Upgrading on American Airline as a US Airways Elite

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“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” was the first thing that popped into my head when reading the US Airways instructions for “How to upgrade on your next American Airlines flight“.

us airways upgrades on american airlines for elites

Basically if there’s a First Class seat available when you check in, you get it (regardless of level of status). If there’s not, you should periodically pull up your reservation and click Change Seats to see if one has opened up. They will not add you to the airport standby list.

This sounded a little stressful, but in travel nerd style, I was actually rather excited to try it out on my flight home from Albuquerque.

24 hours out I checked in for my flights. During the check in process I went to “Select/Change Seat” but only economy options showed up. Bummed I hit the check in button and was redirected to this page:

American Airlines upgrades for US Airways Elites

Woohoo! There was a seat available on one of the flights. The instructions just hadn’t suggested the upgrade option would come up later in the check in process.

Throughout the day I proceeded to pull up my reservation and select “change seats” for my DFW-DCA portion, right up until about an hour before departure, but no luck.

It’s a very awkward system, but better than before when I was guaranteed to be sitting in American coach as a US Airways Chairman.

It works a little differently for American Airlines elites flying US Airways. They’re eligible for upgrades within 24 hours of departure, which is after all US Airways elites will have automatically cleared. However, if it comes down to upgrades at the gate, they are added to the standby list.

And unlike American Airlines where only Executive Platinum status qualifies for complimentary upgrades, all American elites are eligible on US Airways. Of course, that’s assuming there’s any available First Class seats…


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  1. DaninMCI

    October 8, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    What I’ve learned also is that if you have a two stage flight if you check in prior to the time limit available to check in for the second flight it might not let you upgrade for the second flight. I hope that makes sense.

  2. Keri Anderson

    October 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Makes total sense, and that’s actually the position I was in this weekend. I wondered if the reason I didn’t clear the upgrade on the second leg was because of timing or if it was already full. I considered waiting til 24 hours from the second flight but didn’t want to risk losing the upgrade on the first one! 🙂

  3. martinpj

    October 8, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Same here, I went to check in 24 hours before and it only let me check in for the first part of my leg, which I find really strange. This was my very first time flying AA metal. It emailed my the first leg boarding pass. When I called AA, they said because of when I checked in, I would not be able to check in for the second part till I got to the airport, and the second leg was the one I knew I wanted upgraded in and knew there were 3 first class seats available. I got in my rental car, drove to the airport, and had no less than 5 people behind a computer at Detroit Metro figuring out how to get me checked in and upgraded. While is some really bad technology, the AA folks at the airport provided some pretty awesome customer service. And I have to say I love that the DCA>ORD route is under two hours and they still provide a full meal on that plane.

  4. Walt

    October 8, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    How is it for AA on US? You mentioned that this scenario doesn’t occur for AA elites on US, but their website doesn’t seem to specify how it works. E.g. 2-segment itinerary with the first leg at 3 pm and the second leg at 5 pm. On the day before, if you try to check in at 3 pm, can you get upgrades for both the 3 pm and 5 pm flight (if available), or just 3 pm?

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