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

Old Jan 2, 13, 5:01 am
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: JMN57
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, youll 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 youre #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. This has not been true for some time, if your companion has status, the system will try to pull the stickers from the companion's account. If there are not enough stickers, you will have to check-in at the airport to have stickers pulled from your account (noted 11/2019).
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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AA "Sticker" / 500-mile & EXP "UDU" Complimentary Upgrade Policy / FAQ

Old Mar 11, 22, 11:34 am
  #601  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: RDU <|> MMX
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SK EBS
Posts: 9,891
Originally Posted by Giovanniwants View Post
I got 20 500 mile upgrade coupons from AA a year ago. They just randomly gave them to me because a booking agent changed my flight from a connection to a nonstop and changed my fare class to full fare F (it was an award ticket). AA's system must have thought I purchased a full fare F class ticket from LAX to JFK.

Do I need to gain elite status before I can use these? Also, what now that AA doesn't use the Upgrade Certificates anymore? Thanks.
Yes, you need to be elite in order to use the 500-mi upgrade stickers. Once AA does away with these stickers later this year they are converting them to Loyalty Points at the rate of 250 LP per sticker.
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Old Mar 11, 22, 8:21 pm
  #602  
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Join Date: Jan 2001
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Originally Posted by Giovanniwants View Post
I got 20 500 mile upgrade coupons from AA a year ago. They just randomly gave them to me because a booking agent changed my flight from a connection to a nonstop and changed my fare class to full fare F (it was an award ticket). AA's system must have thought I purchased a full fare F class ticket from LAX to JFK.

Do I need to gain elite status before I can use these? Also, what now that AA doesn't use the Upgrade Certificates anymore? Thanks.
They will be converted to 5K Loyalty Points.
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Old Mar 11, 22, 11:28 pm
  #603  
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
Yes, you need to be elite in order to use the 500-mi upgrade stickers. Once AA does away with these stickers later this year they are converting them to Loyalty Points at the rate of 250 LP per sticker.
But, they are no longer being used for elite upgrades
If you look at current bookings or future bookings, you will see the upgrades are now auto requested and there is no info on any certificates being needed.

Last edited by mvoight; Mar 11, 22 at 11:39 pm
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Old Mar 31, 22, 4:19 pm
  #604  
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 192
I booked an Alaska flight and it was canceled today. They put me on an AA flight tomorrow morning and I was told that since it was ticketed through partner then I am not eligible for 500 mile upgrade. Is that true? Once I populated my AAdvantage number onto the new record, it connected to my account on app and it shows the upgrade is requested. Anyone have experience?

Last edited by jamabam; Mar 31, 22 at 4:20 pm Reason: clarity
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Old Mar 31, 22, 4:26 pm
  #605  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: RDU <|> MMX
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SK EBS
Posts: 9,891
Originally Posted by jamabam View Post
I booked an Alaska flight and it was canceled today. They put me on an AA flight tomorrow morning and I was told that since it was ticketed through partner then I am not eligible for 500 mile upgrade. Is that true? Once I populated my AAdvantage number onto the new record, it connected to my account on app and it shows the upgrade is requested. Anyone have experience?
No, whoever you talked to had no clue, you should have no problem getting on the upgrade list assuming your AA# is in the new reservation. Done similar things many times when getting rebooked. What you're seeing in the app is accurate.
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Old Mar 31, 22, 4:31 pm
  #606  
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 192
Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
No, whoever you talked to had no clue, you should have no problem getting on the upgrade list assuming your AA# is in the new reservation. Done similar things many times when getting rebooked. What you're seeing in the app is accurate.
Awesome thanks.I'm wondering if the rep misunderstood and thought I was asking whether my upgrade on the Alaska flight carries through. Which is a shame that it doesn't, because it was a nice surprise to have gotten that AS upgrade in the first place!
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Old Mar 31, 22, 4:44 pm
  #607  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Originally Posted by jamabam View Post
I booked an Alaska flight and it was canceled today. They put me on an AA flight tomorrow morning and I was told that since it was ticketed through partner then I am not eligible for 500 mile upgrade. Is that true? Once I populated my AAdvantage number onto the new record, it connected to my account on app and it shows the upgrade is requested. Anyone have experience?
I thought they did away with 500 mile upgrades. Now all elites are eligible for all upgrades?
RedElmo is offline  
Old Mar 31, 22, 11:02 pm
  #608  
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Originally Posted by RedElmo View Post
I thought they did away with 500 mile upgrades. Now all elites are eligible for all upgrades?
500 mile upgrades still sort of exist for companions. But yes, for all intents and purposes, for the member, length of flight no longer matters.
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Old Apr 6, 22, 1:36 pm
  #609  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
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OK, so I booked a Main Cabin fare today for SFO-DFW-SBN on 09/14/22. I have 6 (500 mile awards in my wallet). Non Elite status so those will not be applies to my trip?

thanks,

Paul
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Old Apr 6, 22, 1:42 pm
  #610  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Originally Posted by Paul510 View Post
OK, so I booked a Main Cabin fare today for SFO-DFW-SBN on 09/14/22. I have 6 (500 mile awards in my wallet). Non Elite status so those will not be applies to my trip?

thanks,

Paul
No. If you gain elite status before 9/14 you will be eligible for complimentary upgrades, and if you do not, youll need to count on the chance of a paid upgrade being offered.
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Old Apr 6, 22, 2:15 pm
  #611  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Anyone know when AA will convert the 500 mile upgrades to loyalty points?
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Old Apr 6, 22, 5:26 pm
  #612  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Originally Posted by CLTRob View Post
Anyone know when AA will convert the 500 mile upgrades to loyalty points?
"Later in 2022" is the language used on the AA website. I don't believe we have any more clarity beyond that.
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Old Apr 6, 22, 6:04 pm
  #613  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by njvandy View Post
"Later in 2022" is the language used on the AA website. I don't believe we have any more clarity beyond that.
Will they convert as well for people who currently don't have status?
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Old Apr 7, 22, 11:48 am
  #614  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
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what's the fare class that needs to be available for complimentary upgrades? R? can you search it on EF?
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Old Apr 7, 22, 12:12 pm
  #615  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
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Originally Posted by yerffej201 View Post
what's the fare class that needs to be available for complimentary upgrades? R? can you search it on EF?
Yes, domestic comp upgrades clear into R. But you cannot search this at EF. EF will show R fares but these are the revenue fare buckets and not valid for upgrades.
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