Chairman’s Preferred Upgrades On American Improved

Filed Under: American, US Airways

All things considered I’ve been really impressed by the integration between American and US Airways. In fairness, they had the opportunity to watch the other two “big” mergers and learn from their mistakes.

But this is also an especially complex merger. Really it’s not just American and US Airways merging, but America West is also still in the mix, since their work groups aren’t even completely integrated.

American & US Airways reciprocal upgrades

In June of this year American and US Airways introduced reciprocal upgrades for travel on the other carrier. Their goal was to roll out the functionality as quickly as possible, though they freely admitted their solution was far from ideal. Given their technological limitations, though, it was the best they could do.

How US Airways upgrades on American work

As I explained at the time, the process for upgrading on American as a US Airways elite was as follows:

At the time of check-in, Dividend Miles members will be given the option to upgrade on American, assuming there’s upgrade space available. If there’s no upgrade space available, there’s not a mechanism by which one can waitlist. That being said, you should make it known to the gate agent that you’d like to be upgraded, and if the upgrade list is otherwise cleared and there is space available you’ll be upgraded.

Upgrades on American will be available within and between the U.S. (including Hawaii) and Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Central America. There’s no option for companion upgrades, however.

American Airlines 737 first class

Chairman’s Preferred members can now waitlist for upgrades

As I said above, the inability to waitlist for upgrades was a technological obstacle. But the good news is that this functionality has now been improved, at least for Chairman’s Preferred members.

US Airways Chairman’s Preferred members can now be added to the upgrade waitlist for American flights at check-in (though not before). JonNYC at has the entire text of the new policy, which has kicked in this past week.

You can check out the entire policy, though to sum it up:

  • This only applies to Chairman’s Preferred members, since their upgrades on American are complimentary
  • This is valid for American operated flights that are marketed by American or US Airways
  • Everyone on the record must be Chairman’s Preferred — if a Chairman’s Preferred member is traveling with a non-Chairman’s Preferred on the same record, then no one is eligible to be waitlisted for an upgrade
  • Chairman’s Preferred members still can’t upgrade on American before check-in
  • Chairman’s Preferred members will be given upgrade priority if they’re connecting, as American does for their own elites
  • It’s not clear at what level Chairman’s Preferred members are being prioritized — it could be with Executive Platinum members, it could be behind them, or it could be at the very bottom of the list

Bottom line

This is a very nice interim improvement for top tier US Airways flyers. This should significantly increase their upgrade percentage on American flights.

Now we just have to wait until the second quarter of next year, when Dividend Miles will be integrated into AAdvantage.

  1. Why don’t they make them a kind of status match into AAdvantage to skip all electronic issues?

  2. Flying US Airways as a Exec Platinum during last year I have only received 2 upgrades to First Class and each time I had to ask gate agent, not able to do when checking in

  3. @ Abdel Rahim Abdallah — That would have been a nice solution, on one hand, though I do think they’re doing a fairly good job making the merger move along quickly. Adding that capability would have probably slowed down the process even further.

  4. My partner is CP, but I’m only Silver and neither of us have status on AA. If I understand it correctly, he can waitlist for an upgrade at check-in if the reservation is split prior to online check-in but I really don’t have any upgrade options. What about using US or AA miles to upgrade? We both have a ton of those.

  5. @ Mike — Correct, he can waitlist if you’re on separate/split rewards. You can always use American or US Airways miles to upgrade, though, though in some cases there are co-pays.

  6. I am CP and fly 5-6 segments a week. I typically am upgraded 90% of the time on my US portion but never on the AA flight; I stopped asking just because it was so frustrating to work with the AA gate agents who seemed irritated by US flyers.

    I was sitting in DFW reading this post and immediately went to the AA gate agent- looks like I was already on the wait list and ultimately scored a seat in first. FINALLY- things are looking up for the merger.

  7. Hi Ben. Thanks for this info and for your blog. You say: ‘It’s not clear at what level Chairman’s Preferred members are being prioritized — it could be with Executive Platinum members, it could be behind them, or it could be at the very bottom of the list.” Do you know what status AA EXP members have when seeking upgrades on domestic US Air flights? I know they don’t get an opportunity to upgrade until they arrive at the airport day of the flight, so I assume it’s after Chairman’s Preferred members. But if AA EXP priority is after ALL elite levels on US Air, then the chances of an upgrade are very small. Any insights you can share are much appreciated.

  8. @ LarryH — Correct, day of I believe EXPs come after all US Airways elites. At least that’s my understanding.

  9. Here’s something for Chairman’s to remember. If you don’t get upgraded on an AA flight when you check in on line 24 hrs in advance, go to the counter and ask. If their training has been poor, ask them to use the Gooey Upgrade Mask. Sounds crazy, but my experience has been so bad, that I have pushed the envelope requesting. When someone gets me the upgrade, I ask how they did that. The Gooey Upgrade Mask and whatever this is entails is the “ticket” to determine if any seats are available, and for AA employees to process the request.

    I knew that I was not the only Chairman having issues, but the big kicker for me was flying out of Queretaro, Mexico (QRO) on October 22. I finished my work on Oct 21 and was trying to depart on the first flight on Oct 22 to get back to DTW to watch my daughter’s volleyball game that night. The AA counter person told me that I had to pay to leave on an earlier flight. I said that I’m a Chairman and I don’t have to pay. The person then ask me to pay for my bag. I said that I get three free bags. He then said, that my Chairman’s status means nothing to AA. He made that statement repeatedly which raised the anger hairs. He spoke to someone and processed my boarding pass. He then began to place my bag on the conveyor without the Priority Tag. I stopped him and asked him to place the Priority Tag on my bag. He then stated, “your Chairman’s status means nothing to AA.” Anger began to boil over. After I said that I have status with US Airways as a Chairman he put the Priority Tag within the checked bag tag and I walked away. What I identified when I got to DFW was that he removed Priority Tag and my bag cam out nearly last causing me to miss the US Airways flight at DFW which then caused me to miss my daughter’s volleyball game because I had to change terminals via the van shuttle. This was the worst experience anyone could have had.

  10. As a chairman last week I automatically showed up on the AA wait list. This week I did not. I asked the gate agent and she told me the “system” wouldnt let me added. So that is frustrating. Sounds like some kinks still.

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