One of the tools that I use for searching for awards, upgrades and seats is Expert Flyer.
The webpage is a tool that allows me to search airline inventory for a variety of Airlines. I normally travel on American and American is one of the airlines that it tracks.
A basic account with Expert Flyer allows users to check seat maps and set seat alerts to notify you if a seat becomes available on a flight.
A premium account adds the ability to search all inventory to see what is available.
I have a premium account which is $9.99 a month. From time to time there are promotions that allow you to buy a year for a reduced rate.
When I book an international trip I first look at Expert Flyer to see what the inventory looks like. It will show you what upgrades might look like as well.
In addition, if allows me to search if I can use SWU’s and set alerts when the inventory might be available.
When booking a flight I will first look up the inventory levels to see the fares available.
Then I will look at the seat map to determine what the upgrade chances are by reviewing how many Main Cabin Extra seats are already selected.
For Example, if I am searching DFW to HKG on American and I know I want to use an SWU, I want to see very few selected seats in Main Cabin Extra as that is a very good indicator about how many elites are on the flight.
If the Main Cabin Extra section is full, I know it will be unlikely that an SWU will clear.
If the Main Cabin Extra section is open, I know that I will have a greater chance of being able to secure an upgrade.
Most flights do not have upgrade inventory open until shortly before departure. So I will set an alert in Expert Flyer to notify me if the space opens.
Most of the time when that happens, if I put in a waitlist, it will automatically be upgraded, but it doesn’t hurt to call AA as soon as I receive the email to see if the flight can be resissued with the upgrade applied.
$9.99 a month is a little steep to cover; however, the information provided has been valuable and I will keep using it for a while. At least until the revenue model comes on AA….
Do you use Expert Flyer?