Getting upgraded on American Airlines will soon be a possibility for all elites traveling on award tickets.
The Fort Worth-based carrier announced on Tuesday that all elites will be eligible for complimentary upgrades on tickets purchased with AAdvantage miles beginning on June 9.
This is limited to domestic and short-haul international markets, including on flights within the U.S. and those to and from Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America.
Eligibility includes all elites and up to one traveling companion. To be eligible, award tickets must be issued by AAdvantage for travel on American flights only.
As part of the move, American will no longer prioritize paid tickets above award tickets on the upgrade list. In the future, the pecking order for upgrades will be:
The airline is also making changes to the back-end processing of upgrades. When traveling with a companion, sometimes your priority on the upgrade list got mixed up during the check-in process. That technical limitation has been fixed, and all companions will now appear next to their highest-status elite traveler without the need to “reconnect” the reservation at the airport.
While these changes are seemingly good news, it’s worth keeping in mind that complimentary upgrades are getting harder as more travelers splurge for the fancier seats.
Plus, airlines, and in particular American, have gotten better at selling last-minute first-class seats for a discounted price — further reducing the pool of available upgrades.
Historically, American has limited upgrades on award tickets to top-tier Executive Platinum and invite-only ConciergeKey status members. With this change, the pool of eligible elites will be broadened, so expect more names on the upgrade list going forward.
For American, this is just the latest change to be introduced to AAdvantage awards. The airline scrapped its traditional award charts earlier this year, replacing them with new “starting at” prices for travel on American-operated flights.
As AAdvantage transitions even more to a dynamic pricing model, it’s interesting to see how American is blurring the lines between a paid and award ticket.
While you’ll now be eligible for an upgrade on an award ticket, American isn’t joining the likes of Delta and United in awarding status-earning points for award redemptions.
But now that elite upgrades are available on all awards, hopefully, earning status on mileage tickets will come in the next round of updates.
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