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FAQ: Miles + Copay Upgrade / Upgrades (master thread)

Old Jul 28, 15, 1:06 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: united 1k flyer
Mileage and copayment upgrades on American Airlines

As of May 20, 2017 upgrade prioritization is:
  1. Elite status
    1. Concierge Key
      • Executive Platinum
        • Platinum Pro
          • Platinum
            • Gold
    • Upgrade type
      1. Miles and copay award upgrades and systemwide upgrades (SWU)
        • 500 mile upgrades on purchased tickets (including EXP complimentary UDU)
          • 500 mile upgrades on upgrade eligible awards (including EXP complimentary UDU)
      • Elite qualifying dollars* in the past 12 months
        • Booking class (in order, J, D, I, W, P, Y, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O, T)
          • Time of request


Enjoy a higher cabin of service Link.

Use your AAdvantage miles to upgrade on flights marketed and operated by American Airlines or American Eagle for yourself or anyone you designate.

Upgrades are valid to the next cabin of service* and are valid for a single one-way trip with a maximum of three segments. Upgrades are subject to capacity controls. Excluding award tickets, the following eligible fare types can be upgraded:
  • Discount Economy with published fares booked in H,K,M,L,W,V,G,Q,N,O,S and
    • Military or Government fares booked in Y
      • Full-Fare Economy with published fares booked in Y
        • Discount Premium Economy with published fares booked in P
          • Full-Fare Premium Economy with published fares booked in W
            • Discount Business with published fares booked in I
              • Full-Fare Business with published fares booked in J, D or R
                • Basic Economy fares booked in B are not upgradable

*E.g. Economy to Business, Business to three class First. At this time Premium Economy is treated as Economy for upgrade purposes.

See the chart here for cost in miles and dollars.

NOTE: The most expensive fare classes, full fare Economy Y, full fare Premium Economy W, and full fare Business J, may be upgraded without copay and at a lower cost in miles. See here.

Taxes and carrier-imposed fees:

Co-payment is non-refundable and inclusive of U.S. excise tax where applicable.

Mileage upgrade award tickets are subject to applicable taxes and security fees and may incur additional taxes as a result of upgrading to a higher class cabin (includes higher U.K. Air Passenger Duty If Flight originates in the UK or is a connecting flight with a connection time of 24:00 or more)..)
  • Upgrading from Economy Class to Business Class or First Class may result in additional premium cabin taxes and carrier-imposed fees, including but not limited to flights originating in Great Britain and France.
    • If the ticket is priced in USD, the additional taxes and carrier-imposed fees will be converted to USD at the time of ticketing.
      • Please contact American Airlines Reservations to obtain applicable taxes and carrier-imposed fees for specific itineraries.


NOTE:

Miles and copay upgrades are to the next available cabin of service, are based on inventory being available, usable on AA marketed and operated flights (not codeshares operated by other airlines, not on other airlines' prime flights - BA and IB allow miles upgrades with AA miles but are very different and therefore not treated here).

See AA Participating Airline Upgrade Award - BA, IB, including codeshares (master thd), and note one class of service means Y to PE, PE to J, J to F where available on BA.

If the required inventory exists, they can be booked positively (i.e. upgraded immediately); if not, the request is wait listed. Wait list clearance is by status (EXP highest, no status lowest), and within status priority is by rolling 12 month EQD spend. Elites can have one traveling companion on the same PNR "borrow" their status for upgrade wait list purposes, until the request goes to the airport list, where you may want to assure your travel companion continues to hold your borrowed status for upgrade purposes.

Copays are waived for CK on all flights.
Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ:

Q. It says the upgrade fees are nonrefundable. Do I lose my miles and money if I'm not upgraded?

If your upgrade request does not go through, miles and copay are in fact refunded.

Q. If I am waitlisted, in what priority order are upgrades processed?

Upgrades are processed first by AAdvantage status tier, secondarily by type of upgrade, thirdly by the previous rolling 12 month EQD spend.

Q. Which has higher priority if all other preceding factors are the same? An upgraded with miles + copay, or an upgraded with SWU?

They have equal priority. A few reports state copay + upgrade have been given priority at some overseas stations.

Q. How soon will I know if my upgrade came through?

It can happen anytime inventory opens, from the time you book until the time you board. (Your request, including date and time of request, should carry over automatically to the airport list.)

Q. How soon will I know if my upgrade came through?

It can happen anytime inventory opens, from the time you book until the time you board. (Your request, including date and time of request, should carry over automatically to the airport list.)

Q. What happens to my booked seat whilst I'm waitlisted? If my upgrade doesn't come through, do I lose my reserved seat?

You normally retain your booked seat until (if) your upgrade comes through.

