American Airlines Changes Up Its Upgrade Priority Order

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American Airlines is changing up its upgrade priority lists, and once again, small spenders get the short end of the stick.

Of the Big Three airlines, AA was the final airline to change its frequent-flyer program to the revenue-based one, but now it’s taking a step further. Effective May 20, passengers whose yearly spending with the airline exceeds that of another passenger will be prioritized on upgrade lists, provided all other determining factors, such as elite status, are equal.

In this scenario, two AAdvantage Executive Platinum members vying for the upgrade will not be treated equally, and the upgrade will go to the highest bidder, aka the passenger who spent more with AA in the past 12 months.

How Will Upgrades Be Prioritized?

American will determine which flyers receive upgrades based on the following factors, in this order:

  • Elite Status Level: AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, AAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Gold
  • Upgrade Type: systemwide upgrades, 500-mile Upgrades on purchased tickets, 500-mile upgrades on award tickets
  • 12-month rolling Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) Booking Code
  • Booking Code: from Business to First, including J, R, D, I, C; from Main Cabin to the next classes, including W, P, Y, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O, T
  • Date and Time of Request

EQDs are accumulated based on ticket costs. Rolling EQDs initially will be prioritized as follows:

  • EQDs that would have been earned between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016
  • EQDs earned between Jan. 1, 2017, to now
  • EQDs earned through spending with eligible AAdvantage Aviator MasterCards

Over time, EQDs will be updated every day and reflect activity for the past year.

Award Ticket Upgrades

Additionally, Concierge Key and Executive Platinum flyers will have the opportunity to request upgrades for tickets booked with AAdvantage miles. It will be possible to use 500-mile upgrades for the passenger and one companion to request upgrades from Main Cabin to the next class. However, 500-mile upgrades on revenue tickets will be prioritized above upgrades on award tickets.

Upgrades for Travel Companions

Companions will have the same priority as the primary passenger on award tickets. It will be possible to upgrade the companion if he or she is traveling on an award ticket, and the sponsor member is not. The number of upgrades will be determined by the companion’s elite status, but the upgrades will be deducted form the sponsor’s account. It doesn’t matter if the companion also has elite status.

In Conclusion

The changes are positive for those travelers who spend a lot with the airline, such as business travelers, and can get upgrades on short-notice bookings. However, those who book cheap revenue flights in advance and don’t spend as much will be left in the dust.

What do you think about the new priority list?

Anya Kartashova

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Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Annual Fee:
    $95 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees:
    No
  • Card Type: Bank


Apply Now
Add to Favorites
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Apply Now

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