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FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: FAQ: What's a Systemwide Upgrade / SWU / eVIP / VIP? (Master thread)
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FAQ: What's a Systemwide Upgrade SWU (ex-VIP / VIPOW / "eVIP") 2016 on

Please read this wiki for important information not documented elsewhere.

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NOTE: CHANGES

NOTE: Upgrade waitlist priority changes from 1) Status, followed by 2) Date of request to 1) Status, followed by 2) Rolling EQD earning for last 365 days on 20 May 2017. Link to FT thread.
  • Executive Platinum members will automatically earn four SWU when they earn 100,000 EQM

  • Executive Platinum members will automatically earn two further SWU at 150,000 and 200,000 EQM
(No further SWUs are forthcoming at 250,000 EQM etc.)

Remember: EQM earning will vary from 0.5 to 3.0 EQM per base mile, based on eligible fare class and marketing airline, on EQM earning fares.
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NOTE: CHANGES Coming "Later" in Calendar Year 2017

"The way your upgrade request is prioritized will change "later in 2017". You’ll be listed according to your elite status level followed by the number of EQD (Elite Qualifying Dollars) earned in the (rolling) last 12 months."

Upgrades will be prioritized first by the new 2017 elite status levels:

Concierge Key SM . (up to 120 hours out)
Executive Platinum (up to 100 hours out)
Platinum Plus . . . . (up to 72 hours out)
Platinum . . . . . . . (up to 48 hours out)
Gold . . . . . . . . . . (up to 24 hours out)

After status tier, upgrades will be prioritized by your last 12 months' Elite Qualifying Dollar spend on AA. Date of request will have no bearing on upgrade priority when this new prioritization is put into place "later" in 2017. See FAQ: Earning EQD / Elite Qualifying Dollars on AA and partner airlines (2017 on)

(EQD will include the EQD offset one might earn from spend on their Barclaycard Aviator Red or Silver card, as announced elsewhere in this forum.)
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Systemwide Upgrade FAQ:

Q. What are Systemwide Upgrades, exactly?


Electronic Systemwide Upgrades, abbreviated SWU, also previously referred to as eVIPs or VIPs, are electronic instruments earned as stated above. SWU generally allow the owner to upgrade up to three segments, more or less in the same direction, on any flights AA flies with their own aircraft (not valid on partners or codeshares - must be marketed and operated by AA), on most paid, published fares to the next class of service. (Successful upgrades on a single SWU include EZE-MIA-JFK-LHR, NRT-LAX-DFW-LHR.)

Q. When do SWU clear?

Upgrades can clear immediately if the appropriate inventory is available (e.g., Coach to Business (and domestic First on two class aircraft soon) requires "C" class to be available, Business to First requires "A" class to be available). Otherwise, SWU may be waitlisted in priority of AAdvantage status, followed by date of request time stamp (and within those, by fare class if they are full fare Y). SWU and EXP UDU have the same priority once the flight and associated upgrade / PALL list has passed to airport control.

Q. Can I use SWU on codeshares operated by AA?

No. (Though 001 AA ticketing is not a requirement), the flight must be marketed and operated by AA.

Q. Are any fare classes ineligible / invalid for SWU upgrades?

Some government and consolidator fares may not be upgraded; see post #683 by JonNYC:

Quote:
Invalid (for SWU upgrade)
  • Military fares*
  • Government fares*
  • Agency/industry discounts
  • Employee travel booked in E
  • AAdvantage/promotion free or companion tickets
  • Ticket designators that require a certificate (CEN20, etc.) - contact MSD to verify
  • MSD Site products (ticket designator SITE)
  • CAT25/CAT25 Group Fares for MCLA
  • Charter flights
  • Infant tickets
  • Purchased extra seats (one passenger)
  • Opaque fares
  • Award tickets
*The reason for not allowing SWU / eVIP upgrades to be used in conjunction with a military/government fare is not based on the fare level (although they are discounted), but rather it is based on the full flexibility those fares provide. Military/government fares provide a huge benefit to the customer already in that they can be booked at the last minute and canceled or changed with no advance notice and no penalties. As such, they are not allowed to be used in conjunction with a SWU.
Q. Can I see SWU eligible flights on aa.com? If not, where?

aa.com will also reflect if a SWU can be used as you book - not that there is availability. One can see required inventory (A or C) using ExpertFlyer or other tools.

