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Guide: How to upgrade using American Airlines Business Extra (Updated 11/2019)

a row of seats on an airplane

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Step by Step – Here’s how you do it.

Business Extra is American Airlines small business rewards program. You earn a completely separate currency of points ( Business Extra Points ) concurrently with your Aadvantage miles, or whichever program you credit your flights. The long and short of the program is that you earn 1 points for every $5 spent on airline tickets with AA, BA, Iberia, and flights marketed by AA, but operated by FinnAir, JAL, and Qantas. If you have questions regarding the program, go here. One of the best redemption options for Business Extra points are 1 segment upgrades. The very best…650 points will get you a one segment upgrade – good on transcontinental flights. Let’s walk through how to upgrade using Business Extra so you can make the most of your points.

Here’s the goal…to get your feet up and your back flat. 

First Step: Make sure that there is C or A space on the flight you wish to upgrade

  • A is the first class upgrade inventory on planes marketed with 3 cabins. It will allow you up bump up from Biz to First
    • Transcontinental, i.e. LAX-JFK
    • LAX-MIA
  • C is the business class upgrade inventory on planes with 3 cabins, or economy to first on a 2 cabins

I use expertflyer to search the inventory – 

How to upgrade using Business Extra

If there is avail it will look like this:

a white rectangle with black text

Great, there is space…

Step 2: Make sure your fare bucket is eligible.

In order to use Business Extra you need to request redemption certificates. These certs are then applied to your ticketed reservation.

As you can see here it takes 650 points to upgrade one segment. Be aware that not all fare buckets are eligible to be upgraded so buyer beware. If you have B, N, O, Q, or S – you can not apply this upgrade. However, there is a work around. You can call AA and ask to buy up the fare bucket to one of the eligible buckets.

How to upgrade using Business Extra

Step 3: Redeem Points Online.

Gone are the days when you needed to have a certificate mailed to you. It is possible to do this all online.

Go to Redeem points

a screenshot of a program

Go to Upgrades

a blue text on a white background

Then BXP1 redemption will appear

a screenshot of a computer

You’ll be prompted to select the number you wish and reminded of exclusions:

a white box with blue text

You’ll receive an email, but also a prompt that looks like this with an 8 Digit Code. That’s what you need for redemption.

a screenshot of a computer

Step 3: After receiving your Business Extra cert, Call and add it to your record locator

  • Call 1-800-433-1790
  • Provide them with the 8 Digit Code
  • hours are limited and open 7am CST

Step 3: Alternatively, you can upgrade online now.

After loggin in, simply click the book award travel button up top

a screen shot of a website

Then click the Business Extra Upgrade button at the bottom and enter the information. It’ll notify you if you qualify and then you’ll add in your information in the following steps.

a screenshot of a computer

Step 4: Get your Lie-flat, champagne sipping, upgraded self into relax mode.

“C” inventory isn’t the easiest to find on transcon routes, but it’s possible. I was able to upgrade with C inventory on a flight today from JFK to LAX, and the closer the flight gets to a true redeye, the better the space is to nab. In fact, there were several flights throughout the day ( I counted 5 ) that all had C inventory available at one point or another. I ended up using a Same Day Flight Change to get in on the one with space and it only cost me $75 to change.

 

“A” space is available on most flights, and is very easy to nab. It’s the 1-1 cabin shown in this post’s feature image, or the International First Class cabin on the 77W that runs on certain domestic routes.

a seat in a plane
American Air A321T First Class

Have you had luck utilizing your Business Extra upgrades?

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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15 Comments

  • […] and you’re a small business owner, you really should check out our in depth article on Business Extra. The program allows you to earn 1 point for every $5 you spend on AA, BA, Iberia, and on select […]

  • […] If you can find this plane flying domestically, book it and don’t look back. It’d also be a fantastic use of a Business Extra segment upgrade. Read this article to find out how to earn Business Extra Upgrade Awards. […]

  • […] Earn AA business Extra Miles […]

  • […] about the program here, but if you want to learn more about what it is and how to upgrade with it, go here.  There are restrictions to fare class, so make sure you read the fine […]

  • […] One key component of this offer is you must be enrolled in business extra. I’ve written about how lucrative business extra is in the past, and if you’re interested I’d read this post. […]

  • […] to read more on redeeming business extra upgrades, or even what the heck business extra even is, read this post. Without further adieu, let’s check out Miles’ experience onboard American Airlines First […]

  • Steve October 11, 2017

    I am sorry but this post makes this process seem too easy. It is not. First off, you would need to subscribe (pay a monthly fee) to expertflyer to pre-determine C availability. Most of us call the 800 number because we need to do 2 things at once: (1) check availability and (2) check the higher fare that must be purchased (vs. the fare quoted for Coach travel on AA.com). I used to use these certificates to Hawaii by booking 11 months in advance. Now, I am holding 3 certificates that will probably expire unused. Why? AA has increased the prices of the booking codes required for using these certificates. (For example, DFW to Maui can be bought for $900 RT but the correct booking code costs over $1,200). This would be fine if the BXP1 upgrade is available, but it rarely is available when booking. You normally have to waitlist. I used to clear waitlist all the time, but now, I don’t (my status is still the same). So, you end-up buying a more expensive ticket and you don’t get upgraded. Also, I believe AA’s inventory for these awards is shrinking. Another note – you don’t need to be holding an award certificate to book a flight or wait-list — just have it before you fly. On the phone, they ask you for the expiration date of your certificate. Make-up a date in the future. Then, order your certicate to arrive before departure.
    As the article mentions, best case is to confirm upgrade when booking your flight (which must be bought immediately). I have gone one full year without being able to do this.

  • Kevin October 7, 2017

    Thank you for the informative post!

  • Brandon October 6, 2017

    how long are the paper certificates good for? upgrade availability can certainly vanish within 7 days. seems like a better strategy is to always have a paper certificate handy so that you can confirm your upgrade at booking…but that doesn’t work if they expire quickly.

    • Miles October 6, 2017

      Brandon – great point and I agree it’s worth having some paper certs. In terms of expiration, it varies by when you earn the points. For example some of mine expire 12/31/18 some 2019

      • Brandon October 6, 2017

        thanks Miles. based on some flyertalk reading, the certs seem to be valid for a good while, as you indicate. but once you order them, the “redeposit” fee if you want to return them is $150 (not sure if this is per cert or per transaction). so i’d say it’s safe to have a couple sitting around but not a stockpile.

  • […] How to Use Business Extra for Upgrades:  There are a lot of tricks in this hobby that few people know about…. kind of like In-n-Out’s Secret Menu.  Here’s a “how to” guide that could come in handy depending on your circumstances. […]

  • G-flyer October 6, 2017

    Related Question, about a different kind of Business ExtrAA upgrade certificate:

    With SWUs, I’d often use a single certificate to upgrade up to three AA flights between Europe and South America, for example, CDG-MIA-BSB or MAD-JFK-MIA-BSB.

    When using Business Extra Upgrade Certificates (BXP3), as long as my underlying flight is in the appropriate booking class, do I correctly understand that TWO certificates would be required for such itineraries? Or, in practice, could one BXP3 be used for the entire one-way ticketed routing (up to three segments)?

    • Miles October 6, 2017

      Hey G –

      What you inferred is correct: the BXP3 only upgrades one segment at a time so you would need two certs. You can waitlist upgrades, but they are much more difficult to clear than SWU. Thanks for reading!

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