American is making some changes to its upgrade processes along with the merging of Dividend Miles into AAdvantage for a single frequent flyer program.
- Complimentary upgrades for all elites on flights of 500 miles or less (instead of requiring 500 mile upgrade certificates for all domestic upgrades, with complimentary upgrades only for top tier elites)
- No more ‘grace’ of 51 miles for 500 mile upgrade certificates — a 501 mile flight requires (2) 500 mile upgrade certificates.
- Auto-requesting of upgrades, the default it to auto-request an upgrade where it’s complimentary instead of having to proactively opt-in
Per Traveling Better there are some glitches to this process that are being worked on.
- Elite ‘AAirpass’ (prepaid travel) members traveling with a companion cannot have upgrades requested online, and have to contact American to make their upgrade request.
- Corporate travel bookings that utilize a corporate name field (this may not be common) aren’t having upgrades auto-requested, and have to contact American to make their upgrade request. American’s website may even incorrectly show that upgrades have been requested — if you’ve booked booked through a corporate travel portal or agency and want an upgrade it may be wise to ring American, even though your booking may very well not contain this glitch.
- Reservations that contain a lap infant won’t get an auto-request, and so the passenger will need to call to make the request.
- Flights to Guatemala City and St. Maarten are being displayed as ineligible for 500 mile upgrade requests, when of course they are eligible.
These are all minor issues, though of course it’s important for affected customers to be aware of them. I’d anticipate American will have fixes in place in the near-term for these.