Skip to content

ExpertFlyer just became even more valuable to American Airlines' flyers

Oct. 26, 2020
4 min read
ExpertFlyer just became even more valuable to American Airlines' flyers
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

If you're a pro-traveler, odds are that you've heard of ExpertFlyer. But even if you haven't, the latest change from American Airlines should make you consider subscribing.

For the uninitiated, ExpertFlyer is one of the best — and most advanced — tools around for travelers and frequent flyers. The site, which is owned by TPG parent company Red Ventures, not only helps you search for award availability but also has access to airline schedules, live seat maps and more.

You can even set real-time alerts for a specific seat or award ticket — and then receive a notification the minute the alert is triggered. ExpertFlyer Premium costs $99.99 a year plus tax, or you could sign up for the TPG exclusive Hilton Honors cobranded cards to get it for free.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

On Friday, TPG was first to report that American Airlines was changing the confirmed upgrade process. Previously, the Fort Worth-based carrier used the "C" and "A" fare class for upgrades to business- and first-class cabins, respectively.

Going forward, AA will continue using "C" and "A" for upgrades, though the number of seats available in those fare classes will be a subset of what they are today. For years, AA has used "A" interchangeably for revenue and upgrade seats.

Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter for more airline-specific news!

Now, the seats available for purchase will be different from those available for upgrades. In doing so, AA will also start selling discounted business-class fares in the "C" fare class.

That poses a problem — how do you know if a seat in the "C" or "A" fare class is available as an upgrade?

You could search route by route on AA.com, but the best way is to use ExpertFlyer. For one, searching is faster since you can see multiple dates and times at once. In addition, you'll get a sense how many seats are available. Plus, if there's no availability, you can set an alert to automatically notify you if space pops up later on.

Thanks to a recent update to the web-based software, ExpertFlyer is now able to distinguish between seats available for purchase and those available for upgrades.

Related: The beginner's guide to ExpertFlyer

If you want to see if an upgrade is available, use the Award and Upgrade Availability feature in ExpertFlyer. Input your desired flight, date and cabin.

The results will display the most up-to-date inventory from American.

Up-to-date upgrade-level availability (Screenshot courtesy of ExpertFlyer)

Take a look at the above example of Flight 33 from New York to Los Angeles on Nov. 2. ExpertFlyer shows that there are zero first-class upgrade seats in the "A" class of service. (Note that you could set an alert to see if something opens in the future.) There are seven business-class upgrades available in the "C" class of service.

Taking a look at AA.com confirms the data provided by ExpertFlyer.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

Getting a sense for the seats available for purchase in the "C" and "A" classes is a little bit clunky — for now. You'll need to use the Flight Availability search, but be sure to select the "Don't Show Interline Connections" option (or change the point-of-sale to a different country). Otherwise, the data provided will only show the upgrade-level data for the "C" and "A" fare classes (which you can already find under the Award and Upgrade Availability search).

Seats available for purchase by selecting the "Don't Show Interline Connections" button (Screenshot courtesy of ExpertFlyer)

Within the next two to three weeks, ExpertFlyer will release an update that automatically populates the revenue/paid "C" and "A" classes in the Flight Availability search. We'll update this post when that update is deployed. In the meantime, you'll need to use the workaround above to see the seats available for purchase.

With AA's latest change, ExpertFlyer is even more valuable than before. Being able to see the nuance between the seats are available for purchase and for upgrades is a pro-level feature that would take hours to replicate by manually searching on AA.com. Plus, with the ability to set award and upgrade alerts, you'll never miss that coveted upgrade.

All in, if you're an American Airlines flyer, there's really no better time to subscribe to ExpertFlyer.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases