American’s most oversold routes

When it comes to oversold flights, there are two types of people:

  • People who dread oversold flights, because they want nothing more than to get home or to their destination.
  • People who love oversold flights, because it gives them an opportunity to earn airline vouchers, hotel stays, upgrades and other perks at the last minute.

Chiming in on the most oversold routes for American, my preferred airline, is from my experience. Of course, I haven’t (nor ever will) ever fly every single route AA flies, but having flown a sizable chunk of the larger routes, I wanted to compile a list to help those of you in “category 2” decide which flights to take, and which flights might have an a chance of being oversold. Again, this data isn’t directly from American, but in my experience. So, let’s take a look.

JFK-LAX – This is a fairly obvious one, since it’s such a business traffic heavy route, and the planes are smaller and carry less passengers. Upgrades on this route are tough to come by on a weekday, and I had a recent JFK to LAX flight where I was the 20th Executive Platinum on the list, and there were still 15 EXPs after me. Talk about a tough flight.

SBA-PHX – This is an interesting one, since it’s operated by US Airways. It remains the only AA/US flight out of Santa Barbara since AA stopped their LAX service last year. As such, the several times I’ve flown this route, the plane is packed and oversold. To complicate things more to early morning SBA to PHX flight usually gets canceled due to fog, so it pushes all of those passengers to the flight around noon, creating a sticky situation.

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ORD/DFW-PSP – You’ll want to time this during the famous Coachella festival, and if you do, you’re probably in for a sizable voucher. I was offered $900 from ORD to PSP a year ago, though the next available flight wasn’t until 12 hours later, and because I was seeing family, I didn’t want to do it…though, I still regret some of that decision to this day, only because of the amount of the voucher…

JFK-DCA – Commuter flyers prefer flying into LGA, but interestingly, I find this route to be oversold more often, and for me, I actually prefer flying into JFK than LGA. This route has been commonly oversold, but with the introduction of more ERJ-175s on the route, I suspect that won’t be the case for much longer.

ORD-PHX – I suspect this will improve once the merger settles, but merger aside, AA didn’t have all that many flights to PHX, and US didn’t have that many flights to ORD. Now that the merger is in full swing, and people are using PHX as a connecting airport, I suspect this problem will be solved with the addition of more regular flights on the route.

What routes would you add to the list?

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  1. says

    These aren’t all AA flights but in the past I’ve seen ORD-STL commuter type flights oversold or at least packed however they have enough flights per day to push passengers in a short delay for the next flight.

    UA STL-LAX and MCI-LAX used to be heavily oversold in my experience but since they have raised the fair so much I’m not sure lately. Also on AA STL-LAX 757 flight has at times seen very heavy passenger numbers.

    Alaska MCI-SEA always seem to be oversold in my experience. I really wish Alaska would put more flights from SEA into MCI and STL. They have much better service than many of the other airlines at MCI and STL.

    Southwest flights along the West Coast seem to be oversold or at least very full. It’s fun to see the B passengers run to the rear skystairs at Bob Hope while the A passenger get stuck behind “that guy/gal” trying to load an overhead bin in the 2nd row 🙂

  2. Jeff says

    Delta’s LAX-ATL is constantly oversold on Sunday. I travel east from California about once a month and can often find myself with a $400 voucher and first class rebooking to go 2-3 hours later.

  3. says

    How does AA prioritize the upgrade list if there are over 35 exec plats on the same flight? How did you get 20th and still have 15 exec plats behind you? Any tips on how to get closer to being in top 5 of that list?

  4. C. breeze. says

    “…..and the planes are smaller and carry less(sic) passengers”. Why are less and fewer the seemingly most confused words on travel blogs? Hey, my question is rhetorical but keep an eye peeled and you’ll see what I mean.

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