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111op May 2nd, 2008 08:23 AM

Pay to Renew AA Plat?
Ordinarily I'd not consider this. I think it's about $650 to renew.

I'm considering it because I'm thinking of going to Europe with my parents, and I'll fly AA and upgrade them if I can.

Would spending the money to renew make it more likely? How can I gauge my chances?

I don't know yet if I'll try to upgrade both ways or one way. I should have enough miles to cover the upgrades.

This is the sort of question that's probably more appropriate for Flyertalk, but I don't have the time to check so many forums.


111op May 2nd, 2008 08:32 AM

By the way, in case more info is needed -- most likely travel in early June with JFK-CDG and ?-JFK. Not sure where we're returning from yet. Could be FCO, but I need to check with my parents.

Most likely it won't be LHR.

Thanks again!

Jeff_Costa_Rica May 2nd, 2008 08:43 AM

It is more a Flyertalk question. You need only post to the AA forum and someone will know the answer for sure.

My guess is that this won't do you much good for the situation you describe.

1) The pay-to-renew option is usually offered early in the year (although never any guarantee from year to year) to those who didn't quite make plantinum or gold the previous year. A lot would depend on how close you came in 2007. I don't know if there's a statute of limitations and you can still do this in May.

2) Your status might make you eligible for upgrades, but not your parents with them having no status.

3) A one-way upgrade on a transatlantic flight costs you a certain number of miles plus a $300 copay per passenger.

4) Would an upgrade even be likely on a transatlantic flight in June? You might be pretty far down the list. No guarantee that the upgrade would clear.

There are people here who know this stuff better than I.

yk May 2nd, 2008 08:49 AM

The difficult part is upgrade seats are hard to come by, esp if you're talking about 2-3 seats. And JFK-CDG is quite popular.

I'd suggest you subscribe to ExpertFlyer and look to see if there are any "C" seats availble for your flights first, before even thinking of paying to renew PLT. C = inventory class for biz upgrade using miles + copay.

If there are C seats available, you can purchase your ticket and then request the upgrade right away - you'll be able to be confirmed right away. It doesn't matter whether you're GLD or PLT.

If there aren't C seats available, you'll end up on the waitlist. Paying to get up to PLT only puts you ahead of the other GLD elites who have already purchased their tix and requested upgrades. I don't think it's worth $650 for a slim chance.

So you have 100k+ miles on AA for their upgrades?

yk May 2nd, 2008 08:56 AM

If you don't want to pay for EF subscription (which is only like $5/month and you can cancel it after you're done using it), you probably can call AA and ask the agent to search for C inventory for you.

You'll need to be very flexible in terms of your dates in order to score 2-3 C seats.

You may even need to fly to MIA or DFW or ORD first and then take the flight to CDG if those flights are the only ones that have C inventory.

If you have to go on fixed dates and fixed itin (nonstop JFK-CDG), then I'd say your chances are ~0.

travelgourmet May 2nd, 2008 09:03 AM

That is pretty steep to me. And I don't think it will open up more availability for you, but rather just move you a little further up the waitlist.

FWIW, I checked ExpertFlyer for the first week of June (return mid June) and saw only a single seat available on the JFK-CDG flight.

There was, however, quite a bit of availability on flights into LHR, so you could always go that route and transfer to BA or take the tunnel.

111op May 2nd, 2008 09:14 AM

Thanks. Unfortuantely we can't fly through LHR this time, so that method is out.

It sounds like it's not worth it.

But I'll elaborate on some details anyway. The upgrade offer is through May 15. They extended it. It had already lapsed, and it only just occurred to me to renew because I figured flying AA is still an option.

I've accumulated about 250,000 miles.

I thought that the Plat passenger can upgrade him/herself + one companion? If so, then obviously I'd just give the two seats to my parents.

But it sounds like even one seat is hard to come by.

This is going outside of the initial question -- how about paying for Business Class directly? It looks like a ticket is over $4000. Are there tricks to this? I don't mind splurging a bit to make them comfortable, but I'm trying to understand the price differentials since I never buy Business myself.

Thanks again!

