Starting Next Year Companions of American Airlines Elites Will Inherit Elite Status for Upgrades and Waitlists

There’s another change to American AAdvantage (in addition to Next Flight Guarantee for ConciergeKey members and rumored reduction in confirmed upgrade availability) that’s been shared by JonNYC on Twitter but not yet announced by American: elite companions will have the same status as the elite member for airport upgrade and standby lists starting January 1.

You might say, but that’s the way it works now and sometimes it is. Gate agents sometimes do this manually (processing lists out of order) and sometimes status is managed this way. But it’s not at all consistent.

In fact, American’s own website isn’t exactly consistent in how they describe the way this is supposed to work.

For instance, companions aren’t supposed to have the same status as elites on the airport upgrade list:

On the other hand, the page for American’s domestic 500 mile upgrades doesn’t make any distinction between upgrades in advance of travel versus at the airport and says that companions clear with elites.

Of course this is also why you may not want to have more than one person on a reservation when looking for upgrades, as there needs to be space available for both of you to be upgraded or you’ll be passed over — in advance (but not at the airport).

It looks like American is clearing up confusion and has chosen to clear elite companions at the upgrade alongside elites.

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. Good to see this because it aligns with United’s (which is Continental’s old policy) and makes it more likely that sticks around.

  2. But as EXP, I do not earn stickers. Does this mean I would need to buy them to upgrade a companion? – while Gold or Plat could do it with earned stickers. How is it that the highest tier has to pay for companion upgrades? Why not let EXP earn stickers,too now that there is a reason to have them?

  3. How about a change to the food they serve in international first class? Just disgusting. It was cold and inedible.

  4. @split

    The way it is works is: if you are EXP but your companion is not, you get upgraded for free but you need stickers for your companion if neither of you have any in your accounts. One of you has to buy them at (iirc) $30 per sticker.

  5. Thank God for this. My wife and I just flew LHR-DFW and got separated on the airport upgrade list. I got the upgrade and she didn’t (6 people got upgraded, I was #1 as we had bought the flight 4 months in advance and I’m EXP, she was #9).

    Needless to say, I gave her the seat and I flew in coach. I hated not getting to sit with my wife, and not getting to sit in J, but she was sick and I didn’t want her to spend 11 hours being miserable. If they had implemented this change already we’d have been suffering together instead of apart (since I also got hit by the same cold right around the time we took off)

  6. My wife and I got to the gate for our Barcelona-Miami flight in October and in spite of my making a “no split” SWU request – I was # 1 on the list and she was #14. I tried unsuccessfully to persuade the gate people to attach both of us to my status – – and we wound up staying in coach. In mid-December, 6 weeks later, they pulled two SWUs out of my account for that flight. Today the exp customer (dis)service people told me that there is nothing they can do because the system shows us as having been upgraded. They then told me that if I still have my boarding passes – I could send them in with a long list of other ridiculous items (EXP number, ticket number, address and phone number etc) all of which confirms that they view me as being someone they’ve never heard of – despite millions of miles of flying over the past 25 years. I still have a couple of million miles to spend – in fact I just got RT Miami/Tokyo JAL Business Class tickets for 80,000 each way – but when those miles are gone, so am I. My new hobby is making sure that I don’t spend a single cent more with this soulless company.

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