them sweat it out at the gate.
     
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  25. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    I'm with you. I prefer knowing ASAP. But then my shortest international leg is 8-9 hours, and most are 12-13 hours.
     
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