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ARCHIVE: 2017 FAQ: What's a Systemwide Upgrade / SWU / eVIP / VIP? master thread

ARCHIVE: 2017 FAQ: What's a Systemwide Upgrade / SWU / eVIP / VIP? master thread

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Old Jan 7, 19, 1:36 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: JDiver
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FAQ: What's a Systemwide Upgrade SWU (ex-VIP / VIPOW / "eVIP") 2017 on
Please read this wiki for important information not documented elsewhere.

The current thread can be reached here.

NOTE: CHANGES

NOTE: Upgrade waitlist priority is 1) Status, followed by 2) Rolling EQD earning for last 365 days as of 20 May 2017. Link to FT thread.
  • Executive Platinum members automatically earn four SWU when they earn 100,000 EQM (these expire at the end of the following status year).

  • Executive Platinum members will automatically earn two further SWU at 150,000 and 200,000 EQM
(No further SWUs are forthcoming at 250,000 EQM or after, though CK often have access to two more.)

Remember: EQM earning will vary from 0 to 3.0 EQM per base mile, based on eligible fare class and marketing airline, on EQM earning fares.
NOTE: As of January 2017

"The way your upgrade request is prioritized is you'll be listed according to your elite status level followed by (the type of upgrade - SWU and Upgrade Award, aka miles + copay), the number of EQD (Elite Qualifying Dollars) earned in the (rolling) last 12 months."

Upgrades are prioritized first by the following elite status levels:

Concierge Key SM . (up to 120 hours out)
Executive Platinum (up to 100 hours out)
Platinum Pro . . . . (up to 72 hours out)
Platinum . . . . . . . (up to 48 hours out)
Gold . . . . . . . . . . (up to 24 hours out)

After status tier, upgrades are prioritized by the type of upgrade (SWU and miles + copay before 500 Mile e-upgrades /UDU; your last 12 months' Elite Qualifying Dollar spend on AA. See FAQ: Earning EQD / Elite Qualifying Dollars on AA and partner airlines (2017 on) (EQD will include the EQD offset one might earn from spend on their Barclaycard Aviator Red or Silver card, as announced elsewhere in this forum.)

Date of request has no bearing on upgrade priority other than after all other priorities have been met and theres a highly unlikely tie.

From AA.com... "Before you get to the airport, requests for systemwide and mileage award upgrades are processed independently from 500-mile upgrade requests.

At the airport, upgrades requested will be prioritized in this order:
  1. Status tier
    [^]Rolling 12 month EQD
  2. Systemwide and mileage + copay upgrades
  3. 500-mile upgrades on purchased tickets
  4. 500-mile upgrades on award tickets"
See: https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-p...am-updates.jsp

Systemwide Upgrade FAQ:

Q. What are Systemwide Upgrades, exactly?


Electronic Systemwide Upgrades, abbreviated SWU, also previously referred to as eVIPs or VIPs, are electronic instruments earned as stated previously. SWU generally allow the owner to upgrade up to three segments, more or less in the same direction, on any flights AA flies with their own aircraft (not valid on partners or codeshares - must be marketed and operated by AA), on most paid, published fares to the next class of service. (Successful upgrades on a single SWU include EZE-MIA-JFK-LHR, NRT-LAX-DFW-LHR.)

Q. When do SWU clear?

Upgrades can clear immediately if the appropriate inventory is available (e.g., Coach to Business (and domestic First on two class aircraft) requires "C" class to be available, Business to First requires "A" class to be available). Otherwise, SWU may be waitlisted in priority of AAdvantage status, followed by last 12 months EQD spend (and within those, by fare class if they are full fare Y). SWU and EXP UDU have the same priority once the flight and associated upgrade / PALL list has passed to airport control.

Q. Can I use SWU on codeshares operated by AA?

No. (Though 001 AA ticketing is not a requirement), the flight must be marketed and operated by AA.

