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Can You Keep Upgrades from American Airlines When Changing Flights?

Can You Keep Upgrades from American Airlines When Changing Flights?
Joe Cortez

Flyers are noticing a change for the better at American Airlines: retaining upgrades when they are moved from a flight. Keen-eyed travelers have discovered the Fort Worth-based carrier began publishing “R” fares, which hold a flyer’s upgrade to first class even if they are bumped from their flight.

If one of your recent itineraries was aboard American Airlines and you experienced the bi-fecta of both an upgrade and changed flight, you may have noticed a pleasant change to company policy. Instead of losing the upgrade, it may have transferred over to the next flight.

That might not be by mistake, but by design. Noted by View From the Wing, American appears to be carrying over more upgrades for their passengers due to a fare publishing change.

For years, flyers who earned upgrades through loyalty status on American would be booked on a flight’s “R” fare bucket. However, the amount of space was never publicized, meaning passengers never knew if one flight would potentially have more space than another.

But in a recent change, American began publishing its available “R” space on flights. Not only does this allow flyers to see what upgrade space may be available, but it also opens up options for gate agents forced to rebook flyers due to cancellations or other situations.

Because the “R” space is now visible, many flyers report that they are keeping their first-class upgrade, even if they are rebooked on new flights. That is: if a flyer gains an upgrade on the “R” fare bucket, but are forced into a same-day change, they can retain their upgrade on the next flight if the “R” space is available.

The positive change is great for elites who may get regular upgrades when they fly, but is entirely dependent on the space becoming available. On the FlyerTalk forums, travelers report some mixed reviews on not only getting an upgrade cleared, but getting availability for a flight altogether.


[Featured Image: American Airlines]

View Comments (3)


  1. jcm12

    July 26, 2019 at 11:08 am

    “Because the “R” space is now visible”

    OK. I’ll ask the dumb question: how do we see the R fare information?

  2. meunger11

    July 30, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    jcm12, I just did a search on expert flyer for DFW-LHR on 8/4/19 and see 7 available “R” available on AA 50 for example.

  3. kkua

    August 3, 2019 at 10:13 am

    jcm12, any GDS (global distribution system) will be able to show it. Major GDS subscription service products include Sabre, Amadeus and WorldSpan. Travel agents will have access to this data. Normal folk like us will have to subscribe to such services.

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