It comes to nobody’s surprise that frequent flyers enjoy elite upgrades more than any other benefit the airline offers. As frequent flyers move up the food chain, upgrades typically become move abundant as upgrade priority increases and the upgrade window expands. However, would you be surprise if I told you there was a way to bypass other frequent flyers on the upgrade standby list? As an elite flyer, you could easily go from #5 or #10 on the upgrade list to a confirmed first class seat! Leaving those on the list behind, still praying for a battle field gate upgrade!
Since the merger of US and American, the new American has been more focused on integrating the two airlines than enhancing the US/AA websites and IT platforms. Although US airways has always had a fairly poor IT platform, and thankfully we will see it retire when AA and US finish their merger, the only changes we’ve seen to the US Airways IT system since the merger is the ability to add American Airline Elites to the upgrade list 24 hours pre-departure and list AA flights available for purchase with miles on their website. Otherwise, the system has remained stagnant. Yet with this dated system, comes a chance for travel hacking!
As US and American try to align benefits, American Airline Elite passengers can be upgraded or request an upgrade on a US Airways operated flight 24 hours before departure during online check-in, or at the airport. Upon check-in, if no first class seat is available, an AA Elite passenger can request to standby for a seat, anticipating that between check-in and departure a seat may become available and the system or gate agent will processes the upgrade. At any time, the upgrade priority standby list can be viewed on the US Airways mobile website.
m.usairways.com -> flight status -> upgrade list
The upgrade list displays all passengers on the upgrade list, the number of seats in First Class, the total number of passengers checked in, and the number of seats available. Typically, if during the check-in process you cannot select an upgraded First Class seat, the number of available seats is zero; however, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
After checking in, I HIGHLY advise you to continue to check the upgrade list via US Airways mobile website, especially 3-6 hours before departure. If you return to the upgrade list and discover the number of available seat has increased from 0 to 1 or higher, you can actually recheck-in and secure a first class seat! It doesn’t matter what your rank is on the standby list, you can bypass the less observant and secure your place in the forward cabin!
I actually did this Monday morning on my way to work. Before arriving at the airport for my flight, I noticed that I was #1 on the upgrade list for my second leg, but a seat was now available.
I returned to US Airways and rechecked in for my flight. This time instead of clicking “standby for First” I was able to secure seat 1D.
Although this may not be the best example as I was already #1 on the list, I can confirm that I have done this several times while much further down the list. I previously had not blogged about this tick as I honestly was being selfish and keeping this travel hacking trick to myself. Yet, the more I thought about it, I decided it was time to share the wealth of knowledge with my loyal readers, and provide you with the #DoubleWideDelight and extra wide seat that everyone loves and which comes complimentary with the upgrade to first! Although it may not be far to jump the line, the loop hole exists, and I figure if I don’t do it, someone else will. After all it’s not true hacking or illegal if their website allows for it!
Have you jumped the upgrade queue before? If so what was your experience?