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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
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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 Jul 8, 19, 12:13 pm
  #226  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 12,326
It's all going to depend upon the day of the week, time of day, route of travel. Saturday afternoons and evening are the best chances, particularly a wide body domestic flight.
newyorkgeorge is offline  
Old Jul 8, 19, 12:15 pm
  #227  
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: IAD, DCA
Programs: AA Platinum, Marriott Gold, HHonors Silver
Posts: 1,471
Originally Posted by GNRMatt View Post
It depends on the routes/times you fly. I get upgraded about 50% of the time using them as a platinum for myself and my girlfriend (she's gold).
Lucky you. I fly out of DCA/IAD mostly and my sticker upgrade percentage as a platinum has gone to -0- post merger. I occasionally get a "free" upgrade on the LGA shuttle. Better than nothing, but not by much. I've moved to buying first up front on personal travel if the additional cost isn't too much, but that doesn't help with business trips.
chazas is offline  
Old Jul 8, 19, 12:19 pm
  #228  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: The FT AA forum, until it no longer wants me.
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For one thing they don't expire, they don't cost you anything extra to accrue in the natural course of flying, and you can accrue them rather quickly as a high-flying GL or PL. Everything else has already been said.
enpremiere is offline  
Old Jul 8, 19, 1:10 pm
  #229  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: San Diego
Programs: Aadvantage
Posts: 525
PPRO here and I’m 0-4 when trying to “spend” stickers and 2-5 on sub 500 mile complimentary for all elites routes.

I spent around 5 years as a PLAT before making PPRO this year and soon learnt to request an upgrade no matter the flight length as the stickers were almost impossible to use.
Reetmafreen is offline  
Old Jul 9, 19, 1:41 am
  #230  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Nottingham, UK
Programs: HHonors - Diamond, AA - EXP
Posts: 143
I accumulated 79 500 mile upgrade stickers on my way to EXP and in the last 4 years have only managed to spend 2! I rarely travel with anybody so don't get a chance to spend them. Used to fly from the UK to ORD and then on to STL so earned lots but had very little chance to spend any, if an upgrade cleared it only ever took one and for the longest time I didn't even understand what they were for and was never ticking the request upgrade box :-)
robofski is offline  
Old Jul 9, 19, 9:09 pm
  #231  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: SNA
Programs: AA EXP, Hilton Gold, Hyatt Explorist, IHG Plat, Marriott Plat, UA Silver
Posts: 902
Gosh, I've bought 4 stickers in the last 3 months. My wife is Gold and requires more stickers than she accumulates.
ralphs is offline  
Old Jul 9, 19, 9:33 pm
  #232  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 204
Originally Posted by ralphs View Post
Gosh, I've bought 4 stickers in the last 3 months. My wife is Gold and requires more stickers than she accumulates.
I'm in the same boat. I've probably had to buy 15 or so 500 mile stickers over the last two years as platinum/gold for me and my family. Almost always get upgraded ex-CVG, ex-DAY, or ex-CMH. Even received two op-ups on award tickets ex-CVG when travelling with my family (who have no status).

What helps, I think, is that in SW Ohio just about everyone is still completely and 100% loyal to Delta, like CVG was still a hub or something. Its almost comical, but the few times I have been on Delta ex-CVG or ex-DAY, the upgrade list is 40 or 50 names long. Took a recent miserable flight from LAX-CVG a DL red eye on what might have been the oldest Delta 737 in the fleet. Spent the extra money to purchase comfort+ so it could have been worse -- but there were alot of disappointed DL elites stuck in economy. The upgrade list was easily 60 names long.
dc10forlife is offline  
Old Jul 15, 19, 10:51 am
  #233  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: CLT
Programs: AA EP, AA AC
Posts: 4,056
Hey DAArksiders!

Having an old issue with AA and going round and round and round with it and wanted some guidance., forgive long post I am EP and my wife or daughter often fly with me (just talking about a total of 2 folks in the PNR here). Each one of them is a PLT. When we fly, I want the 500-mile upgrades to come out of my account and not the account of my wife or daughter (whomever is flying with me). The 500-mile upgrades always pull from the other lower tier and not mine. I know that this is a flaw in the AA system that has existed forever and a day.

Now, in the old days prior to merger, there was one of two ways to fix this, either (A) have a Gate Agent/Ticketing Agent do it at the airport if the upgrade confirmed prior, or (B) have the EP desk prior to the upgrade being confirmed tinker with the reservation to assure that they pull from the elite with the higher tier account.

At CLT this weekend, I was told by the Ticketing Agent at the Priority Checkin Desk and by an AC AAngel that they could not help me without stripping the frequent flyer no. out for my wife and having her request credit for the flight later. They went on to tell me I needed to call the EP desk prior to upgrade confirmation and have the EP Agent tinker with the reservation as set forth in (B). EP desk while on the phone at the airport insisted that the Ticketing Desk could do it, the Ticketing Agent said no they could not talked to their help desk and was adamant and rude.

Ok, I have a reservation this weekend coming up with my daughter and called the EP desk to tinker with the reservation since we have not cleared yet as described in (B). The EP Agent said she could not do (B) and I would need to do (A) notwithstanding that CLT Ticketing Agent insisted it could not be done. So neither (A) nor (B) seems to work.

Stripping the frequent flyer no and asking for credit after the flight seems silly and stupid. Would love some guidance from y'all on how to proceed so I can get around this issue this weekend and in the future.

TIA and Safe Travels
GTITAN is offline  
Old Jul 15, 19, 11:34 am
  #234  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: RDU <|> MMX
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SK EBS
Posts: 6,048
Originally Posted by GTITAN View Post
Hey DAArksiders!

