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One of the best airline elite status benefits out there are the 8 EVIP systemwide upgrades American Airlines gives to its top-tier Executive Platinum members. Systemwides, or EVIP’s, are one-way upgrades that can be used on pretty much any paid (non-government, military or award) fare – even discounted economy fares – and can be used on American Airlines flights to upgrade one class of service from economy to business or business to first, meaning they can be worth thousands of dollars each. You used to have to call to in to request one, but American added a new functionality to AA.com where you can request one on eligible flights and fares.

New American trans-continental first class
Put those upgrades to use before they expire!

Unfortunately, like many elite benefits, including these systemwide upgrades expire at the end of February each year – which means you’ve got to use yours by today…or do you?

Though American Airlines’ SWU explanation page says that all travel using a systemwide upgrade must be completed by the expiration date, people have reported success asking American to extend them on reservations past the deadline, though AA seems to be tightening up restrictions on using these according to this FlyerTalk thread. But I wanted to try for myself – after all, I still had SWU’s at my disposal, so there was no harm in trying to apply them to reservations.

Several members of Team TPG are traveling in the next few weeks in March, and without exception, each of their reservations on American was able to be upgraded with an EVIP. It was only a matter of the Executive Platinum member (sometimes myself and sometimes various friends since Executive Platinums can apply EVIPs to the itineraries of whomever they like) calling the Executive Platinum desk and asking to do so. While some agents did acknowledge that the EVIP’s were technically supposed to be used on travel before February 28, in each case, they were happy to upgrade passengers past the February 28 cut off.

One of the expiring upgrades that was applied to a reservation March 5.
One of the expiring upgrades that was applied to a reservation March 5.

Granted, we were only booking travel into March since our plans change all the time and we rarely book travel much further in advance than a month or two, but in the past it’s been possible to apply expiring EVIP’s to travel further out, and if any of you have been able to do so, please comment with your experience below.

On the other side of the equation, if any of you have expiring EVIP’s you’re not going to use – I’d suggest posting in the comments below in case other readers can put them to use (I’m not going to monitor these and I do not condone the sale of EVIP’s (not to mention it’s against program rules) so please do not comment with anything of the sort), or post on your own Facebook wall in case your friends can use them.

Above all, if you have some EVIP’s to use, be sure you at least try to do something with them by tomorrow, February 28, since after that they’re useless – it’s one thing to apply them to travel that takes place after the deadline, but quite another (and pretty much impossible) to try to use an expired upgrade, so I would suggest doing some planning tonight and tomorrow to see if you can squeeze a few last upgrades through before the deadline.

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