A new way to upgrade on American Airlines


Getting upgraded is the holy grail for many travelers. After all, what’s better than paying a coach airfare and sitting in business or first class?  And as complicated as the airlines tend to make their upgrade systems, the different ways to get an upgrade have always been fairly straightforward: You use miles, an upgrade certificate, the airline upgrades you based on your elite status, or you buy an upgrade during check-in.

Bidding for Upgrades

Recently American Airlines added a new twist: bidding for upgrades.  Travelers can make a cash offer for an upgrade starting six days prior to a flight’s scheduled departure.  If American accepts your offer, they’ll charge your credit card and upgrade your seat.  AA is calling this new system Plusgrade.

Top-tier AA Executive Platinum members already receive complimentary upgrades within North America on a space-available basis, and lower level elites receive upgrade certificates to use, so this is aimed at non-elite fliers.  American claims this will not affect the complimentary upgrades given to their elite members, but what will the airline choose when it has a cash offer for a seat that would otherwise be given away?

As always, follow the money.

Have you tried AA’s bidding for upgrades system yet?  Or do you think you have missed out on an upgrade because of it?  Tell us about your experiences in the comments.


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Ryan has been a travel expert for more than ten years. His journeys have taken him to all six inhabited continents, including living in the Middle East and backpacking across Australia, Asia and Europe.

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