The Inside Scoop on AA/US Complimentary/500 Mile Upgrades

Taken from an official AA employee-only release earlier this year, here’s the official upgrade policy for American Airlines and US Airways elites, now through January 1, until the new AAdvantage program takes effect. There’s a lot of good questions and answers here – some more than what was released publicly. It should provide you a good guide going into the travel-heavy Christmas season as elites form both sides try to sit in front of the curtain.

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Q: Is anything changing regarding current upgrade policies for Dividend Miles members traveling on US Airways or AAdvantage members traveling on American?

No, all current policies for loyalty members traveling on their respective airlines will stay the same.

Q: Are these the only changes to the upgrade policy moving forward?

This is a temporary program until we combine our programs into a single loyalty program. It’s designed for our customers to realize the benefits the merger as soon as possible while we work to combine the loyalty programs and integrate the airlines. Once we have a single loyalty program for our members, we will provide additional information regarding our future upgrade policy. We will provide ample notice for any decisions that impact members.

Q: How does this new upgrade option work?

For travel on or after June 11, AAdvantage elite status members will have the ability to upgrade at no charge when traveling on US Airways operated flights, if seats are available, within and between:

the U.S. (excluding Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Bermuda as well as between the U.S. and Central America. Upgrades can be secured at check-in as early as 24 hours prior to departure and are offered on a first come, first served basis. If a seat is not available, members can elect to add themselves to the upgrade standby list at check-in.

US Airways Dividend Miles Preferred members will have the ability to upgrade when traveling on American Airlines operated flights, if seats are available, within and between

the U.S. (including Hawaii), Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas,, the Caribbean and Bermuda as well as between the U.S. and Central America. Upgrades can be secured at check-in as early as 24 hours prior to departure and are offered on a first come, first served basis. There is not currently an option for Dividend Miles members to be added to the upgrade standby list at check-in.

Q: How can I request one of these upgrades?

AAdvantage elite status members upgrading on US Airways operated flights: If available:

upgrades will be offered at check-in via usairways.com, US Airways app, US Airways mobile website, self-service kiosk, US Airways airport agent or a US Airways club agent on a first come, first served basis. To secure an upgrade, all travelers in the reservation will need to agree to the upgrade options as presented at check-in.

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Dividend Miles Preferred members upgrading on American operated flights: If available:

upgrades will be offered at check-in via aa.com, mobile web, self-service kiosk, and AA airport or club agent (mobile app is excluded) on a first come, first served basis. In order to make the upgrade process as seamless as possible, we recommend members are booked in a single passenger reservation. If not, upgrades may not be made available.

Q: Can an elite member request an upgrade after check-in?

AAdvantage elite status members upgrading on US Airways operated flights:

Should a member request an upgrade after check-in, US airport/Club agents can offer day-of- departure upgrades if seats are available. If seats are not available, the option to be added to the standby list is offered for single passenger PNRs only and is prioritized based on tier status and check-in time.

Dividend Miles Preferred members upgrading on American operated flights:

Should a member request an upgrade after check-in, AA airport/Admirals Club agents can offer day-of-departure upgrades if seats are available. The self-service kiosks inside security will also offer day-of-departure upgrades if available. An airport standby list option is not available .

Q: How much do these upgrades cost?

AAdvantage elite status members upgrading on US Airways operated flights: Complimentary for all elite status members

Dividend Miles Preferred members upgrading on American operated flights:

Complimentary for Chairman’s Preferred members. Gold, Platinum and Silver members will be able to upgrade at the cost of $30 per 500 miles of travel (similar to the pricing offered to AAdvantage Gold and Platinum members)

If pressed for additional information: This program is temporary until we combine our programs into a single loyalty program. At this time, upgrade policies will follow the current protocol of the operating airline. Therefore, Gold, Platinum and Silver Dividend Miles members must pay to upgrade when flying on American flights as AAdvantage Gold and Platinum members currently do.

Q: What is the likelihood of my being offered an upgrade through this new option?

This new option is first come, first served and is strictly based on upgrade availability at the time of check-in. Markets where we have a high number of purchased First or Business Class travel or where elite status members of each carrier’s own loyalty program are upgraded in advance will have less availability for upgrades at the time of check-in.

Q: If I’m a Chairman’s Preferred member in the Dividend Miles program or Executive Platinum in the AAdvantage program, do I have priority over lower tier members?

These upgrades are offered on a first come, first served basis. If an AAdvantage or Dividend Miles lower tier member checks in before a Chairman’s Preferred member, they may be granted the upgrade first.

This program is temporary until we combine our programs into a single loyalty program.

Q: What if my reservation includes a combination of travel on AA and US operated flights?

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In the case of a mixed itinerary:

  • where the AAdvantage elite member is checking in with AA for the first flight and connecting to a US flight, the customer would need to see a US airport agent for an upgrade on US.
  • where the Dividend Miles Preferred member is checking in with US for the first flight and connecting to an AA flight, the customer would need to see an AA agent for an upgrade on AA.

Q: Can elite members still obtain upgrades for companions under this option?

AAdvantage elite status members upgrading on US Airways operated flights:

A single non elite companion traveling in the same reservation will receive a complimentary upgrade. Additional companions pay the standard GoUpgrades price.

Dividend Miles Preferred members upgrading on American operated flights: Companions will be charged the standard day-of-departure upgrade price.

In order to make the upgrade process as seamless as possible, we recommend members are booked in a single passenger reservation. If not, upgrades may not be made available. If you are not in a single passenger reservation, please see which scenario fits your itinerary below and we’ll do our best to assist you.

AAdvantage elite status members upgrading on US Airways marketed, AA operated flights:

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation, and all parties in your reservation are Executive Platinum members?

That’s good! If upgrades are available, they will be displayed for all members of your party at check-in. In order for the upgrades to be confirmed, all parties must accept the upgrade at check-in.

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation, and all parties in your reservation are either AAdvantage Platinum or Gold members?

That’s good! If upgrades are available, they will be displayed for all members of your party at check-in. In order for the upgrades to be confirmed, all parties must accept the upgrade at check-in.

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation with a mixture of Executive Platinum and lower tier AAdvantage members?

In order to offer an upgrade on a codeshare flight, all passengers in the reservation must be eligible for the same price point. In this case, no upgrade option can be offered. For future travel on codeshare flights, it is recommended that you book a reservation as a single passenger in order to be eligible to upgrade.

Dividend Miles Preferred members upgrading on American Airlines:

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation traveling on an American operated and marketed flight, and there is a mixture of Chairman’s Preferred and lower tier Dividend Miles Preferrred members?

If you are, we recommend you check in individually, apart from the others in your party, so that the upgrade may be displayed for you at check-in. If you are already checked in, please see an airport agent for assistance.

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation traveling on an American operated and marketed flight, and all parties in your reservation are Chairman’s Preferred members?

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That’s good! If upgrades are available, they will be displayed for all members of your party at check-in. In order for the upgrades to be confirmed, all parties must accept the upgrade at check-in.

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation traveling on an American operated and marketed flight, and all parties in your reservation are either Dividend Miles Silver, Gold or Platinum members?

That’s good! If upgrades are available, they will be displayed for all members of your party at check-in. In order for the upgrades to be confirmed, all parties must accept the upgrade at check-in.

Are you in a multiple passenger reservation traveling on a US Airways marketed flight operated by American Airlines?

In order to offer an upgrade on a codeshare flight, all passengers in the reservation must be eligible for the same price point – all must be Chairman’s Preferred members or all must be Silver, Gold and/or Platinum members. For future travel on codeshare flights, it is recommended that you book a reservation as a single passenger in order to be eligible to upgrade.

Q: Why did you decide to offer this upgrade option if it’s only a temporary solution?

Although we have a lot of work ahead of us to combine our loyalty programs, we know reciprocal upgrades are one of the most valued benefits for our elite members at both airlines. We didn’t want a First/Business Class seat to be left empty and elite members of either program not have access to it.

Q: Will this new upgrade option impact the ability for current loyalty program members of each airline to upgrade?
AAdvantage elite status members:

We account for any AAdvantage elite status members awaiting an upgrade before offering upgrades to other customers at check-in. That process will not change.

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