Systemwide Upgrade Availability Now Showing On

by on December 9, 2013 · 12 comments

in American

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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!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Shane

    It does NOT show the expanded EXP inventory. Not yet

  • larsnpmi

    If you have a multi-segment itinerary, it will show availability even though only one segment is available. Usually, that is the domestic one, for which you would get EXP upg anyway. The extreme example I saw was LHR-LAX-SAN, which showed Systemwide Upg available, even though it was only for the 20 minute hop LAX-SAN (on one of the few CR7 flights, with F).

  • terry

    Hi Brian,

    I’d appreciate greatly if you could help me with this question…

    I’m trying to use a bunch of Alaska miles to travel from SIN-MCO-SIN (in first class) early next year, could you suggest which is my best available airline/s option?

    Based on my research, British Airways seems the most direct, SIN-LONDON-MCO but I read that it is next to impossible to book a first class seat on BA, much less 2.

    Do you think flying Cathay Pacific would be my best option because I read it is not that hard to snag 1 seat in their first class cabin from SIN-LAX but that would still leave me “stranded” from LAX-MCO-LAX. :(

  • Matt

    Not only is it not showing EXP inventory but it also:
    - Doesn’t indicate if the upgrade is from Y->C or C->F on a 3 cabin flight
    - Which segment on a multi-segment itinerary has the upgrade availability
    For those reasons, plus no alerting, I’ll still be using ExpertFlyer

  • Poley King

    If you can find saver space on Alaska metal to the international gateway city (LAX, SFO, YVR), you can add it on along with the CX segments.

    Even if you have to pay for a positioning flight to one of the CX gateways its going to be a heck of a lot cheaper than the BA fuel surcharges

  • SFOPhD

    I and others have verified that this does not distinguish between A and C inventory, which makes the feature basically worthless on any 777.

  • Terry

    Yes Poley for your reply.

    The thing about Alaska metal is, even their first class seats are old and uncomfortable, I dare not imagine sitting in one of them for over 5 hours each way.

    But if I decide to suffer Alaska metal, any idea if they would consider my SIN-MCO-SIN flight as a single award? (SIN-LAX on Cathay Pac and LAX-MCO on AS.)

  • Terry

    I meant, “Yes Poley. Thanks for your reply.”

  • Poley King

    Yes, you can mix AS metal with 1 partner. AS metal must have saver availability for it to work. That’s the tough part. I end up usually paying for positioning flights or a separate award on a different partner

  • miggie

    This new “feature” is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The systemwide upgrade availability stated under each relevant flight is no guarantee of confirming an upgrade. I purchased a MIA-LHR-MIA ticket a month ago and the same note was seen under each flight segment. But AA EXP desk stated that they could not confirm and that I had to be put on the wait list. One month later…the same upgrade availability is noted for the same flights but you still cannot be confirmed. After speaking with EXP desk and website support, they are now backtracking and stating that there is no guarantee for confirming any upgrades. They should just remove this confusing “feature” as it offers absolutely no help.

  • Mark Graban

    I agree that the “feature” is worthless. You still have to call to see if the SWU is available. The website is saying that it may be available… worthless.

  • John

    Just figured out an annoying bug. The feature shows when upgrades are available for Coach to Business AND/OR upgrades from Business to First. So this is a particularly un-useful feature if you are looking for a Coach to Business availability on a 3-class aircraft like the 777.

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