American Airlines Will Now Show Your Flight’s Upgrade List 12 Hours In Advance

Frequent flyers know the feeling of waiting for a ‘battlefield promotion’ at the gate. We have our elite status and upgrade requested, and we’re hovering waiting to see what our chances are. It used to be you used to have to ask. Then airlines started putting their wait lists up on the gate monitor.

Sometimes they’re just mocking us, there are 2 seats available for upgrade and we’re number 39 on the list. Why even bother? But when there are two seats left and we’re number two and we sweat it out and then – boom – someone comes along and bumps us down to number three.

You don’t have to wait until you get to the gate to see where you stand on the list. Airlines have been showing upgrade lists inside of their mobile app for some time. Generally it’ll just show passengers that have already checked in for their flight. American’s app has shown the list beginning four hours prior to departure.

Much earlier than that and it’s of limited use, because you may get pushed down the list by someone with a higher priority – based on their elite status, or rolling 12 months of spend with the airline – when that person checks in.

Still, many frequent flyers hit the app four hours out and keep refreshing that list.

By the way here’s the reason I wasn’t upgraded even though I was first on that list. Sometimes upgrades do get processed improperly, of course.

Now you don’t have to wait until four hours prior to flight to begin refreshing the upgrade list obsessively in the American Airlines mobile app because it now shows your flight’s upgrade list 12 hours prior to departure, as first reported by JonNYC:

I’m absolutely in favor of greater transparency, and commend American Airlines for the change even if it’s ultimately a minor one.

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, 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. United’s app shows upgrade list of all eligible passengers starting 48 hours out, even if they haven’t checked in. Of course a lot of elites and Global Services book last minute so it’s no guarantee.

    But what I like about having access to the list for longer is if I know I’m not going to get an upgrade (say I’m #8 on a flight with 2 open seats), I can scope out alternate flights ahead of time that may have better availability, and if my schedule allows, I’ll definitely show up 4 hours earlier than planned if it means I get an upgrade. I was going to just be sitting at home working anyways…

  2. Hi American, how about publishing it on the any-device web site like United does?

    Your costumer tech is awful

  3. @Steve – change the date on your phone and you can see it up to 11 months(!) in advance

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