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

Old Jan 2, 13, 5:01 am
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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 Apr 7, 22, 1:02 pm
  #616  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Programs: Marriott Ambassador, AA ExecPlat, Amtrak Select Exec, former WN apologist
Posts: 1,028
Originally Posted by friedablass View Post
Will they convert as well for people who currently don't have status?
I don't see why not
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Old Apr 7, 22, 2:05 pm
  #617  
Original Member
 
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Midwest
Programs: Marriott Platinum. United Silver. HHonors Diamond
Posts: 499
Wondering if is worthwhile to redeem amex flight incidental credit to still get the 500 miles certificates. If they aren't used by the conversion 250 LP per certificate seems pretty low but I don't have very many other redemption options to get the full $250 credit (or in the case of certs $240-close enough) Only other option I see would be internet and that is of limited value to me. (lounge access via citi card, most of flights currently booked connect in CLT so can't stockpile one day passes for others until construction is over) The elite account is only gold and I am not sure if they will make platinum this year.
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Old Apr 8, 22, 9:29 am
  #618  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,473
Originally Posted by kklems View Post
Wondering if is worthwhile to redeem amex flight incidental credit to still get the 500 miles certificates. If they aren't used by the conversion 250 LP per certificate seems pretty low but I don't have very many other redemption options to get the full $250 credit (or in the case of certs $240-close enough) Only other option I see would be internet and that is of limited value to me. (lounge access via citi card, most of flights currently booked connect in CLT so can't stockpile one day passes for others until construction is over) The elite account is only gold and I am not sure if they will make platinum this year.
It seems like a real waste to me considering how easy it would be to earn the same 1500 LP via eshopping or other means. Do you ever purchase MCE seats in advance? Or buy premium cocktails / food items while in the AC?

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...ly-2022-a.html

Im hoping AA will wise up and give a better exchange value for these considering how many Ive bought at $30-$40 each over the years. I can earn more LP from a $10 magazines.com purchase than I will from a $40 e500 and get a free magazine out of the deal too.
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Old Apr 8, 22, 2:09 pm
  #619  
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 1,520
contact AA. Saw where a person contacted AA and they were able to sort between paid and complimentary upgrades and made them a very fair offer to make things right between paying for stickers/500 milers and then being told they are worthless other than LPs

Originally Posted by _kurt View Post
It seems like a real waste to me considering how easy it would be to earn the same 1500 LP via eshopping or other means. Do you ever purchase MCE seats in advance? Or buy premium cocktails / food items while in the AC?

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...ly-2022-a.html

Im hoping AA will wise up and give a better exchange value for these considering how many Ive bought at $30-$40 each over the years. I can earn more LP from a $10 magazines.com purchase than I will from a $40 e500 and get a free magazine out of the deal too.
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Old Apr 25, 22, 3:11 pm
  #620  
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 2
offered this for my unused 500 mile coupons

I had 10 (recently purchased) out of 12 remaining upgrade coupons and I had called the AA service desk to ask about a refund. They responded a few days later by email. I was offered a refund of $400 to my credit card (the amount I paid for 10), a $400 travel voucher, 50,000 AA miles or 2500 Loyalty Points. The other 2 earned ones will just get the 250 Loyalty points in exchange.

What should I do? I am leaning towards just getting reimbursed or the 50K miles.

Last edited by KrisKT; Apr 25, 22 at 3:24 pm
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Old Apr 25, 22, 3:15 pm
  #621  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: California
Programs: American, Alaska, United, Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG
Posts: 1,561
Originally Posted by KrisKT View Post
I had 10 out of 12 remaining upgrade coupons and I had called the AA service desk to ask about a refund. They responded a few days later by email. I was offered a refund of $400 to my credit card, a $400 travel voucher, 50,000 AA miles or 2500 Loyalty Points.

What should I do? I am leaning towards just getting reimbursed or the 50K miles.
AA is offering refunds for stickers you purchased?

what about the free ones that you earn from flying?
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Old Apr 25, 22, 3:19 pm
  #622  
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 2
You don't earn them anymore with flying with their new system. I had just purchased some before they changed the rules. So that is why I called them asked for a refund.
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Old Apr 26, 22, 10:53 am
  #623  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Back in Reds Country (DAY/CVG). Previously: SEA & SAT.
Programs: Delta DM, AA PLT, UA Gold, Marriott Ambassador, Hilton Gold
Posts: 9,277
I called AAdvantage Customer Service earlier today to ask about having my 500 mile stickers converted to something other than Loyalty Points. Rep said he had to submit a request form to AA and that AA will (or is supposed to) get back to me within 2 days with alternate options. I only have 4 stickers which I bought nearly a decade ago and the CC I used isn't even active anymore so a "refund" probably isn't an option, but I'd be happy with an AA voucher for an equivalent amount or a chunk of miles since 1,000 LPs would be pretty meaningless to me.

