How I Earned 16 American Systemwide Upgrades This Year

One of the worst changes happening to American AAdvantage next year is that Executive Platinum members are getting their systemwide upgrade earnings cut in half. Starting next year (for status valid through early 2018), Executive Platinum members are going from earning eight systemwide upgrades to earning just four.

This year American has had a very generous program whereby you could earn additional systemwide upgrades beyond the initial eight. Specifically you could earn:

  • 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

In August I shared how I received four additional systemwide upgrades for passing 175,000 elite qualifying points, while in November I shared how I received an additional two systemwide upgrades for passing 200,000 elite qualifying points.

Just this past week I passed 225,000 elite qualifying points for the year, so I phoned up AAdvantage to see if I could get another two systemwide upgrades. The friendly associate pulled up “the tool for figuring that out,” and after putting me on hold for a couple of minutes he informed he there should be another two systemwide upgrades in my account.


Sure enough there are now 14 systemwide upgrades in my account, valid through February 2017. I’ve earned a total of 16, but already redeemed two of them.


With just a bit over a week left in December, be sure to call up AAdvantage if you’ve earned more than 150,000 elite qualifying points this year, as you may be eligible for some extra systemwide upgrades. For what it’s worth, these bonus systemwide upgrades are just being issued based on surpassing the number of elite qualifying points required, and not based on surpassing elite qualifying miles or elite qualifying segments thresholds.

Next year American will also offer bonus systemwide upgrades, though not as generously as this year. Beginning January 1, 2016, Executive Platinum members will have the opportunity to earn up to four more based on flight activity — two for every 50,000 EQMs earned above the 100,000 EQM threshold up to 200,000 EQMs. So that means you can earn at most eight systemwide upgrades per year, but only if you earn 200,000 EQMs.

Use systemwide upgrades to score a business class seat on the 777-300ER

Bottom line

Having 14 systemwide upgrades to play with next year is sort of bittersweet. I’m excited to use them, though am sad that the rate at which I’ll earn them will decrease so drastically after that.

If you’ve over qualified for status this year, be sure to call up American to see if they’ll hook you up with some extra systemwide upgrades. Or if you’re close to reaching 150,000 EQPs or a higher threshold (in increments of 25,000 EQPs), it might be worth taking a year end trip to earn some more systemwide upgrades, if you’d get value out of them next year.

Did you qualify for extra systemwide upgrades with American this year?


  1. @Lucky: I have tried to call EXP line and customer services as well: Both of them seem to have no idea about what I am asking. Can you please share some insight on how and what should I ask?


  2. Great post… I finally hit EXP (with a mileage run) somewhere over West Texas last night on a flight DFW-LAX.

    Now watching for those Magic Eight to hit my account.

  3. @JC right on! it’s not fair for one person to have so many upgrades, regardless of the effort one puts in to secure them, you ‘wealthy’ are not paying your fair share of ‘whatever’. i suggest that Lucky supports 10 lazy low (miles) earning underprivileged people to round the world ticket in F.

  4. @ Fan — Be sure you’re calling AAdvantage customer service and not reservations. Do you have at least 150,000 EQPs? It’s linked to individual accounts, so they probably won’t say anything in general terms.

  5. @JC At this point, TPG is just boring, corporate drivel. Every act of “charity” you see on TPG is meant to drum up clicks and increase its “brand appeal” and other nonsense that so-called marketing experts extol. It comes across as so phony. I used to read TPG fairly often, but now when I go there I feel like I’m on the Wal-Mart website. OMAAT at least has a personality and continues to be interesting. I hope Ben never feels the need to give to charity in the name of the blog just to increase clicks, but instead does it from a respectful place that doesn’t exploit others’ misfortunes for his own benefit.

  6. Yep, earned a batch of system wide upgrades this year. 1) Paid for the US Air challenge late last year. Earned one roundtrip upgrade for completing the challenge in January (for 2014 challenge to Chairman). Earned the second US roundtrip upgrade (for 2015 as Chairman). Earned 8 SWU for American when merged as 2015 EP. Earned another 8 for flights after qualifying for 2016 EP. Earned the bonus SWUs for flying over 200,000 points this year. Have used all but 7 SWUs (but have flights booked and am on the upgrade wait list). A very satisfactory flying year for me.

  7. If you look at his EQP, he’s not buying Y tickets. Those SWUs will be harder and harder to use. The way you’re able to get EXP next year, every Tom, Dick, and Harry will have it. It’s like an old rerun of I Love Lucy. When one lucky lady thought she had an exclusive invitation to meet Ricky Ricardo, everyone in that crowd had an “exclusive,” invitation.

  8. FWIW…when comparing TPG and Ben, one thing that is fair criticism is that with Brian, at least it feels like he is really experiencing the places he travels. He immerses himself. With Ben, it always seems like he immerses himself in how he gets there. They are really two totally different blogs and approaches IMO.

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