American Website Displaying Systemwide Upgrade Availability

My single favorite benefit of being an Executive Platinum member with American is the eight systemwide upgrades I get per year, which don’t have any fare restrictions. It’s pretty awesome to be able to upgrade a $700 ticket to China to business class, and rack up a ton of miles (including the 100% Executive Platinum mileage bonus) in the process.

American has always made it a pain to actually search confirmable business class upgrade space online. It’s actually probably a blessing in disguise, since the tougher they make it for the average person to search for upgrade space, the more of an edge those of us “in the know” have. ExpertFlyer has long been the only place to search confirmable business class upgrade space for travel on American, as the only alternative is to call American to ask about availability.


Anyway, American recently added the functionality to search upgrade space using systemwide upgrades on their website… at least theoretically. If you log into your Executive Platinum account and search for flight availability, you’ll notice some flights have “Systemwide Upgrade” listed next to them, which means there’s confirmable upgrade space.


There are two big problems with this functionality and one further thought I have, though:

1. The website doesn’t state whether the confirmable upgrade space is from economy class to business class or from business class to first class. Take the flight below, for example. Say I want to book an economy class ticket from New York to London. The below flight shows the “Systemwide Upgrade” icon, so you’d assume there’s confirmable upgrade space. Unfortunately that’s not the case — in reality there are seven confirmable upgrade seats from business class to first class, but none from economy class to business class.



2. For multi-segment itineraries, the website doesn’t state which segment has confirmable upgrade space. If you’re looking at a multi-segment itinerary and at least one segment has confirmable upgrade space, the itinerary will show the “Systemwide Upgrade” logo.

For example, the below Tampa to New York to Paris itinerary has confirmable upgrade space on both segments:


Yet it shows the same icon as a Tampa to Miami to Paris itinerary, which only has confirmable upgrade space on the first segment, which is only an hour long flight:


Of course the workaround is to just isolate the international segments and search them separately.

3. Why only display upgrade availability for Executive Platinum members? One thing I don’t get is why they’re only displaying this space for Executive Platinum members. For the most part, upgrade inventory for Executive Platinum members is the same as for non-Executive Platinum members, so it seems odd to limit the functionality like that.

Bottom line

This feature has the potential to be useful for passengers, though with the current execution it’s doing a disservice to passengers. Right now the “Systemwide Upgrade” logo can be pretty deceiving, since on a three cabin plane there’s no way to know whether the upgrade is available from economy to business or from business to first. Furthermore, on a multi-segment itinerary there’s no way to know whether one or multiple segments have confirmable upgrade space.

Filed Under: American
  1. i know you’ve written about this before, but in light of recent announcements, what is the likelihood (if any) of getting the 8 SWUs as a US CP?

  2. @ sean — For 2014 I’d say the chances are very low. I would guess it’ll be 2015 before they align those benefits.

  3. I know for a fact that EXPs have a higher level of inventory for SWUs than non-EXPs. I’m not sure if the inventory shown on includes that additional inventory or not.

  4. Lucky — someone on FT confirmed it is not limited to EXP, but to those who have unexpired SWUs in their account. If you have one, regardless of status level, you get the info.


  5. Not being able to see that you may only be Up Grading 1 leg of a multiple leg trip is consistent for the AA site. If I try to book a trip PSP-ORD-YYZ with miles it shows mile saver available in J even tho PSP-ORD is in Econ and ORD-YYZ is in J.

  6. Lucky, I have 4 Google Glass invites to give away in a week. If you/anyone was interested in one, please leave a comment on my blog at and what he or she would do with glass. I will do a drawing of some kind.

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