How To Get An American Airlines Seat Upgrade?

American Airlines seat upgrade

You have booked a flight ticket with AA and chosen a seat too, but now you want to get an American Airlines seat upgrade. It is because you want to get ample leg space and settle in comfy seats on the flight. A seat upgrade is a breeze for elite members of the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program. But don’t worry if you are not from this elite group as AA facilitates you with options to enjoy it.

Now, the question arises, “how can you get an upgrade on an AA seat?

To get an answer to it along with the information related, let’s go through the account below.

What Are The Types Of American Airlines Seat Upgrades?

The airline offers complimentary upgrades to its elite members so that they can upgrade a seat on American Airlines with their AAdvantage miles. However, a few more ways are there that help you get an AA upgrade, whether you are an elite member or not.

So, here is an overview of the main 4 ways to grab an upgrade on AA:

1. Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs)

  • On American Airlines

  • An upgrade is confirmed from most business fares to First and most Economy/ Premium Economy fares to the next service class.
  • Meant for one-way travel up to 3 flight segments
  • On British Airways (marketed by AA)

From Premium Economy to Business, from Economy to Premium Economy, or from most Business fares to First; get a confirmed American Airlines seat upgrade on transatlantic trips.

2. 500-Mile Upgrades

Certain elite members of the AAdvantage program on flights within North America enjoy these upgrades. Take a glance:

All Elite Members (Gold or Higher)

  • Unlimited upgrades on flights of 500 miles or less.
  • For longer flights, members’ 500-mile upgrade access

Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro Members

  • Unlimited complimentary 500-mile upgrades on all paid flights (if available).
  • Provided the flights operate within the U.S. It also implies to the flights operating between the U.S. and destinations in North and Central America.

Gold and Platinum Elites

For 12,500 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) with each membership year, they get four 500-mile upgrades.

If you want to get an American Airlines upgrade on a seat after purchase, pay for an upgrade while booking your ticket or at the airport’s self-service check-in. Alternatively, call the airline’s customer service executive at 800-433-7300 or 646-974-1422 to talk in English. For assistance in Spanish, dial 800-633-3711.

3. Upgrade With Miles

AAdvantage miles/ a combination of cash and miles can get you AA upgrades. AAdvantage elite status is not a mandate here.

4. Business Extra Upgrades

Join the Business Extra program for free and receive points for upgrades – AAdvantage Gold status, Admirals Club passes, free flights, etc.

To get these upgrades, you must have an eligible ticket and space must be available. Remember that until AA confirms, upgrades are not guaranteed.

For a better idea of American Airlines seat upgrade cost, go through the table below:

To / From

To / From

Discount Economy / Premium Economy

Full-Fare Economy / Premium Economy

Discount Business

Full-Fare Business

Contiguous 48 U.S. states, Alaska, Canada Contiguous 48 U.S. states, Alaska, Canada 15,000 + $75 5,000 15,000 + $175 15,000
Contiguous 48 U.S. states, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean* Contiguous 48 U.S. states, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean* 8,000  


Hawaii 15,000 + $175
North America Central America 15,000 + $75
Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname 15,000 + $150
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay 25,000 + $350 15,000 25,000 + $550 25,000
Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, China, Indian Subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand
Europe, Middle East, Africa


How To Upgrade Seats On American Airlines?

You are smartly done with American Airlines seat selection, but now you want to get an upgrade on the seats chosen. Although getting it is challenging, you can enhance your chances to upgrade. Here’s how:

With American AAdvantage Elite Status

  • Executive Platinum Elite members get a ticket in any fare class and SWUs to use on any AA flight globally.
  • Purchase business/first-class award tickets with miles.
  • Purchase an upgrade when buying a ticket, at check-in, or at the gate before departure. Pre-departure gate upgrades may be discounted. A load factor-based upgrade is offered only when all the elites have cleared their upgrade requests.

