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

Old Jul 28, 2015, 12:06 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: Prospero
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 Aug 1, 2016, 8:51 pm
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Programs: AA EP
Posts: 2,203
Originally Posted by nalismom
AA Gold Status

Booked DFW-UIO direct, non-stop flight in February 2016 for 12/24 and requested UG w/ Miles + $$$........got notice today of schedule change, original flight no longer flys on that day of week.

In speaking to AA rep to reorganize our flight via MIA.....I asked if my upgrade request using Miles + Cash is still showing for new flights....she said it was and then she came back and said the DFW-MIA segment just cleared but the MIA-UIO had not yet. I asked about the difference in cash required for just the one segment vs both, given when initially requested back in February it was for the nonstop flight all the way to Quito which is 15k miles + $150 PP. she said I would only be charged $75 PP for the 1st segment and then additional $75 if the 2nd segment clears.

An hour later I received the Ticketing email and it showed a charge of $300 ($150 PP) for my husband and I and 30k miles were taken out of my account. Now I know a domestic UG Miles + $ is 15k (same # of miles) but only $75 PP.....so I was confused by it showing $300 instead of $150.

I checked my CC and there is a $300 charge pending.

Is this typical of UG with miles + $ ? This is the first time I have ever done this so I have no experience.

Am I going to have to request refund of $150 if the 2nd segment does not clear???? I really don't like being charged for something I have not received yet.

I could use others wisdom and experience as to how this process works.

Thank you all for your help in advance.
You were charged correctly. UIO is 15k + $150. the computer is obviously treating this as one upgrade vs 2 individual upgrades.

If it doesn't clear u will have to call aa to have the upgrade re issued.
AAExecPlatFlier is offline  
Old Aug 1, 2016, 9:09 pm
  #32  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Programs: AA, onePass
Posts: 317
Thank you for your response🙂

Well from what I've been told it can clean clear anytime up til boarding......so if it doesn't clear at boarding at what point do I request upgrade to be reissued and is that through the dreaded Customer Service online form????
nalismom is offline  
Old Aug 2, 2016, 1:24 am
  #33  
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: RDU <|> MMX
Programs: AA EXP 2MM, SK EBS
Posts: 12,620
Originally Posted by nalismom
Thank you for your response🙂

Well from what I've been told it can clean clear anytime up til boarding......so if it doesn't clear at boarding at what point do I request upgrade to be reissued and is that through the dreaded Customer Service online form????
Unfortunately you were given bad info from the AAgent you spoke with. 15k + $150 is the correct price for DFW-MIA-UIO, but if MIA-UIO never clears and you want to cancel the upgrade you'll be charged the $150 award redeposit fee. As far as I know it's not possible for AA to charge you 15k + $75 for the DFW-MIA segment then 'just' another $75 if MIA-UIO clears. Those are 2 different types of upgrades.

Call AA back and tell them the schedule change screwed up your upgrade request, and you only want to be charged if the MIA-UIO segment clears. This is a common request in the AA upgrade world.
JJeffrey is offline  
Old Aug 2, 2016, 2:06 am
  #34  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: LAX, LGB, SNA
Programs: AA EXP OWE, DL DM ST+, AS MVPG, UA, BA, WN CP, Hyatt E, Ritz Plat, HH GM
Posts: 3,185
Originally Posted by JJeffrey
Unfortunately you were given bad info from the AAgent you spoke with. 15k + $150 is the correct price for DFW-MIA-UIO, but if MIA-UIO never clears and you want to cancel the upgrade you'll be charged the $150 award redeposit fee. As far as I know it's not possible for AA to charge you 15k + $75 for the DFW-MIA segment then 'just' another $75 if MIA-UIO clears. Those are 2 different types of upgrades.

Call AA back and tell them the schedule change screwed up your upgrade request, and you only want to be charged if the MIA-UIO segment clears. This is a common request in the AA upgrade world.
Just want to add that MIA-UIO has very good chances of clearing. I mean very good. It's a 763 refurb but it's a coin flip on whether it gets swapped out for an old one.
hiima is offline  
Old Aug 4, 2016, 1:59 pm
  #35  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: ORD
Programs: AA EXP & million miler
Posts: 3,992
Any advantage: upgrade both legs or just long haul segments?

