American Airlines has finally released the full details and dates of the overhaul to its elite upgrade policy. American Airlines implemented its new companion upgrade policy on July 14, 2022. Any remaining 500-mile upgrade certificate will be converted to 250 Loyalty Points each on July 31, 2022 — unless you take action before then.

Photo of an American Airlines plane

New American Airlines Companion Upgrade Policy

  • All AAdvantage elites now receive complimentary space-available upgrades on all flights within North America.
  • A companion traveling with AAdvantage elites will receive the same upgrade as their elite status travel companion.
  • Upgrades are auto-requested.
  • Upgrades will clear up to 40 minutes before departure if seats are available.

The only exception to this general policy is if your ticket has more than 2 people on the booking or your companion is booked on a separate ticket. Then, you will have to call American Airlines to help process the companion upgrade request.

Dealing With Purchased Certificates

Under the old system, American Airlines AAdvantage elites would earn 500-mile upgrades from flying. In addition, American Airlines used to sell 500-mile upgrade certificates at a cost of $40 per certificate. Any unused 500-mile upgrade certificates in your account — no matter how they were generated — will be converted to 250 AAdvantage Loyalty Points on July 31, 2022.

Some travelers will be pleased with this boost to their elite status goals for 2022. However, other travelers may see this conversion as clearly unfair. Fortunately for those that purchased 500-mile upgrade certificates, you may be able to get a different form of compensation for your certificates.

First, you need to check when you purchased your stickers. According to AAdvantage terms and conditions, you can only receive a refund for certificates purchased before April 19, 2022. Any upgrades purchased after that will be converted to Loyalty Points per the T&Cs:

“500-mile upgrades purchased after April 19, 2022 are not eligible for a refund and will be converted to 250 Loyalty Points by July 31, 2022.”

One thing to keep in mind is that if you reach out to AA to deal with your now surplus upgrades, you may be offered more than just a refund. Several data points show that American Airlines is offering some members various compensation options.

Some AAdvantage members have been offered a refund, AAdvantage miles at a fair conversion rate, or even travel vouchers. What you are offered may depend on your current elite status. You can’t go wrong reaching out to American Airlines to see what they offer before choosing what works best for you and your travel goals.

Our Take

American Airlines abolishing the companion upgrade hassle and making it straightforward is welcome news for AAdvantage elites. Gone are the days of 500-mile certificates. If you are an AAdvantage elite traveling with someone, they will receive the same upgrade as you with no hassle. Thankfully, you may still have the option to get something other than a conversion to Loyalty Points. But, you’ll want to request this before July 31, 2022.

Have you asked AA to compensate you for your 500-mile upgrades? Let us know in the comments below what they offered.

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