US Airways Confirmed International Upgrades Are Wide Open – Book Quickly

US Airways pioneered the ‘reverse herringbone’ business class seat, which is one of the best in the sky. As a result their business class hard product on Airbus A330s is really up there compared to some of the best airlines in the world. Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, and American among others have followed suit with their own versions of the seat.

So while US Airways meals and service may not be the equivalent of the best carriers in the world, business class is fundamentally about the seat. And the US Airways seat is similar to the American seat onboard their 777-300ER, just a bit older and without as many minor touches. It’s great for sleeping in my opinion.

This is American’s version of the seat:

US Airways is Offering Unprecedented Upgrade Space Right Now

US Airways upgrades come out of the ‘C’ inventory bucket. I use Expert Flyer to search for C availability. You can search 7 days at a time (plus or minus 3 days around a given date you enter).

Picking some routes and dates at random, I see days showing 9 confirmed upgrade seats available on their Charlotte – Madrid flight. Nine is the most they’ll display and really means ‘nine or more’.

There’s great space available Philadelphia – Madrid as well.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Philadelphia – Athens is wide open.

Strong availability, but not “9+” daily, is Philadelphia – Rome.

This isn’t the case on every route. For instance, I don’t see great upgrade space available on Philadephia – Tel Aviv or Philadelphia – London. But it seems pretty prevalent across many routes.

How to Upgrade

You can upgrade on US Airways international flights one of two ways:

  • American Airlines Executive Platinum members receive 8 confirmed upgrade certificates good on any paid published fare. (Lifetime 2 million milers receive some as well, and more upon crossing each subsequent million mile threshold.)

  • You can use miles and a cash co-pay

Upgrades need to be processed by phone, you can’t do it online.

Confirm Your US Airways Upgrades Right Away

American is about to begin moving US Airways flights over to their single reservation system. That should happen within the next two weeks. When it does I wouldn’t be surprised if flights 3 months and more into the future start seeing more restrictive availability. So at least for anything mid-October forward, you want to book now.

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. Am I reading something wrong? Your Athens and Philly dates seem to be in the past… I mean, I know this is US Airways, so *anything* is possible… But should we be trying to time travel? (and believe me, May was a much more fun month than I’m anticipating August to be…)

  2. @Trevor – The dates are in 2016.

    Yet HPdbaAA won’t release them as Saver award seats. Such short sighted thinking by this small ball management team.

  3. I was able to snag a business saver award during the code merger glitch in February. I am excited to try this product next month, especially since it will be my first time flying up front internationally.

  4. Nothing wrong with that, I guess I’m just reading 2015, I’d offer a screenshot.. But, nonetheless, if you say its 2016, then its 2016. I just see 5/14/15 for example.

    Either way, your post is positive, great upgrade space, can’t beat it. Just wish they were opening up award space like they did a few months back. Would love to grab some early December FRA-CLT space for a family trip.

  5. Here is something stupid I learned yesterday besides the fact it is very difficult to get good support from American.
    I called American after I saw your post, I had called American , I was trying to find a paid ticket PHL to FRA and ZRH to PHL (have other stops in between). I wanted to buy a ticket and then try to upgrade it. They placed the itinerary on hold for me for 24 hours. I decided after your post I would look on my own and found the same route for $200.00 less so I placed it on hold and figured I would cancel the other. It also gave me 24 more hours to see if I could upgrade. FYI I have MANY points with American from my USAIR account. I wanted the paid ticket because I needed to maintain status. When I asked about upgrading I was told I could not upgrade a code share account. It had to be booked on USair. Now I certainly know what code share is but was confused by this restriction, I could only upgrade if it was a USAir booked flight which I had to go through the USAir web site for. Booking the ticket through USAir was over $200.00 more than booking it through American and I could not ask for the upgrade on American because it was a code share flight. I was also told that original seat placed on hold would not be able to be converted and purchased because you can not place a USAir seat on a 24 hour hold you can only place an American seat on hold. SO all of this is confusing, I ended up booking and paying for the USAir itinerary which I rebooked for the same $200.00 premium and then was told no upgrade was available to purchase. I was too tired to search for any other options last night and figured I have 24 hours to find something better because you can cancel a ticket within 24 hours with no penalty. My question with wanting to earn miles toward status do you have any other suggestions on the best way to secure an upgrade. I have Platinum with American now, I don’t mind using United the seats are $500.00 more each and I don’t have status. I have 17 hours to try something else.

  6. For your next 17 hours: Beware the agent’s “Oh, just buy this and THEN you can upgrade.” Took that advice 4 months in advance on a British Air IAD-LHR-PSA trip. Those transatlantic seats never, ever opened up. So we did the trip in Prem Economy, a return to 20th Century service.

    We won’t ever do that again. Guess we will use our Chase Preferred points for hotel rooms….

  7. Any way to upgrade an award economy ticket?

    Would love to do Paris in business class for a honeymoon trip next Spring.

  8. Just to clarify, cash+miles upgrades come out of the same inventory as the award space so that I will only be able to upgrade to a premium class if I see availability for an award ticket for that class? Thanks.

  9. Hello Gary,

    I am looking at upgrade option for trip ‘North America to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, China’. From Discount Economy -25,000 + $350.

    Does it mean as long as I have paid ticket which fare code falls in H,K,M,L,W,V,G,Q,N,O,S, I can request upgrade? when can I submit request before departure? Thanks

  10. @Ryan – in order to get the upgrade there needs to be upgrade (“C”) inventory available. You have to call to request the upgrade. US Airways does not waitlist for upgrades. If the inventory is available it can be confirmed.

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