American Airlines systemwide upgrades now on basic economy fares

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Earlier this year, American Airlines announced some changes to elite status, one of which was the bad news that basic economy tickets will no longer earn any elite qualifying miles, segments, or dollars beginning in 2021. However, they recently announced some positive changes, including that elite members will receive their benefits even on basic economy fares. That should make booking basic economy a little more appealing for the most loyal members of the program.

This is particularly good news because, as of October 1st, TPG reports that American Airlines elite members are now able to apply systemwide upgrades even to basic economy fares. That could make for a significant savings over buying a main cabin fare (which used to be required in order to use a systemwide upgrade).

Unfortunately, you still wouldn’t earn any elite qualifying miles/segments/dollars on the trip since earning is based on the class originally purchased and basic economy fares earn nothing toward elite status. Still, if what you value for your trip is a comfortable business class seat and you can find a super cheap basic economy fare with upgrade availability, it could be worth giving up elite credit earnings.

Furthermore, this piece of news could be a piece of knowledge worth holding in mind if you’re contemplating a Hyatt mattress run for status. We don’t yet know if Hyatt will once again offer American Airlines Executive Platinum status to Globalist members like they did last year, but if they do and you qualify for Globalist, you may be able to parlay that into the ability to upgrade basic economy tickets with your four systemwide upgrades. This isn’t the main reason I’m considering the mattress run, but it will be a nice additional bonus if it happens.

TPG has more detail on this change to the American Airlines program.

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