American Closing Systemwide Upgrade Loophole

American AAdvantage gives out 8 confirmed upgrades per year valid on any American flight (both domestic and international) to their 100,000 mile ‘Executive Platinum’ members. They also give out these certificates at million-mile thresholds.

The rules of the certificates are that they have to be used to travel by the expiration date on the certificate.

But it wasn’t actually enforced that way. If you had any certificates that would be valid into the future, you could use your earlier expiring upgrades, because the system was set up to pull the closest-to-expire upgrade certificate first.

This meant that it was possible to use systemwide upgrade certificates for travel beyond their expiration date, stated rules notwithstanding.

JonNYC writes at TravelingBetter about an American AACoRN system update propogating later this week that will make some changes to how agents process upgrade awards, and close this loophole.

Here’s what the American system update will do:

  • begin enforcing the rule that customers can only use their eVIP international upgrade certificates for travel through the expiration date of the certificate [building in an exception for certain high value customers who are permitted to confirm the upgrade by the certificate expiration date for future travel beyond the certificate’s expiration.
  • help agents make sure sufficient miles or eVIP upgrade certificates are available in a member’s account prior to processing an upgrade.
  • change default prompts to make for a cleaner and easier process for agents to get upgrade confirmation and waitlisting correct and minimize agent error.

For a limited number of members, I suppose there is still a window, if you already have re-qualified for Executive Platinum status for next year or otherwise have eVIP upgrade certificates expiring late in 2015 or early 2016, but want to use earlier-expiring certificates to upgrade travel after February 28, 2015… you could probably still set that up over the next couple of days.

I can’t imagine that’s very many members in very many situations. The window for this has pretty well slammed shut. All fair of course, they’re simply enforcing a rule. Not that I loved American Express beginning to enforce a rule last week…

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Huh. I wonder if this change has any connection to my recent unpleasant discovery that I was charged for an op-up from last August (I deliberately did not request an international upgrade), the “payment” being a SWU that I earned the *following* December that was credited to my account two months later? (I’m awaiting a response from CS after my phone call last Monday).

  2. No, this had been *mostly* killed more than a year ago, and this change will just make sure to stop any angels from making “a mistake” and letting you use the VIPs this way.

    It was sure nice to use the certs that way though in the past.

Comments are closed.