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How do I Upgrade Flights on American Airlines?

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are booked in economy or business class on American Airlines, it may be possible to get a better seat by upgrading to business or first class. Upgrades are available to members of the airline's Advantage program.

Upgrades from economy class can only be done for full-price tickets (tickets with Yor B fares). There must be available seating in the class to which the upgrade is requested. An upgrade can only be used for a one-way trip, which has no more than three segments. One electronic upgrade is required for every 500 miles you want to fly.

Fly frequently. Top tier members of the Advantage program can earn points toward upgrades each time they fly. Members with elite gold status accrue three upgrade points every time they accumulate 10,000 travel miles. Executive platinum members are automatically upgraded when they purchase a full fare ticket.

Check you upgrade balance. If you are a gold, or platinum member of the Advantage program, your upgrade points are automatically added to your account. You can review them on line or with an airline agent.

Request an upgrade when making your reservation on line or with an agent, if you have sufficient upgrades to cover the distance you want to travel. Requesting an upgrade is not a guarantee you will get one. Upgrades are provided on a space available basis. You will be notified if you receive an upgrade anywhere from 72 hours to a half hour before departure.

Request confirmation of your upgrade when it become available. You can request to be notified via e-mail.

Add yourself to the upgrade standby list, if your upgrade was not confirmed before check-in. Standby upgrades are given by membership status. Executive platinum, platinum and gold Advantage members receive priority.

Purchase upgrades. Upgrades are sold in 500 segments. You can purchase them on line or at the airport. If you buy upgrades at the airport they cost a bit more. The price is £19 per 500-mile upgrade on line or via self service machines at the airport, and £22 when purchased from an agent.

You can also "purchase" upgrades using your Advantage miles.

Using miles, the cost is 15,000 miles for a one way upgrade on a flight anywhere in the U.S, Caribbean, Canada and Alaska.

Request an upgrade when making your reservation on line or with an agent, if you have sufficient upgrades to cover the distance you want to travel. Requesting an upgrade is not a guarantee you will get one. Upgrades are provided on a space available basis. You will be notified if you receive an upgrade anywhere from 72 hours to a half hour before departure.

Request confirmation of your upgrade when it become available. You can request to be notified via e-mail.

Add yourself to the upgrade standby list, if your upgrade was not confirmed before check-in. Standby upgrades are given by membership status. Executive platinum, platinum and gold Advantage members receive priority.

Tip

Upgrades are dependent on seating, so select flights when business class is less likely to be full.

Warning

If you are not an elite member of the Advantage program, with executive platinum, platinum or gold status, you can only buy upgrades for a full fare ticket.

Things You'll Need

  • AAdvantage membership
  • Full price ticket in economy class, or business class ticket
  • Sufficient amount of electronic upgrades or Advantage miles
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About the Author

A former journalist and magazine editor since 1984, Johan Hjelm is now an independent writer. He has written 15 books, contributed to "Data Communications" and was editor-in-chief of "Nätvärlden." Hjelm has a certificate in journalism from Poppius School of Journalism, and has studied at Uppsala University in Sweden and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.