Without American AAdvantage Elite Status

  • If you know a top AAdvantage elite member, congratulations! Flying with him/her can get you an American Airlines seat upgrade if he/she raises the upgrade request.
  • Buy a premium class award ticket with miles to sit in the front of the flight. Apart from AAdvantage credit card sign-up bonuses, there are many ways to get AA miles.
  • Economy discount tickets qualify for mileage upgrade awards on space availability.
  • Set up fare alerts with sites such as Google Flights for business class and premium economy fares.
  • On your trip disruption because of the airline’s fault or you can’t get a seat as the flight is oversold, you can get an upgrade on the next flight.

Therefore, it is evident that AA upgrades are challenging for an average flyer because of the ever-increasing demand for premium seats. So, resort to the aforementioned approaches to increase your odds and score an American Airlines seat upgrade.

How Does American Airlines Prioritize Upgrades?

When it comes to prioritizing upgrades, AA considers various factors. Thereby, the airline decides upgrade requests of which passengers will get the top priority.  You can have a better idea of getting your upgrade requests approved once you understand the way AA works on it. Here, take a look on it –

Elite Members of American Airlines

To know if you qualify for an upgrade, your AAdvantage status plays an important role. You are listed higher on the priority status according to your membership status. Here is a snapshot of the elite status from the highest to the lowest –

  • ConciergeKey
  • Executive Platinum
  • Platinum Pro
  • Platinum
  • Gold

The Upgrade Type Requested

The available American Airlines seat upgrade is provided to the passengers who have AAdvantage miles or SWU. Once these upgrade types are clear, elite members on tickets purchased stand their opportunity.

The elite members who can get an upgrade even on their award tickets are ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum members.

So, you can get a complimentary upgrade on AA flights. Usually, such upgrades are given to elite members in accordance to their status.

Ticket Fare Type

Up next is the type of ticket class purchased. The booking code of your ticket is the deciding factor in awarding an upgrade along with the time when you paid for it.

  • The airline prioritizes booking code for business to first class upgrades in the order – J, R, D, I, and C.
  • The priority order is W, P, Y, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O and T for the main cabin to the next class upgrades.

So, this helps you know if you can enjoy an upgrade seat American Airlines. However, you have to wait for the upgrades to clear for elites as they are given the top priority for upgrades.

Visit Here For American Airlines Others Details:

American Airlines Baggage Policy

American Airlines Lost And Found

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I upgrade a basic economy ticket on an American Airlines flight?

No, if you have a basic economy flight ticket, the airline doesn’t allow you to upgrade your seat status.

Can you get free seat upgrades on American Airlines?

Members having an AAdvantage status will receive a complimentary upgrade automatically. This is applicable on any eligible purchased, published fare in the Main Cabin or Premium Economy. From either of these, you can upgrade to the next class of service (Business or domestic First). However, this upgrade is applicable within North America on eligible American Airlines marketed and operated flights, provided there is space availability. AAdvantage Executive Platinum members can also upgrade on AAdvantage award tickets. Based on the status, upgrades are confirmed before the flight departure, if possible.

Is it worth it to upgrade to American Airlines Main Cabin Extra?

Yes, of course. Main Cabin Extra on American Airlines flights is worth going for, especially for flights operating on longer routes. The cabin type provides you with extra legroom and complimentary drinks. Thereby, you can be more comfortable and get up without disturbing your co-passenger on long-route flights.

What are the charges to upgrade to first class on American Airlines?

To upgrade to first class on American Airlines, travelers on different travel classes have to pay different charges.
Non-elite members have to pay 15,000 AAdvantage miles with $75 as an upgrade fee to get first-class status from a domestic economy fare.
Elite members can purchase the upgrade at $40 for one upgrade or 40,000 AAdvantage miles for eight. These charges are applicable if they don’t have a 500-mile upgrade.

Is upgrading to first class on American Airlines worth it?

You can get much more when you decide to go for upgrading your seat to first class on American Airlines. No, it is not just about a better seat than you have in the economy but more than that.

With American Airlines’ domestic first-class seat, you get priority airport check-in, priority boarding, complimentary drinks and snacks even on short routes, meals on longer routes, and an extra baggage allowance.

You can select your desired seat on the confirmation page while booking flight tickets. Check out the seat map, and pick your favorite seat.

How To Get An American Airlines Seat Upgrade?

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