Q. Are any fare classes ineligible / invalid for SWU upgrades?

Some government and consolidator fares may not be upgraded; Basic Economy flights may not be upgraded. Award flights may not be upgraded with SWU. See post #683 by JonNYC:

[quote]Invalid (for SWU upgrade)
  • Basic Economy tickets, regardless of status level
  • Military fares*
  • Government fares*
  • Agency/industry discounts
  • Employee travel booked in E
  • AAdvantage/promotion free or companion tickets
  • Ticket designators that require a certificate (CEN20, etc.) - contact MSD to verify
  • MSD Site products (ticket designator SITE)
  • CAT25/CAT25 Group Fares for MCLA
  • Charter flights
  • Infant tickets
  • Purchased extra seats (one passenger)
  • Opaque fares
  • Award tickets
*The reason for not allowing SWU / eVIP upgrades to be used in conjunction with a military/government fare is not based on the fare level (although they are discounted), but rather it is based on the full flexibility those fares provide. Military/government fares provide a huge benefit to the customer already in that they can be booked at the last minute and canceled or changed with no advance notice and no penalties. As such, they are not allowed to be used in conjunction with a SWU.

Can I still make use if my SWU and credit the flight(s) to another airline?

You are not supposed to. If switching from AAdvantage to another scheme's FFN, please be aware: Benefitting from a privilege granted for your AAdvantage status and changing your FFN to earn on another airline is generally prohibited by AAdvantage Terms and Conditions. Doing so might risk that benefit (e.g. upgrade).

From the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions (link)

Q. Can I see SWU eligible flights on aa.com? If not, where?

aa.com will also reflect if a SWU can be used as you book - not that there is availability. One can see required inventory (A or C) using ExpertFlyer or other tools.

Q. What is the priority order for SWU wait list clearing?

Priority for wait listing is based first on AAdvantage status of requestor, then by rolling EQD earning during las 12 months; within those criteria, full fare (J or Y) trumps discounted fares.

NOTE: once the booking goes to airport control you may have to request your SWU request be reactivated. Those travel companions previously prioritized by the sponsor's status no longer revert to their own status at airport control.

Q. How do I know if my SWU request has been waitlisted?

You can see it online only 2-3 days prior to your depature. It will say "Systemwide Upgrade Requested". Otherwise, there is no way to know unless you call AA again and ask. In AA app you can see upgrade waiting list from 4 hours prior to the departure. Thank you (link) MrJBoy for clarifying).

If my SWU clears on AA but the flights is cancelled or delayed, and I get put on another AA or partner flight, will my Upgrade be preserved / honored?

On AA and Joint Business Venture partners (AY, BA, IB, JL, QF), AA will attempt to honor the upgrade. On other airline partners it is unlikely.

Q. Can I gift SWUs to others, and will my or their status apply?

You may certainly gift SWU to others. They will have to provide you their information, including PNR, and you will have to call it in. Your status can carry over to one treeling companion (on your itinerary) until the SWU passes to airport control; otherwise, SWU priority will depend on the user's AAdvantage status followed by date of upgrade request.

Q. What if I apply a SWU to a traveling companion?

That traveling companion "borrows" your status in terms of priority on the upgrade waitlist until the waitlisted passes to airport control.

Q. Can I sell or purchase SWUs to / from others (e.g. on eBay or CraigsList)?

While SWU may be gifted to others, AAdvantage rules prohibit selling / purchasing, trading or bartering various instruments, including SWU. A sold SWU will, if caught by AA Corporate Security AAdvantage Fraud (and they actively seek these out), cause SWU / upgrade cancellation at minimum and may even include closing the seller's account with forfeiture of miles, upgrade instruments and even elite status.



Further useful details about using SWU

. . . . Four SWUs are earned by Executive Platinum AAdvantage members when they cross the threshold to EXP, and their expiration is essentially the same as the earned status - January 31 of the ensuing status year (e.g. earn May 5 2017, the status and SWUs are good through 31 Jan 2019).

. . . . Two SWUs are earned by Executive Platinum AAdvantage members when they cross the 150,000 and 200,000 EQ EQ Miles; their expiration is essentially the same as the earned status as described above. (Further increments of 50,000 EQM past 200,000 earn no more SWU.)

. . . . Two SWUs (more) are earned by Concierge Key members.

. . . . Four SWUs are earned by those crossing Million Miler thresholds of 2MM and every Million Miles milestone thereafter.

. . . . ● SWUs may be transferred or gifted (not bargained, bartered or sold) to anyone the owner chooses - the owner must authorize the transfer and provide at minimum the designated person's name, frequent flyer #, and PNR. Note fees and taxes may be due, such as APD / Air Passenger Duty due for flights originating in the UK (or with connections exceeding 23:59).