Q. What is the priority order for SWU wait list clearing?

Priority for wait listing is based first on AAdvantage status of requestor, then by date requested time stamp; within those criteria, full fare (J or Y) trumps discounted fares.

NOTE: though date of request carries over to the airport list, once the booking goes to airport control you may have to request your SWU request be reactivated. Those travel companions previously prioritized by the donor's status no longer revert to their own status at airport control.

(NOTE: "later in 2017" priority will be based on 1) status, 2) running EQD spend during prior 12 months.)

Q. How do I know if my SWU request has been waitlisted?

You can see it online only 2-3 days prior to your depature. It will say "Systemwide Upgrade Requested". Otherwise, there is no way to know unless you call AA again and ask. In AA app you can see upgrade waiting list from 4 hours prior to the departure. Thank you (link) MrJBoy for clarifying). Alternatively, as per zig2 you can "create a tripcase account (it is the official app by sabre, I believe), create a trip and link your PNR to the trip. Then up in the "documents" tab you will see "Arranger Itinerary". You will find entries like "Business Waitlisted". And it means you have successfully applied your evip. I believe if you can pull out your itin on virtuallythere you can do the same. However AA doesn't allow that but it seems tripcase doesn't do the extra check."

If my SWU clears on AA but the flights is cancelled or delayed, and I get put on another AA or partner flight, will my Upgrade be preserved / honored?

On AA and Joint Business Venture partners (AY, BA, IB, JL, QF), AA will attempt to honor the upgrade. On other airline partners it is unlikely.

Q. Can I gift SWUs to others, and will my or their status apply?

You may certainly gift SWU to others. They will have to provide you their information, including PNR, and you will have to call it in. Your status can carry over to one treeling companion (on your itinerary) until the SWU passes to airport control; otherwise, SWU priority will depend on the user's AAdvantage status followed by date of upgrade request.

Q. What if I apply a SWU to a traveling companion?

That traveling companion "borrows" your status in terms of priority on the upgrade waitlist.

Q. Can I sell or purchase SWUs to / from others (e.g. on eBay or CraigsList)?

While SWU may be gifted to others, AAdvantage rules prohibit selling / purchasing, trading or bartering various instruments, including SWU. A sold SWU will, if caught by AA Corporate Security AAdvantage Fraud (and they actively seek these out), cause SWU / upgrade cancellation at minimum and may even include closing the seller's account with forfeiture of miles, upgrade instruments and elite status.
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Further useful details about using SWU

. . . . Eight Four SWUs are earned by Executive Platinum AAdvantage members when they cross the threshold to EXP, and their expiration is essentially the same as the earned status - the last day of February of the ensuing status year (e.g. earn May 15 2017, the status and SWUs are good through 31 Jan 2019).

. . . . Two SWUs are earned by Executive Platinum AAdvantage members when they cross the 150,000 and 200,000 EQ EQ Miles; their expiration is essentially the same as the earned status as described above. (Further increments of 50,000 EQM past 200,000 earn no more SWU.)

. . . . Four SWUs are earned by those crossing Million Miler thresholds of 2MM and every Million Miles milestone thereafter.

. . . . ● SWUs may be transferred or gifted (not bargained, bartered or sold) to anyone the owner chooses - the owner must authorize the transfer and provide at minimum the designated person's name, frequent flyer #, and PNR. Note fees and taxes may be due, such as APD / Air Passenger Duty due for flights originating in the UK (or with connections exceeding 23:59).

. . . . ● AA tends to protect passengers granted upgrades with SWUs if IROPS move them to other oneworld flights, particularly JBV partners, preserving already granted upgrades (not waitlisted).

