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One of the best perks of American Airlines’ top-tier Executive Platinum status is the 8 Systemwide Upgrades (SWU’s) you get each year you qualify where you can upgrade one class of service on any paid published fare – so from economy to business or business to first for example. The one downside is that, though you can search for SWU availability on ExpertFlyer, it often doesn’t clear till a couple of days before a flight, you pretty much have to book and then keep your fingers crossed that an upgrade space comes through.
However, per this FlyerTalk thread, American Executive Platinums can now see Systemwide Upgrade availability when searching for flights, making the process a little less nerve-racking. I tested it out for myself, just searching flights from JFK-London a month or so out in January and came up with several results:
When you click on the Systemwide Upgrade link, it says: “Systemwide Upgrades are currently available on one or more American Airlines, American Eagle and/or American Connection® flights within this itinerary. Systemwide Upgrades are limited so contact AAdvantage Reservations to book your upgrade now.”
So you still have to call in and request the upgrade, but this could take some of the guesswork out of choosing your flights, especially if availability is showing way in advance. Just note, it appears you have to be logged into your Executive Platinum account for this to appear (which makes sense since Executive Platinums are the only elites who get these as a benefit with the exception of Golds who earn Elite Rewards at 75,000 miles).
In general, I think this is a good development, but it could also mean that a lot more people will be seeing upgrade space it and using it, which will make that scarce inventory even harder to get.
However, based on my unscientific opinion, it seems like there a good amount of availability and maybe this shows expanded Executive Platinum availability that ExpertFlyer might not be able to track. Still it never hurts to call and ask the Executive Platinum desk if they can see or open up award or SWU space even if it doesn’t show on the site – it never hurts to ask!