A couple of months ago I wrote that the update American is doing to its booking classes in order to accommodate the sale of their new international premium economy product (which needs its own classes) for travel starting January 11 would mean the end of confirmed upgrade space as we know it.
That seems to be what’s happened. Take for instance Washington National – Dallas three days from now (January 5). It’s a Thursday and all 9 flights have confirmable upgrade (“A”) space available.
January 11 the confirmed upgrade bucket changes to “C”. In the past nearly every flight would be “A7” (‘at least 7 first class seats’) from the time the schedule opened until seats were no longer available. Looking out three weeks there are only 2 flights during the day where any confirmed upgrade space is available, and there are far fewer seats even on those.
Here’s what Dallas – Forth Lauderdale looks like a month out:
For both the DC – Dallas flight and the Dallas – Fort Lauderdale flight it’s only the first flight of the day and the last that has any upgrade space at all. SAD!
American already has worse award availability than United and worse availability than Delta for transatlantic flights at least. One bright spot has long been domestic upgrade space.
I have long assumed that American made domestic confirmed upgrade space (“A” inventory) widely available for all except premium New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco routes because American doesn’t waive the cash co-pay required for upgrades using miles for elite frequent flyers the way that Unites does. American gets cash for the upgrade, not just miles.
American Airlines Domestic First Class
Of course 15,000 miles and $75 cash doesn’t even make sense to do when a first class fare is less than $200 over the coach price one way. You’re getting less than a penny per mile.
Nonetheless, American has made upgrade space available even when first is a greater premium over coach so it’s strategically useful to spend miles to confirm a seat especially when it’s getting so much harder to obtain a complimentary upgrade.
The reduction in domestic confirmed upgrade space is a devaluation for:
- AAdvantage miles, which can be used to confirm upgrades
- Systemwide upgrades, given to AAdvantage Executive Platinum members and upon hitting 2 million miles (and subsequent million mile thresholds). These eVIP international upgrade certificates used to confirm into revenue inventory years ago when used domestically. Now they’ve become tough to use even domestically.
- Business ExtrAA ‘BXP1’ confirmed upgrade certificates
It’s possible of course that reducing the opportunity to confirm upgrades could make complimentary upgrades (usually at the gate) somewhat more likely.
Update: I wrote this post yesterday morning. Since then One Mile at a Time offered a very similar observation.