American Changing Upgrade Priority for Companions

Last fall I wrote that American was changing how they wait list mileage upgrades and systemwide upgrades. Companions would begin inheriting their upgrade sponsor’s elite status for upgrade priority effective January 1.

That didn’t happen, the IT wasn’t ready. However it’s now gone into effect. (JonNYC noted it yesterday on twitter.)

Companion benefits

Systemwide and mileage award upgrades
If you and a companion are waitlisted for the same type of upgrade, you can sponsor them to receive your priority level. You’ll stay prioritized together, even at the airport.

Companion and sponsor qualifications:

  • Book on the same flight (same or separate reservations)
  • Use the same upgrade type (systemwide or mileage award upgrades)

Companions don’t have to be AAdvantage members; the upgrade can be deducted from any account.

To sponsor a companion for a new or existing trip, contact Reservations.

Already American allows companions to inherit their upgrade sponsor’s status when using 500 mile upgrade certificates. Note though that the companion loses their sponsor’s status at the airport, and you need to specifically ask an agent to fix this.

Mileage and systemwide upgrades should work both in advance and at the airport and should work even if you’re on a separate reservation which is great because that way you can clear an upgrade even if only one seat opens up in advance. If two people are on a reservation two upgrade seats need to become available in order to clear. That’s why it’s often better to travel on separate records, one seat opens and one passenger clears then a second seat opens later and the second passenger clears.

Ultimately this is good for top elites, especially ConciergeKey members, who are able to ‘bring up’ one other passenger traveling with them. And it’s bad news for lower tier elites and general members who will find more people prioritized ahead of them. That seems to be consistent with American’s strong focus on international business class and ConciergeKey customres.

This change was known internally as “AAdvantage Redesign 4.0c” however I’ve confirmed that there are no other changes that are part of this ‘4.0c’ project.

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. I’m confused. The quote above says “To sponsor a companion for a new or existing trip, contact Reservations.”

    So I can’t just book us both on the same reservation and request the sticker upgrades for both of us at the time of booking? I then have to call in and request some sponsorship thing??

    This article is really confusing.

  2. Bad for me. Lifetime Gold but I’ve had “stickers” sitting in my account for literally years. I haven’t cleared for an upgrade in at least 5 or 6 years, and this just takes more seats out of inventory.

    Not criticizing necessarily, just bad for me.

  3. I’m still overall ok with AA. Only legacy carrier that makes sense for me in Nashville. I don’t just still around and hope for an upgrade, I actually buy first class at times. Mostly use status for standby. Would like to see

    : complimentary wifi for first class.
    : non-expiring SWA upgrades and more ability to use SWA at time of booking
    : Less punitive change fees (One of the reasons, I do more with Southwest is because of their change policy and they make it very easy to redeem points).

    Agree that some of the new first class seats are not comfortable. Old MD80 first class seats were better.

    Someone mentioned getting rid of domestic first, many of the European carriers have already done so. If this happens, not reason not to just switch to Southwest full time. If Southwest ever added a first class type seat, they would get a lot of legacy carrier customers.

  4. What does that mean that CK can “bring up” one other person traveling with them? Do you mean if there’s a companion a CK can bring another person into an upgrade priority (so 2 in total)? Or do you mean something else entirely?

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