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.

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.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

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.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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 Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023