The Way Upgrades with American Are More Annoying than US Airways

There are a lot of ways that American Airlines’ set of processes and procedures is better than US Airways.american airlines tower

But I still stand behind that the upgrade system on US Airways was better–and I had an experience that causes me to stand even more behind that.

On  US Airways, you need a 1:1 ratio of elites to non-elites in order to qualify for upgrades.

But what’s great is if you have a platinum and a gold with four passengers total, all get upgraded as a platinum.

Also, they all get upgraded on the same PNR.

I booked four people on one PNR on an American flight.  One platinum, one gold, and two non-elites.

I went in to use the 500-mile upgrade certificates that non-top elites get for upgrades.  They wouldn’t apply.

So I called up American and they explained that the rules for using certificates are one elite and one non-elite per PNR.  It isn’t a ratio the way it is on  US Airways.

So in order for anyone in my party to qualify for upgrades, I’d have to split the PNR and put one elite and one non-elite on one ticket, and one elite and non-elite on the other.

I was a little stunned by this because it seems an overly complicated way of being able to get upgrades for any group larger than two for non-top tier elites.

The agent explained that it is because of the way the certificates are applied.  I can only apply certificates to one other person, and I cannot access the other elite’s certificates to upgrade the other non-elite (and himself)–even if he called up and wanted to use them.

My only solution was to split the PNR.  Then it is really possible for only two of us to get upgraded, plus if there are any delays/cancellations, we could potentially get separated.  Definitely not an ideal situation and a lot of extra legwork.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

Check Also

flight cancellations

How to Handle Sudden Flight Cancellations

How do you handle sudden flight cancellations? A few years back when I regularly flew …


  1. The American method is how it should be. Why should your TWO non-elite friends get priority the same as others who EARNED priority?

  2. No comments allowed? No wonder nobody pays attention to your posts.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Comments are allowed. First time commentators are caught by the system to be moderated, so they are manually approved.

  3. I believe you can ask them to put in the PNRs to keep you together if there is any travel disruption. They can link PNRs for a variety of purposes – for example, for an upgrade, which I appreciate, since I’m often traveling with someone on some legs but not others.

    Delta and US Airways always declined to do any upgrades on separate PNRs when we’d asked.

  4. Moving to the AA 500 mile upgrade cert system is a huge loss of benefit for us US Airways customers who are not at the AA EXP level. Now you have to fly 10,000 miles to get 4 certs to get an upgrade for 2,000 miles. I fly weekly on a flight that is 625 miles, so I’m not going to waste 2 certs on this, and I’ll never get comp upgraded with the AA system. So I may switch to Southwest which has a better coach class product.

  5. I’m curious how upgrades on US flights are going to work during the 90 day transition – flights purchased after this week will all be AA tickets operated by US. When I have flown these tickets so far I wind up with only a chance at a check in or wait list, I’m assuming all tickets I buy after July 18 on AA and flown by US will be in that boat.

    Slightly lowers my batting average for a few months, but I can’t complain, it was 99%, so hitting at 90% is still fine by me.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      That’s a really good question. Have you been buying the flights through the website they are operated by? That’s what I’ve needed to do to get upgrades.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.