American Will Keep Giving Some ‘Overachieving’ Elites More Systemwide Upgrades

Last year American AAdvantage reduced the number of systemwide upgrades given to Executive Platinum members from 8 to 4. Don’t worry, fewer upgrade certificates didn’t make upgrades any easier to confirm. In fact they’ve even gotten tough to use domestically.

It’s still possible to earn more systemwide upgrades — 2 more if you hit 150,000 qualifying miles, and again at 200,000 qualifying miles. American had said that was it, it’s not possible to earn more than a total of 8 systemwide upgrades.

In the past American would award more systemwides to those ‘overachieving’ Executive Platinum members who asked for more, with the request granted or not on the basis of American’s view of the member’s value. It was strange that they claimed they would no longer do it.

And in fact we now know that they do. One member who had already received the full 8 systemwides and has since hit 300,000 qualifying miles (!) has received 4 more. He wrote,

Got an email from an AA Exec Liaison (?) from AA Customer Service saying she put a note in my account and would contact me upon completing 300K miles, which I find strange. She wrote “your account will be reviewed at that time to determine how to thank you further for your business.”

Is this a hint of CK? Would I just be getting additional SWUs? Thanks in advance.

He then circled back and shared a screen shot of his account with 2 more deposits of 2 systemwide upgrades apiece.

You probably have to be more profitable than the average Executive Platinum member for them to approve additional upgrades since it required a ‘review’ of the member’s account — if I had to guess a four- or five-eagle Helix score or its equivalent.

I’ve written about American’s measures of profitability before.

American has long tracked profitability, and assigned scores entirely apart from status level (‘Eagle rating’ and ‘Helix scores’) that have helped to determine whether to grant exceptions to policies.

Probably the best short discussion of Helix scores is this thread.

Above average top tier elites in terms of value to American have been able to get their systemwide upgrades expirations extended in the past as well.

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 fly about 50,000 EQM domestically on American naturally. I didn’t take an international trip this year, but let’s say I take one or two next year for another 15,000 EQM. Are SWU and other EXP benefits worth it enough for me do to a 35,000 EQM mileage run to get EXP in 2018?

  2. I’ve found that the usability of SWUs have gotten better the 2nd half of this year. I was able to clear a DFW-PEK-DFW and an LAX-HKG-DFW trips at the time of booking. One was about 1 week before, the other was about 45 days before.
    Maybe giving only 4 out to EXPs helped?

  3. United 1K does the same thing. Keeps giving offering incentive for more GPU+RPUs as you fly past 1K. (smart)

  4. AA could give everyone in the State of Rhode Island 15 upgrade certs if they so wanted. They are simply numbers on a computer screen that cannot be redeemed. The SWU is built on there being an actual seat to sit in. Ever since the merger with US, the pool of upgrade seats has diminished to nought.

  5. They are useless. I have 350k eqm this year thus far and have more SWU’s than I care to think about. Can’t even clear them on a domestic trip – at best business to first. That’s about it. Heck I cancelled a reservation and could not be bothered to call up redeposit the 2 SWU’s associated with them.

  6. I have talked to exp desk more than once and I have over 287,000 eqm’s so far this year. American Airlines has no intention of giving more than 4 swu’s. No more st 150,000 no more at 200,000 no more at 250,000. In fact there is only 1 person who has claimed to have received more than 4. It could be he also got to 2million miles and thus got 4 more. He did not show the detail which would have shown the swu’s he had received. He is the only person on the planet who has been the recipient of more swu’s than the rest of us. Over achiever? I doubt it.

  7. I have 16 in my account – worthless. How about they give out just 4 a year after 250K eqm but make them like the VIP2 of past – if a biz seat is available you can have it confirmed using the SWU right away. Short of that, they are useless – no better than the 500 mile upgrade stickers.

  8. I remember two or three years ago having 19 SWUs in one year (8 for EXP, 4 for crossing a million mile threshold and 7 through the very generous bonus they had that year) and being able to use them all on TATL and TPAC flights from economy to business. Those were the days.

  9. I think I got 24 or 26 eVIP’s in 2015 for flying over 300,000 miles. I have 12 this year including 4 for crossing another million miles.

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