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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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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 Sep 19, 18, 2:56 pm
  #91  
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Programs: AA Platinum, Marriott Platinum, SPG Platinum
Posts: 971
Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
I've been told several times that for 2 people with status traveling together, in order for the lower status companion to 'piggyback' off the higher status companion for upgrade waitlist purposes, the stickers must come from the higher status person's account.
That doesn't surprise me, but what if our statuses are the same? Can we decide when we get to the gate? Otherwise I need to remove the upgrade and resubmit from my wife's account.
jmail1 is offline  
Old Sep 19, 18, 9:22 pm
  #92  
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Salt Lake City
Programs: AS MVP, DL DM, UA 1K, AA EXP, Hilton DM, Hyatt Glob, Marriott Titnmn, IHG IC, Hertz PC, National EE
Posts: 1,465
Originally Posted by jmail1 View Post
That doesn't surprise me, but what if our statuses are the same? Can we decide when we get to the gate? Otherwise I need to remove the upgrade and resubmit from my wife's account.
I was able to do this at the check-in counter (not gate) on my last trip. My no-status companion had stickers and I (EXP) did not. We cleared in advance and they were able to take the stickers from my companion's account.
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Old Sep 20, 18, 8:00 am
  #93  
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Programs: AA LTG (EXP), Hilton Silver (Dia), Marriott LTP (PP), SPG LTG (P) > MPG LTPP
Posts: 11,314
Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
I've been told several times that for 2 people with status traveling together, in order for the lower status companion to 'piggyback' off the higher status companion for upgrade waitlist purposes, the stickers must come from the higher status person's account.
Yes, that is what you will hear from GAs that don't wish to do the work to change the rez or they haven't been trained on how to do it. Unfortunately they are usually the sole gatekeeper and you have no other choice, not that the other GA will do any different. It's totally a YMMV situation and what pressure the GA is under to get the flight out on time.
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Old Sep 23, 18, 8:34 pm
  #94  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Left Coast
Programs: UA 1K & MM, HH Gold, Marriott/SPG Gold (UA comp)
Posts: 1,210
I got 17 stickers with that Plat "trial offer" last May, which just expired Sept 7. I never flew enough to get/keep status (I am at 22K YTD)
In August, I applied 5 stickers to a transcon flight. The itinerary shows them as "requested," but since I am no longer Plat, will they just fall off or otherwise be ignored?
weezl is offline  
Old Oct 1, 18, 7:31 am
  #95  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ, USA
Programs: AA Lowly Gold, HHonors Diamond
Posts: 449
When do they pull the stickers?

Flying phx-sea later today. Put in for the upgrade for 3 stickers. I noticed 3 stickers go away form my account yesterday, but reservation is still showing seat in Y. Should I get my hopes up, or do they just pull the stickers and then put them back if you don't get the upgrade?
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Old Oct 1, 18, 9:13 am
  #96  
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: PHX
Programs: DL PM (and falling fast!), AA EXP, IHG Spire, IC Amb
Posts: 3,859
My gf and I have yet to have any domestic stickers apply properly due to me having status and she having none.

If I were to buy some 500-Miles Stickers to use for her, should I buy them with MY AA account or hers so that they could be processed easier?

I am EXP, she has no status.

We are booked to Maui next and we always have to go to the gate to get her upgrade priority fixed.

One of the gate agents told me that the best way around this issue is to NOT put her AAdvantage number in the reservation and she would automatically inherit my EXP status on the UG list.

Last edited by 355F1; Oct 1, 18 at 9:20 am
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Old Oct 1, 18, 2:19 pm
  #97  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: American Airlines ExecPlat, Asiana Diamond, AirEuropa Gold
Posts: 63
Have a bit of an odd situation which might be sticker related.

I’m ExecPlat, booked a RT flight from LAX to Phoenix a month ago, all good.

Got upgraded a few days out on my outgoing flight. Upon attempting to check in for my return flight at the 24 hour mark on the app, it wouldn’t let me and said there was a problem with adding me to the upgrade list as a reason.

I check in at the Phoenix airport at the self kiosk; I have 10A (exit row). Get asked if i’m ok for exit row seat. But when printed, I have no seat assignment and I get a voucher.

Lookinng at the flight, only 4F is open in first and i’m #3 on the upgrade list, so i figure my chances are not good, but then I get to the gate and get even more confused.

