Using your miles.....phoey!

Mar 26th, 2008, 08:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 67
Using your miles.....phoey!

So I'm on the phone with AA to see if I can use the miles I've been saving up to upgrade on the long legs of the flights going to Germany from LAX when they tell me that it's $300 for each upgrade - ouch.

I'd like to use my miles to upgrade from coach so they tell me that I should buy my coach seats with them and get on the wait list, which has been good for us in the past 2 times going to Europe. I go over to Travelocity and check flights from LAX to my destination and the price for direct flights seems to be good and even better than AA yet its all on coach while I don't mind sitting there but then why do I have the stupid credit card earning me miles I can't use?

Anyone have any suggestions on how to beat Airlines at their game?
TonyM is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 02:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,291
One needs to book 11 months early and be flexible. I used 90,000 miles with American and booked Business Class from Orlando to BCN with a change at JFK. If the prices drop, try using frequent flyer miles later.

Frequent Flyer miles are not very helpful during holidays--expecially Christmas/New Year's, IMO.
wally34949 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,249
The co-pay for int'l flights on AA has been around for years. ASAIK, all other US airlines have similar policy.

So, if you want to use your miles, the best way would be do a Business Class award with 90k miles.

If your travel dates are flexible, you can see if any flights on other days have upgradable seats available right now - that will save you from being on the upgrade list.
yk is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 07:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
It's an intricate cat and mouse game. It is not as bad as some believe but it does require some work on the customers part if they want to avoid disappointment.

Know the fare codes for awards/upgrades. International upgrade is a C fare code. It is a hidden fare, but very much checkable on It's a paid subscription but it's very inexpensive on a monthly basis. As noted above, if you are somewhat flexible, and take the time to check upgrade inventory before you call, then it's possible to get confirmed upgrade at the time of the call on the flights that have upgrade inventory.

I never really had any problems using my AA miles, but I do my homeworks first. I do very complicated AA OneWorld business or first class awards every year, traveling to multiple destinations and after little work on my part, by the time I call, I have the dates and options in front of me, so it's just a short call and I'm all done.

I have not upgraded with miles/co-pay for years as I get 8 e-VIPs a year, thanks to my status. These are system wide upgrade instruments. They compete with mileage upgrades as both come out of the same inventory, C fare code. Have not missed 1 upgrade yet. Some flights I was able to be flexible +/- couple of days and I was cleared at the time of reservation, other flights, the ones I could not be flexible with, I too had to be waitlisted, yet I always cleared, usually days before the flight and up to the time of checking in.

Awards and upgrades are capacity controlled. There are number of seats released way out, and after they are gone, then it's a waiting game. I have the most success getting the complicated OneWorld awards about 3-4 months out. Not once did I do the 11 month deal.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,249
Just FYI for the OP, AA FF is an Executive Platinum elite, so his upgrades will clear way before you and me. I am a Platinum, and I've only requested Int'l upgrade twice in the last year. Once from DFW-LGW I got the upgrade, but the second time DFW-CDG I didn't. It all depends on how popular that route is, which day you're flying, what time of year you're flying, and how many elites there are on your flight who are also waitlisted for upgrades (assuming you are not an elite).
yk is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 08:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 67
Ok - so let me understand that if I'm diligent I can maybe find the right flights but still have to pay for the upgrade?

It's not that I don't want to pay for the flight but I'd love to use up the miles I have then I'm cutting up that stupid card! <wink>

I don't mind doing the homework, I love challenges like this and actually learn how and like you, share the information with others.

My partner is content with just going to Travelocity or the likes and taking the cheapest way there. I'd love to be very comfortable in Biz Class and the argument ensues.

I'll check out the site to see how it works.
TonyM is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,249
Tony - Actually, you don't have to pay a co-pay for upgrade IF you buy a full fare economy ticket (and only costs 10k miles instead of 25k). But those are usually quite expensive compared to the discount economy tickets.

As I've said earlier, having to pay a co-pay for int'l upgrade is something that's commonplace. Should be happy about $300 cuz I believe Continental charges $450 for their co-pay.

If you just want to use up your miles, as we've suggested before, is to use your miles for a Business class seat - 90k miles.

If you buy your ticket via Travelocity, *I think* you can still call AA and request an upgrade using 25k miles + $300 each way. (assuming your travelocity ticket is on AA)
yk is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
You may also want to read everything you can on AA forum on There is an excellent "sticky" at the top of the page about awards/upgrades.

Good luck!
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 12:39 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 67
AAFF - I think I'm blind...can't find that sticky you mentioned.

But this is an interesting site!
TonyM is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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rkkwan is offline  
Mar 27th, 2008, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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One very important aspect of AA's FF program is that you can use miles and co-pay to upgrade virtually all economy fares, even the very cheapest. On most other airlines, you can only upgrade (miles plus copay) on certain economy fares, usually ones that cost 25% - 30%+ over the cheapest coach fares.

When do you want to go? I use EF and can see upgrade possibilities.
Gardyloo is offline  
Mar 28th, 2008, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,008
The last 3 yrs we have done upgrades with miles and cash on AA.

The first two times, we only did it on the outbound flight from DFW to FRA. We put our names on the waiting list when we bought our tickets and had to wait until about 10 days before our flight to find out that we had been upgraded.

On our last trip in Sept. 2006, we decided to do the upgrade both ways but weren't able to get Biz on the DFW-FRA flight. On the return, we only found out the day before that we had cleared for Biz Class on the FRA-DFW portion.

If you get a cheap fare like we do ($600-700 RT) and then spend another $300 to $600 plus miles to upgrade, I think it's a great deal. Besides, altho it cost 25,000 miles each way, you will recoup some of those miles since it's a purchased ticket.
bettyk is offline  
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