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

Old Jul 28, 15, 1:06 pm
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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 Dec 6, 17, 10:34 am
  #421  
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Originally Posted by lkar View Post
Hoo boy, what a call I had this morning. Just a bit of friendly advice. Based on a call today I would strongly advise against suggesting you know that upgrade space is available and instead just asking.

We are flying PEK-LAX-PHX in Y. I upgraded with miles and a co-pay but only the international flight was available and so I waitlisted LAX-PHX. Today, expertflyer sent me an alert that it opened.

So, I call. After going through the preliminaries: "I think maybe upgrade space is available now on the domestic leg and I was wondering whether it can be added." After which ensured something like the following:

"Just because you can see seats in first doesn't mean that upgrade space is available."
"Oh, right, but I actually think C is available on these."
"Where do you see that on seat guru or something?"
"There are services that check." (What I probably should have said is that explats can check for friends online for SWU availability; not sure if that would have been better to say.)
Long pause.
"No, nothing available."
"Really? Ok, thanks for checking."

Hang up and call again. This time:
"Hi there, I think I'm waitlisted on a segment where I used miles and a co-pay for an upgrade and I was wondering if you might be able to check whether anything has come open?"
"The Los Angeles to Phoenix leg?"
"Yes."
"Yup, let me set it up for you."

This doesn't really capture the hostility of the first call. In retrospect I think I came off like a know-it-all and she perceived it as me telling her how to do her job. So, anyway, just a PSA.
Yeah, I found this out too, it all depends on how you word the question.
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Old Dec 6, 17, 12:39 pm
  #422  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by lkar View Post
Hoo boy, what a call I had this morning. Just a bit of friendly advice. Based on a call today I would strongly advise against suggesting you know that upgrade space is available and instead just asking.

We are flying PEK-LAX-PHX in Y. I upgraded with miles and a co-pay but only the international flight was available and so I waitlisted LAX-PHX. Today, expertflyer sent me an alert that it opened.

So, I call. After going through the preliminaries: "I think maybe upgrade space is available now on the domestic leg and I was wondering whether it can be added." After which ensured something like the following:

"Just because you can see seats in first doesn't mean that upgrade space is available."
"Oh, right, but I actually think C is available on these."
"Where do you see that on seat guru or something?"
"There are services that check." (What I probably should have said is that explats can check for friends online for SWU availability; not sure if that would have been better to say.)
Long pause.
"No, nothing available."
"Really? Ok, thanks for checking."

Hang up and call again. This time:
"Hi there, I think I'm waitlisted on a segment where I used miles and a co-pay for an upgrade and I was wondering if you might be able to check whether anything has come open?"
"The Los Angeles to Phoenix leg?"
"Yes."
"Yup, let me set it up for you."

This doesn't really capture the hostility of the first call. In retrospect I think I came off like a know-it-all and she perceived it as me telling her how to do her job. So, anyway, just a PSA.
I've encountered this and have found that using the Twitter team is a good way to avoid encounters with CSR reps who can't be bothered to do their job.

In fact when I just upgraded my NRT - LAX - DFW - RDU, I did the whole thing via DMs to the Twitter team. They held the C space on NRT - LAX and DFW - RDU and then I just called in with my credit card. A couple of days later when I got the LAX - DFW EF alert, I just sent them another DM and they processed the upgrade (no need to call since no additional add/collect) which was great since I was out at dinner Tokyo at the time and I didn't want the space to evaporate before I could call.

This actually goes for all 3 majors but I find that the Twitter team is more effective 99% of the time and I almost always just DM them when I have an issue with a specific reservation and I only call if they are unable to help or like the Miles + Copay, I need to call in to actually have the CC processed.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 1:17 am
  #423  
 
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Originally Posted by Duke787 View Post
I've encountered this and have found that using the Twitter team is a good way to avoid encounters with CSR reps who can't be bothered to do their job.

In fact when I just upgraded my NRT - LAX - DFW - RDU, I did the whole thing via DMs to the Twitter team. They held the C space on NRT - LAX and DFW - RDU and then I just called in with my credit card. A couple of days later when I got the LAX - DFW EF alert, I just sent them another DM and they processed the upgrade (no need to call since no additional add/collect) which was great since I was out at dinner Tokyo at the time and I didn't want the space to evaporate before I could call.

