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AA "Sticker" / 500-mile & EXP "UDU" Complimentary Upgrade Policy / FAQ

AA "Sticker" / 500-mile & EXP "UDU" Complimentary Upgrade Policy / FAQ

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Old Sep 15, 19, 3:44 am   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: JDiver
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Glossary:

500 mile upgrades: earned by Gold and Platinum Elites, can be used to upgrade segments in 500 mile increments of North and Central America, Caribbean flights from Economy to the next class of service.. Read below.

e500: Occasional nickname used for 500 mile upgrades.

Electronic or 500 mile upgrades: non-expiring electronic instruments used for near Americas and Caribbean elite upgrades; please read below.

MTEU: Miles Toward Electronic Upgrades. The MTEU earning year zeroes February 28.

Stickers: Holdover name from when 500 mile upgrades were actual stickers applied to tickets when upgraded.

UDU: Unlimited Domestic Upgrades granted EXP and PRO members in lieu of earning or using 500 mile upgrades. (Consequently, they do not earn “stickers”.)

Related thread: End of Feb insufficient miles for 4 500 mile upgrade stickers (2017). (Requesting "stickers" for incremental MTEU threshold accomplishment.)

NOTE: CHANGES in effect as of 1 January 2017:

Upgrade priority:

  • Elite tier
  • Systemwide and Mileage award upgrades
  • Business Extra and certain Agency upgrade certificates
  • 500-mile / courtesy DODU / UDU upgrades on purchased tickets
  • 500-mile upgrades on PRO, EXP award tickets
  • Last 12 month rolling EAD spend
  • Fare code
  • Date if purchase
Platinum Pro status holders join Executive Platinum members with complimentary "Unlimited Domestic Upgrades / UDU.
  • Usable to upgrade from Economy to next class of service (Not Business to First)
  • Flights 500 miles or less: Unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades*
  • Flights over 500 miles: Complimentary "domestic" (North & Central America, Caribbean) upgrades
  • Upgrade one companion traveling with you on the same flight with 500-mile upgrades*

Companions: ONE passenger traveling with you can “borrow” your status for upgrade purposes. They do not have to be on the same PNR. When this is done, you’ll not be upgraded unless sufficient upgrade seats become available to upgrade two (or more) people. This link often is broken when the flight control goes to the airport, and it can be reestablished there (e.g. at the gate). A good clue that the link has broken is if you’re #1 or 2 and your companion is significantly below that on the upgrade list, such as #11. Finally, because of IT flaws, the 500 mile upgrades for your traveling companion will by necessity come from your account, even if your companion has their own “stickers”.
NOTE: CHANGES in effect March 1, 2016:

500-mile upgrades

Beginning March 1, 2016:
  • Gold and Platinum members will earn four 500-mile upgrades for every 12,500 EQMs earned during the membership year
  • The price of 500-mile upgrades increased to $40, online, at the airport and from an American Airlines agent, 1 Mar 2016
  • The price for purchasing 500-mile upgrades with miles increased to 40,000 miles for 8 upgrades
  • 500 mile upgrades do not expire (unless the account expires)



N.B. In 2018, the status year / MTEU counter resets February 28.


NOTE: some protocols changed for 2015
  • "Upgrades on American are valid on American marketed and operated flights, within and between the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America (based on availability). "
  • "Upgrades are valid from the Main Cabin to the next class of service."
  • "Your travel companion can be booked in the same reservation or in a different reservation when traveling on American Airlines marketed and operated flights. If your companion is booked in a different reservation, call American Airlines reservations to link (sic) the two reservations."
  • Executive Platinum members get unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades (with the same terms as above) including on award flights.
  • On AA marketed and operated flights: Platinum and Gold members get unlimited, auto-requested complimentary upgrades for flights 500 miles or less and can use 500-mile upgrades to pay for upgrades on all other flights. All under 500 miles upgrades are gratis for AA elites; requests are automatic.
  • Fares booked in full Y (and B, if it still exists and isn't diverted to other use) are confirmed within each status level first, followed by all other fares.
  • Upgrades for flights over 500 miles require one 500 mile "sticker" for each 500 mile increment, including the first sector.
  • The up to 51 mile "grace" has been eliminated; a 501 mile sector will require 2 "stickers".
  • On a related note, courtesy Y and B upgrades no longer are granted, other than to Executive Platinum members.
  • Executive Platinums do not earn, or need, 500 mile upgrades, but they can use them for one traveling companion.
  • 500 mile upgrades earned or purchased do not expire as long as an account is current
  • 500 mile upgrades can be used by those without status only to upgrade Y (and B, where such exist and are Main Cabin - Economy fares) full economy fares
  • Non elite status members may only upgrade when they are traveling as the companion to an elite status member. (per: http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/te...p#terms500mile on 2/19/16)
  • Flights booked prior to status changes probably will not reflect the status change until an update is requested; this may impact upgrade list position.


See "500 mile upgrades" on aa.com.

See Complimentary Upgrades, "Stickers" & Elite Status - 28 Mar 2015 Changes for further information.