. . . . ● N.B. AA will no longer attach expiring (28 Feb 2015 or -16) SWUs to be attached to existing upgrade inventory March 1 and after unless one is a very high value customer; AA now has software in place to prevent this, but if you consider yourself a high value customer, you can ask. Speculatively, EXP through 28 Feb 2016 with Concierge Key and / or 4 or 5 Helix / "Eagles" rating and lots of D and above revenue. See FAQ: New changes 90%+ eliminate post-expiration SWU use (Jun 2014)

. . . . ● If you don't want to wait list your SWU so that it automatically encumbered when a domestic segment becomes available for upgrade, but only want the domestic segments to clear if the international segment clears, ask the AA EP agent to waitlist the international portion but "DSR" the domestic segments; that way, the domestic segments will only clear if the international segment clears.

. . . . ● SWU application can include co-terminals: JonNYC, post #601: "This is the current list of MAC airports, and, as far as I understand it, are generally recognized for revenue tickets including SWU application to same:
  • WAS (DCA, IAD)
  • DFW (DFW, DAL)
  • HOU (HOU, IAH)
  • NYC (JFK, LGA) (I think there is a separate rule that says EWR always part of NYC for this purpose as well)
  • LON (LGW, LHR, STN)
  • SLU (UVF, SLU)
  • TYO (HND, NRT)"
. . . . UK Air Passenger Duty / APD for LHR/UK departures: (Often incorrectly called "Luxury tax"): Departing from the UK (or on a layover of 24:00 or longer via the U.K.), you'll be charged the APD. This applies for upgrades to business only. Upgrading business to first doesn't incur this, (since your business ticket already included the APD). This does not apply TO the U.K. or to connecting in under 24:00 in the U.K.

. . . . ● Through (two flights with the same flight number, or through flights with stops) flights pose challenges insofar as upgrade availability must exist on all sectors. You may have to call AA to use a SWU on through flights.
Quote:
Suggested reading:

[B]aa.com: SYSTEMWIDE UPGRADES AND FAQS

FlyerTalk: Upgrades / SWUs / eVIPs and UK APD / Air Passenger Duty questions

New *internal* changes will 90%+ eliminate post-expiration use of SWUs by JonNYC

This post in the thread entitled "Reversing Use of SWU. Is this possible?" (it is not. AA no longer allows cancelling a SWU and substituting "stickers".)
Updated 10 Feb 2017 - JDiver

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MODERATOR NOTE

Posts prior to 2016 may be read here: ARCHIVE: SWU / VIP / eVIP Systemwide Upgrade questions

NOTE: This thread is for the discussion of the mechanics of AA systemwide upgrades. For "chance of upgrade clearing" questions, please use this thread: 2015 Chances of Upgrade Clearing and Upgrade Availability Discussion (consolidated)

Please note there is a separate thread discussing lost / missing/ misappropriated SWUs:

Missing / someone else used / unauthorized use my SWU / VIP / eVIP (merged)

American AAdvantage Forum Moderator Team
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Old Jan 1, 16, 9:26 am   #1
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In July I booked a flight Ex-EU-LHR-LAX-LAS on AA in Y in order to use my SWU.

The flight is in 2 days (AA109 on the 04/01) and shows:
F7 P7 A6 J0 R0 I0 D0 Y0 B0 H0 K0 M0 L0 V0 G0 S0 N0 Q0 O0

The time stamp on my SWU is Mid-July but it doesn't seem relevant at this point, still 3 seat available in J on the seat map and F wide open.

-Question:

Would it be possible to up fare to the cheapest Business fare and apply directly the SWU to be moved to F?

I don't have flexibility on my travel date and have to reach LAS by late evening.

no much luck when it comes to clear SWU from Y to J in 2015 for me...
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Old Jan 1, 16, 10:24 am   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvgman View Post
In July I booked a flight Ex-EU-LHR-LAX-LAS on AA in Y in order to use my SWU.

The flight is in 2 days (AA109 on the 04/01) and shows:
F7 P7 A6 J0 R0 I0 D0 Y0 B0 H0 K0 M0 L0 V0 G0 S0 N0 Q0 O0

The time stamp on my SWU is Mid-July but it doesn't seem relevant at this point, still 3 seat available in J on the seat map and F wide open.