This actually goes for all 3 majors but I find that the Twitter team is more effective 99% of the time and I almost always just DM them when I have an issue with a specific reservation and I only call if they are unable to help or like the Miles + Copay, I need to call in to actually have the CC processed.
Wow, it would never have occurred to me to try and pursue these kinds of requests via Twitter. You just open a DM and immediately give them your PNR and your request?
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Old Dec 7, 17, 5:39 am
  #424  
 
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Originally Posted by FlightNurse View Post
Yeah, I found this out too, it all depends on how you word the question.
SO, to get an upgrade, you need all three of these events:
  1. Upgrade space must be available
  2. You must call AA
  3. The AAgent must be in a mood to process the transaction.
Looking on the bright side: if AA ever wants to find processes to improve, they can find this one.

Ethical question: Assume that C space opens up and suddenly all the phone lines go down (so nobody can call in). Who gets the upgrade? Is it actually fair to throw the waitlist out the window, and give the upgrade to the first person who calls in and kisses up to the AAgent? If that's how it really works, then it needs to be clearly stated in the AAdvantage Program Terms and Conditions. "Upgrades are awarded to eligible elites who know exactly when and how to phone in and kiss an AAgent's butt".
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Old Dec 7, 17, 6:47 am
  #425  
 
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Originally Posted by CloudCoder View Post
SO, to get an upgrade, you need all three of these events:
  1. Upgrade space must be available
  2. You must call AA
  3. The AAgent must be in a mood to process the transaction.
Looking on the bright side: if AA ever wants to find processes to improve, they can find this one.

Ethical question: Assume that C space opens up and suddenly all the phone lines go down (so nobody can call in). Who gets the upgrade? Is it actually fair to throw the waitlist out the window, and give the upgrade to the first person who calls in and kisses up to the AAgent? If that's how it really works, then it needs to be clearly stated in the AAdvantage Program Terms and Conditions. "Upgrades are awarded to eligible elites who know exactly when and how to phone in and kiss an AAgent's butt".
Sadly, you are pretty close to the mark. I have also been told when I call after seeing C space open that I am already on the list and just need to wait for the system to process, which should be the correct response to anyone calling, except that if I am not already on the list, they will process my request immediately, thus bypassing the list.
HofstraJet is offline  
Old Dec 7, 17, 8:27 am
  #426  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by chrisremo View Post
Wow, it would never have occurred to me to try and pursue these kinds of requests via Twitter. You just open a DM and immediately give them your PNR and your request?
Yep my exact DM chain was:

Me: "Hey!! Trying to do a mileage upgrade for upcoming HND - LAX - DFW - RDU trip I just booked. Having difficulty getting someone on phone and HND - LAX and DFW - RDU is confirmable now. Can you help? PNR: ABCDEF"
Them: "We'll add that request for you so you don't lose that space, Andy. For your security, we're unable to take credit card info via Twitter. Please contact our team with Reservations to confirm."

5 days later
Me: "Hey! Have a reservation for tomorrow. All but 1 leg has cleared on cash and points, C space just opened on the remaining leg. Can you all clear for me or do I need to call? PNR: ABCDEF flight in question is LAX - DFW. Thank you!!!"
Them: "We've reconfirmed the second leg for the upgrade and selected 10L. Give it a bit to reissue and you're all set!"

For that LAXDFW flight I think EF showed it was at C3 or C4 when I sent the DM (it was a 772 that was pretty open but holding at C0 until about 30 hours before the flight when they opened C space up).

I DM them for stuff all the time (all 3 major airlines in fact with pretty good success at each one). Earlier this year my PVR - DFW flight kept getting delayed and they protected me on the other PVR - DFW until I could call into reservations to sort everything out. They also fully changed my award travel last year when we decided last minute to go to HKT instead of DPS. Saved me from having to make a long call AA reservations on Skype from HKT and instead they just made the switch and held the space (like with the mileage upgrade) and I just had to call in for 2 minutes to give the CC number rather than go through the long process of waiting for an agent, finding space, etc
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Old Dec 7, 17, 9:59 am
  #427  
 
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It never even occurred to me that I might be jumping the queue here. (In reality I doubt I was -- I don't imagine the waitlist on a flight in several months from LAX to PHX is all that long though can see how on international flights this might matter.) I was mostly annoyed that the waitlist didn't seem to work. I should have been auto upgraded. I do think it would be completely reasonable for an agent to say, "give it a day or two to see if the waitlist does its thing then call back" or something like that.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 12:57 pm
  #428  
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Originally Posted by CloudCoder View Post
SO, to get an upgrade, you need all three of these events:
  1. Upgrade space must be available
  2. You must call AA
  3. The AAgent must be in a mood to process the transaction.
Looking on the bright side: if AA ever wants to find processes to improve, they can find this one.

