Starts Monday: American Airlines Systemwide Upgrades Work On British Airways

Starting Monday, September 12th American Airlines systemwide upgrades will work on itineraries that include British Airways transatlantic and intra-European flights within Europe. This includes American Airlines codeshare flights operated by British Airways.

That means if you book an American Airlines flight across the Pond, and upgrade it, you’ll also be able to upgrade your connecting flight on BA within Europe. And it means as long as you have a domestic American Airlines flight in your itinerary, you can use a systemwide upgrade to move up a cabin on British Airways across the Atlantic.

This news was first reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC and is a big step forward in American’s joint venture with British Airways.

AA:Effective Monday SWUs can be used on itins that have AA and BA flights on the same itinerary for the BA European segments

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 9, 2022

This requires an itinerary that has a mix of American Airlines and British Airways in order to upgrade on BA within Europe. There has to be at least one American Airlines segment in the itinerary in order for American to process the upgrade on BA. (One restriction is that systemwide upgrades extended to Alaska Airlines elites can’t be sued on BA.)

While American Airlines systemwide upgrades still let you move from coach to business class, jumping over premium economy, that’s not the case when upgrading on British Airways – it is a one cabin upgrade.

  • If you’re upgrading a coach ticket on a flight that has premium economy, the BA upgrade would be to premium economy.
  • If you want to upgrade to British Airways business class with a systemwide upgrade, you’d need to buy premium economy.

Bear in mind that intra-European business class on BA doesn’t get you much that an upgraded passenger doesn’t already receive. It comes with priority check-in and lounge access, but the connecting passenger will already be checked in and generally already have lounge access.

Business class (“Club Europe”) on BA’s intra-European flights gets you the same seat, with no more legroom than on Ryanair, but comes with a blocked middle seat as well as a meal and complimentary drinks.

Still, a passenger upgrading across the Atlantic need not be relegated to coach (‘World Traveller’) for their connecting flight, if upgrade space is available. You wouldn’t want to use a systemwide to upgrade only an intra-European segment of a larger ticket.

I expect to see American Airlines systemwide upgrades eventually extended further, to BA’s long haul flights into Asia and Africa. But that’s not available at this point.

This news is a huge JonNYC get, which I’ve verified. Systemwide upgrades are awarded as choice benefits starting at the Platinum Pro elite level (for those who fly 30 or more qualifying segments) and are given out at million mile thresholds.

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