Is offering upgrades to non-elite travelers ahead of AAdvantage elites?

Here’s a thread on FlyerTalk that will be of interest to many people: Confirmed – online upgrade offered to non-elite before Elite upgrades processed.

These kinds of discussions pop up all the time and most of them aren’t worth following. This one, though, includes a screenshot from and detailed “inside” info regarding the processing of the upgrade list.

Before sharing it, I decided to head over the the Traveling Better forum to see if JonNYC had commented on it, this is some of what he wrote, “This one will, indeed, be interesting. Since previous FT reports were [completely disproved, in this thread] ..but this guy has access to jetnet and is quite clearly [much better informed]- will be curious to see if any clarity or clarification can be brought to the subject.”

American has always sold Load Factor Based Upgrades (LFBU) to non-elite passengers at the airport check-in kiosk, but only a few hours before a fight and after the elite upgrade list cleared. If this is true, then something has changed. It’s certainly something to follow…

Also, if you haven’t already entered my reader giveaway for a chance to win an American Airlines Amenity Kit, there’s still time: the deadline is tonight at 11:59 PM Pacific.


  1. As a non elite on AA I’ve been offered upgrades for $ like 24 hours out in the past but haven’t seen this in a couple years other than the kiosk ones at the airport.

  2. It would be a bummer if this is the way things will be for elites on AA now, but I’m really hoping it’s a glitch.

    AA has always been good at rewarding loyalty over a quick buck, and I think a lot of this has to do with still profiting from selling 500 mile stickers to GLDs and PLTs.

  3. I was offered upgrade at check-in 24 hours prior without status. I took it just to see what AA F was like and it prompted me to switch after they offered the status match. Is a that not supposed to happen?

    • @ unitedef – it’s supposed to happen after the elite list has cleared.

      This is a little different because the person that posted it is an Executive Platinum that was checking in a co-worker that didn’t have status.

      The co-worker was offered the upgrade even though the Executive Platinum passenger hadn’t been upgraded.

      BTW, it’s good to hear from a “switcher”, thanks for reading!

  4. Do you suppose American is now using the UA-CO SHARES computer system to improve their revenue management? I hope all those Platinum and 1K that left UA for AA don’t come back

    • @ Rami – I hope not! I think not having UA-CO SHARES computer system is AA’s competitive advantage. 🙂

  5. @ Gene – Hopefully, it’s a software error and not a change in AA’s policy.

    Delta is my backup airline but I’m no fan of their upgrade policies. Upgrade priority is based on the fare class purchased within each status grouping. Also, companion upgrades clear last, so it’s rare that you’ll be able to travel in the same cabin with a colleague.

    I’ve always thought that AA had a much better system, but then I’m sure that Delta Points and others might disagree. I guess it’s just what you most used to…

    I know nothing about UA except that they’ve had a lot of challenges lately.

    Anyway, let’s see how it plays out….

    Thanks for the comment!

  6. I’d be careful about assuming those incidents in post #87 mentioned above are the same as this. As JonNYC points on his post, most of those were shown later to have been completely explainable and not instances where elites were bumped by LFBU.

  7. @ David – Thanks for your advice. You’re right, most of these posts turn out to be false alarms. Hopefully, AA will comment soon on Milepoint or some other forum.

    The critical test is going to be whether or not I get the upgrade on my upcoming flight to SFO! 🙂

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