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This is Part III in a four-part series on reciprocal upgrades between American Airlines and US Airways.
On Tuesday we discussed how American’s elite status members can now upgrade on US Airways metal.
Yesterday we discussed how US Airways’ elite status members can now upgrade on American metal.
In this post, I’ll cover what happens when you are flying more than one carrier on the same day.
There are several possible scenarios where this might come into play with reciprocal upgrades that we will examine:
1. American elite flying AA and connecting to US
Member should request their AA flight upgrade as they normally would with AA. Once checked in for the flight, they should then either use USAirways.com or check in with a US kiosk/agent at the airport to see if the upgrade is available on US per those procedures.
2. American elite flying US and connecting to AA
Member should request the AA flight upgrade as they normally would with AA. When checking in for the US flight (on USAirways.com, via the mobile app, at an airport kiosk, or with an agent) they would then see if the US flight upgrade is available per those procedures.
3. US Airways elite flying AA and connecting to US
Member should request the US flight upgrade as they normally would with US. When checking in for the AA flight (on aa.com, via the mobile app, at an airport kiosk, or with an agent) they would then see if the AA flight upgrade is available per those procedures.
4. US Airways elite flying US and connecting to AA
Member should request their US flight upgrade as they normally would with US. Once checked in for the flight, they should then use either AA.com or an AA kiosk/agent at the airport to check to see if the upgrade is available on AA per those procedures.
5. Elite from either airline flying another partner carrier and then connecting in one of the scenarios above
The KEY thing to remember in ALL of these scenarios is that you should NOT just check in for your first flight and call it a day.
If you are serious about upgrading, you must be diligent about checking in with both carriers and following the appropriate steps. Receiving reciprocal upgrades is a nice benefit but the airlines do not make it foolproof so many will miss out!
Also, as discussed in the first two parts, checking in EARLY is key as in this case, the early bird gets the upgrade, 24 hours before departure when flight check-in opens.
I’ve been hearing lots of stories lately about elites showing up at the gate the day of departure and demanding an upgrade from the gate agent because they are a top-tier member on the other airline. That is not a good strategy. (Nor is tipping the gate agent, hanging out at the counter making small talk, or bribing them with chocolate!)
Tomorrow we’ll wrap up this series on reciprocal upgrades with an overall strategy discussion of factors to consider when booking your upcoming flights on both carriers until we see more merger integration. If you have questions you want me to address in that wrap up, please ask them in the comments below!