A Quick Guide to American Airlines Complimentary Upgrades

When you earn an AAdvantage elite status, you enjoy several perks. Getting American Airlines complimentary upgrades is among those perks. However, these upgrades aren’t always clear. But you might end up getting ample value of this advantage if you proceed strategically and with a realistic approach.

So, up your flight trip delight with an upgrade. Grab your most preferred seats with these complimentary upgrades and have an indulgent experience with the first-rate in-flight features.

Now, let’s see the ways to increase your chances for an upgrade on the next American Airlines trip. The account below gives you information about complimentary upgrades, eligibility to grab these, and more.

What are American Airlines Complimentary Upgrades?

The main upgrade for AAdvantage members is the complimentary upgrade on an American Airlines flight. Here are the highlights of complimentary upgrades to give you a better idea –

  • All the elite members get unlimited, complimentary, auto-requested upgrades.
  • They are upgraded to first class on domestic flights and select short haul international flights.
  • Elite status holders can get an upgrade for themselves and their travel companions.
  • On most AA flights, a complimentary upgrade means that you will get a reclining seat in first class on domestic flights. However, some flights offer you an upgrade that allows complete relaxation in lie-flat business class seats.

Does American Airlines Allow You to Upgrade?

Yes, American Airlines facilitates you to avail upgrades and enhance your experience. Here is a quick glance at the same for your reference –

  • Use your AAdvantage® miles to get upgrades on flights that are American Airlines or American Eagle marketed and operated. 
  • You can use these miles to get an upgrade for yourself or anyone else.
  • The validity of upgrades is for –
    • The next cabin
    • A single one-way trip with a maximum of three segments
Please note
  • If you are eligible to get complimentary updates, it doesn’t mean that you are assured of one. With a limited number of seats in the front of the flight, several AAdvantage members compete for it.
  • Up your elite status with AA to increase your chances to secure an upgrade.

Who is Eligible for Complimentary Upgrades on American Airlines?

Are you looking forward to complimentary upgrades during your trip with AA? So, take a look here and know when you are found eligible for getting an AA complimentary upgrade.

Status Members

With AAdvantage membership, you automatically get American Airlines complimentary upgrades as per the availability.

You can get this upgrade –

  • To travel within North America
  • From any eligible fare in the Main Cabin or Premium Economy to the next service class – Business/ domestic First
  • With a companion on the same flight
  • On eligible flights that American Airlines operate and market

Members Having SWUs

While only domestic and short-haul international flights offer complimentary upgrades, SWUs can be applied to:

  • On AA-operated and marketed flights
  • One-way travel
  • Up to three segments

Flights on extremely long routes are also included.

Moreover, you can score AAdvantage complimentary upgrades on an American Airlines long-haul flight to various international destinations. The following can use SWUs.

  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro
  • Executive Platinum
  • Million Miler elite status holders

Please note

  • SWUs are only for one-way trips.
  • AA also allows you to use your upgrades on any of the following flights –
    • Marketed and operated by British Airways
    • Marketed by American Airlines and British Airways operated
  • AA upgrades you to the next travel class with an SWU. So you can be upgraded from
    • Economy or premium economy, get upgraded to business class or domestic first class on short-haul flights
    • Business Class to First Class

Can I Get a Free Companion Upgrade on American Airlines Flights?

If you want to know how to get free upgrades on American Airlines for your travel companion, you must have an AAdvantage elite status. You can get it even if you have made bookings separately. Simply call the airline to link both the bookings and request a complimentary upgrade. 

However, check the seat availability to get an upgrade.

When Does American Airlines Clear the Complimentary Upgrades?

After AA opens the availability of complimentary upgrades, an elite status holder can grab one.

Now, let’s see when your upgrade clears. Here are the elite status levels and their respective timings for upgrade confirmation before the flight departure-

  • Executive Platinum: 100 hours
  • Platinum Pro: 72 hours
  • Platinum: 48 hours
  • Gold: 24 hours
  • Concierge Key members: 120 hours
Please note
  • If AA complimentary upgrades are not confirmed before check-in, the airline:
    • Adds you to the airport standby list
    • Potentially upgrades you before boarding
  • AA emails you in your AAdvantage profile to confirm about your upgrade.
  • For those who are not upgraded immediately, American Airlines checks for upgrade availability up to 3 hours before your flight’s departure.

How to Check My American Airlines Upgrade Status?

To check your upgrade status with American Airlines, go to the Manage Trips section to view your booking. Complimentary upgrade for a same flight travel companion and unlimited auto-requested complimentary upgrades with award tickets are available for the following status holders –

  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum
  • AAdvantage Platinum Pro
  • AAdvantage Platinum
  • AAdvantage Gold

On Which Routes Are AA Complimentary Upgrades Eligible?

Your American Airlines Upgrades are eligible in select regions, which include flights –

  • Within the United States, including Hawaii
  • Between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central America
  • Marketed and operated by AA within and between the U.S. (including Hawaii) and between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Central America

What is the Order of American Airlines Complimentary Upgrades Confirmation?

Your American Airlines elite status determines your free upgrade confirmation. Here’s the order of the same –

  • AAdvantage status level membership –
    • ConciergeKey
    • AAdvantage Executive Platinum
    • AAdvantage Platinum Pro
    • AAdvantage Platinum
    • AAdvantage Gold
  • Upgrade type –
    • Systemwide and mileage award upgrades
    • Complimentary upgrades
  • 12-month rolling Loyalty Points

Please note

AAdvantage members get complimentary upgrades on Alaska Airlines.

In Conclusion

All the AAdvantage elite members get American Airlines complimentary upgrades on both revenue and award tickets. Moreover, their travel companions are also at the benefit. Furthermore, the airline is known for having generous policies regarding complimentary elite upgrades.

Among the AAdvantage status holders who are eligible for complimentary upgrades, the upper-tier AAdvantage elites are at the benefit to earn SWUs and apply those to long-haul flights. Additionally, elite status holders of Alaska Airlines can get upgrades on select flights of American Airlines. So, are you an AAdvantage elite member? Have you ever taken a complimentary upgrade with AA? How was your experience?

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