Having an old issue with AA and going round and round and round with it and wanted some guidance., forgive long post I am EP and my wife or daughter often fly with me (just talking about a total of 2 folks in the PNR here). Each one of them is a PLT. When we fly, I want the 500-mile upgrades to come out of my account and not the account of my wife or daughter (whomever is flying with me). The 500-mile upgrades always pull from the other lower tier and not mine. I know that this is a flaw in the AA system that has existed forever and a day.

Now, in the old days prior to merger, there was one of two ways to fix this, either (A) have a Gate Agent/Ticketing Agent do it at the airport if the upgrade confirmed prior, or (B) have the EP desk prior to the upgrade being confirmed tinker with the reservation to assure that they pull from the elite with the higher tier account.

At CLT this weekend, I was told by the Ticketing Agent at the Priority Checkin Desk and by an AC AAngel that they could not help me without stripping the frequent flyer no. out for my wife and having her request credit for the flight later. They went on to tell me I needed to call the EP desk prior to upgrade confirmation and have the EP Agent tinker with the reservation as set forth in (B). EP desk while on the phone at the airport insisted that the Ticketing Desk could do it, the Ticketing Agent said no they could not talked to their help desk and was adamant and rude.

Ok, I have a reservation this weekend coming up with my daughter and called the EP desk to tinker with the reservation since we have not cleared yet as described in (B). The EP Agent said she could not do (B) and I would need to do (A) notwithstanding that CLT Ticketing Agent insisted it could not be done. So neither (A) nor (B) seems to work.

Stripping the frequent flyer no and asking for credit after the flight seems silly and stupid. Would love some guidance from y'all on how to proceed so I can get around this issue this weekend and in the future.

TIA and Safe Travels
I'm EXP and my girlfriend is PLT and we run into these issues all the time. Like everything AA these days it comes down to getting a well trained agent (either over the phone or at the airport) that knows what they're doing and is willing to help to set up the upgrade requests how you want. It's ridiculous that both agents at CLT would not remove her number in the instance above.

My understanding is that the companion's AA # doesn't need to be removed completely, just at the time of the upgrade request, so that its set up that they will inherit your status and pull stickers from your account.

My girlfriend has plenty of stickers, however when the waitlist goes to airport control each pax is sorted based on their own status (even on same PNR), so I will be #1 and she will be #10. In order to fix it a (good) agent has to essentially remove her AA #, re-request the upgrade as if she was a no-status companion (she inherits my EXP status on the waitlist and stickers are pulled my account), then add back her AA #. This can be accomplished all at once, you don't need to leave their AA # until after the flight then request retro credit.

In all of the instances where we've been through this gyration she goes from #10 to #2 on the waitlist, and if we do clear the stickers are pulled from my account.

For future reference, when speaking with agents, rather than tell them you want the stickers pulled from your account, tell them you'd like to set up the request so that your companion will inherit your EXP status if it goes to airport control (pulling stickers from your account is an automatic byproduct of setting it up this way). You can also just leave out their AA # till the very last minute. Once your upgrades clear and you're checked in and have boarding passes, then ask an airport agent to add her number back.
GTITAN, enpremiere and laagima like this.
JJeffrey is online now  
Old Jul 29, 19, 4:22 pm
  #235  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,066
500 Mile Upgrade Cert question

My wife lost her elite status but has 10 500-Mile certs remaining in her account. I am a current Gold with zero certs. We are both flying with our kids on the same itin and I am wondering if there is a way to use the certs between both of our accounts. I suspect the answer is no. I tried to call AA but we are currently in Mexico and for some reason I cannot call 800 numbers. If anyone knows the non toll free number, I'd appreciate that as well.
michaelr is offline  
Old Jul 29, 19, 4:51 pm
  #236  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Roswell, GA
Programs: AA EXP 2.8m,Lifetime PLT, Hilton Diamond, IHG PlLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 1,862
No sorry she has to status to use them
fotographer is offline  
Old Jul 29, 19, 5:01 pm
  #237  
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Riberas del Pilar, Mexico
Posts: 364
To dial a US 800 number from Mexico dial 001 880 then the number. If calling from a land line it will not be toll free.
Gringa is offline  
Old Jul 29, 19, 6:37 pm
  #238  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: YYZ/MGA
Programs: AA 1MM Lifetime Gold, WS Gold, Marriott Silver
Posts: 7,297
Originally Posted by michaelr View Post
My wife lost her elite status but has 10 500-Mile certs remaining in her account. I am a current Gold with zero certs. We are both flying with our kids on the same itin and I am wondering if there is a way to use the certs between both of our accounts. I suspect the answer is no. I tried to call AA but we are currently in Mexico and for some reason I cannot call 800 numbers. If anyone knows the non toll free number, I'd appreciate that as well.
Install Skype and make free North American 800/866/877/888 calls to your heart's content. But they will say no.

I have 87 500 milers that I will never use and which they don't swap for points any more.
ricktoronto is offline  
Old Jul 31, 19, 7:41 am
  #239  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,066
Originally Posted by ricktoronto View Post
Install Skype and make free North American 800/866/877/888 calls to your heart's content. But they will say no.

I have 87 500 milers that I will never use and which they don't swap for points any more.
Thank you for confirming. I appreciate that.
michaelr is offline  
Old Jul 31, 19, 7:44 am
  #240  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,066
Originally Posted by Gringa View Post
To dial a US 800 number from Mexico dial 001 880 then the number. If calling from a land line it will not be toll free.
Thanks. I had found out in the meantime how to dial from Mexico to the US on a Samsung S8 with Sprint. I needed to dial +1 800. I had only tried 1 800 and when I test called other numbers, they had been stored in the address book with the + sign already.
michaelr is offline  

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