For questions about whether to split or consolidate PNRs for itineraries involving multiple parties, please see this thread:
Companion upgrade issues including "link" / split PNR for status etc. (master thread)

Link to aa.com 500 mile upgrades (AKA "stickers") page.

Link to aa.com to "Upgrade your experience".

Once one achieves Gold (or Platinum) AAdvantage status one begins the "MTEU" path (Miles Toward Electronic Upgrades) - for each 10,000 base miles flown on AA and partners where one earns EQ Miles; the status holder will earn 4 500 mile electronic upgrades. March 1 annually the MTEU counter resets to zero, and the process begins again; as of 1 March 2016, the requirements change to 4 (four) "stickers" earned per 12,500 EQM.

AA Elites can "spend" 500 mile "stickers" (a legacy term from when they were actually stickers affixed by gate agents to the flight coupon as it was taken) on any class of Economy to upgrade to the next class of service if there is upgrade inventory available (not Business to First) within North America, Caribbean, Central America and Bahamas.

Statusholders can use "stickers" to upgrade a traveling companion (this includes Executive Platinums, as there is no complimentary upgrade for an EP's companion).

If one is flying a sector under 500 miles, elites can request upgrades to the next class of service without incurring a need for "stickers". For sectors over 500 miles, one needs one "sticker" for each 500 mile sector including the first 500 mile sector.

Again: Under 500 mile sectors may be upgraded (upon request and availability) without "stickers"; this is a recent change. Also note there is no "Grace" for a 501 mile sector any longer.)

Priority for upgrades depends primarily on status, secondarily on time of request; requests are now passed onto the airport listing ~four hours prior to departure. Time of check-in time does not affect these priorities, and has not for several years. Through traveler status will not affect requests as of March, 2015.

You must request upgrades when booking (you can request later, though you lose the original booking time as time of request).

Though members from non-"sticker" countries were often allowed converting "stickers", this post indicates this is not an option as of June 2014.

"Stickers" do not expire (as long as your account remains in good standing.

Losing AAdvantage status means "stickers" can no longer be used until status is regained.

Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members do not earn "stickers" as they get courtesy upgrades; the stickers can be used for travel companions, and they remain in one's account until used or the account becomes inactive.

Expert Flyer (EF) will show you availability in class "A", which is used for SWUs and Miles+co-pay upgrades; you cannot see availability in EF for "sticker" upgrades.

Older posts from 2017 have been archived; they may be read at: ARCHIVE: 2017 “Sticker" / 500-mile E-Upgrades & EXP "UDU" Upgrades (2015)

Older posts from 2016 have been archived; they may be read at: ARCHIVE: 2016 “Sticker" / 500-mile E-Upgrades & EXP "UDU" Upgrades (2015)

Older posts from 2015 have been archived; they may be read at: ARCHIVE: "Sticker" / 500-mile E-Upgrades & EXP "UDU" Upgrades (2015)

Older posts between 2009-2014 have been archived; they may be read at: ARCHIVE: Sticker / 500-mile Electronic Upgrades Protocols / Questions (2009-2014)
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Old Jan 24, 19, 4:56 am
  #136  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: PHL
Programs: AA EXP, HH Diamond, Owner of 2,000 TWA shares
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Domestic only. AA metal only.
Uncle Nonny is offline  
Old Jan 24, 19, 5:01 am
  #137  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, Travel Safety/Security & Texas
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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No, those cannot be used to upgrade on another carrier. They can only be used on AA to upgrade domestic flights (so you couldn't use them to upgrade if you flew AA LAX-LHR either).

If it is a W fare, then you can use your AA miles to upgrade. But a true W fare would cost more than a discounted business class fare.

BA often will let you upgrade, in advance, using Avios, if you have any. And if there are still seats available on departure date, they will often have upgrades available for a fee. I'd suspect SFO-LHR would be $800-1000. There is a thread in the BA forum with offers. Here is the 2018 version:
Airport Upgrades (AUP) promotion 2018 thread
aztimm is offline  
Old Jan 24, 19, 5:35 am
  #138  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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BA also do "Pro-active Online Upgrades" or POUG - when you check your booking on the BA website, sometimes offers for upgrades will appear. More information here:

Pro-active Online Upgrade (POUG) tracking and discussion | 2019 thread
dcmike is offline  
Old Jan 24, 19, 9:49 am
  #139  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Moreover, 500 mile upgrades can only be used to upgrade from economy to the next cabin of service. So operating carrier, route, and cabin are a triple whammy, unfortunately.
ashill is offline  
Old Jan 25, 19, 4:33 pm
  #140  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Programs: AA LT Plat - 2MM;HH Diamond
Posts: 225
I have searched through this thread (but maybe my search skills are lacking). Does the MTEU reset Jan 31 now with the membership year, or Feb 28th? The Wiki still says Feb 28, but I thought this was the year that the membership year changed.