The GA was pretty confused at the situation to begin with and couldn’t understand what was happening. Attempting to reprint the boarding pass was giving me no seat assignment, even though he can see I was in 10A and my app shows 10A.

He releases me, then re-adds me and prints the boarding pass and it comes out automatically as 4C, a seat already assigned according to the seatmap.

He then changes it to 10A just fine, but considering the system automatically put me in first made me wonder: did I automatically get upgraded to first days ago, but the seat/itin was not automatically changed to first? That would explain why it wouldn’t add me to the upgrade list at check in, as I was automatically ugpraded. This plus automatically getting 4C leads me to believe that...but the GA was adamant that I was #3 on the list and it would be impossible. Does the upgrade list get made only at the 4 hour mark, so if I was top on the non-airport list, it wouldn’t have bearing after the 4 hour mark list?

Anyone have any ideas what went on?
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Old Oct 1, 18, 2:53 pm
  #98  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ, USA
Programs: AA Lowly Gold, HHonors Diamond
Posts: 449
Originally Posted by FlyinMike View Post
Flying phx-sea later today. Put in for the upgrade for 3 stickers. I noticed 3 stickers go away form my account yesterday, but reservation is still showing seat in Y. Should I get my hopes up, or do they just pull the stickers and then put them back if you don't get the upgrade?
Well, number 8 on the list, but they took 3 stickers anyway. Guess I'll call, or ask at the airport why.
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Old Oct 10, 18, 6:10 am
  #99  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 685
500 mile upgrade award question

I have 10 of these, but I'm not an elite member, are they useless to me or is there a way to use them?
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Old Oct 10, 18, 6:25 am
  #100  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: USA
Programs: AA Plat, DL WFBF, National Emerald Club, Global Entry, CSR, IHG Gold
Posts: 1,403
They are useless to you but they don't expire. Discussed comprehensively here: <link removed after thread merge> (search term "500 mile upgrade")

Last edited by JY1024; Oct 12, 18 at 12:04 pm Reason: Circular link removed after thread merge
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Old Oct 10, 18, 6:25 am
  #101  
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Join Date: Sep 2006
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Originally Posted by bernyx View Post
I have 10 of these, but I'm not an elite member, are they useless to me or is there a way to use them?
They can't be used unless you reach at least GLD status. However, they never expire.
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Old Oct 16, 18, 7:44 am
  #102  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Programs: American Airlines Platinum, National Executive
Posts: 3,792
500-mile E-upgrades vanished from account?

I'm confused:

I had 4 500 mile E-upgrades. Now, when I go to "Wallet" in the AA app or on the AA website, it shows 1.

If I click on Activity, it shows that in the last 365 days, I earned, say, 12 500-upgrades and used 11, and thus have 1 left. But I never had zero 500-mile upgrades 365 days ago; I had I think 3 then, so the issue seems to be that AA erased the number of 500-mile upgrades that I had a year ago and is starting with 0 a year ago when it should be starting with 3.

The last time that I redeemed an upgrade was in July 2018, and I know that I had 4 well after July.

Would a request to AA on Twitter get this fixed, or is it a systemwide issue affecting everyone?

Thanks.
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Old Oct 16, 18, 8:16 am
  #103  
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ, USA
Programs: AA Lowly Gold, HHonors Diamond
Posts: 449
Same here. Account has been showing 0 for weeks now. I've called and they tell me the correct number, so it's just a display problem in the app and website.

They have told me that they will get it fixed twice now.
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Old Oct 16, 18, 8:27 am
  #104  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: PHL
Programs: AA EXP, HH Diamond, Owner of 2,000 TWA shares
Posts: 804
Doesn't effect everyone but it is a common occurrence. It usually fixes itself. I've had them float in and out of my account but they've always been restored.
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Old Oct 19, 18, 10:06 pm
  #105  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: AZ
Programs: AA Million Miler, Bonvoy Lifetime Gold, Global Entry
Posts: 149
I am confused about automatic upgrades for elites. My wife and I are booked from PHX-CLT-RIC. Shortly after booking this flight I got an email from American with the message "We’re unable to automatically request 500-mile upgrades because you’re traveling with someone not eligible for complimentary upgrades."
Can someone explain this message to me? I am lifetime GOLD as a million miler but my wife has no elite status. Does the complimentary upgrade for flights under 500 miles (CLT-RIC) not apply when an elite is travelling with a non elite? Even so would I not get an automatic upgrade as a Gold member?
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