Beware The Catch In Changing Upgraded American Airlines Flights Online

American Airlines has made a big push towards finally letting customers self-service their reservations. When it works, that’s better for customers, and it saves the airline money on reservations agents.

The most recent effort is that it’s now possible to change an itinerary online even if it includes flights that have received a complimentary upgrades. You don’t keep the upgrade when making flight changes, however. And there’s a catch to the process.

In order to change an itinerary that includes a complimentary upgrade online, you must change all flights that have bene upgraded.

  • That doesn’t just mean you have to change both legs of a connection
  • It means you have to change all upgraded flights
  • If you have been upgraded on both the outbound and return portions of your trip when the roundtrip is in the same reservation, you’ll need to select both flights and lose both upgrades.

If you try to make a change without selecting all upgraded flights, the system will return an error. The trip cannot be changed online but they don’t tell you explicitly that you should call American Airlines because you can still make the change over the phone.

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. If you want to ride in first class buy a first class ticket! If you want to change flight fly standby or buy a new ticket. Everyone is important and wants something for nothing.

  2. what David P said… five years ago, I just started booking all one-way segments and hardly ever book a round-trip. The amount of friction that is reduced by doing it this way is amazing.

  3. Typical American Airlines. Preaching that they care for people along life’s journey but unwilling to invest in the technology or employees that can actually provide an even minimally decent customer experience.

  4. @Joe T: Oh, go fly Southwest.

    There is nothing wrong with expecting to be able to utilize the benefits outlined by and provided by the airline and expecting them to function and be applied in the manner specified. If the upgrade has always been given (like on a same or next day round trip) then it’s silly to remove it. By that point it’s past the “want First, buy First” stage. Clearly there are open seats.

  5. Love the Winers here. 100% Karen’s who never stop complaining about something. Let them go back to old days when it was in paper and stone tablets. It is called “CONSTRCTIVE” comments for a reason not B$%^$%^ sessions Go on Jerry Springer for that matter

  6. I recently booked a flight for my wife and another person to Peru. They were both checking 2 bags which cost $100 for the second bag. When checking the booking several days before their trip on the AA app it showed offer to upgrade the first leg to Miami to 1st class for $94. Similarly the return flight from Miami to home offered upgrade for $96. Since 1st class includes 2 free checked bags, we would actually save money by upgrading. So we did the upgrade. They also bypassed a long checkin line at the airport since they were flying 1st class. They flew regular main cabin from Miami to Peru, no requirement to upgrade that to 1st class. It worked perfectly.

  7. As others have said, there is literally NO reason to book outbound and return together, at least not for domestic flights.

  8. Just beware American Airlines in general. Be more comfortable and just have someone wrap you in a box and ship you FedEx next day.

  9. Had to rebook a trip for fall, as AA had cancelled the only flight it runs from DFW on the international leg. It wouldn’t let me do it online. Called the AA number in France (was in France). It operates 24/7, but only has French speakers during certain hours (??). Got an agent right away and easily moved that reservation’s departure to a day later. I feared a hassle and was surprised. Side benefit: my (pay on arrival) hotel reservation did not allow changes in dates. I had to cancel and rebook (OK, I planned to do the opposite order). Turns out I ended up with an equally good hotel at a much better price.

  10. Even if you buy a First Class ticket it doesn’t mean that if a change happens that you will get a First Class seat

  11. +1 to booking one way segments. Booked TPA-DFW-HNL in first through the EXP phone number using miles. Agent booked it as 2 one-way trips. She stated if you book it round trip and need to change flights, then the whole reservation is repriced (usually at a much higher cost). It’s an extra $5 to book it this way, but she said it’s worth avoiding the headache.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *