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American makes domestic premium economy upgrades available to all elites

May 05, 2022
3 min read
American makes domestic premium economy upgrades available to all elites
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Editor's Note

American clarified to The Points Guy that premium economy upgrades have been available to Gold and Platinum elites since these members <a href="https://thepointsguy.com/news/american-airlines-complimentary-elite-upgrades/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">became eligible for automatic complimentary upgrades</a> in March. 

If you're an American Airlines AAdvantage Gold or Platinum elite, we have good news for you.

AEffective immediately, all AAdvantage elite members are now eligible for complimentary premium economy upgrades on Alaska and Hawaii routes. Previously, these upgrades were only available to upper-tier Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members. This news was first reported by View from the Wing.

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Premium economy is available on all of American's Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft, which operate some flights to Anchorage, Honolulu and Maui. Premium economy differs from American's extra-legroom economy seating Main Cabin Extra, and features a product similar to American's domestic first-class recliner seats. Other perks include elevated meals and Casper bedding.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

AAdvantage elites will be upgraded at the gate if seats are available before boarding. In practice, agents should ask before upgrading a customer to a premium economy middle seat.

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Related: Tricks to avoid being skipped on an American Airlines upgrade list

Best of all, this will have no impact on upgrades to business class. Economy passengers on the standard upgrade list will still clear directly into business class if there's space available. In turn, elites are only upgraded to premium economy when there are no business class seats remaining.

This also doesn't affect American's domestic routes that offer premium economy seating but don't sell it as a separate product.

For example, American routinely flies premium economy-equipped planes from Miami International Airport (MIA) to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Premium economy seats will continue to be sold as Main Cabin Extra (extra-legroom coach) on these routes, and thus free for elites at the time of booking or within 24 hours of departure, depending on your elite level.

While obviously an enhancement for elite members, it'll be interesting to see if this is a precursor to more restrictive policies on other upgrades. By standardizing these one-class upgrades for all AAdvantage elites, it's reasonable to suspect that upgrades with miles and Systemwide Upgrades (SWUs) could ultimately be limited to a single class — similar to what Delta implemented this year.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more