Q. How many flights can I upgrade with a single miles plus copay upgrade?

You may (assuming available inventory) upgrade up to three segments on the same ticketed itinerary (e.g. LHR-ORD-MIA-EZE, as long as they are on the same PNR).

Q. Can I look at AAnytime or MileSAAver award space to determine upgrade availability?

No. MileSAAver availability may be a good indication upgrade space may become available, but SAAver and upgrade inventories are separate.

Q. What fare inventory do I need to upgrade?

You need available "C" inventory to upgrade to two class domestic First and three class Business, "A" to three class First. These are not shown on aa.com, but some services (e.g. ExpertFlyer) do show them.
The only way to reliably search for upgrade space on Expertflyer or other services is segment by segment. The reason for this is that by rule if C is available on the stand alone segment then the upgrade is allowed.

Q. I'm Executive Platinum. If I purchase an upgrade for someone without status, will they "borrow" my status for upgrade purposes?

They will if they are flying as your single traveling companion on the same flights. Otherwise, their status will determine their position on the upgrade wait list. This "borrowed" status was previously lost once the flight has gone to airport control; it doesnt now, but it pays to check and see if it has been mismanaged by software - it can be restored when it has passed to airport control.

Q. Which miles earning and fare conditions will apply to my upgraded flights?

You will earn miles (award miles -- RDM -- and EQM) and EQ Dollars credit as determined by your originally purchased fare, and the applicable fare rules will also be determined by your originally purchased fare.

Older posts can be read in ARCHIVE: FAQ: Miles + Copay Upgrade / Upgrades (consolidated)





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FAQ: Miles + Copay Upgrade / Upgrades (master thread)

Old Oct 11, 17, 6:02 pm
  #391  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Programs: AA PLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,352
Originally Posted by MarkOK View Post
I requested an upgrade from main cabin (discount economy) to Business class on a JFK-CDG ticket today for me and the wife (june 5th travel date). Online, it shows only 3 J seats out of 28 were 'taken' and the main cabin also is pretty empty, this is way in advance, but I got waitlisted.

I'm new at this (first time I've tried to use miles for anything), and debated whether the copay and mileage is really worth it anyways considering this is just a 7 hour flight but still requires the 350$/25000 miles which could be good on a multi-leg longer itinerary, but I thought what the heck, it might be nice to get a little treatment and sleep on a redeye (I can't sleep a blink in coach sitting upright which makes that first day vacationing in Europe worthless) and it isn't like there is ever much 'good' way to use miles anyways. The copay + discount coach ticket is about 1/3 of the cost of buying discount business class upfront, and the mileage 'worth' is about 2.2 cents apiece.

But, I'm kind of miffed that there isn't current 'availability'. If this flight which is pretty empty and way out in the future, can't be directly mileage upgraded, can any flight?

I have no status, fair enough, but how can there really be 'no inventory'? I really feel like AA just put me on a wait list with no one in it, and chances are either the flight will book-up and my place in line will just keep getting pushed back for 'elite-status' customers and I will be stuck in a crowded coach despite trying 8 months in advance getting an upgrade, or the plane will leave half empty where being in coach wouldn't be that bad and then and only then will they take my $$ and points.
Just depends on what your priorities are. Yes this can be a frustrating hobby but also incredibly rewarding. A little luck helps too. We've waitlisted and not gotten upgrades many times, but have also cleared DFW-HKG a week out. You win some you lose some. Might be too late now (you've already bought your ticket), but there *might* be C space available on other flights to europe - I imagine you're starting in OKC or SWO, so in that case DFW-CDG or ORD-CDG would be worth looking into as well. If you want to deal with a connection then maybe via LHR. It's rare but with some searching (get an EF sub if you think it'll be worth your while), you can get your money's worth.

Or as others have suggested - if J is just $900 more than Y, just upfare your ticket.

Boomer!!!
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Old Oct 11, 17, 6:03 pm
  #392  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Stilllwater OK (SWO)
Programs: AAdvantage ExecPlat, World of Hyatt Globalist, plain "member" of Marriott, IHG, enterprise, etc.
Posts: 1,577
Originally Posted by scnzzz View Post
...and this is among other things why FlyerTalk exists
Yes, that is too true. FT exists pretty much because this is where people can sort out the obscurities of the travel world.

