An interesting story American Airlines upgrade story – compounded by terrible customer service – tells me it’s worth reminding that American Airlines does not offer any way to upgrade to premium economy before the day of travel and that no American Airlines upgrade instrument will cover the cost of a premium economy upgrade.
This is actually a good thing because it means that all advance upgrades, and upgrades paid for with a certificate, still skip over the premium economy cabin.
This papssenger flew Dallas to Maui and received an upgrade at the gate from coach to premium economy. However they “were told that 500-mile upgrades were only good for 1-cabin upgrades, and that since this was a three-cabin aircraft (772), that meant Coach to Premium Economy.”
As best as I can tell,
- Business class had only one seat available, they couldn’t both have been upgraded to business anyway
- They may have been offered a day of departure upgrade to premium economy
- However if that is true, they shouldn’t have been charged 500 mile upgrade certificates, it should either have been free based on eligible elite status or available for a fee to consider.
The passenger, correctly, believed that their 500 mile upgrade certificates shouldn’t have been deducted, and complained to the airline. American responded, the passenger responded, and American responded again:
Got a nasty call from that same [customer service] agent today, saying that she thought she had already told me that there would be no refund in stickers, and chastising me for not rejecting the upgrade when I found out (at the gate) that the stickers in question would not be upgrading me to First.
…She initially reiterated that AA CR is a “single point of contact” system, and that there was nobody in AA at all she could escalate my complaint to. However, after telling her I was going to open another complaint specifically about Her (now that I have confirmed that she’s quoting incorrect rules), she told me she’d transfer the complaint to someone else, and immediately hung up.
…She called back again to correct herself that this will NOT be escalated.
She said with vigor that she has reviewed everything, and confirmed all of what she said and also (this is worth noting):
“Class R is used for sticker upgrades from Main Cabin to Premium Economy.”
The passenger writes that on their return flight from Maui to Dallas the airline again offered an upgrade to premium economy complimentary for them (based on top status) and paid for with 500 mile upgrade certificates for their companion.
Since they “did not want to spend another 8 stickers, and there was not a pair of PE seats together” they gave their free upgrade seat to their companion and sat in extra legroom coach.
Here’s the letter from American Airlines confirming that 500 mile upgrade certificates are only valid for upgrade from coach to premium economy on aircraft that offer a premium economy cabin – which is 100% false.
American Airlines doesn’t offer AAdvantage redemption or elite upgrades into premium economy. The only premium economy upgrades are day of departure paid, or complimentary for top elites. Upgrades from coach with systemwides, miles, or 500-mile certificates are to business/first class. A passenger already in premium economy can upgrade to business/first class with these same instruments as well.
But there is no such thing as an e-500 upgrade to premium economy. As American Airlines spokesperson Brian Metham confirms,
Unfortunately, the customer was given incorrect information. Customers aren’t able to upgrade into Premium Economy using e500s (or other instruments like systemwide upgrades and miles + cash).
Right now, the only option to upgrade into Premium Economy is through our Day of Departure Upgrade product.
Since 500 mile upgrades cannot be used as payment towards a premium economy upgrade, I’ve asked American how this member can get their 500 mile upgrade certificates back.