111op May 2nd, 2008 09:15 AM

I'm sorry -- when I wrote "upgrade offer" through May 15 -- I meant the option to renew Plat. Usually the window is shorter, but this year they have extended it to May 15.

yk May 2nd, 2008 09:43 AM

The PLT can upgrade anyone who's traveling on the same PNR , so it can be you plus both parents.

In terms of tricks of getting Business class tickets, I'm not sure if you can buy a YUP or KUP ticket... I never investigate that so I'm not 100% sure.

If you do the price and schedule search on (not multi city) - you should get the screen that shows discount Economy, full fare Economy, discount BIz etc. Sometimes there's a column for "Economy - Instant Upgrade" which I believe is the YUP/KUP fares. I know those exist for domestic but I'm not sure about Int'l flights.

yk May 2nd, 2008 09:56 AM

If you want to use your miles - you can consider:

180K for one Anytime Biz award for either your dad

60K for one Milesaver Economy award for your mom

Then pay $ for one Biz ticket for yourself.

When you get on the plane, give your mom your paid biz seat and you sit in Economy award seat.

[Reason why I suggest this is so you can earn bonus miles as GLD for the Biz ticket you "bought."]

yk May 2nd, 2008 10:01 AM

I think the last option is really the best.

Since you rarely use your AA miles anyone.

240K miles is still a pretty good deal considering it'll cost you $5000 for 1 biz + 1 economy seats.

And you'll still get to earn miles for yourself.

since you're flying open-jaw, you need to call AA to book the award tix.

You need to do it soon as AA charges a fee if you book award tix less than 21 days in advance.

111op May 2nd, 2008 12:58 PM

Wow. That's a lot of miles.

I've always had this thought of using the miles for a RTW trip some day when I'm not working, but maybe it's better to cash some of this in right now.

I think the 60K award may not be available for the dates I want.

What about the Amex Plat buy 2 business get 1 free option? Will that make things cheaper? I guess you need to pay full fare and maybe it's too much.

AAFrequentFlyer May 2nd, 2008 01:04 PM

The renewal is not just about upgrades.

Depending on how much flying you will do this year, you can earn 100% bonus with Plat and only 25% with Gold.

You will have access to OneWorld business lounges with Plat when traveling internationally, nothing with Gold.

I would not base the renewal on just this one trip (not worth it IMHO) but if you do plan on flying internationally at least 2 or 3 times in the next seven months then perhaps it is worth it.

Just the extra miles may be good enough for a free trip to Europe.

111op May 2nd, 2008 01:12 PM

I think the lounge access is nice, but really my interest in it is net access rather than anything else. And a lot of times the computers are taken.

It's hard to say how much flying I'll do for the rest of the year. In the past couple of years I've done a few trips to Europe, but I tend to fly what's cheapest. This year I've flown to Europe twice. But after June I most likely won't fly again until September. But even if I end up flying a few more times I may not use AA.

So I guess the consensus is probably not worth it for this trip, if it doesn't improve my upgrade chances.

I think for next year, I can use the shortcut of flying 10,000 miles within 3 months again?

AAFrequentFlyer May 2nd, 2008 01:17 PM

20k miles or 10k points

111op May 2nd, 2008 01:20 PM

Thanks. I think I did 10K points the last time to qualify. I bought a slightly more expensive fare to make it, now that I recall.

yk May 2nd, 2008 01:26 PM

AFAIK, most folks who use miles for RTW plan it at least a few months in advance.

In your situation - if you're not working and want to go somewhere in a short notice, I really doubt you can find a RTW route w/miles for say, 1 month from now.

If you save $5000 this time by blowing 240k miles, you can probably use that amt for a RTW ticket when you do decide to go.

There has been some threads on flyertalk about repeated Gld/Plt challenges ~ I can't recall what the consensus is...

111op May 2nd, 2008 01:30 PM

Why is Business class to Europe so expensive, by the way? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Supposedly Taipei-JFK on China Airlines is about $7000 in First Class. And it's quite easy to upgrade from Economy to Business. It takes just 30,000 miles in low season, one-way (and no cash required).

Maybe that's because China Airlines is horrible? :-)

AAFrequentFlyer May 2nd, 2008 01:32 PM

Forget Fyertalk! The AA board is nothing short of total misinformation.

A new and improved forum has been up for few months. It was started by the old flyertalk guard that just got fed up with the bs on flyertalk.

the same people that had inside info and now includes AA "insiders" is much more informative and accurate.