Originally Posted by scnzzz View Post
This is not that unusual. 25 empties now with 8 months to go before the flight does not constitute an empty cabin on the day of travel. Business travelers, who generally constitute the bulk of those sitting up front - tend not to book more than a month or at most two out; more often a week or two in advance. It's not like the flight goes out tomorrow with 25 empty seats. If you're unwilling to accept that premise, then we cannot help you here.
I agree that 25 empties now doesn't mean anything about what happens leading up to take-off and many seats will be sold in the last few weeks. But, I earned the points, I bought a coach seat, I am willing to pay more and give back my points for an upgrade, I am willing to settle this now and the website says that this is possible sans 'capacity control'. It feels like it is falsely advertised benefit of the entire program to say that we can use miles for upgrades and then hold 25 seats open for cash customers and higher-priority ranked customers as long as their algorithm is guessing that it will earn them more money that way. Is this a benefit to being an Aadvantage member and moving business to AA? Apparently not really.

And it kind of irks me that if their algorithm adjusts and they decide to open seats, that they will decide to give that opportunity to upgrade based on elite status. (I respect the free bags, the free upgrades, etc, that elites earn - I don't deserve any of that - , but I feel that I should still have an equal right to spend miles for upgrades as anyone else, -- the disparity is already factored in when it comes to miles because casual non-elite travelers only earn at half the rate as an elite per EQD spent. But once earned, they should be equal to burn).

Anywho, I will just keep the coach ticket and see if I win the lottery. Though this is summer, it is quite early in the travel season and before many schools are even out (which is why I book early June -- hotels are cheaper and flights are cheaper than they are in mid to late june). The 350$ copay and 25K mile for a 7 hour leg was already at the limit of what I feel was worth the upgrade (it isn't like a 20 hour transpac itinerary here). I'll just squat and snooze at the Hyatt regency club or lounge until I can check-in if I don't get the upgrade. I am just sad to see that this isn't really a benefit any more than finding sAAver fares on doable itineraries (which, I think AA is honest enough with regards to that availability).
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Old Oct 11, 17, 6:17 pm
  #393  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Stilllwater OK (SWO)
Programs: AAdvantage ExecPlat, World of Hyatt Globalist, plain "member" of Marriott, IHG, enterprise, etc.
Posts: 1,577
Originally Posted by no1cub17 View Post
Just depends on what your priorities are. Yes this can be a frustrating hobby but also incredibly rewarding. A little luck helps too. We've waitlisted and not gotten upgrades many times, but have also cleared DFW-HKG a week out. You win some you lose some. Might be too late now (you've already bought your ticket), but there *might* be C space available on other flights to europe - I imagine you're starting in OKC or SWO, so in that case DFW-CDG or ORD-CDG would be worth looking into as well. If you want to deal with a connection then maybe via LHR. It's rare but with some searching (get an EF sub if you think it'll be worth your while), you can get your money's worth.

Or as others have suggested - if J is just $900 more than Y, just upfare your ticket.

Boomer!!!
You can't say boomer! I work for the 'other' school in OK.

And actually, we are flying SWO-DFW-LGA in basic economy coach three days prior and spending some time in NY, then going JFK-CDG for a week (and after paris, again, three days in NY). This set up shaved 600$ from a direct SWO-DFW-CDG itenerary per ticket and visiting NY sounded like a worthwhile 'stopover' for a $1200 savings. The JFK-CDG tickets I got were cheap (630, including tax and fees round trip), which led to this itinerary to begin with. I wasn't too concerned with business class vs coach in setting up my itinerary, but a month's gone by since booking, and my thought was heck, I should get business class on the red-eye, and I have tons of points from the citi exec card sign up and the mileage upgrade seems like a fair (though not necessarily great) way to get some value out of points. But lo-and-behold, you see my childish rant today. I should have read more in FT before and managed my expectations of what I thought was a benefit. I am not new to travel, but I am new to frequent-travel programs.
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Old Oct 14, 17, 11:05 am
  #394  
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 25,899
Wiki updated to show increased disclosure from AA.com about premium economy to business upgrades: Discounted PE (P class) treated like discounted coach -- e.g., higher mileage requirement and co-pay; full fare PE (W class) treated like full coach -- e.g., lower mileage requirement and no co-pay.
JDiver likes this.
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Old Oct 14, 17, 11:27 am
  #395  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, TAP, Mexico, Technical Support and Feedback, and The Suggestion Box
 
Join Date: May 2000
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
Wiki updated to show increased disclosure from AA.com about premium economy to business upgrades: Discounted PE (P class) treated like discounted coach -- e.g., higher mileage requirement and co-pay; full fare PE (W class) treated like full coach -- e.g., lower mileage requirement and no co-pay.
Well done. Thank you! ^
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Old Oct 15, 17, 1:58 pm
  #396  
Moderator: American AAdvantage, TAP, Mexico, Technical Support and Feedback, and The Suggestion Box
 
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Posts: 62,953
Posts related to opportunities/ chances of getting upgraded have been moved here: 2017 Chances of Upgrade Clearing and Availability (consolidated)

/Moderator
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Old Oct 17, 17, 11:00 am
  #397  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: FLL/MIA
Programs: AA EXP; AC 75K; Avis PC; Hertz PC; Marriott LT Gold; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 1,014
I am traveling with my cousin on a short flight PBI-CLT. The planes are dreadful 319s so I don't expect upgrades to clear. My cousin doesn't care about the upgrade and I'm not wasting stickers on his ticket. So to maximize my slim chances, I just want to have an upgrade requested for me as I am Plat Pro so I have UDU.

