American’s International Upgrades Getting More User Friendly?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about American closing an international upgrade loophole.

American AAdvantage gives out 8 confirmed upgrades per year valid on any American flight (both domestic and international) to their 100,000 mile ‘Executive Platinum’ members. They also give out these certificates at million-mile thresholds.

The rules of the certificates are that they have to be used to travel by the expiration date on the certificate.

But it wasn’t actually enforced that way. If you had any certificates that would be valid into the future, you could use your earlier expiring upgrades, because the system was set up to pull the closest-to-expire upgrade certificate first.

This meant that it was possible to use systemwide upgrade certificates for travel beyond their expiration date, stated rules notwithstanding.

A system update, though, meant that the rule about having to use (not just confirm) systemwide upgrades by their expiration date would now be enforced. That was the rule all along, so fair enough.

It appears that the system update though has also made the process of applying confirmed international upgrade certificates a smoother one as well.

Here’s a description of applying a certificate now

I applied a VIP [confirmed systemwide upgrade] today for use prior to expiration. The AAgent was able to instantly see my existing SWU balance and was also able to immediately apply the upgrade. No call to the “rate desk”, no putting me on hold. The upgrade appeared to occur in real time. Also, no-reticketing occurred; the itinerary appears as ticketed with the original ticketing date, and this seems to have happened very close to instantaneously. This differs from all of my experiences applying VIPs for international or domestic upgrades prior to 6/26/14. This was for a domestic transcon upgrade.

It would appear that American no longer needs to re-issue tickets in order to process upgrades.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I don’t actually know (not backpedaling here, haven’t booked a FD ticket in some time so I have nothing to try with), but if that is the case, it would have been better to leave it as Gary put it.

  2. New Boarding Area design seems twice as bad……….sorta like someone sitting in business class and tapping them on the shoulder and saying “sir I am sorry but your seat is back in coach…………painful….just painful…….need to get a graphic artist who has true chops and stop leaving these redesigns to bush league artists…………..

  3. AA’s IT systems are quite out-dated. What I would really like is the ability to

    (1) See and manage all of my reservations online, under “My Reservations”.

    (2) See and request partner awards availability online. I mean all partners, not just the selected few.

  4. There is always a fool who does not understand what problems his posts actually create

  5. Gene, truth is that unless you learn to be more discreet, you won’t be able to ug anything. People are upset with you and are using strong words like “a fool” because your comment is harmful to our community. If you don’t understand what, how, and why, please send me a PM at FT or MP.

  6. Does this mean a chance of upgrading tickets booked on other airlines’ stock? What about BA codeshares on AA metal?

  7. Mike, Sadly no. As far as I can tell, only the procedure for handling UGs has changed, not eligibility criteria. I always thought that AA’s habit of reissuing the ticket every time somebody sneezed was odd. 🙂 I hope they will streamline and rationalize not only UGs but awards as well.

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