-Question:

Would it be possible to up fare to the cheapest Business fare and apply directly the SWU to be moved to F?

I don't have flexibility on my travel date and have to reach LAS by late evening.

no much luck when it comes to clear SWU from Y to J in 2015 for me...
I -think- what you might be asking is does business class (cheap or otherwise) have to be for sale in order to do this-- since it's all zeros presently. And the answer is, yes, it does, so until/unless it is, no can do.
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Old Jan 1, 16, 11:12 am   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonNYC View Post
I -think- what you might be asking is does business class (cheap or otherwise) have to be for sale in order to do this-- since it's all zeros presently. And the answer is, yes, it does, so until/unless it is, no can do.
Thank you for clearing this up!

MCE it is then, I still have some hope in the sense that F cable is empty and Y is zeroed.
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Old Jan 1, 16, 11:20 am   #4
  
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I found a flight that is operated and marketed by AA (196 from JFK to MXP) that does not appear to be a special government fare, etc. However, the Systemwide Upgrade link does not appear under that flight's info as it does on other eligible routes on the same page. What gives?
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Old Jan 1, 16, 11:31 am   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PandaPal View Post
I found a flight that is operated and marketed by AA (196 from JFK to MXP) that does not appear to be a special government fare, etc. However, the Systemwide Upgrade link does not appear under that flight's info as it does on other eligible routes on the same page. What gives?
What gives is the somewhat irregular and kludgy functioning and design of aa.com. Just call.

I've got a similar situation, a 772 flight in a qualified fare class DFW-LHR, but aa.com appears to indicate applying a SWU is not available (though I'll apply BXP3 rather than a SWU). Sometimes ExpertFlier will show availability when it doesn't show on aa.com (see flyingeph12 below).

Last edited by JDiver; Jan 1, 16 at 11:51 am
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Old Jan 1, 16, 11:48 am   #6
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PandaPal View Post
I found a flight that is operated and marketed by AA (196 from JFK to MXP) that does not appear to be a special government fare, etc. However, the Systemwide Upgrade link does not appear under that flight's info as it does on other eligible routes on the same page. What gives?
The link only appears if there is availability to confirm an SWU anywhere in the itinerary (i.e., you can confirm the upgrade right away). If AA196 is being operated by a 763, there likely is no C space right now and thus no link will appear.

Other routings may have a link because they include a domestic connection, which tends to have better availability for confirming a SWU, or a flight with F, which also tends to have more availability for confirming an upgrade from a paid J fare.

You can still apply a SWU if there is no availability, but you will be waitlisted.
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Old Jan 1, 16, 4:24 pm   #7
  
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I had ticketed a coach fare SYD-LAX on 12/29 and immediately phoned to have an SWU applied. The following day was when the widespread Jan award/upgrade inventory appeared in AA's system.
AA.com shows availabilty coach to C on the flight, Expertflyer has shown C7 U7 since 12/30 and my online itinerary lists my coach flights with my MCE seat assignment but at the end of the itinerary has the SYD-LAX segment repeated in Business but no ability to select a Business seat.

What does this all mean? Have they just downed tools over the New Year and the upgrade will be processed automatically or do I need to do something to get things moving?

Thanks
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Old Jan 1, 16, 4:28 pm   #8
  
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I had ticketed a coach fare SYD-LAX on 12/29 departing 1/14 and immediately phoned to have an SWU applied. The following day was when the widespread Jan award/upgrade inventory appeared in AA's system.
AA.com shows availabilty coach to C on the flight, Expertflyer has shown C7 U7 since 12/30 and my online itinerary lists my coach flights with my MCE seat assignment but at the end of the itinerary has the SYD-LAX segment repeated in Business but no ability to select a Business seat.

What does this all mean? Have they just downed tools over the New Year and the upgrade will be processed automatically or do I need to do something to get things moving?

Thanks
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Old Jan 1, 16, 4:40 pm   #9
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3544quebec View Post
I had ticketed a coach fare SYD-LAX on 12/29 departing 1/14 and immediately phoned to have an SWU applied. The following day was when the widespread Jan award/upgrade inventory appeared in AA's system.
AA.com shows availabilty coach to C on the flight, Expertflyer has shown C7 U7 since 12/30 and my online itinerary lists my coach flights with my MCE seat assignment but at the end of the itinerary has the SYD-LAX segment repeated in Business but no ability to select a Business seat.