EDIT - Looks like it is Jan 31 now. I am not a heavy poster here, but should the wiki be updated? https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...rs-2018-a.html

Last edited by danorum; Jan 25, 19 at 4:35 pm Reason: I think I found the answer
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Old Jan 26, 19, 9:52 pm
  #141  
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What’s the key to getting companion upgrades to work properly when on separate PNRs?

I am EXP and my wife is Gold. I requested an upgrade for both of us, asking her to be listed as my companion since my priority is higher than hers, and I wanted to use my stickers. The flight was super empty at the window - an E75 with not a single seat occupied up front, and we were the only people in 5 rows of MCE. We didn’t get upgraded at 100 hours out. A couple seats filled at the EXP and PP upgrade windows, but we stayed where we were. I’m no stranger to “subject to availability”, but it was pretty clear lower tier elites were clearing rather than seats being purchased.

The upgrade request box wasn’t checked on her PNR. Which I suppose could be normal if I requested the upgrade for her as my companion, but I used that opportunity to ask two agents to check and make sure the requests were in properly and hadn’t gotten stuck. They both said it looked good. After a couple more seats filled at the Plat window, I asked them to remove the upgrade requests. Then I requested an upgrade only for me - cleared right away. Then I immediately requested a companion upgrade for her - also cleared right away.

I’m lucky the flight was so empty and the front cabin slow to fill, so it worked out in the end, but is there a trick to getting these to work properly? Separate PNRs always seem to cause issues, and if I had trusted what the agents were telling me, we would have continued to sit in the back despite availability clearly being there,

javabytes is offline  
Old Feb 1, 19, 4:29 pm
  #142  
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Chicago
Programs: AA Plat, HH Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 98
Has anyone had any luck getting pro-rated stickers today after the counter reset?

I was about halfway to 4 more and just called in asking if they would do so, but was shot down.
jvel is offline  
Old Feb 4, 19, 11:07 am
  #143  
uxb
 
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Originally Posted by jvel View Post
Has anyone had any luck getting pro-rated stickers today after the counter reset?

I was about halfway to 4 more and just called in asking if they would do so, but was shot down.
I just made the call and I was sitting at 1266 shy of getting 4. They gave me two. Better than zero, but not like I've been able to redeem any of these anyway. AACS rep said that as long as you're over half, then they can give you something.
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Old Feb 4, 19, 1:17 pm
  #144  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Originally Posted by uxb View Post
I just made the call and I was sitting at 1266 shy of getting 4. They gave me two. Better than zero, but not like I've been able to redeem any of these anyway. AACS rep said that as long as you're over half, then they can give you something.
iirc, AA moved to “over halfway, get 2” approach a couple of years ago.
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Old Feb 4, 19, 1:29 pm
  #145  
uxb
 
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Originally Posted by bosman View Post


iirc, AA moved to “over halfway, get 2” approach a couple of years ago.
I am sure it did. OP was asking about recent experiences doing this.
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Old Feb 4, 19, 5:47 pm
  #146  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Is there a mechanism to upgrade from J to F with EXP UDUs if I purchased an "instant upgrade" (-UP) fare for a domestic transcon with flagship 3-class service? When looking at my reservation, there is no place to request an upgrade on AA.com or on the AA app.
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Old Feb 4, 19, 6:39 pm
  #147  
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
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Originally Posted by ralphs View Post
Is there a mechanism to upgrade from J to F with EXP UDUs if I purchased an "instant upgrade" (-UP) fare for a domestic transcon with flagship 3-class service? When looking at my reservation, there is no place to request an upgrade on AA.com or on the AA app.
No sticker/UDU upgrades are permitted to Flagship First. Certificates (BXP1 or SWU) will work, though. UA allowed it when it flew 3-class aircraft, but AA never has.
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NYC Flyer is offline  
Old Feb 5, 19, 3:12 pm
  #148  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Posts: 755
The "no 50 mile grace period" really irks me. Traveling MIA-PHL with my MIL. Requested upgrades and she needs 3 stickers - 1,013 miles. Ugh!!!!

Upgrades cleared (right at 100 hours for a flight with J3, interestingly), but it really sucks to burn a sticker for 13 miles. Too bad the direct FLL-PHL have bad times for us.

/rantover

Last edited by HofstraJet; Feb 5, 19 at 4:12 pm
HofstraJet is offline  
Old Feb 5, 19, 4:38 pm
  #149  
 
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are EXP upgrades no longer clearing at 100hrs? I am 60-65 hours away from a flight with a half empty F cabin and C=4 but my UG hasn't processed. Connecting to another wide open F cabin and that hasn't processed either.
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Old Feb 5, 19, 5:09 pm
  #150  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post
are EXP upgrades no longer clearing at 100hrs? I am 60-65 hours away from a flight with a half empty F cabin and C=4 but my UG hasn't processed. Connecting to another wide open F cabin and that hasn't processed either.
I had two hub-hub upgrades clear right at 100 hours each this week for MIA-PHL and the return. Granted, one was mid-day Wednesday and the other late night Saturday, but the system is working as it should AFAIK.

You may want to call for the C4 flight and see if they can remove and re-add you to see if that gets it processed.
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