WillTravel May 2nd, 2008 09:58 PM

AAFF, why is the AA Flyertalk board "bad"? From FT, I have gotten so much information for other airlines (AA doesn't fit into my travel plans so far) and for hotels, various tricks, etc. that I'm surprised to hear the AA board is no good.

111op, I have to agree that it simply does not quite make sense why business class is so expensive. But it's also true that much of the associated expense is due to the business class seat generally having more refundable terms.

Gardyloo May 3rd, 2008 12:18 AM

A message board is a message board; good stuff, lots of egos, plenty of dreck. Caveat emptor.

AA is definitely tweaking the Aadvantage program - making Gold way too easy (free to MBAs etc.) and <i>probably</i> restricting serial &quot;challenges&quot; (the 10,000-point thing) so that people don't challenge, fall back, rinse, repeat.

I don't know that paying to renew is all that wise in the OP's case. I'd recommend a real spreadsheet analysis of flying patterns and expenditures to see if a membership in a lounge plan, for example, might be better bang for the buck, especially if mainly traveling domestically.

As to why transatlantic business class is so expensive, it's because &quot;business&quot; people will pay that much for it.

travelgourmet May 3rd, 2008 03:17 AM

<i>it's because &quot;business&quot; people will pay that much for it.&lt;/&gt;

Actually, it is because &quot;business&quot; people don't pay that much. While they don't readily publish these things, my understanding is that volume discounts for corporations can be very substantial.</i>

BeachBoi May 3rd, 2008 04:24 AM

yk...Just curious where did you see that everyone on the same PNR can upgrade with a PLAT?? If thats the case I'm taking EVRYONE with me!!

Jeff_Costa_Rica May 3rd, 2008 10:41 AM

I assume the chances of multiple upgrades clearing get slimmer and slimmer with each added passenger. Since I travel alone, my ugrades frequently clear since it's just me I have to worry about.

AAFrequentFlyer May 3rd, 2008 10:54 AM

I'm not sure what <b>yk</b> meant when s/he talked about AA upgrade policy and having status.

International upgrades(Europe, South America, Asia and India) - ANYBODY can upgrade one way as long as they meet the following terms:

1. upgradeable fare
2. C fare inventory is available
3. 25k miles (40k miles for India)
4. $300 co-pay

Domestic upgrades(including Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America) - A staus holder can include 1 companion for an upgrade as long as:

1. The 2 are traveling together
2. 1 of the 2 have enough 500 mile stickers in the account to cover the upgrades.

travelgourmet May 4th, 2008 01:41 AM

AAFF: Is there no additional inventory made available for Plats or ExPlats? I can't think of too many other carriers that do this, but curious if AA does it.

But otherwise, I would agree that about the only thing that Plat will get you is a higher place on the upgrade list. But if it is T-24 and upgrades haven't cleared, I don't like my chances for that to be the deciding factor that will get a party of 3 bumped up.

AAFrequentFlyer May 4th, 2008 01:50 AM

Not for upgrades. For international upgrades C inventory is C inventory. It's either available or it's not. I waitlisted many times. I believe that having EXP status is more helpful during award reservations, not upgrading. Occasionally, a dedicated EXP agent would call the revenue desk to get one seat released for upgrade, but I don't think it happens all that often.

At the end I have always cleared so no complaints.

AAFrequentFlyer May 4th, 2008 01:59 AM

btw, I use e-vips as my upgrade instrument. All EXPs get 8 free certs per year. Each is good for one way upgrade up to three segments, anywhere AA metal goes. There is no co-pay.

Mileage/e-vips upgrades still need the same C inventory.

111op May 4th, 2008 01:50 PM

Hi again, I think that I'm right around the 30-day mark from when I'm thinking of traveling, so I need to get moving -- like finally settling on where to go and which airline to fly.

So I think that I'd better forget about trying out for upgrades based on what you guys are saying.

A while ago I thought that I found some Business class fares for around $2500, but it seems like now everything is over $4000. I read some articles that there're now discounted fares if you buy 30 days in advance, but maybe they are all gone.

I was considering L'Avion, but it seems like there's a risk there that's not negligible. I don't want to be stuck if they go under.

