How Do I Upgrade Class On American?

If you’re not an elite member of American Airlines AAdvantage, there’s a chance that you won’t get upgraded on your next flight.

Despite the high number of people wanting to upgrade, there are still ways to get upgraded on an AAdvantage flight.

The Top American Airlines Upgrades

There are various types of upgrades you can opt for when it comes to your American Airlines flight. These include mileage upgrades, systemwide upgrades, and much more. However, such upgrades depend on your Elite Level with American Airlines.

Members of the American Airlines AAdvantage program can earn up to 500 miles worth of upgrades on each flight. They can also purchase additional 500-mile upgrades.

Complimentary Upgrades

Elite members can earn up to 500 miles on flights that are less than 500 miles long.

Members of the Platinum, Executive, and Concierge tier can get upgraded on all flights within the US and between the US and other countries.

Systemwide Upgrades

Systemwide upgrades are given to members of the Platinum and Executive Platinum tier based on their choice of rewards. Each tier has its own upgrade plan, and the Executive Platinum can choose up to four upgrades.

These upgrades can be used for up to three segments in each direction.

500-Mile Upgrades

Platinum and Gold AAdvantage Elite members can get 4 500-mile upgrades for each 12,500 Elite Qualifying Miles they earn. They can also apply these upgrades on longer flights.

The Gold and Platinum elite members can also get upgraded on flights that are over 1,000 miles long.

Mileage Upgrade Awards

You can upgrade flights worldwide with your miles by combining them with a cash co-pay. For instance, a domestic flight from the US to Mexico would require 15,000 miles and $145.

The Availability Of Upgrade Space

If you want to check the availability of an upgrade, you must log in to your American Airlines account. When you are looking for the systemwide upgrades, you must look for the upgrade link. It will let you know whether there are upgrade seats available for you.

One of the most challenging parts of upgrading is finding an available seat on American Airlines.

If you have a ConciergeKey or an Executive Platinum status, you can check the availability of available upgrades on when searching for a flight.

Others will also have to call to see if there are enough upgrade spaces available.

You can also find out if there are available upgrade spaces by searching for A (first class) or C (business class) on a third-party site such as ExpertFlyer.

Non-elite members can only secure an upgrade by submitting a request with a systemwide or mileage upgrade.

Non-elite members can only secure an upgrade through miles upgrade awards or a systemwide upgrade.

Even if you don’t have an elite status, you can still secure an upgrade even without an elite status.

Elite Levels And Upgrade Types

There are four Elite levels that American Airlines offers to its customers. The upgrade type you receive will depend on your Elite level. So, be sure to check which category you fall under to enjoy the various upgrades.


This top tier is only available to American Airlines elite members. It includes all of the upgrades that Executive Platinum members get.

Executive Platinum

Executive Platinum members can get 4 systemwide upgrade certificates and 2 additional Southwest miles per 50,000 miles flown.

There are also free upgrades available on flights between the US and some of the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico.

Platinum Pro

Members of Platinum Pro can get upgraded on flights within the US and to some of the Caribbean, Central America, and Bermuda.

Platinum members can also earn additional 500-mile upgrades on flights that are less than 500 miles. They can also earn these upgrades for every 12,500 miles they fly annually.


Members can also earn up to 4 500-mile upgrades on every 12,500 miles they fly. This tier has not been announced how many upgrades they will receive in 2022 based on their current status.

The number one factor that affects who gets an upgrade is your top AAdvantage program elite status. Having the right credit card can make it easier to secure an upgrade.

The American Airlines AAdvantage Card And Its Value

The American Airlines AAdvantage card is excellent for travellers who want a travel credit card without any annual fee. Besides that, it is also ideal for people who are looking for airline perks and a sign-up bonus. That is why it is one of the top choices for people who travel on a budget.

Each level of American Airlines’ elite status requires a level of spending with the airline to be considered elite. For 2021, you will use a simpler system known as Loyalty Points.

The AAdvantage Aviator Credit Card from Barclays gives you the opportunity to earn elite qualifying dollars (as much as $3,000 annually).

