Some fantastic news got announced yesterday for anyone playing the Loyalty Points games but who falls short of Executive Platinum status. American Airlines will now be offering upgrades to elite members on award flights.
You can read the full announcement here if you didn’t happen to get an email from American Airlines yet. These changes will come into effect on June 9 and it means that anyone with Platinum Pro, Platinum or Gold status will be eligible for upgrades in North America from economy or premium economy to business or domestic first when flying on a reservation booked with AAdvantage miles.
That’s an improvement for people in that scenario because AAdvantage members with those status levels are currently only eligible for upgrades on paid flights. Executive Platinum members are already eligible for upgrades on award flights, so this doesn’t change anything for them.
Upgrades will initially be processed based on status level. If there are travelers competing for upgrade space, the next differentiator will be Systemwide and mileage award upgrades followed by complimentary upgrades. After that, upgrades will be decided based on your 12 month rolling Loyalty Points earnings.
I can see why American Airlines is differentiating based on that final factor because it encourages members to keep trying to earn Loyalty Points with them once they’ve attained status for the year. If, say, you’ve hit Platinum Pro status but know you won’t hit Executive Platinum, these upgrade changes could encourage you to keep earning Loyalty Points that might not get you anything else other than a potentially better chance of an upgrade.
This isn’t a win for all AAdvantage members. At particular disadvantage will be those with lower status traveling on a paid ticket. With the previous setup, someone with Platinum status flying on a paid ticket would likely have had a much better chance of an upgrade than they will after June 9. That’s because now Platinum members flying on an award with better recent Loyalty Points earnings, plus all Platinum Pro members regardless of how they paid for their flight will be above them in the upgrade list unless they redeem Systemwide or mileage upgrade awards.