Can people recommend some good websites or travel agents who can help? Obviously I don't normally fly Business.

If I end up flying AA I think that I'll have to try to claim one award, but probably I'll have to buy another ticket -- unless I get my parents to share the one Business seat, which doesn't seem right.

I'm trying to get used to the sticker shock, but I do think this will be money well spent.

Thanks again!

111op May 4th, 2008 01:53 PM

By the way, I tried to check out the Amex Plat companion offer (though I'm not Amex Plat) to get some ideas for airfares.

Their inventory seems limited around the dates I was looking for. So I just got them to see if they could quote me a ballpark fare. It sounded like a seat would be at least $8000 (but you get one ticket free), so it's still over $4000 per person.

Please share your tricks and wisdom, thanks!

WillTravel May 4th, 2008 02:27 PM

Is it possible to get insurance that would cover a L'Avion bankruptcy or business termination? You'd have to be extremely sure, of course.

I wouldn't usually mention the following possibility, because it would generally be too much trouble, but if you are thinking of spending $8000 on business-class tickets, I will.

Since you can't transit the UK, how about first going to Toronto (or Montreal) and then taking Zoom premium economy nonstop to Paris? You'd have to allow *plenty* of time to allow for immigration delays or whatever other type of delays, particularly since Zoom flights are pretty limited, but it might be worth the savings.

111op May 4th, 2008 07:11 PM

That's not really going to work either because I don't want to transit through Canada. But thanks for the thought though.

I already don't find L'Avion that appealing because I've to fly in and out of Paris. I mean, I'd rather do open jaw and save a few hours. I don't think it makes sense to subject to my parents to more flying than necessary.

Also it's not just the $. I mean, I don't want to make plans to go, have the airline go bankrupt and then not be able to go either. That'd be a terrible experience because it's not like I can vacation with my parents anytime.

111op May 5th, 2008 06:09 PM

I think that I can't quite get over the sticker shock -- esp. now that non-stop flights are well, well over $5000. Probably a no go.

I'm thinking of other options -- like... gasp... Air India! One way first class is actually about $2000. Do people know how this is? I searched online and it looks like whether the plane is new makes a big difference. This is EWR-CDG.

111op May 8th, 2008 06:04 AM

Hi, what do the upgrade chances look like for 6/4 JFK-ZRH and 6/15 FCO-JFK on AA? Does someone know?


BeachBoi May 8th, 2008 06:20 AM

111op.....AA Flight 64, June 4, JFK ZRH...&quot;0&quot; UPgrade (C Class) Seats, 14 Business Class seats available for sale(this number will fluctuate of course but as of this moment).....AA Flight 235, June 15, FCO JFK...&quot;0&quot; Upgrade (C Class) Seats, 2 Business Class seats available for sale....Chances? Not good for returning, Slim to None...Chances of having lunch with the Pope that day much better...

111op May 8th, 2008 06:30 AM

Thanks. Business is 5000+ according to Kayak on these flights.

I found Business flights for about 3000 on Swissair, but there's a connection on the way back from FCO, and I still think it's silly to connect when you're paying to fly Business. Maybe that's the best I can do for now.

Unless... Does someone know of a travel agent who can get reduced Business fares on AA? AA does work better since all our miles are on AA.

Thanks again!

111op May 8th, 2008 06:34 AM

By the way, out of curiosity -- are Exec Plat passengers subject to the C inventory upgrade rule? Or can they upgrade as long as a Business Class seat is available?

travelgourmet May 8th, 2008 06:41 AM

EXPs have the same availability as anyone else, per AAFF's post above. The main difference is that they get a certain number of vouchers to use, in lieu of miles + cash.

Unfortunately, AA has the bulk of its flights going to LHR. Since you can't connect through there, I would have to say that your chances of upgrading 3 seats on AA are pretty low.

111op May 8th, 2008 06:45 AM


So there're no C seats. And suppose on the day of the flight, there're still Business class seats available. Do they then start &quot;giving them away&quot;? I mean, do they release that inventory for upgrades?

I guess this route is not possible for me, but just for future reference.

111op May 8th, 2008 06:47 AM

You're right that AAFF explained the upgrade rules for Exec Plat already. Sorry that I was just too lazy to scroll up. I just did to read his/her explanation. Thanks again.

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