. . . . ● AA tends to protect passengers granted upgrades with SWUs if IROPS move them to other oneworld flights, particularly JBV partners (AA, AY, BA, IB, JL, preserving already granted upgrades (not waitlisted).

. . . . ● N.B. AA will no longer attach expiring (31 Jan 2017 or -18) SWUs to be attached to existing upgrade inventory 1 Feb and after unless one is a very high value customer; AA now has software in place to prevent this, but if you consider yourself a high value customer, you can ask. Speculatively, EXP through 31 Jan 2018 with Concierge Key and / or 4 or 5 Helix / "Eagles" rating and lots of D and above revenue. See FAQ: New changes 90%+ eliminate post-expiration SWU use (Jun 2014)

. . . . ● If you don't want to wait list your SWU so that it automatically encumbered when a domestic segment becomes available for upgrade, but only want the domestic segments to clear if the international segment clears, ask the AA EP agent to waitlist the international portion but "DSR" the domestic segments; that way, the domestic segments will only clear if the international segment clears.

. . . . ● SWU application can include co-terminals: JonNYC, post #601: "This is the current list of MAC airports, and, as far as I understand it, are generally recognized for revenue tickets including SWU application to same:
  • WAS (DCA, IAD)
  • DFW (DFW, DAL)
  • HOU (HOU, IAH)
  • NYC (JFK, LGA) (I think there is a separate rule that says EWR is always part of NYC for this purpose as well)
  • LON (LGW, LHR, STN)
  • SLU (UVF, SLU)
  • TYO (HND, NRT)"
. . . . UK Air Passenger Duty / APD for LHR/UK departures: (Often incorrectly called "Luxury tax"): Departing from the UK (or on a layover of 24:00 or longer via the U.K.), you'll be charged the full APD (the lowest cabin class - usually economy - pays only half APD). This applies for upgrades to business only. Upgrading business to first doesn't incur this, (since your business ticket already included the full APD). This does not apply TO the U.K. or to connecting in under 24:00 in the U.K. Other airports may impose other taxes, e.g. HKG is USD $2.80.

. . . . ● Through (two flights with the same flight number, or through flights with stops) flights pose challenges insofar as upgrade availability must exist on all sectors. You may have to call AA to use a SWU on through flights.


Suggested reading:

aa.com: SYSTEMWIDE UPGRADES AND FAQS

FlyerTalk: Upgrades / SWUs / eVIPs and UK APD / Air Passenger Duty questions

New *internal* changes will 90%+ eliminate post-expiration use of SWUs by JonNYC

This post in the thread entitled "Reversing Use of SWU. Is this possible?" (it is not. AA no longer allows cancelling a SWU and substituting "stickers".)


Updated 30 Aug 2017 - JDiver

MODERATOR NOTE

Posts prior to 2016 may be read here: ARCHIVE: SWU / VIP / eVIP Systemwide Upgrade questions

NOTE: This thread is for the discussion of the mechanics of AA systemwide upgrades. For "chance of upgrade clearing" questions, please use this thread: 2015 Chances of Upgrade Clearing and Upgrade Availability Discussion (consolidated)

Please note there is a separate thread discussing lost / missing/ misappropriated SWUs:

Missing / someone else used / unauthorized use my SWU / VIP / eVIP (merged)

American AAdvantage Forum Moderator Team


FAQ: Internal IT changes eliminate 90+% of post-expiry SWU use 26 Jun 2014
Q. I've been able to encumber expiring SWU past their expiration date if I find the proper upgrade inventory available prior to that date. Is this feature still available to Executive Platinum members?

A. Not for most. The option was possible due to software limitations. New software, AAcoRN, put into place 26 June 2014, will prevent this from occurring for "unqualified" members; only "qualified" members will be allowed to encumber SWU past their expiry date in the future. (See post #1)

Q. How do I know if I am a "qualified" member?

A. You can try to call and encumber expiring SWU past their expiry. If you are not allowed to, you aren't.

Q. So, exactly who does AA consider "qualified"?

A. A very high value AAdvantage member, as measured by the internal "Helix" system, which assigns an "Eagles" ranking from 1 to 5 (the more, the better).

Q. I've never heard of this. When did it start?

A. AA's rating system was originally based on three colors, green, yellow and red, which changed to 1-3 Eagles and was later expanded to 1-5 Eagles.