What does this all mean? Have they just downed tools over the New Year and the upgrade will be processed automatically or do I need to do something to get things moving?

Thanks
Sounds like your SWU cleared but the ticket just needs to be reissued. You can call in and expedite the process.
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Old Jan 3, 16, 9:30 am   #10
  
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Switching to AS, SWU question

Hi all, quick question, I'm thinking about switching to AS to bank my miles due to the deval. How will this impact my flights with SWUs? I've read some bloggers mentioning keep it in until my upgrade clears, but that's a good strategy for the outbound, but once I clear the outbound and change my FF number, doesn't that impact the return flight as well? Or will I need to switch back and restart the wait list process again? Thanks
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Old Jan 4, 16, 9:02 pm   #11
  
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I'm sure this is an obvious one that I should know, but...

Does your spot on the SWU waitlist depend on

A. When the SWU was applied
or
B. When you originally booked the ticket?

I booked a LHR-LAX trip about 6 months ago and just applied to SWU (since I just hit EXP). Hoping the upgrade priority is based on when I bought the ticket rather than when I applied the SWU for waitlist.
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Old Jan 4, 16, 9:59 pm   #12
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikekelley View Post
I'm sure this is an obvious one that I should know, but...

Does your spot on the SWU waitlist depend on

A. When the SWU was applied
or
B. When you originally booked the ticket?

I booked a LHR-LAX trip about 6 months ago and just applied to SWU (since I just hit EXP). Hoping the upgrade priority is based on when I bought the ticket rather than when I applied the SWU for waitlist.
A. I don't believe B matters at all. Sorry.
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Old Jan 5, 16, 6:16 am   #13
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikekelley View Post
I'm sure this is an obvious one that I should know, but...

Does your spot on the SWU waitlist depend on

A. When the SWU was applied
or
B. When you originally booked the ticket?

I booked a LHR-LAX trip about 6 months ago and just applied to SWU (since I just hit EXP). Hoping the upgrade priority is based on when I bought the ticket rather than when I applied the SWU for waitlist.
As stated in the Wiki above:
Quote:
Q. When do SWU clear?

Upgrades can clear immediately if the appropriate inventory is available (e.g., Coach to Business requires "C" class to be available, Business to First requires "A" class to be available). Otherwise, SWU may be waitlisted in priority of status, followed by date of request.
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Old Jan 5, 16, 11:06 am   #14
  
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(Unsure if this belongs in a mileage run thread, mods please move as needed).

I'm looking to burn SWUs on a cheap long-haul from NYC to anywhere, 2/12-14 or 13-15. What I've tried and my questions:
1) Google Flights explore destinations map. But a ro....... is that I want to filter it to AA-operated flights (since SWUs require that), and the tool only lets me filter to AA-marketed flights. It's time-consuming to sift through them. Am I missing something with this, i.e. is there actually an AA-operated filter or something?
2) ITA searches from NYC where I use "O:AA+" and comma-delimited list of cities. But I'm having trouble finding an up-to-date list of SWU-eligible airports. I found http://flyerguide.com/SWU_Internatio...stinations_(AA), but it hasn't been updated since Sept '11 so I'm guessing it has gaps. Is there a more updated list of SWU destinations, or would someone like to fill in its gaps?
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Old Jan 5, 16, 1:22 pm   #15
  
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New to this, so apologies in advance. I'm EXP, fiance has AA account, but no status. Looking at the 321T JFK-LAX, outbound #255 on 3/23, return #256 on 3/27. I had existing J reservation, booked fiance in Y under separate record locator, using my SWU's. EXP desk unable to confirm SWU at booking.

- Does the new booking go to "end" (after all other complimentary/500 mile requests) of SWU request list since fiance has no status, even though I booked and paid for it as EXP?
- There is no notification of "upgrade requested" under record locator. Normal?
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