American Airlines Extends Expiration of Systemwide Upgrades (But Some Upgrades Will Be Lost)

Along with extending elite status by a year American Airlines is also extending systemwide upgrade certificates. Any systemwide upgrade expiring by January 31, 2021 will be extended to July 31, 2021.

In other words Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members get an extra six months to use their confirmed upgrade certificates. (Members hitting the two million mile and subsequent million mile thresholds receive systemwide upgrades as well.)

  • Historically if you had already qualified for Executive Platinum (or above) elite status for the next year when using an expiring systemwide upgrade you could apply that upgrade to travel beyond the expiration date – you just just had to apply and confirm the upgrade by the time the certificate expired. (It wasn’t supposed to work this way, but the system would pull your soonest-to-expire upgrade certificate.)

  • Using the upgrade for travel beyond its expiration date was explicitly permitted for upgrades expiring in early 2020.. Not all agents realized it, and this sometimes required hanging up and calling back.

I should point out that although members are having their elite status extended, Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members only receive additional systemwide upgrades if they requalify for status in 2020 or earn additional ones for continuing to fly after qualifying.

Several readers have asked what happens to those systemwide upgrades that were slated to expire January 31, 2020, but that they applied to future travel that they now cannot use. For instance an Executive Platinum member may have used a January 2020-expiring systemwide to upgrade a June flight to Europe that is no longer operating.

That systemwide upgrade will, unfortunately, simply expire unused.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I called today with the exact situation you described – upgrade expired in January 2020 but applied towards a flight in April that is not operating. AAdvantage customer service said they would extend it but I don’t yet know for how long. I’ll let you know when I find out.

    This is an issue that predated the coronavirus, but definitely didn’t arise nearly as often as it is now.

  2. Gary – any word on the extended SWUs expiring 4/30/2020? Will those be extended (like United is doing) or will they be expiring them if you can’t find upgrade space to clear before then?

  3. AA is a joke, taxpayer dollars and then reduce the benefit for lifetime flyer to change a FF Ticket what a joke!

  4. “That systemwide upgrade will, unfortunately, simply expire unused.” — not true.

    I had a SWU set to expire 1/31/20, applied to a flight next week last Dec. The flight cancelled a month ago. On 3/25/20 I asked for refund AND for SWU to be redeposited to my account. It was, without hassle.

    It’s now in my account showing expiration date of 6/23/20. I was also told if flights are still cancelled in June they will likely re-extend expiration date (though I’m not counting on it).

  5. Incorrect. They go thru process of cancelling the ticket and re extending automatically thru 6/23. You will receive an email about this. This was the message:
    Great news! We’ve taken care of your request to reinstate 2 unused
    systemwide upgrade(s) to your account. We see 1 systemwide upgrade(s)
    previously cleared for an upcoming trip that was canceled due to
    government-imposed travel restrictions for the novel coronavirus. To
    assist with your travel plans, we would like to give you an additional 3
    months to find another flight to use the expired upgrade(s)! Your
    current systemwide upgrade balance is

  6. So I had a similar situation to some of the above – booked tics in Jan to fly in April and used systemwides expiring 1/20. When flights cancelled I called to get a refund – which still hasn’t occurred, but the systemwides were put back into my account – expired. I called to inquire and was told that if I booked another ticket prior to the end of April, I could use these systemwides, but otherwise, they would not extend them, so obviously AA is giving EXPs different stories to the status of these.

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