AA international upgrade space wide open!

Yesterday we reported that American Airlines has wide open Business and First Class award availability on many routes.  Now, MileCards reports that upgrade availability is even better.  Milecards showed that it’s sometimes possible to snag upgrades for flights to Australia, for example, even when no business class award space exists.

I checked a few routes myself, using ExpertFlyer (affiliate link), and found that upgrade space availability is almost unbelievable.  Here are a few examples (note: I’m sure that many other routes and dates are wide open too. There’s nothing special about the routes/dates I checked):

Dallas to Hong Kong

On July 6th, I see 4 business class award seats (which is amazing in itself) and 7 business class upgrade seats:

AA upgrade space DFW HKG

Philadelphia to Venice

On July 9th, I see 0 business class award seats and 5 business class upgrade seats:

AA upgrade space PHL VCE

Philadelphia to Rome

On July 9th, I see 3 business class award seats and 7 business class upgrade seats:

AA upgrade space PHL FCO

Philadelphia to Zurich

On July 8th, I see 2 business class award seats and 7 business class upgrade seats

AA upgrade space PHL ZRH

How to find upgrade space

Please see: How to upgrade AA coach to business class, in advance.

Why book upgrades instead of awards?

Ideally you either have AA upgrade certificates or have a friend willing to part with a few.  If so, you can book economy cheaply and then upgrade to business class.  In return, you’ll earn miles for your flight.  Ideally, use bank currencies to book coach (e.g. use Citi Prestige ThankYou points for 1.6 cents per point value).  Please see: A great combination: American Airlines status plus Citi Prestige.

Upgrade with miles

It is possible to upgrade with miles plus a cash copay, but it’s expensive.  You can find AA’s upgrade award chart here.  For most international flights from North America, the cost to upgrade is 25,000 miles one way, plus $350.  So a round trip upgrade to Europe would cost 50,000 miles plus $700 (not counting the coach fare itself).  Most people would be better off booking a business class award, but if business class award space is not available or if you need to earn elite qualifying miles for your trip, it may be worth it.

Last updated on March 31st, 2019

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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So, does anyone have a couple American SWUs they’d be willing to part with?

John Domingo
John Domingo

Does this work for SWUs?


I’m desperately in need of SWU to Asia!!


[…] AA international upgrade space wide open! – AA has released a ton of premium cabin award space along with wide open upgrade availability as well. […]