Q. How are Eagles scores assigned? Are they static, or do they change?

A. It has been said spend and fare classes (think lots of annual travel in fare classes of D and above) may affect your Eagles score, as well as OSO and negative incidents you have experienced that might result in your moving your custom to another airline. It is also said your Helix score is updated periodically, perhaps even nightly.

Q. How can I find out my Helix score / how many Eagles I have?

A. You can't. AA employees are not empowered to discuss the Helix system with customers. If you normally get extra SWU once you've made EP, are allowed to extend SWU use and find EP desk agents are willing to bend rules for you often, speculative, you might have 4-5 Eagles rating.

Q. So, this is a hidden tier higher than Executive Platinum?

A. No, because it doesn't give you privileges beyond EP beyond those mentioned, e.g. courtesy Club membership or additional priority for boarding or upgrades, like Concierge Key may.

Q. Do others than Executive Platinum have Helix / Eagles scores?

A. It can be safely assumed all AAdvantage members have such scores.

For further information, see discussions on:

JonNYC's Traveing Better

The Boarding Area

Thanks to JonNYC for most of the information available to the public on this topic.

Updated 6 Oct 2016 - JDiver
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Old Jan 9, 17, 10:22 pm
  #1  
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ARCHIVE: 2017 FAQ: What's a Systemwide Upgrade / SWU / eVIP / VIP? master thread

Can two different people use an SWU on the same reservation?

My friend has a SWU that is expiring. My brother is getting married and I found a flight to his destination that has confirmation in C. Would he be able to use his expiring SWU for one pax, and me the other on the same reservation?
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Old Jan 10, 17, 1:01 am
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by BThumme View Post
Can two different people use an SWU on the same reservation?

My friend has a SWU that is expiring. My brother is getting married and I found a flight to his destination that has confirmation in C. Would he be able to use his expiring SWU for one pax, and me the other on the same reservation?
I am slightly confused by your question. In general, you would need 2 SWUs if there are 2 people on the reservation.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 10:17 am
  #3  
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Right.

One of my friends has a SWU that is expiring (January I think he said). Would he be able to use that on my brothers PNR for one passenger (since he has one expiring), and myself use another SWU to cover the second person on the same reservation? There is available C space so it can be confirmed right now.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 10:20 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
I am slightly confused by your question. In general, you would need 2 SWUs if there are 2 people on the reservation.
Sounds like 1 SWU would be coming from the OP's account and the 2nd SWU from the friend's account. It's definitely possible although it might involve splitting the PNR's. No reason not to call AA and see.
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Old Jan 10, 17, 1:51 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by JJeffrey View Post
Sounds like 1 SWU would be coming from the OP's account and the 2nd SWU from the friend's account. It's definitely possible although it might involve splitting the PNR's. No reason not to call AA and see.
One followup question first, as I'm new to being Ex Plat so haven't had any SWUs expire.

My brother is traveling in march. If a SWU expires in January/February, can it not be used for march (that has current confirmed C space)?

EDIT: looks like I was wrong per http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...n-2014-a.html#
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Old Jan 13, 17, 10:16 am
  #6  
 
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AA screws SWU upgrades (again) - Help?

I had been dismissing the negativity towards AA so far but the amount of their incompetence astonishes me. Here is another firsthand experience...

I am booked to fly this evening on AA with another pax (non-elite). Generally, I resort to free UG but I had expiring SWU's so I requested those and got put on WL (at time of booking as well). Given the recent changes about travel companions and PALL list, I was feeling good on clearing my requests.

Couple of days my EF alert went off with C availability. I called up EXP line and the nice AAgent confirmed C1 available for UG. Since I have 2 pax on RL, she recommended splitting the RL (but keeping them cross-referenced) so both can be upgraded individually. Ofcourse, I requested that my non-elite travel companion be confirmed to J and I will stay on WL. She confirmed, put in a request for reissue and that was end of it. However, when I pulled up the new RL online I couldnt see/ change any details on it. It seemed a little weird but IT glitches happen and I waived it off.

