Cross-posting from FlyerTalk because Australian-specific knowledge might be helpful: (Also, thanks to whoever encouraged me to direct my business trip to London in February, to

5 replies

twiningb

Member since 30 Jan 2015

Total posts 20

Cross-posting from FlyerTalk because Australian-specific knowledge might be helpful:

(Also, thanks to whoever encouraged me to direct my business trip to London in February, to AA rather than QF. With three of my four London trips this year on Oneworld, and a judicious mileage run to Denver from London for the last few miles and AA sectors, I'm now EXP!)

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So I just hit EXP (with a quick mileage run to the US tacked onto a business trip to London, to get the last few miles and the sectors on AA metal). I'm planning a family trip (wife, two small kids, me) to the US at the end of next year. My wife needs to be able to have uninterrupted sleep for medical reasons, which means for long-haul we need to fly J. (No complaints here; after business travel it's really hard to go back to Y, as BA183 LHR-JFK reminded me.)

So I'm planning to book economy tickets SYD-LAX-MCO and LAX-SYD, and then put SWUs on my wife's tickets and mine. (I also have enough VA miles to do this with them, which will be my fallback, but I'd prefer to use the SWUs while they're valid.) My kids will likely be accompanied in economy by a family member.

So, some questions:

Our planned trip starts late November (I'm meant to work until 2016-Nov-25) and ends late January (kids' school starts 2017-Jan-30). In terms of optimizing the chance of SWUs clearing...

1. Can I buy an open-ended ticket or a changeable/refundable one, as soon as the outbound sector opens for booking in a couple of weeks, so as to confirm the return sector later? Is it worth paying more to do this, so I can waitlist the outbound SWUs sooner?

2. Our outbound timing is approximately Thanksgiving. Am I correct to conclude that the transpac sector won't be much affected by Thanksgiving? If anything, there may be slightly less business traffic?

3. What's the optimal day on the Thanksgiving weekend to fly SYD-LAX-MCO? Would a Saturday departure (arr early Saturday LAX, transcontinental Saturday) be OK? Would Friday be better? I imagine Sunday would be the worst.

4. Are our chances of clearing SWUs better if I waitlist two together (both with my EXP status) or separately?

5. If I clear because of status but my wife doesn't, will they let us swap seats on the plane?

6. For return, it will be approximately Australia Day (2017-Jan-26), and near the end of school vacation in most Australian states. Would I be better off booking before, on, or after Australia Day, to maximize SWU chances?

7. If I end up with leftover SWUs, can child (not infant, but 2-11 in seat) fares be upgraded with them?

8. Will I likely have to wait until the last few days before the SWUs will clear, or may it happen sooner?

(9. I'm also considering the new AKL-LAX flights on AA as an option for the long haul, but I'm concerned that the 787 they're using will be the first to go to Y+, and until AA rules it out I'd be worried my SWUs would end up wasted on Y+ rather than J. So if anyone has insight on that, please advise.)

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Jul 2011

Total posts 835

These are mostly AA questions on a brand new route, so I don't think anyone will be doing much more than guessing.

That said I would expect it to be a popular route for AA redemptions and SWU use.

TheRealBabushka

Member since 21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2,059

1. Can I buy an open-ended ticket or a changeable/refundable one, as soon as the outbound sector opens for booking in a couple of weeks, so as to confirm the return sector later? Is it worth paying more to do this, so I can waitlist the outbound SWUs sooner?

If you are buying with AA, make the booking on the phone with them and tell them flights for the return date has not been published. Ask if they will put notes in the booking so that you can confirm the return leg at a future date, free-of-charge. They will book your return leg on an arbitary date (select dates as late as possible to give you more wiggle room). Try to do this from the AA call centre based in Fiji (i.e. call the AA Australian number). The ones in the US are pretty clueless about this.

2. Our outbound timing is approximately Thanksgiving. Am I correct to conclude that the transpac sector won't be much affected by Thanksgiving? If anything, there may be slightly less business traffic?

Possibly. Most of the travel happens prior to Thanksgiving. But if you're connecting, just give yourself ample time at LAX so that you can enjoy the Qantas First lounge!

3. What's the optimal day on the Thanksgiving weekend to fly SYD-LAX-MCO? Would a Saturday departure (arr early Saturday LAX, transcontinental Saturday) be OK? Would Friday be better? I imagine Sunday would be the worst.

Can't answer that one I'm afraid. Post a question to the AA forums on Aadvantage. Just sift through some of the passive aggressive responses you might get. There are some right twats on that forum.

4. Are our chances of clearing SWUs better if I waitlist two together (both with my EXP status) or separately?

Waitlist together, otherwise your partner stands no chance in hell! Just be prepared not to clear. AA has been extremely stingy with upgrades lately and does not seem to release upgrade inventory much earlier in advance. For me as an EXP, it has come to the point where I've written-off upgrading on long haul with AA and have chosen instead to upgrade domestically in the US.

5. If I clear because of status but my wife doesn't, will they let us swap seats on the plane?

Approach a nice cabin crew and ask them. If you speak with an Australian accent, they'll love you even more and may be more obliging. I know this happens on Qantas but so far have been lucky to have both me and my partner clearing.

6. For return, it will be approximately Australia Day (2017-Jan-26), and near the end of school vacation in most Australian states. Would I be better off booking before, on, or after Australia Day, to maximize SWU chances?

I don't think the target market for Aadvantage in Australia (for thoes who do not just use it for mileage) are thoes families with children. Your "family" types are well indoctrinated with QFF. So the risk of not clearing is lower, I should imagine.

7. If I end up with leftover SWUs, can child (not infant, but 2-11 in seat) fares be upgraded with them?

The SWU can be used for any purchased seat, within the Aadvantage upgrade rules. I don't believe they make a distinction for children who have their own seats. But I could stand to be corrected.

8. Will I likely have to wait until the last few days before the SWUs will clear, or may it happen sooner?

Yes. Very likely you will only know within 24h of your flight if you'll get upgraded. Good luck! It's not fun!

(9. I'm also considering the new AKL-LAX flights on AA as an option for the long haul, but I'm concerned that the 787 they're using will be the first to go to Y+, and until AA rules it out I'd be worried my SWUs would end up wasted on Y+ rather than J. So if anyone has insight on that, please advise.)

As Lucky from Onemileatatime postulated, the writing is on the wall. While it has not been formalised, my opinion too is that upgrades would be from Y to Y+ and Y+ to J. It is for this reason that I am considering a move to BAEC. AA has just driven the last nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. And they did it on the heels of annoucing Aadvantage changes (to beat Delta to post), without realising the net effect is a further devaluation of the Aadvantage programme.

TheRealBabushka

Member since 21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2,059

Error:

Can't answer that one I'm afraid. Post a question to the AA forums on Flyertalk. Just sift through some of the passive aggressive responses you might get. There are some right twats on that forum.

TheRealBabushka

Member since 21 Apr 2012

Total posts 2,059

Error:

Question no. 9:

And they did it on the heels of annoucing Y+ (to beat Delta to post), without realising the net effect is a further devaluation of the Aadvantage programme.

twiningb

Member since 30 Jan 2015

Total posts 20

Upgrade and award availability for AA72/73 has been popping up on ExpertFlyer recently. I saw some inventory for upgrades the day before my booked departure, so I called in, paid the change fee and snapped it up. Two of us confirmed in biz SYD-LAX-MIA on 77Ws the whole way, in late November. Woohoo!

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Cross-posting from FlyerTalk because Australian-specific knowledge might be helpful: (Also, thanks to whoever encouraged me to direct my business trip to London in February, to

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