I Scored 2 Extra American Systemwide Upgrades!

In early August I wrote about how American is offering “over-qualifying” Executive Platinum members additional systemwide upgrades.

One of my favorite perks of being an Executive Platinum member is the eight systemwide upgrades you receive for achieving the status each year, which requires either 100,000 elite qualifying miles, 100,000 elite qualifying points, or 120 segments.

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In past years American has published Elite Rewards. Basically they’ve offered incentives to those who over qualify for a given status level. In other words, it takes 100,000 elite qualifying miles or points to qualify for Executive Platinum status, though they offered bonuses for passing 125,000 and 150,000 elite qualifying miles or points. That’s smart, because they want to incentivize incremental travel.

This year they’re not offering any “published” Elite Rewards (it might have to do with airlines reporting record profits with little effort), though anecdotally they do seem to be offering Executive Platinum members who over-qualify additional systemwide upgrades. To find out if you’re eligible you have to call AAdvantage customer service.

In my case I called in August after I had passed 175,000 elite qualifying miles, and was offered an additional four systemwide upgrades.

In the meantime it seems like American has actually become more consistent with this offering, and is offering the following bonuses on systemwide upgrades this year:

  • Two additional systemwide upgrades for passing 150,000 elite qualifying points
  • An additional two systemwide upgrades for each 25,000 elite qualifying points beyond 150,000

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It’s worth noting that this bonus only applies when over-qualifying on elite qualifying points, and not when over-qualifying on elite qualifying miles (the assumption is that those earning lots of elite qualifying points are paying more than those earning lots of elite qualifying miles).

I’ve now passed 200,000 elite qualifying points for the year, and figured I’d try my luck and see if this is indeed a consistent policy.

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When I called earlier today I had a total of 10 systemwide upgrades in my account (the eight for achieving Executive Platinum status, the four extras, and then I’ve redeemed two).

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I phoned up, and the friendly AAdvantage agent briefly put me on hold. When he returned a few minutes later, he said he had already placed two extra systemwide upgrades in my account, bringing my total back to 12. He also noted that if I passed 225,000 elite qualifying points I’d receive an additional two systemwide upgrades.

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Bottom line

While it was more hit or miss at the beginning of the year, it seems like American is now pretty consistently offering bonus systemwide upgrades using the above metrics. If you’ve over-qualified for Executive Platinum status and haven’t yet requested your bonus upgrades, don’t forget to call.

If you’re an over-qualifying Executive Platinum member, what has been your experience with earning bonus systemwide upgrades?

Comments

  1. Lucky, I love seeing my SWUs show up every year, however, it seems lately that actual availability for use of these is non-existent. Have you seen any trends regarding these clearing with any regularity? I really hate the thought of booking an 8-10 hour flight only hoping I can get an upgrade.

  2. This seems like such a great benefit for those who can get it. Unfortunately for someone like me who doesn’t fly for work, it’s not even remotely within reach.

  3. Wonder if AA looks at revenue as well as EQP. Lucky, I know you do lots of cheap J fares out of Cairo. What percent of you 200K EQP are from AA metal? Say 75% of EQP are from non-AA metal then it would not seem logical to get out bonus eVIPs based on EQP.

  4. @Randy – Extra SWUs based on EQP is contingent on a certain Eagles/Helix score (which is indeed tied to revenue in some form).

  5. Hoping that some of the “innovation” portended by Scott Kirby is rollover EQPs. Would value that FAR more than more SWUs which have little value unless booking a revenue ticket in a fare bucket high enough to lose its sparkle. Make SWU applicable to any fare or roll over my EQPs/miles…until then, I’m crediting excess to AS. What say you, Ben?

  6. Even at 500 knots an hour that’s lots and lots of hours in the stratosphere up there, where humans aren’t meant to be, where the air is as pure as cost accounting permits, the solar rays unfiltered, and the long-term health effects of repeated, semi-continuous exposure more or less unknown. Just sayin’.

  7. @credit – a few of these bloggers are making a $1M a year from ads on their site – so no trust fund is needed. But with the recent BA fare, you could easily earn 100K EQP with 6-7 trips to Europe at $450 for a RT say from LAX to Europe. So in the low $3000 in revenue total for 100K EQP. These are BA tickets, you could have flown AA metal, I am not sure how much revenue AA gets from that code share.

  8. As someone newly realizing what I have been missing all these years, what in the heck are you all talking about?! Sounds like a bunch of teenagers talking in abbreviated jargon to keep their parents in the dark. A list of all the acronyms would be nice, indeed.

  9. When do they expire? Once year from receiving them? I’m about to get Exec Plat and I may struggle to use mine quickly. (I’m scheduled on different airlines in 2016) How can I use them for others? Do I book the flights or can they book them?

  10. 1) Corroborating this post: I called and was told the same thing about 2 SWUs for 150k EQP and then 2 for every 25k EQP after that. If anyone is interested, I also asked if there was anything for over-qualifying on EQMs, and was told no.
    2) I’d called AA Plat line (I should hit EXP in 2 weeks), and spoke to 5 different agents. Total call time was 8 min 20 sec, so I didn’t feel I wasted too long. But it does make me wonder, as I also frequently call Delta where agents don’t hand me off to other agents like AA agents do. I can think of two Delta calls where the agent instead put me on hold as they spoke to others (one when I was DL Plat, one when I was DL Diamond). So I’m curious if someone knows, is AAdvantage customer service structurally very different from Skymiles; why do agents from the former seem to need to hand me off so much more than from the latter?

  11. Its interesting. AA has the most rewarding top tier program, and giving away additional SWU’s is certainly generous. My complaint is that the AA SWU’s are getting harder to use and their value has certainly diminished due to the lack of confirmable space, and the challenge in getting them to clear, especially when travelling with someone else.

    Combine that with the reduced business class fares to Europe, I am going to end up with 6 I can’t use as I requalify on sub $800 BA business class fares, and $1800 AA fares from the US to Europe.

  12. Is there anywhere for frequent fliers who have expiring upgrades they won’t end up using to connect with fellow frequent travelers who could use them? FlyerTalk is obviously one option, although it seems ripe w/ people looking to cash in and risk getting ejected from the program versus those who may want to make use of otherwise discarded perks + exercise an act of kindness.

    Last year I gave up all of my Chairman certs because I couldn’t use them. This year I dropped to Plat and find myself wishing I’d done a few more MRs to re-qual as EP, due to an upcoming rt PDX->ORD->PEK,NRT->DFW->PDX in econ. #meh

  13. I just saw this post, so I called up AA since I am nearing 175k points for the year. I told the agent I wanted to see if there were any additional rewards for exceeding the qualification requirements. She immediately (but politely enough) told me that nothing had been announced, but I would get an email if anything changes. It was quite a disappointing phone call but not really anything I can argue or complain about. For what it’s worth, my Eagle rating is probably relatively low compared to other elites because this is my first year hitting EXP, and last year was my first year with any status. But the immediacy of the agent’s response makes me think it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

  14. I am surprised to hear about the cheap BA business class fares several commenters mention (as low as sub $800). Would appreciate if someone could mention for which routes these fares are/ were available. Sounds somewhat like a premium economy fare to me. Thanks

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