No More Wiggle Room on AA 500 Mile Upgrade Stickers

With the changes to the AAdvantage program the other day, there are some winners and some losers. Overall, current US Airways members took the brunt of the changes, with the biggest in that they will now have to use 500 mile upgrade stickers on flights longer than 500 miles. Flights under 500 miles will be complimentary for all elites.

Here’s a change you may not have seen: American Airlines has removed the 51 mile “buffer zone” from 500 mile upgrades. Here’s how this worked previously:

Let’s say you had a flight that was previously 510 miles long. Under the current system, you only needed to use (1) 500 mile upgrade, since you were given a 51 mile buffer (up to 551 miles), that way you didn’t have to shell out two upgrades.

Under the new system, this buffer will be removed, and 500 mile upgrades will remain hard and fast at 500 miles.

Let’s take a look at a sample route – which, in the forums I’ve read, seems to be the most talked about routing, since it includes a US Airways hub and an American hub.

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Charlotte to JFK is 541 miles each way. Under the old rules, you’d only have to use (1) 500 mile upgrade. Under the new rules, since it is above 500 miles one-way, you now need to use (2) 500 mile upgrades. The cost for a one-way upgrade? $60. This has some US Airways elites up in arms, since not only is it above the 500 mile complimentary threshold, but also falls under the new rules where 2 upgrades need to be used.

Are you affected by these changes? Did you know about this “hidden” change?

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