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This is a question that came up on one of my last flights
Amex Travel provides several unique earning opportunities, a few of them: 5x earning with Amex Business Platinum, 35-50% refund on redeemed points, and the ability to earn EQD differently than a flight booked directly with the airline. If you’re unfamiliar with the latter point, you can see the chart whereby AA lays out earning made with consolidators and bulk fares here. I used Amex points, redeemed through Amex Travel, to fly to Japan earlier this month, and wanted to upgrade those tickets with System Wide Upgrades ( a guaranteed one class upgrade on a one way flight). The tickets were purchased with 60k Amex points and booked into discount economy. I couldn’t find much information online about the process so I thought I’d share my experience.
I saw SWUs available at the time of booking.
Can you use an SWU on an Amex Travel booking?
The short answer is Yes.
The following is strictly enforced.
- The flight has be OPERATED and MARKETED as AA
- This means if you see an AA flight that is sold by Cathay, BA, JAL, etc – you can not apply an SWU to it.
- Basic Econ fares aren’t eligible
- Militar/Government fares are ineligible.
I had no trouble using System Wide Upgrades on our reservations, at all. I made the booking. Received confirmation, ticketing information, and then proceeded to call AA to apply the SWUs.
A quick hint. Expedite ticketing so you don’t lose your biz class seat.
If you see that an SWU is available at the time of booking. Call into Amex and request that the ticket is issued. AA can only apply your SWU after the consolidator ( Amex ) has issued the ticket. There is a delay between booking and ticketing, and you don’t want to miss out.
I also credited my flight to Alaska. So I booked on Amex Travel. Applied the SWU. AND credited to a partner.
Alaska will give me credit for the flight based on my original fare class. You can see below it says Business (c). This signifies that the business class fare bucket is upgraded.
Amex Travel ( especially those w/ the grandfathered 50%) is a great way to use some Amex points and double dip.
You’ll not only get $0.02 per point, but Amex Travel often has better rates with partners ( like AA and Delta ) than you’ll see otherwise. You won’t just get a good value for your Membership Rewards, but you’ll also earn Airline Redeemable Miles, Elite Miles, and Elite Dollars if the airline records those.
You can also apply upgrades if the fare class you’ve booked into allows it. Like I did with an SWU.
I have to say…the new retro fit AA 772 cabin is gorgeous. An outstanding use of an SWU.
If you’d like to read more about SWUs including the order in which they clear, go to AA’s official site.