Have ORD-JFK-GIG coming up. Already requested 500 mile upgrades for domestic legs (FYI I'm Plat).

Called to be waitlisted for miles + copay upgrade and agent asked "do you want to be waitlisted for both segments of each trip or just the long hauls?".

I don't recall being asked that before. And the question reminded me of the time I 'lost' an upgrade where a connecting pax who was #2 on airport upgrade list got the upgrade ahead of me (#1 on the list). Not sure if that event is in any way related to my question, but it did ring a bell with me.

So...in these circumstances, is there any advantage to applying the miles+copay upgrade request to the entire trip, or just to the long haul (which is what really matters)? Price is the same either way - though I could theoretically lose 5 certs if the domestic upgrades clear via 500 milers.
masonp123 is offline  
Old Aug 6, 2016, 9:44 pm
  #36  
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Thousand Oaks, Ca., USA
Programs: AA Lifetime Plat; Bonvoy Titanium Lifetime Elite;Hyatt Globalist; HHonors Diamond; United Silver
Posts: 8,427
I'm familiar with 500-mile upgrade rules and companions, but unsure of miles plus copay.

1) If my wife and I are on two separate PNRs, can she get my status for the waitlist for miles and copay (domestic if it matters). I will link the reservations for seating purposes.

2) If there a split/no-split option like on the segments?

3) Assuming I can give her my status, can I only put her on the upgrade list and me rely on my free 500 mile upgrades? (I'm a little worried the 500 mile upgrades won't clear for two)

Thanks in advance!
beachfan is offline  
Old Aug 7, 2016, 7:01 am
  #37  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Programs: AA PLT PRO, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Plt. Premier
Posts: 587
Here is a easy question as a EXP what has higher priority on the upgrade list miles+ cash or SWU ??
dgparent is offline  
Old Aug 7, 2016, 7:40 am
  #38  
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Originally Posted by masonp123
Have ORD-JFK-GIG coming up. Already requested 500 mile upgrades for domestic legs (FYI I'm Plat).

Called to be waitlisted for miles + copay upgrade and agent asked "do you want to be waitlisted for both segments of each trip or just the long hauls?".

I don't recall being asked that before. And the question reminded me of the time I 'lost' an upgrade where a connecting pax who was #2 on airport upgrade list got the upgrade ahead of me (#1 on the list). Not sure if that event is in any way related to my question, but it did ring a bell with me.

So...in these circumstances, is there any advantage to applying the miles+copay upgrade request to the entire trip, or just to the long haul (which is what really matters)? Price is the same either way - though I could theoretically lose 5 certs if the domestic upgrades clear via 500 milers.
The big issue is that if you waitlist for both the domestic and long haul segment, and only ORD-JFK clears, then you would still be charged the full price of 25k miles + $350.

Most everyone around here only waitlists for the long haul segments. Once it clears, you can call in and have the upgrade applied to the domestic segments as well.

If the domestic upgrade clears first via 500-mi. upgrades, and then the miles co-pay clears, you can call in to AAdvantage Customer Service to have the 500-milers refunded to your account.
JJeffrey is offline  
Old Aug 7, 2016, 8:04 am
  #39  
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Originally Posted by dgparent
Here is a easy question as a EXP what has higher priority on the upgrade list miles+ cash or SWU ??
Same.
JonNYC is offline  
Old Aug 7, 2016, 4:03 pm
  #40  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: New Hampshire
Programs: AA Platinum, Marriott Gold, Everything else: Dirt
Posts: 802
I think you were overcharged. I have done the "partial" upgrade a couple times and only been charged the continental United States upgrade price. Once I was flying BOS-DFW-LAX-LIHno A seats on LAX-LIH at time of booking, so the agent upgraded me on the Bos-dfw-lax portions for $75 plus 15K. When I got to LAX on the day of travel I was still waitlisted for the LAX-LIH. I cleared there and the agent did not ask for any more money even though I had my credit card out.

