As American Airlines AAdvantage previously announced they are in the process of changing the way elite upgrades work for their tier members and that includes the elimination of the 500-mile upgrade certificates.
American is soon removing these upgrades from the AAdvantage accounts and will soon convert them to loyalty points (250 per certificate), however, members with PAID upgrades are eligible for a cash or miles refund.
This move by American AAdvantage is controversial as members have in some cases spent many years accumulating their e500 vouchers which often didn’t even clear in recent years and hence many including myself had quite a few of them piled up.
Now all these are going to be converted to 250 loyalty points each and let’s remember that it takes 30,000 points to even reach AAdvantage Gold. In other words, this conversion bonus is nothing but useless lip service.
American announced this action back in February when John first wrote about it:
Since then, the program has in fact offered members who called in in order to inquire about their purchased e500 upgrades the following compensation options:
- $40 cash refund per e500 upgrade certificate
- $40 travel voucher refund per e500 upgrade certificate
- 5000 AAdvantage miles per e500 upgrade certificate
- 250 Loyalty Points per e500 upgrade certificate (same as everybody else)
Obviously, it’s very lucrative to convert the purchased upgrades to miles. 5000 miles for a $40 investment is an awesome deal that I’d take any day but this was only offered for upgrades purchased until the announcement of the change. Remember you’re STILL able to buy these upgrades.
All those customers who earned their upgrades by flying American Airlines (4 upgrades per 10,000 miles) will receive nothing but 250 loyalty points.
Today American Airlines AAdvantage sent the following email:
As an AAdvantage Gold® member, your journey is important to us — and that includes those traveling with you.
Starting July 14, we’re expanding your upgrade benefits to include a complimentary upgrade for one companion traveling with you. You’ll no longer need 500-mile upgrades — upgrades for AAdvantage® status members plus one companion are complimentary on flights within North America.
As a result of this change, we’ll convert all remaining 500-mile upgrades in your account into 250 Loyalty Points each by the end of July, getting you closer to qualifying for status, improving your spot on the upgrade list and unlocking other great benefits.
We’re committed to enhancing your travel experience, and look forward to seeing you in the skies.
On the face of it, members won’t lose anything even with their upgrades going away, it still leaves a bitter taste when things are being taken out of an account without anything of tangible value being returned.
You can access the respective website of American AAdvantage here.
Complimentary companion upgrades
Complimentary upgrades for AAdvantage® status members will now extend to 1 companion for travel on or after July 14, 2022. Complimentary upgrades apply to travel on all purchased, published fares on American within North America and include AAdvantage® award tickets for AAdvantage Executive Platinum® members.
Complimentary upgrades for existing reservations will be automatically requested by July 14.
How it works:
- We’ll automatically request the upgrade for you and 1 companion if your reservation has no more than 2 passengers. You can check the status of your upgrade request by viewing your trip on aa.com or in the American Airlines app.
- If your reservation includes more than 2 passengers, or your companion is traveling in a separate reservation, call your AAdvantage® status desk for assistance.
- Your companion will receive your same upgrade priority.
Converting 500-mile upgrades to Loyalty Points
By the end of July, 2022, we’ll convert all available 500-mile upgrades in your account to 250 Loyalty Points each. This addition of Loyalty Points will help you reach AAdvantage® status faster and boost your upgrade priority.
Once the conversion is complete, you’ll see the deposit of Loyalty Points in your AAdvantage® account activity along with the corresponding details in the 500-mile upgrade card in your wallet.
Well, at the moment the account still shows the vouchers sitting right there:
So what am I going to get for my 29 e500 upgrades after this conversion that will happen within the next few weeks? 7250 “Loyalty” Points. It’s a joke!
For one, I’m already Lifetime Gold as Million Miler in the AAdvantage program. The Platinum level requires 75,000 points, this would give me just 10% of the required amount. I have moved on from actively collecting AAdvantage miles for a long time already. If there are attractive awards then I just transfer some Marriott points or purchase the miles outright. It’s much easier to achieve Emerald status with other programs such as British Airways Executive Club.
A few weeks from now American Airlines AAdvantage will swap the e500 upgrades in member accounts permanently to loyalty points in the amount of 250 points per upgrade.
Those members with upgrades that were purchased with cash or miles rather than earned by flying can contact AAdvantage Customer Service to ask them for an appropriate refund offer which will most likely be identical to the values I mentioned here (face value refund in cash or 5000 miles per upgrade).