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  • Konrad Tillman

2/2 On American Airlines SystemWide Upgrades

Intro


In the past, Systemwide upgrades have been notoriously hard to clear on high-demand and long-haul routes with American Airlines. However, recently, I have had a little bit of success clearing the upgrade list!


Let's get into it!


What Is A SystemWide Upgrade


Before we get into my recent success story, I think it's important to share what a systemwide upgrade is. American Airlines has loyalty point reward systems, and as of reaching certain levels, members are eligible to choose a reward of two systemwide upgrades.


Once earning 175,000 Loyalty Points, Platinum Pro members can select up to two systemwide upgrades as their Loyalty Point Rewards benefit.

Once earning 250,000 Loyalty Points, Executive Platinum members can select up to four systemwide upgrades as their Loyalty Point Rewards benefit.


Business Class American Airlines 777-300

So, once you have a systemwide upgrade, how do you redeem it?


This is a more complicated process than it used to be, as it seems to be harder than before to find availability. One can use a single systemwide upgrade for up to three legs on the same reservation, moving up one class (premium economy is not included)


Economy-First Class (Domestic)

Economy- Business Class (International or Transcon)

Business Class- First Class (International)


My Experience Clearing


Clearing an upgrade can be a massive pain. In my case, I recently cleared Business to First on Miami-Los Angeles and Delhi to JFK (AA's longest flight)



However, it wasn't straightforward. Most of the time, you are looking for a flight that has "Systemwide Upgrades" available for your date, but these days, that is becoming less and less common. The trick is last-minute availability, as always, since AA is trying to get as much money as possible as they should.


For my flight from Miami to Los Angeles, my upgrade was confirmed about 27 hours from departure, with no space open on the website.


American Airlines First Class 777-300

This was very similar to the Delhi-New York leg, which cleared about 28 hours before departure with no availability.


My Tips


With all that said and done, here are my tips to improve your chances of getting a systemwide upgrade.


  1. Check the seat map leading up to departure. If the business is sold out and you are trying to upgrade from the economy, you probably won't have the most luck.

  2. Premium international routes are going to be the least likely, minus LAX-Sydney and Delhi-New York. However, DFW-LHR and LAX-LHR have been some of the hardest to clear.

  3. If the option arises, take a flight with more premium seats, such as the 777-300 over the 777-200.

  4. Be patient; there is no harm in waitlisting a systemwide as if it doesn't clear, it will just get re-deposited to your account.


Final Thoughts


Flexibility, patience, and a bit of luck are key if you are trying to move up to a comfier seat on American Airlines. In my case, I had a little bit of luck with business oversold on my Miami-Los Angeles leg and more than a bit of luck on my Delhi-New York leg. Systemwide upgrades can be great if you are willing to put a little bit of work in.









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