Do we have to be on separate PNRs or can we stay on the same PNR until the upgrade clears? I don't want him to lose the baggage allowance he gets with my Plat Pro.

Thanks!
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Old Oct 17, 17, 11:16 am
  #398  
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Join Date: Apr 2016
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Originally Posted by HofstraJet View Post
I am traveling with my cousin on a short flight PBI-CLT. The planes are dreadful 319s so I don't expect upgrades to clear. My cousin doesn't care about the upgrade and I'm not wasting stickers on his ticket. So to maximize my slim chances, I just want to have an upgrade requested for me as I am Plat Pro so I have UDU.

Do we have to be on separate PNRs or can we stay on the same PNR until the upgrade clears? I don't want him to lose the baggage allowance he gets with my Plat Pro.

Thanks!
When selecting the upgrade, just select your name for the upgrade. This can be done after booking. If you select upgrade during the booking, it will put an upgrade request for everyone.

Last edited by vh_bu98; Oct 17, 17 at 12:06 pm
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Old Oct 17, 17, 11:21 am
  #399  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Originally Posted by vh_bu98 View Post
When selecting the upgrade, just select your name for the upgrade. This can be done while booking or after booking.
Thanks - it already shows requested for us both and I can't seem to change it. Should I just call?
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Old Oct 17, 17, 12:05 pm
  #400  
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Originally Posted by HofstraJet View Post
Thanks - it already shows requested for us both and I can't seem to change it. Should I just call?
I would call and have them remove your cousin's upgrade request.
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Old Oct 17, 17, 12:58 pm
  #401  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NYC
Programs: AA EXP
Posts: 1,319
If I am waitlisted for a Miles+Copay upgrade, and it goes down to the gate, how does the processing work if it clears? Will I have to be present to give them my credit card, and is the gate agent going to go through the extra work or just move on to someone else?

I know that when you request, you give them a credit card, but whenever C space has become available, I've called in and had to provide the card again, even though they have it on file.

So, just curious how Miles + Copay upgrades clear at the gate.
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Old Oct 17, 17, 5:54 pm
  #402  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Programs: TK Elite+, DL Plat, Bonvoy Gold, IHG Spire, IC Ambassador, Hilton Gold
Posts: 170
How do Mileage+Copay upgrades work if you've also requested 500-mile upgrades? Can you request both, or does it have to be one or the other? I've been told that mileage upgrades take priority. I have a few 500 mile certificates I'd like to use before my Platinum expires, but don't want to be lower priority. Thoughts/strategies?
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Old Oct 17, 17, 6:36 pm
  #403  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NYC
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Originally Posted by dtphonehome View Post
How do Mileage+Copay upgrades work if you've also requested 500-mile upgrades? Can you request both, or does it have to be one or the other? I've been told that mileage upgrades take priority. I have a few 500 mile certificates I'd like to use before my Platinum expires, but don't want to be lower priority. Thoughts/strategies?
It's gotta be one or the other. Can't request both.
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Old Oct 17, 17, 7:54 pm
  #404  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Programs: TK Elite+, DL Plat, Bonvoy Gold, IHG Spire, IC Ambassador, Hilton Gold
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Originally Posted by DMPHL View Post
It's gotta be one or the other. Can't request both.
Yeah, spoke to an agent and she said that mileage+copay requests are honored as soon as space opens up, whereas 500-mile upgrades will only clear 3 days before flight (depending on status). Since I'm really really hoping for a long shot transcon upgrade to J, I'll do the mileage+copay and maximize my chances.
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Old Oct 17, 17, 8:21 pm
  #405  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Malibu, CA
Programs: AA CK / Marriott Worthless Ambassador
Posts: 1,139
Jump Upgrade list?

Im CK and curious about a previous comment posted a few back. Somebody said if you have an expert flyer subscription, and you get a notification, you can call American Airlines and jump the upgrade. Does that mean you can act faster than American Airlines and jump people ahead of you on the list? That doesnt sound right. Maybe Im mistaking this.
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