ExpertFlyer will no longer display X & R space for American

Don’t have a heart attack. I almost did, until I actually read the email I received from ExpertFlyer:

Dear Benjamin,

American Airlines has informed us that as of tomorrow June 5th, AA will be removing the ability to view X & R upgrade inventory which will affect channels, including ExpertFlyer.com.

Here is the official statement from American:

American is now processing all upgrade requests through a single queue, ensuring upgrades are awarded in a manner that is fair and consistent for all of our AAdvantage customers.  Customers may request upgrades when making their reservations, or at any point prior to travel by visiting My Reservations on AA.com.

As such, starting tomorrow X & R classes will be removed from the AA Award & Upgrade search. In addition, any Active Flight Alert for X or R on an AA flight will be changed to Expired.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter and continued support of ExpertFlyer.com

-The ExpertFlyer.com Team

Now, fortunately this is more or less a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. When I first saw the email I feared they were eliminating the ability to see “C” and “A” space, which is the confirmable upgrade space. There’s no other way to search for confirmable upgrade space online (you have to call), so that would have been really bad news.

“X” and “R” space is just sticker upgrade inventory, but ExpertFlyer has always only displayed that inventory 24 hours out, so it wasn’t of much use anyway since most upgrades either cleared at that point or had no upgrade inventory.

That being said, I am rather curious what exactly American’s “official statement” means in practice, that they’re now “processing all upgrades through a single queue.” As long as they don’t pull a fast one like they did with AwardWallet and stop displaying “C” and “A” space, I won’t be impacted by this change.

Did anyone actually use ExpertFlyer to search “X” and “R” space on American?

Comments

  1. “When I first saw the email I feared they were eliminating the ability to see “C” and “A” space, which is the confirmable upgrade space. There’s no other way to search for confirmable upgrade space online (you have to call), so that would have been really bad news.”

    A space can also be seen through other publicly available sources.

    I only had a hard attack worrying about C.

  2. I would use it to look for X space if I was doing confirmed same day standby, and wanted to know if an upgrade would clear right away.

    I agree with you, though, and wonder what they mean by a “single que”.

  3. “…ensuring upgrades are awarded in a manner that is fair and consistent for all of our AAdvantage customers”

    Are they implying upgrades were not awarded in a fair and consistent manner before this change? While it gave some customers a deeper insight into availability, I am unaware how that information could have been used to game the system.

  4. @ Brian

    The way I understand it, is lower level elites were able to get alerts within 24 hours and then call in to apply the upgrade and clear right away before the upgrade “sweep” would occur.

  5. Apparently one could theoretically jump the queue by calling in during the short period between the release of X/R inventory and Sabre’s automated wait list clearance.

  6. I suppose since I haven’t had to worry about this before it’s not likely to come up often. But, this whole C, A, X, R stuff is totally Greek to me.

  7. This isn’t much of an issue for me but it is just another turnoff to keep me from doing business with Amaerican Airlines. But then again I’m still mad at them about the lack of support through award wallet.

  8. I use X/R alerts all the time. Calling AA as soon as I receive the alert leads to instant confirmation even if I’m not #1 on the list. 🙁

    What I don’t understand is – can’t you check for C/A inventory by searching for saver award availability on AA.com? Is that not the same inventory as confirmable upgrade space?

  9. Stupid questions, but I’m relatively new to AA and ExpertFlyer.

    If I’m looking to book a coach fare and looking for a flight with eVIP upgrade availability – what fare bucket am I looking for?

    Thanks!

  10. @zeffer — What you were doing wasn’t fair to those ahead of you on the list and that’s *exactly* why AA is taking these steps. I’m not judging you — it was more an error on AA’s part than yours…even if the technology wasn’t there to automate the process fairly, the least the agent could do was take a quick look at the queue and tell you, “Sorry, no dice.” Anyway, this is intended to fix exactly that situation.

  11. @ Cory — Let me break it down for you:
    A=upgrade space using miles/SWU to first class
    C=upgrade space using miles/SWU to business class
    X=upgrade space using stickers to first class
    R=upgrade space using stickers to business class

    Make sense?

    @ Matt — I highly doubt it. Like I said, this was only a small part of their service, and they’re always adding more partner airlines.

    @ zeffer — You can search for “A” inventory, but can’t search for “C” inventory (outside of ExpertFlyer) since it’s not a revenue fare bucket.

    @ WanderLuster — If you’re upgrading on a two cabin plane you’re looking for “A” class availability, while if you’re upgrading on a three cabin plane you’re looking for “C” class availability.

  12. OT, perhaps, but why are none of the travel blogs mentioning that AA has recently gutted it’s award program?

    Try searching for 2 FC and/or J US to LHR award seats, from anywhere in the US, on any date. I just did today thru the end of booking date for LAX, ORD, JFK, even MIA, for 2 seats. Not one flight was available, not even for tomorrow. Not even the 18:15 flight ORD to LHR that only has 4 of the 16 seats booked, including 1A which is probably set aside for flight crew use.

    It’s been this way ever since AA began showing BA award availability on the AA website. No 2 award seats to Europe available on any flight, on any route, on any date, all year long. The new policy seems to be: let them eat cake, {oppss}, fly BA, with the huge fuel surchages that entails.

    Basically, for any couple wanting to fly together, Saver awards to Europe no longer exist on AA. The only way to get it back, that I can think of, is to get the word out about this. The only thing AA really makes a profit on is it’s sale of miles. If we stop all AA miles earning activity, due to lack of award availability, their sales of points will plummet, and just perhaps they will be forced to make AA metal double award seats available again.