This benefit will end during the 2021 elite status earning period. For example, if you earn 200,000 Loyalty Point during the course of your earning, it would require $200,000 to pay for a co-brand card.

Although having a credit card may not directly help you get an upgrade, it can still accelerate your progress toward attaining elite status.

Upgrading Without AAdvantage Frequent Flyer Status

You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to get an upgrade with American Airlines. A top elite member can also request an upgrade for you if you are both travelling on the same eligible flight. Besides that, you can also use your miles to buy first-class or business tickets.

Regardless of your AAdvantage frequent flyer status, you can still upgrade to a flight with American Airlines whenever available.

An upgrade can be made on a single-class ticket for travel within 3 segments. The distance difference between the ticket and the amount of miles needed to upgrade depends on the route.

Partner Airline Upgrades

You can also upgrade with miles on partner airlines of American Airlines. A maximum of three segments in one direction can be upgraded. Keep in mind that all segments being upgraded must be on the same ticket and the fare conditions of the original fare will still apply.

One caveat to making an upgrade is that you will need to purchase a full-fare economy ticket to upgrade.

One particular deal that’s usually on sale is the British Airways economy premium to business ticket. This is a good value for an upgrade.

Depending on the destination and the distance traveled, you may be charged additional taxes and fees for certain trips.

Some routes outside North America can also be upgraded. See the complete list of eligible routes on

For AARP members, British Airways is offering discounts on tickets for travel from the US. These deals are a good value when combined with upgraded miles.

American Airlines Companion Upgrades

If you are traveling with an Elite member or you are an Elite member, you can request a companion upgrade for someone flying with you who is not an Elite member. The companion will also receive same priority as you by the airlines. You can also use 500 miles upgrades to upgrade a companion.

American Airlines has improved the process for companion upgrades. If a companion is traveling with an elite member, the companion will receive the same priority as the original flier.

If a companion is traveling with an Executive Platinum member, the companion will be upgraded to the priority status regardless of their status. To determine if the companion has status, an upgrade can be labeled as split or no split.

Members of the Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey elite programs can use their systemwide upgrades to upgrade their companions. However, they must purchase 500-mile upgrades for their companions.

500-mile upgrades can be used to upgrade a companion.

Members of the ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum programs can also upgrade their companions without using their own systemwide upgrades.

Securing an Upgrade With American Airlines

If you want to secure an upgrade, you must log in to your American Airlines AAdvantage account and ensure you have systemwide upgrades available. Once you book your flight, you can find the upgrade link to upgrade your seat. However, if the upgrade is not available, American Airlines will waitlist your request.

Despite the high number of available upgrades, securing one can be challenging due to the limited number of available upgrades.

Members can upgrade their tickets and receive systemwide upgrades through Executive Platinum Elite status.

To secure an upgrade, you need to purchase 500 miles or 8 upgrades for a total of 40,000 miles.

To secure an upgrade, you need to purchase at least 500 miles or 8 upgrades. You can also use miles to purchase first class tickets.

Buy an upgrade at the ticket counter, the check-in desk, or at the gate. An upgrade may be discounted and good value if it’s based on a load factor or a combination of both.

Knowing a top AAdvantage elite member could give you an upgrade even if you and the other elite member are traveling on the same flight.

You can use miles to purchase first class or business tickets with American Airlines. Usually, American Airlines’ sign-up bonuses give enough miles to secure a first class or business class ticket.

Set up fare alerts for business and first class tickets. These alerts can be found on Google Flights and other websites.

If your flight has been delayed or cancelled, you may be able to request an upgrade to the next flight.

Final Thoughts

The process of allocating upgrades is a positive for members of the AAdvantage program. It rewards those who show loyalty to the airline.

Flying in first class is easy with the purchase of a business or first class ticket. Just make sure to use the discount prices offered by the airline.

James Newman

James Newman is an air travel fanatic. From the fear of flying, TSA regulations, and saving money on flights & airlines, James has extensive knowledge when it comes to air travel. He hopes to make your air travel experience a better one with his blog

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