Ethical question: Assume that C space opens up and suddenly all the phone lines go down (so nobody can call in). Who gets the upgrade? Is it actually fair to throw the waitlist out the window, and give the upgrade to the first person who calls in and kisses up to the AAgent? If that's how it really works, then it needs to be clearly stated in the AAdvantage Program Terms and Conditions. "Upgrades are awarded to eligible elites who know exactly when and how to phone in and kiss an AAgent's butt".
The type A person would do what you wrote.

But how it worked for us on our PEK-ORD flight, I work up the day before our flight and saw we were automatically upgraded to J., Of course, you have to set the wheels in motion first. Once you book your flights and they are ticketed, call AA, and tell them you want to do the Co pay + mile upgrade, and if there is space then it will happen.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 12:59 pm
  #429  
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Originally Posted by HofstraJet View Post
Sadly, you are pretty close to the mark. I have also been told when I call after seeing C space open that I am already on the list and just need to wait for the system to process, which should be the correct response to anyone calling, except that if I am not already on the list, they will process my request immediately, thus bypassing the list.
Once you call in and everything been set in motion, you should see in your Res, upgrade requested. IF you dont see that, then you call back.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 7:48 pm
  #430  
 
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Given the cut in the number of SWUs last year, I have been using miles + copay more—but am still relatively inexperienced in this area, I think.

My understanding is that miles+copay awards are good for a one-way journey up to three segments (like an SWU). My trip had a domestic segment connecting to an international segment (with an overnight in-between). After booking online (sticker upgrades automatically requested for the domestic segment), I called in and was supposedly waitlisted for a mileage upgrade for both segments—although interestingly the domestic segment remained listed as a complimentary 500-mile upgrade. C space opened up on the international segment a few weeks before my departure, so I called in, cleared the upgrade, and paid the $350 copay. C space never opened up on the domestic segment.

On the day before departure, before checking in, I called in to the EXP desk to make sure that the domestic segment was properly waitlisted for a mileage upgrade and not a sticker upgrade. The EXP agent took some time but came back and assured me everything was fine. Nonetheless, on the day of departure, I saw I was #3 on the upgrade list. At the AC, I asked and was told I was listed as a UPG instead of an EVIP. Despite explaining to the AC agent that I thought mileage upgrades had the same priority on the upgrade list as SWUs, the agent insisted that I was not using an SWU so could not be listed as an EVIP.

So my questions are:
1. Should I have been listed as an EVIP instead of a UPG? My understanding is that mileage upgrades have the same priority status as a SWU, and within the VIP level, priority is by status and then rolling EQDs.

2. Why might have the domestic segment been listed as a complimentary upgrade instead of a mileage upgrade? Was it because of the overnight connection?

3. What could I have done differently? I thought calling in the day before would have fixed the problem. Was this an issue with how the upgrade was originally requested? How would you have handled the AC agent? After 5 or so minutes getting nowhere with the AC agent, in the end, I didn't think it was a big enough deal to make a big stink about it, given there was 1 other person (listed as #1 ) using a SWU with only 1 seat showing available in first class.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 8:01 pm
  #431  
 
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
Given the cut in the number of SWUs last year, I have been using miles + copay morebut am still relatively inexperienced in this area, I think.

My understanding is that miles+copay awards are good for a one-way journey up to three segments (like an SWU). My trip had a domestic segment connecting to an international segment (with an overnight in-between). After booking online (sticker upgrades automatically requested for the domestic segment), I called in and was supposedly waitlisted for a mileage upgrade for both segmentsalthough interestingly the domestic segment remained listed as a complimentary 500-mile upgrade. C space opened up on the international segment a few weeks before my departure, so I called in, cleared the upgrade, and paid the $350 copay. C space never opened up on the domestic segment.

On the day before departure, before checking in, I called in to the EXP desk to make sure that the domestic segment was properly waitlisted for a mileage upgrade and not a sticker upgrade. The EXP agent took some time but came back and assured me everything was fine. Nonetheless, on the day of departure, I saw I was #3 on the upgrade list. At the AC, I asked and was told I was listed as a UPG instead of an EVIP. Despite explaining to the AC agent that I thought mileage upgrades had the same priority on the upgrade list as SWUs, the agent insisted that I was not using an SWU so could not be listed as an EVIP.

So my questions are:
1. Should I have been listed as an EVIP instead of a UPG? My understanding is that mileage upgrades have the same priority status as a SWU, and within the VIP level, priority is by status and then rolling EQDs.

2. Why might have the domestic segment been listed as a complimentary upgrade instead of a mileage upgrade? Was it because of the overnight connection?

