American Airlines plane

American Airlines extends complimentary upgrade to more flyers

Starting March 2, American Airlines will extend complimentary upgrade eligibility to include all North American flights for AAdvantage members with Platinum and Gold status.

The shift will be a significant one, as Platinum and Gold members currently must use 500-mile upgrade stickers for upgrades on flights longer than 500 miles, with one sticker required for every additional 500 miles of flight length. Upgrade stickers typically cost $40.

Under the revised system, American will automatically make upgrade requests for Platinum and Gold members on those longer North American flights, just as it does with for AAdvantage Concierge Key, Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members.

Upgrades will be awarded on a priority basis, with the highest-status AAdvantage members being first in line.

For now, American will continue to require members of all AAdvantage loyalty tiers to use 500-mile upgrade stickers for travel companions. But sometime later this year, the carrier said it will extend complimentary upgrades to one traveler flying with the status member. At that time, all existing 500-mile upgrades in members’ accounts will each convert to 250 loyalty points toward the 2022 status qualification period, American said.

American implemented a simplified process for achieving status on Jan. 1. Under the new accrual process, AAdvantage members get one loyalty point for each AAdvantage frequent flyer point they earn. Loyalty points can be earned by flying, spending with an AAdvantage credit card or by shopping online or dining with AAdvantage partners.