Yesterday, I got another alert from EF and little later my RL went into limbo as well. Reissue with J seat? Hopefully.. Around 2am, I couldn't check-in with either RL's or see any trip details. Called up EXP line and they said - neither of us have been confirmed in J however both are Y seat assignments were taken off? I mentioned my past conversation about cross-referenced RL's and all that I got was a shrug from EXP Agent. After 25mins on hold and back-forth with IT, we both finally got our original seat assignments but now both are on different RLs. This means she won't have my status on PALL list.

It was a fairly simple request. I can't imagine how did experienced EXP agents screw it up so bad and are offering no help or recourse. With under 8hrs to flight, this is under airport control now and I'll have to deal with obstinate, thick-headed GA's and explain them about the cross-referenced RL's.

I am still certain about securing an upgrade for myself but not so sure about her. Do I have any recourse or way to resolve this situation?
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Old Jan 13, 17, 11:20 pm
  #7  
 
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Apologies if this is answered upthread. It's a VERY long thread.

Recently made EXP. Found a flight later this year that has C availability and put a reservation on hold. I'm not going to know until tomorrow if the dates will actually work for me. Called EXP desk to see if SWU can be applied to a reservation on hold and was told they "have to ticket if any segment is upgraded" and that they "used to be able to do it."

Is this the policy, or should I HUCA?
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Old Jan 13, 17, 11:22 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by josmul123 View Post
Apologies if this is answered upthread. It's a VERY long thread.

Recently made EXP. Found a flight later this year that has C availability and put a reservation on hold. I'm not going to know until tomorrow if the dates will actually work for me. Called EXP desk to see if SWU can be applied to a reservation on hold and was told they "have to ticket if any segment is upgraded" and that they "used to be able to do it."

Is this the policy, or should I HUCA?
I would definitely HUCA!
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Old Jan 14, 17, 6:37 am
  #9  
 
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Called again because I was ready to book the ticket. This rep also said the reservation had to be ticketed before the upgrade could be applied. I inquired as to whether or not it was a new policy, and she said "Our system...Well, it's not a policy per se, but more of a work around."

I'm not sure what that means, but I was able to score the confirmed SWU in a world where C inventory is scarce, so I'm fairly happy.
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Old Jan 14, 17, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by josmul123 View Post
Called again because I was ready to book the ticket. This rep also said the reservation had to be ticketed before the upgrade could be applied. I inquired as to whether or not it was a new policy, and she said "Our system...Well, it's not a policy per se, but more of a work around."

I'm not sure what that means, but I was able to score the confirmed SWU in a world where C inventory is scarce, so I'm fairly happy.
Very nice.

It was always my understanding that you have to be ticketed to apply a SWU.

What was the routing, BTW?
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Old Jan 14, 17, 4:14 pm
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No. At least the LAA agents can ticket with C class.
Originally Posted by econometrics View Post
Very nice.

It was always my understanding that you have to be ticketed to apply a SWU.

What was the routing, BTW?
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Old Jan 14, 17, 5:24 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by AAExecPlatFlier View Post
No. At least the LAA agents can ticket with C class.
Right. But HOLD the ticket in C for 24 hours? That's what the OP was originally asking about. I've never tried that. Usually whenever I find C on a routing, I just book it. ^
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Old Jan 14, 17, 7:34 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by BThumme View Post
One followup question first, as I'm new to being Ex Plat so haven't had any SWUs expire.

My brother is traveling in march. If a SWU expires in January/February, can it not be used for march (that has current confirmed C space)?

EDIT: looks like I was wrong per http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...n-2014-a.html#
Worth a try. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.

Originally Posted by econometrics View Post
It was always my understanding that you have to be ticketed to apply a SWU.
Nope.

Originally Posted by econometrics View Post
Right. But HOLD the ticket in C for 24 hours? That's what the OP was originally asking about.
Done it countless times, but not recently. Dunno if things have changed.
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Old Jan 14, 17, 8:18 pm
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Originally Posted by econometrics View Post
Right. But HOLD the ticket in C for 24 hours? That's what the OP was originally asking about. I've never tried that. Usually whenever I find C on a routing, I just book it. ^
I mean you can always book and cancel within 24
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Old Jan 16, 17, 8:35 pm
  #15  
 
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Cleared SWU protection

Does anyone have a link to OW (specifically AA) on policy for a cleared SWU protection when original flight goes MX/other?

I've seen numerous issues with cleared PAX in LAX being denied CX J on a AA cleared SWU, citing original fare was "too cheap" eg not full Y.
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