Upgrading from Premium Economy to Business on American Airlines. Using Avios.

American Airlines have recently been refitting its long-haul fleet with a proper Premium Economy product.  They’re the first of the big three US carriers to go all in and get all of their aircraft reconfigured.  Delta only have their A350 aircraft fitted with it, and United haven’t even formally announced it as a product yet.

For those with company travel policies that don’t permit business, but do allow Premium Economy, this could be a huge driver of extra business away from the likes of British Airways who have had it for the best part of 20 years now.

As you can see from the diagram below, they have a pretty aggressive schedule to refit their entire fleet, with the exception of the A330-300 aircraft which will be leaving the fleet at some point, as well as the B767-300’s too.

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In this article, I’m going to talk about how you can upgrade using both AAdvantage miles and also Avios from the Executive Club.  There are quite a lot of restrictions and nuances to get the recipe exactly right; it’s not the most customer friendly process.

Upgrades using AAdvantage Miles

Upgrades on American

As an AAdvantage member, things are reasonably straight forward.  If you booked a paid premium economy fare with American, you can upgrade it to Business class.

American Airlines has two fare buckets for Premium Economy, P and W.  P is the discount one, and W is full fare.

Assuming you’re on a transatlantic flight, booked into P class will cost you 25,000 miles and $350.  This is the same cost as regular economy, so actually might not make sense to buy a Premium Economy fare in the first place.  However, I can see this changing in the future as the cabin becomes more widespread across the fleet.

Upgrades from W class cost 15,000 miles with no surcharge (the same as full Y in economy).

Tickets must be issued on 001 ticket stock and booked under AA flight numbers only.

Upgrades are dependent on there being availability in C class.

Upgrades on British Airways

You can also upgrade some British Airways flights from Premium Economy to Business.  These cost only 12,500 miles for a transatlantic flight, but are only allowed from W class, and book into the much more restricted U class instead (regular award inventory).

Again, it must be on 001 ticket stock, and there must be at least on AA flight on your booking.  The BA flight must have a BA flight number to upgrade it.

The official AA page on upgrading AA flights is here, and upgrading partner flights is here.

Upgrades using Avios from the Executive Club

The information I’ve got here from British Airways is new, and not fully complete, however they are clarifying a couple of points and I’ll update the article as and when I find out more.

If you want to use your Avios to upgrade a Premium Economy ticket for travel on American Airlines, then it *is* possible.  However there are quite a few caveats that you will need to get right.

Firstly, the Avios cost hasn’t yet been confirmed with British Airways, however they believe it would be the same cost as their current peak chart cost for a British Airways flights.  That would mean 20,000 Avios, one-way for East Coast flights and 30,000 Avios for the rest of the US.

It appears that you will be able to upgrade from both P and W class fares.  If the underlying fare is a dual-inventory fare, then that should be fine as well.

*Update 12th February*
British Airways have confirmed that you can only upgrade from a W class fare, and not from P class as they initially indicated.  That’s a huge shame, and essentially means there’s not much value to be had here.

However upgrades will need to go into the much more restrictive U class (and not C as AAdvantage awards book into).  This is the regular business class award inventory.

The other key point is that the ticket must be booked under British Airways 125 ticket stock, but under the AA codes (and NOT the BA ones).  This point I suspect may catch a few people out.

I’m also awaiting clarity if you’re allowed connecting AA flights on the booking, and if they need to be under the AA or the BA codes.

Gold Upgrade vouchers aren’t valid.

I don’t yet believe that the Executive Club have processed one of these upgrades yet, so do drop me a note if you have, or you’re going to try and book one of these flights – I’d love to know how you get on.

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