About six weeks ago I covered American’s new domestic first class upsell program where they e-mail non-elite flyers with offers to sell first class seats if still available the day before departure.
- 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.
These upgrades are after elite upgrades the day before departure, so they don’t trade off with elite upgrades that are confirmed at least a day in advance however they certainly can trade off with available inventory for elite upgrades closer-in (many of my upgrades clear around 4 hours prior to departure, if not at the gate).
- 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.
That’s why if you want to sit up front, here’s how to do it.
Via TravelingBetter we’ve learned one way that non-elite first class upsells trump elite upgrades.
If your elite-upgraded flight is cancelled, you lose your elite upgrade:
Electronic Upgrades/500-mile Upgrades/”Sticker” upgrades will be protected in the premium cabin on AA flights if X or R inventory is available (extremely unlikely), otherwise they will be protected in the originally ticketed cabin. Rerouting on OA, including joint business partners, will be done in the originally ticketed cabin.
In contrast American has to accommodate non-elite upgrades if there are first class seats (not just upgrade inventory seats) on another flight.
Early Upgrades/Email Upgrades & Day-of-Departure Upgrades (DODUs) will be reaccommodated in the premium cabin on AA flights only. There are no specific inventory requirements. Rerouting on OA, including joint business partners, will be done in the originally ticketed cabin.
This makes sense, non-elite upsell upgrades are paid upgrades. Customer gives American money in exchange for first class seat, American has a greater obligation to deliver the first class seat.
Similarly, upgrades that are confirmed with miles or a systemwide upgrade are protected in the event of schedule irregularity. American actually re-tickets mileage and systemwide confirmed upgrades, so when they re-accommodate in the ticketed cabin that’s the upgraded cabin.
Mileage Upgrades/Upgrade Awards & Systemwide Upgrades will be protected in the premium cabin on AA flights and oneworld member airlines (since the ticket has been reissued, “same cabin as ticketed” now refers to the premium cabin). A or C inventory is required unless there is a flight that arrives earlier than the next flight with A or C availability (effectively, the inventory is not required). Rerouting on non-oneworld carriers will be done in the originally purchased cabin.
In some sense none of this is new, it’s just that these non-elite pre-sold upgrades have been added to the existing re-accommodation policy and are treated like paid or confirmed upgrades rather than complimentary upgrades.
There’s no change in how elites are treated on complimentary upgrades (and in practice agents in clubs may be willing to protect in the upgraded cabin even though they aren’t supposed to). At the same time, some may take it as another sign of the new pecking order.