American Airlines to Simplify Upgrades

American Airlines has announced some changes to its upgrade procedures within the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America.

Starting on March 2nd, Gold and Platinum members will no longer require 500-mile stickers in order to request an upgrade; they will be automatically placed on the upgrade list. Upgrades will also be automatically processed 40 minutes before flight departure (assuming that you haven’t already been upgraded before check-in).

You can click here to jump to the AAdvantage webpage explaining the changes.

Upgrade Priority Order

Upgrades are prioritized by AAdvantage status level:

  1. Concierge Key
  2. Executive Platinum
  3. Platinum Pro
  4. Platinum
  5. Gold

When competing against others who share your level of elite status, the tiebreakers are:

  1. Type of upgrade (systemwide upgrades taking priority over 500-mile stickers)
  2. 12-month Rolling Loyalty Points

On relatively empty flights, upgrades can be processed up to 100 hours in advance for Executive Platinums, or 24 hours in advance for Gold members.

500-Mile Stickers Going Away

With complimentary upgrades now available to all members with AAdvantage elite status – regardless of flight length – there is little use for 500-mile stickers.

For now, they can be used to request upgrades for travel companions, but at some point in 2022 AAdvantage elite status members will enjoy a complimentary upgrade for 1 companion traveling on the same flight (within North America). When that happens, any existing 500-mile stickers will be completely worthless. However, each one will be converted into 250 Loyalty Points. This might be marginally helpful for re-qualification…

Bottom Line

It makes sense to simplify matters somewhat.  Stickers or no stickers, it was always unlikely that a Gold or Platinum member would see their upgrade request clear on flights popular with frequent flyers.

But for those mid-tier elite members who like to maximize their chances of an upgrade by choosing flights / routes carefully, you have one less thing to worry about (500-mile stickers).

What do you think of these changes? Let us know in the comments section…


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