    In the meantime, for everyone who has said “I will never fly BA because of the fuel surchages”, if you want to travel with someone, at least to Europe, AA no longer gives you that choice.

  13. @ Robert — There’s no doubt that the amount of saver award space on American to London has decreased greatly over the past year or so, but it’s actually a general trend on American whereby they’re releasing a lot less award seats on all their flights.

    But at the end of the day I would hardly call it “gutting their award program.” All programs are give and take, and at the end of the day for maximizing miles I’d far prefer to fly Cathay Pacific or Etihad, both of which have better award inventory than ever before.

  14. This is a problem for me. My corp business to first JFK-LHR upgrades clear into X. EF let me select my flights accordingly, can’t do that anymore.

  15. “If you’re upgrading on a two cabin plane you’re looking for “A” class availability”

    @Lucky @WanderLuster – This is not completely accurate. If you are flying a 763 (a 2-class plane) there is only coach and business, so you would be looking for “C” class availability.

  16. @Lucky OK, so their partner awards to Asia and the Middle East are still fine. And I realise that’s your main interest anyway. Lucky for you. I do find a Cathy FC flight to Thailand an aspirational award, but once will be enough. Europe I can and do go to over and over again.

    For those of us mainly interested in Europe, and who have a significant other that we can’t stow away in J, while we fly FC :} the actual effect is that non-surcharge Saver awards to Europe have been eliminated. As an AA Lifetime Gold, with nearly all of my current miles in AA, having this done to the program with no advance notice really makes me angry {profanity reluctantly withheld for the benefit of the blog atmosphere}.

    I now realise I posted this on the wrong blog, as the focus here is Asia. Which will be greatly helpful to me when I do HKG, BKK, and SIN. So I’m grateful for that. I’ll happily take my Europe award concerns elsewhere.

  17. Question about those Cathy awards with AA miles, since AA is so strongly directing me to go that way. From what I’ve seen, you generally book last minute, and award space is excellent for that. How about for us leisure travelers that want to book a month long trip well in advance, in order to arrange hotels, etc. Especially since not having been to Asia, I’ll need to do much more research and contend with far more culture shock than I would in Europe. Is Cathy award space readily available months in advance?

  18. @ Robert — Absolutely, Cathay Pacific and Etihad award space is actually best 11 months in advance, so the further out you can book, the better off you are.

    And there’s no doubt that if your only goal with American miles is to fly first class to Europe, then you’re hosed with American miles unless you want to pay the surcharges.

    But just keep in mind that Delta doesn’t have a first class product internationally, and most of United’s partner airlines don’t release first class award space in advance, so you’re more or less stuck on United metal with them as well. There’s no perfect frequent flyer program, is what it comes down to. 🙂

    Also, I’m just curious, why is Asia “once in a lifetime?” There are so many exciting places to explore in Asia beyond Thailand, not to mention you can also fly first class to the Middle East, which opens up a lot of destinations as well.

  19. Thanks, I’m glad to hear that about Cathay.

    I’m starting to plan for Thailand in a year or so, as fortunately we grabbed a pair of AA FC tickets to LHR for this August and September, by booking them last October.

    And I had already moved all of our airline CC spending to US Air from AA, encouraged by a targeted offer we got of 15k bonus miles each for spending $1200 a month for 3 consecutive months, in addition to our 40K mile sign up bonuses.

    I’m going to continue using the US Air card, and nothing on the AA cards, hoping to get enough more miles from that and the Grand Slam for FC Aus/NZ in a year or two. Especially since Europe is going to be so hard to obtain. {Citibank and AA, are you reading this?}

    The problem with Asian travel for me, is that instead of going country to country in 4 to 6 hours at 180 mph on First class trains, with no customs and security hassles as I do in Europe. All covered by a FC train pass thats costs me $30 a day for a month long Europe wide pass. In Asia, it’s a 3 to 6 hour mileage intensive flight, although on admittedly wonderful airlines, from country to country.

    Most of the reports I read about HKG, Singapore, Bejing are from people who stayed a day or two, then had pretty much seen everything and were ready to move on. BKK maybe a week at most, with a few days each for Chiang Mai, and Phuket. No one says of Singapore, if only I had another week here, to see everthing. As people routinely say about Florence or Paris.

    India has a dozen or more places I’d love to see. Each one a see it and move on the next day event. Each one a plane flight or an overnight Indian train trip apart.

    Expensive, exhausting travel. Hotels more costly than where I stay in Europe, but far from the same level of quality. Food that you hope you won’t get very ill on.

    So a long weekend at a Maldives Villa, if you’ve got miles and points burning a hole in your pocket, and very little time to take off work; or a stopover in a HKG Park Hyatt Suite in the course of a business trip is an exotic pleasure.

    But several weeks of travel, flying from country to country, using twice the miles it takes to get to Europe, and having to stay in high end hotels because the mid level ones don’t exist or don’t meet Western standards… yeah, that’s a once in a lifetime thing for me.

    Thanks to your trip reports, that once in a lifetime trip is going to go much smoother…

  20. “@ zeffer — You can search for “A” inventory, but can’t search for “C” inventory (outside of ExpertFlyer) since it’s not a revenue fare bucket.”

    @ Lucky – Not revenue, but award. What inventory shows up when I search aa.com for 3-class business class award availability? Not C?

  21. @ zeffer — For business class saver award availability you should be searching “U” space.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *