As discussed in advance at Traveling Better.com, and now officially released by the airline, American is increasing mileage upgrade award copays by $50 effective October 1. As part of this change, even domestic non-Hawaii mileage upgrade awards now have a $50 co-pay.
The change doesn’t apply to 500-mile upgrades (“stickers”). Just the confirmed mileage awards. This makes the electronic “VIP” upgrades given to Executive Platinum 100,000 mile flyers even more relatively valuable, since those don’t incur and cash co-pay. These VIP upgrades are also awarded to non-US AAdvantage members crossing the 1,000,000 miles earned threshold in their account (US members receive 500 mile upgrades confirmable at the standard upgrade window). And they’re given to all members crossing the 2,000,000 mile threshold.
Personally I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on my program of choice, United, they still don’t have online minimum award booking fees, award fuel surcharges, upgrade cash co-pays, and it’s been a couple of years since they’ve increased mileage redemption levels. Now, in my wonderful dreams they see all this as a competitive advantage and will market themselves as the program of choice. Clearing the fog out of my brain I can only assume changes of some type will be coming there as well.