3. What could I have done differently? I thought calling in the day before would have fixed the problem. Was this an issue with how the upgrade was originally requested? How would you have handled the AC agent? After 5 or so minutes getting nowhere with the AC agent, in the end, I didn't think it was a big enough deal to make a big stink about it, given there was 1 other person (listed as #1 ) using a SWU with only 1 seat showing available in first class.
Technically you should be listed as eVIP instead of complimentary (500-miles). But I am assuming when you called the first time, the agent only included the intl segment because for eVIP to clear across all segments, all segments will have to have C available; but because eVIP is most valuable at the intl segments, he/she might be doing you a favor by putting the least number of segments (and EXP got unlimited domestic upgrade at the end of the day), so the international segment could be cleared. However, you're focusing on the priority order for domestic upgrade, of which the agent was not aware. I say next time make sure to mention clearly your requests at the phone. Still no guaranteed there as the agents might not be fully aware of the underlying complications. Last time I did a domestic - DFW - HKG, I specifically mentioned to the agent that I only wanted the SWU to be applied to the DFW - HKG segment, and it was cleared but the domestic seg was sold out in F.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 9:18 pm
  #432  
 
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Originally Posted by andersonCooper View Post
Technically you should be listed as eVIP instead of complimentary (500-miles). But I am assuming when you called the first time, the agent only included the intl segment because for eVIP to clear across all segments, all segments will have to have C available; but because eVIP is most valuable at the intl segments, he/she might be doing you a favor by putting the least number of segments (and EXP got unlimited domestic upgrade at the end of the day), so the international segment could be cleared. However, you're focusing on the priority order for domestic upgrade, of which the agent was not aware. I say next time make sure to mention clearly your requests at the phone. Still no guaranteed there as the agents might not be fully aware of the underlying complications. Last time I did a domestic - DFW - HKG, I specifically mentioned to the agent that I only wanted the SWU to be applied to the DFW - HKG segment, and it was cleared but the domestic seg was sold out in F.
Thanks.

I agree that the most logical scenario was that the agent who processed my original upgrade request only put in the request for the international segment (whether out of efficiency or laziness, I'm not sure), and once the upgrade cleared for the international segment, it didn't seem like the mileage upgrade could be extended to the domestic segment. Couple that with a less experienced AC agent, and I'm guessing that's how I ended up where I was (in the past when using an SWU I have definitely been able to get AC agents to change me to a VIP when the I have been listed as a UPG on the domestic upgrade list). Next time, I will be sure to double check to make sure that agent puts in the mileage upgrade request for the entire trip.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 9:35 pm
  #433  
 
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
Thanks.

I agree that the most logical scenario was that the agent who processed my original upgrade request only put in the request for the international segment (whether out of efficiency or laziness, I'm not sure), and once the upgrade cleared for the international segment, it didn't seem like the mileage upgrade could be extended to the domestic segment. Couple that with a less experienced AC agent, and I'm guessing that's how I ended up where I was (in the past when using an SWU I have definitely been able to get AC agents to change me to a VIP when the I have been listed as a UPG on the domestic upgrade list). Next time, I will be sure to double check to make sure that agent puts in the mileage upgrade request for the entire trip.
Another thing that adds to the confusion is AA's IT. I did not fly with AA on international recently, so I might be wrong in details. Basically the SWU/copay request won't be reflected online IIRC (still shows contact AA to request SWU or something like that). When the travel approaches but still waitlist, I don't think the status changed to "requested" (or even better, what's requested?, which will be helpful in your case). They really need to up their IT now.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 10:21 pm
  #434  
 
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Originally Posted by andersonCooper View Post
Another thing that adds to the confusion is AA's IT. I did not fly with AA on international recently, so I might be wrong in details. Basically the SWU/copay request won't be reflected online IIRC (still shows contact AA to request SWU or something like that). When the travel approaches but still waitlist, I don't think the status changed to "requested" (or even better, what's requested?, which will be helpful in your case). They really need to up their IT now.
Actually, online under My Trips I am able to see whether a mileage or systemwide upgrade has been requested for a particular flight. I remember that in this particular case the domestic segment was listed as a complimentary upgrade and the international leg (before clearing) was listed as a mileage upgrade. Because I saw the domestic segment listed as a complimentary instead of a mileage upgrade, I called the EXP desk on the day prior to my departure before checking in.
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Old Jan 2, 18, 10:38 pm
  #435  
 
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
Actually, online under My Trips I am able to see whether a mileage or systemwide upgrade has been requested for a particular flight. I remember that in this particular case the domestic segment was listed as a complimentary upgrade and the international leg (before clearing) was listed as a mileage upgrade. Because I saw the domestic segment listed as a complimentary instead of a mileage upgrade, I called the EXP desk on the day prior to my departure before checking in.
That's good to know. So if you use SWU on a 100% domestic leg, say JFK-LAX, it will show as "systemwide upgrade requested" instead of "complimentary"?
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