More recently, I have a ticket for two booked BOS-LAX-SYD for November. There were no C seats at time of booking. BOS-LAX was down to A2, and I knew if I didn't grab those seats I would never clear that segment. The phone agent did the same thinginstead of charging me the australian upgrade charge (25k+$350pp) she only charged me 15K plus $75 pp for the BOS-LAX portion. I only hope I am so lucky again that they don't collect the difference in the upgrade charges should LAX-SYD clear :P
MaineFlyer16 is offline  
Old Aug 7, 2016, 5:55 pm
  #41  
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Thousand Oaks, Ca., USA
Programs: AA Lifetime Plat; Bonvoy Titanium Lifetime Elite;Hyatt Globalist; HHonors Diamond; United Silver
Posts: 8,427
Originally Posted by beachfan
I'm familiar with 500-mile upgrade rules and companions, but unsure of miles plus copay.

1) If my wife and I are on two separate PNRs, can she get my status for the waitlist for miles and copay (domestic if it matters). I will link the reservations for seating purposes.

2) If there a split/no-split option like on the segments?

3) Assuming I can give her my status, can I only put her on the upgrade list and me rely on my free 500 mile upgrades? (I'm a little worried the 500 mile upgrades won't clear for two)

Thanks in advance!
Not sure if it's accurate, but here is what I was told by the ExPlat disk.

1) If we link PNRs and it's set up so the miles come from my account, she get's my priority
2) They are all "single" requests, no "no split" option.
3) Yes, she can be put on the waitlist for a miles copay upgrade without me on the miles copay upgrade list.

Anyone have different experience?
beachfan is offline  
Old Aug 8, 2016, 3:24 pm
  #42  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 72
Using miles to upgrade class of service

I tried to call today to use miles to upgrade my flight. I only wanted to upgrade the trip out, not my return. I was told I would be put on the list, there are seats available as far as I can see online.

I never been told I would be put on a list. Other times, if there were seats I was able to pay the fee, use miles and be upgraded immediately.

Is that new?

If so, what is the hierarchy of that list?
machong is offline  
Old Aug 8, 2016, 3:38 pm
  #43  
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Originally Posted by machong
I tried to call today to use miles to upgrade my flight. I only wanted to upgrade the trip out, not my return. I was told I would be put on the list, there are seats available as far as I can see online.

I never been told I would be put on a list. Other times, if there were seats I was able to pay the fee, use miles and be upgraded immediately.

Is that new?

If so, what is the hierarchy of that list?
When you see seats available, are you referring to a seat map or using some tool that is showing you upgrade award seats are available? Because, those are 2 different things.

elite status (in the future, elite dollars earned will also be considered)
date/time of booking
mvoight is offline  
Old Aug 8, 2016, 4:25 pm
  #44  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: SEA
Programs: AA EXP (2.5MM), Hilton Gold, Marriott Titanium
Posts: 4,859
Originally Posted by machong
I tried to call today to use miles to upgrade my flight. I only wanted to upgrade the trip out, not my return. I was told I would be put on the list, there are seats available as far as I can see online.

I never been told I would be put on a list. Other times, if there were seats I was able to pay the fee, use miles and be upgraded immediately.

Is that new?

If so, what is the hierarchy of that list?
You can pay the difference in cost between your coach fare and a First class fare if they are selling First class seats on the flights.

But if you want to just pay the miles + co-pay for an upgrade then those are restricted availability. Just because a seat is for sale or not marked as occupied on the seat map does not mean that it is available as an upgrade. AA (and others) tightly control availability to give them the chance to sell the seats before processing upgrades.
mikelat is offline  
Old Aug 8, 2016, 4:40 pm
  #45  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 72
Thank you both for the clarification. I guess I never realized there was a difference between seat map vs. award availability for upgrades since I have always been able to upgrade.
machong is offline  

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