I'll report back on what AA offers me once I get a response. Will be interesting to see if my offer is in-line (on a per sticker basis) with the offer KrisKT received.

Originally Posted by KrisKT View Post
I had 10 (recently purchased) out of 12 remaining upgrade coupons and I had called the AA service desk to ask about a refund. They responded a few days later by email. I was offered a refund of $400 to my credit card (the amount I paid for 10), a $400 travel voucher, 50,000 AA miles or 2500 Loyalty Points. The other 2 earned ones will just get the 250 Loyalty points in exchange.

What should I do? I am leaning towards just getting reimbursed or the 50K miles.
If you take The Points Guy's evaluation at face-value, TPG rates AA miles at 1.77 cents/mile as of April 2022 so the 50K miles would be worth ~$885 but of course any value of miles is relative to the specific case of how you use them.
https://thepointsguy.com/guide/monthly-valuations/
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Old May 17, 22, 3:51 pm
  #624  
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP / LT PLT / 3MM, Marriott LT Gold
Posts: 33,982
It's been a long time since I've had to deal with this. I'm traveling with a non-status companion on a separate PNR and have requested upgrades for both of us. I've been assured that this has been done for both of us and that our records are linked, but my companion's online PNR does not show that upgrades have been requested. I remember from days gone by when this was a hit or miss proposition. Is it still the same or should I be concerned?
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Old May 20, 22, 1:46 pm
  #625  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Programs: AA Gold
Posts: 124
500 mile "stickers"

Do you still get 500 mile upgrade stickers deposited in your account after each 12,500 miles? Do they have to be "flown" miles? TIA
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Old May 20, 22, 5:16 pm
  #626  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 435
Originally Posted by vasantn View Post
It's been a long time since I've had to deal with this. I'm traveling with a non-status companion on a separate PNR and have requested upgrades for both of us. I've been assured that this has been done for both of us and that our records are linked, but my companion's online PNR does not show that upgrades have been requested. I remember from days gone by when this was a hit or miss proposition. Is it still the same or should I be concerned?
The honest answer is that it is really difficult to see if this is setup correctly -- we have to rely on AA. But I will say this. I am scheduled to fly with a companion on a separate PNR, and my companion's PNR did not show that an upgrade was requested (as of yesterday). On our return flight next Tuesday, we both have been upgraded as of today. So just because "upgrade requested" is missing does not mean that the companion upgrade link was incorrectly established.
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Old May 20, 22, 6:11 pm
  #627  
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Originally Posted by dc10forlife View Post
The honest answer is that it is really difficult to see if this is setup correctly -- we have to rely on AA. But I will say this. I am scheduled to fly with a companion on a separate PNR, and my companion's PNR did not show that an upgrade was requested (as of yesterday). On our return flight next Tuesday, we both have been upgraded as of today. So just because "upgrade requested" is missing does not mean that the companion upgrade link was incorrectly established.
Thanks. That's what I remembered from years past, but it's good to have confirmation.
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Old May 20, 22, 6:12 pm
  #628  
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Originally Posted by luvthesun View Post
Do you still get 500 mile upgrade stickers deposited in your account after each 12,500 miles? Do they have to be "flown" miles? TIA
No. Stickers are being phased out. Upgrades are complimentary for all elites now, and will be complementary for companions soon.
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Old May 21, 22, 3:07 am
  #629  
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 223
I apologize if this is the wrong thread, but I have a random opinion question/thought about upgrades.

I haven't flown much in the last few years because of Covid, but AA has extended Gold status. I have some travel plans, but I might not have even requalified for gold this year under the old system. But with credit card spend and the conversion of a bunch of 500 mile stickers, I'll definitely make Platinum, probably PPRO this year.

Is it reasonable to guess that a lot of people are in the same boat and upgrades will be even rarer for anyone below EXP soon?
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Old May 21, 22, 8:30 am
  #630  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: RDU <|> MMX
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SK EBS
Posts: 9,820
Originally Posted by mauve View Post
Is it reasonable to guess that a lot of people are in the same boat and upgrades will be even rarer for anyone below EXP soon?
There will be be some with new status due to card spend and shopping and what not, but if these folks still aren't flying much then there won't be a meaningful impact on upgrades. Lots of speculation in the LP thread below.

IMO upgrades will be tougher but little to do with the new Loyalty Points scheme and everything to do with 1) travel picking up, 2) lots of folks just buying F, and 3) AA offering lots of buy-ups (FCM).

Random example but I have a return to Europe coming up and the connecting flight RDU-DFW on a 738 is already sold out up front at 2 weeks out, midday flight on a Wednesday...

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...tatus-208.html
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