Wish I Had I Known Before I Set My Alarm for 1AM: American Airlines Upgrade Priority

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I’m in the midst of an American Airlines status challenge for Executive Platinum, and adjusting to how they do things has been more difficult than I thought.

I attended PizzaInMotion‘s great intro talk on American Airlines at the Frequent Traveler University a few months ago and felt like I had enough of a baseline to go on. Then on my first upgraded American Airlines flight, I couldn’t even figure out where my tray table was!

So fast forward to this morning, 1:30 AM when my alarm goes off. I’m doing a status mileage run to Anchorage this weekend and only one leg of my 4 flights hadn’t upgraded yet. The redeye Anchorage to Dallas segment.

I really want this to clear, and I assumed, without checking, that American Airlines, like United, factors time of check-in when determining where you fall on the upgrade waitlist. So I set my alarm for 24 hours from when my flight will be departing Anchorage. 1:30 comes and I blearily log in to my AA account, only to discover it won’t let me check in.

I don’t know if it’s because my outbound hadn’t taken place yet (that shouldn’t have affected it) or just a glitch, but there I was at 1:30, ready to be at the top of the upgrade list and no dice. 🙁

The next morning I do more research including asking fellow American Airline elites (something I should have done before setting my alarm) and discover that check in time is not an upgrade priority factor for American. Sigh.

Nothing like starting off a 24 hour straight turn to Alaska and back with interrupted sleep. I’ll break free of my United Airlines habits soon! I hope…


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


  1. Pizzainmotion

    June 9, 2013 at 11:08 am

    It may be hard to break those old UA habits, but I think you’ll be sooooo much happier once you’re converted over to the dAArk side. I’m kind of surprised that your upgrades didn’t clear in advance for a weekend flight. Did they give you EXP for the challenge or are you still a lower level?

    • Keri Anderson

      June 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

      They gave me the EXP challenge 🙂 The DFW-DCA cleared in advance. The ANC-DFW didn’t clear til about 4 hours before the flight left. I didn’t want to risk it and did cash & miles to confirm my outbound upgrade.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      June 9, 2013 at 11:29 am

      The dAArk side, I love it!

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