American Airlines has a new program to e-mail non-elite flyers with offers to sell first class seats if still available the day before departure.
Airlines Are Aggressively Trying to Extract More Revenue from Each Passenger
United is known to sell first class seats cheap to non-elites. They do this while elite frequent flyers remain on the upgrade waitlist and are not given the same buy up option. Presumably United doesn’t want them to know how cheap they’re selling upgrades out from under them. American Airlines, on the other hand, has always been more restrained.
American has sold upgrades at check-in to non-elites when they expected all elites requesting upgrades to receive them and they’d still have first class seats left. This has been known as “Load Factor Based Upgrades” (LFBUs).
As part of American’s plan to extract incremental revenue from existing passengers, they’re changing their approach somewhat to selling first class upgrades to non-elite frequent flyers.
American Airlines New Boeing 737 Domestic First Class
American Has a New Way of Selling Upgrades to Non-Elite Passengers
As reported by JonNYC at TravelingBetter.com,
Effective immediately, AA will be offering non-elite members upgrade opportunities in advance of the normal 24 hour window for same.
Up to a week before the flight (usually just a few days) the non-elite will receive the offer and will be added to a version of a priority list.
The upgrade will clear if there is sufficient inventory after elite upgrades clear (with some left in reserve for walk-ups and irrops, etc., etc)
Reservation to be eligible for this must be made directly with AA.
As I understand the program, American is going to market first class upgrades to coach class passengers by email.
- This communication will happen over email, so American will have to have your email address in the reservation.
- The method of payment for upgrades will be the credit card used to purchase the ticket. So they’ll need that on file. The ticket will have had to have been purchased by credit card directly with American to be eligible.
How First Class Buy Ups May Affect Elites
Since these upgrades will be processed after elite upgrades the day before departure, they won’t reduce inventory for elite upgrades. If this process is successful I wouldn’t be surprised to see American withhold upgrade inventory more than they already do. I frequently clear domestic upgrades about 4 hours prior to departure.
As it is there’s a new reality for upgrades. Complimentary upgrades are getting harder and harder to get. And airlines are increasingly monetizing those first class seats.
Of course at American Gold and Platinum AAdvantage members have to pay for domestic upgrades with 500 mile certificates. These ‘stickers’ are either earned by flying paid tickets (2000 miles of upgrades for
10,000 miles 12,500 qualifying miles of flying) or are purchased.. Upgrading with paid certificates is often a worse deal than just buying first class. The price of domestic first is so much less than it used to be.
That’s why if you want to sit up front, here’s how to do it.