Changes to American Airlines Upgrades for AAdvantage Members

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American Airlines is making some changes to how upgrades will be requested for American Airlines AAdvantage members. The upgrade prioritization will be elite status then the type of upgrade, and now your EQD spending, followed by the booking class and time of request.

Changes to American Airlines Upgrades for AAdvantage Members

In addition ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum members will receive complimentary upgrades on award tickets, and for companions who are not eligible for free upgrades, they can use 500-mile upgrade certificates.

Changes to American Airlines Upgrades for AAdvantage Members

Here’s a look at the changes for AAdvantage members:

Upgrade Prioritization 

On May 20 we’ll start changing upgrade prioritization, but the process could take a few days to complete in our systems. Upgrade requests will be prioritized by elite status level, then:

  1. Type of upgrade
  2. 12-month Rolling EQDs
  3. Booking code
  4. Date and time of request

Type of Upgrade

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. Systemwide and mileage award upgrades
  2. 500-mile upgrades on purchased tickets
  3. 500-mile upgrades on award tickets

12-month Rolling EQDs

Your 12-month Rolling EQD value is different from your Year-to-Date (YTD) EQDs, which is used to track your progress toward elite status.

Rolling EQDs will initially be based on 3 things:

  1. EQDs that would’ve been earned for eligible travel August 1 – December 31, 2016
  2. EQDs actually earned January 1, 2017 – now (less than 12 months)
  3. EQDs earned from reaching qualifying spend thresholds on eligible AAdvantage® AviatorTM MasterCard® cards

Over time, this will build to a full 12 months and be updated daily.

Booking code

In the event that two members have the same Rolling EQD balance, we will then look at booking code and request date/time stamp.

Booking code priority:
  • From Business to First (for systemwide and mileage award upgrades only): J, R, D, I, C
  • From Main Cabin to the next class: W, P, Y, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O, T

Bottom Line

These changes go into effect on May 20, 2017 and it’s clear that airline continues to become more revenue focused as Delta and United are already. Factoring in your Elite Qualifying Dollar Spending (EDQ) could have an impact on those who aren’t spending as much as business travelers, and may find themselves now lower on the upgrade list.

However the change to award tickets for ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum members is a positive one, so depending where you fall into the mix of spending, you may find both these changes positive.

Share your thoughts below on the new upgrade changes that American Airlines is rolling out. 

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. For details on current offers visit the card issuer’s site.

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  1. re: 500 mile companion upgrades.. if you’re ExPlat you don’t earn 500 upgrades. So do you have to buy them in order to use them and upgrade your companion?

  2. Good question by alison, like to know the answer.

    The changes appear to be positive for me in this current period as I have been traveling extensively, including some expensive overseas business travel. I know there will come a time it will work against me when my travel subsides. Clearly there be winners and losers, as there always is with these types of changes.

    I do like the theoretical ability to upgrade on awards travel using 500 milage awards, although those will run out fast as PlatEx don’t earn them. Is this a way for AA to get rid of all those balances of 500 Miles Upgrades that we all have banked?

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