A Stupid & Frustrating American Airlines AAdvantage System Limitation

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american airlines aadvantage elite upgrade limitation

American Airlines AAdvantage Elite Upgrade Limitation

One of the benefits of having American Airlines Executive Platinum or Platinum elite status is that you can select Main Cabin Extra seating for you and members in your party at booking. This is great since those extra few inches of legroom make all of the difference if you don’t end up scoring that upgrade and the non-elites flying with you will be appreciative!

My wife, infant daughter (lap child) and I are flying to Florida in a few days and I had originally put in for my wife to be upgraded with 500 mile certificates. I am eligible for free upgrades as an Executive Platinum member. After discussing the situation and looking at my current 500 mile balance, we decided it was best to forego her upgrade and save those certs for the flight back.

Removing An Upgrade Request

Yesterday I contacted the American Airlines Twitter team and asked them to remove my wife’s upgrade request. They informed me that the only way to do this was to split our reservation. In doing this my wife kept the same record locator number and I received a new one. That solution sounded fine, but I didn’t realize what it actually meant.

This morning my complimentary upgrade to First Class cleared which is great, but my wife’s Main Cabin Extra seat is on the other aisle of the 767. There is an open seat on the bulkhead in economy which would be one row behind the first class seat I have been upgraded to on the same aisle. This would allow us to jointly help with the baby no matter who takes which seat. It is a PERFECT solution.

american airlines aadvantage elite upgrade limitation

Unfortunately American Airlines doesn’t think so. After seeing this, I went onto the website to switch my wife’s seat and saw that it would be a $64 charge. I knew this was because I wasn’t on the same reservation any longer, so I contacted the AA Twitter team again to ask for the move. They said no. My wife is no longer eligible for the Main Cabin Extra seating. She won’t lose the seat she has now, but cannot be moved.

I did write them back that this is ridiculous given that the split reservation is a limitation of their system. They replied:

We don’t have a way to override this. You’re welcome to call the EP desk to see if they can make an exception, our apologies for your disappointment, but for her to retain your perks she has to remain in the same record locator as you.

First off, I would have loved for her to stay on the same record locator as me, but that wasn’t possible according to them. Second, I believe the American Airlines Twitter team is great and thus I do believe this is something they can’t override. Why do I say that? Because they really have been incredibly helpful whenever I have needed it. I blame the system and not them.

Takeaways

I am not upset with AA or their Twitter team since life is too short to get upset about something as trivial as this. The main reason for this post is to inform AA elites that their traveling companions seemingly lose all benefits if they somehow are split from your reservation, even if it has to do with an American Airlines problem or limitation.

Hopefully American Airlines can fix this limitation or at least empower their social media teams to help, because I simply hate making phone calls where there is a decent chance that I will still be denied the logical outcome. I guess we’ll just chance that the seat is available at the airport or *gasp* we’ll have to sit a bit further apart. A bit inconvenient given the baby, but then again not the end of the world. With that said, fix your system AA!

Have you ever run into a similar situation? Were you able to get it resolved? Let us know how in the comments!


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13 COMMENTS

  1. Im pretty sure the Twitter team is wrong. It lists on their own website that you can call and link PNRs for others travelling with you to get your elite benefits. I’ve done this recently linking PNRs to upgrade a friend of mine traveling with me. I don’t think you can do it online, but as long as the PNRs are linked, you can always call in to get the seats

  2. The Twitter team is wrong; even one of the exp representatives told me wrong info once. The truth is they can LINK your two locators together. By doing that, your companion will enjoy all the benefits as if you both are on the same locator. Once it’s linked, you can change their seats online.

  3. You are in a tough one here. I would always get my companion on my locator and position here in the seat that I would like her to sit if I clear. I always sit in the 2nd best seat since I assume I will clear. Yes, once you clear the upgrade, they won’t allow your companion to move. Just know that next time. Learning experience. I had to learn too the hard way.

  4. You were given incorrect information. AA can link the two PNRs together and the linked PNR gets the benefits of the elite member. I’ve done it in the past so unless they have recently changed this the person who told you no was incorrect.

  5. Agree with Alex and Eden. The ability to link PNRs will extend your benefits to those traveling in your party. In addition, seems like if she had access to MCE before, simply moving to another MCE seat would be a no-brainer.

  6. I’ve had the same experience. Basically, anyone in the same pnr gets all the benefits of your status, including luggage, mce, and same day change. Anyone on a separate pnr can be linked for mce, but won’t get free bags or same day change. The mce link only works while you’re all in the same cabin, so once your upgrade clears no one can switch seats without paying. It’s really annoying, especially when aa forces you into separate pnrs to request upgrades or for any other reason. Also, while they have no problem splitting people off a record, I’ve been told that there’s no way to recombine them.

  7. As other commenters have already remarked: extending EXP free-seating benefits to same-flight companions on separate PNRs is totally routine.

    Rather that writing this post (with colorful arrows on seat maps!) to complain about a problem that’s easily fixed, you could have just called the EXP desk like AA’s twitter team suggested. Your explicit reticence to pick up the phone is just another example of the anti-social habits promoted by “social” media.

    And more to the point: for a self-styled expert in Frequent Flyer programs, this is the kind of detail shouldn’t be so surprising. What is surprising is how comfortable you seem to be with blaming a “Stupid and Frustrating” airline system for the unfounded mountain constructed from a misinformed molehill.

    If, as you say, the point of your post was to “inform AA elites” – it’s only informed them of something misleading. And what’s the point of that?

    • Actually since I am now in a separate cabin there is simply no way to do it according to everyone at AA including the phone team who I have contacted. Calling on the phone is often the most inefficient way of dealing with companies and in my experience it should be a last resort in most cases.

      If you think the non-ability to change a seat for a companion once the elite has been upgraded isn’t a system limitation then fine. I disagree. Thankfully we all have the right to our opinions. Thanks for stopping by and sharing yours.

  8. I don’t think their response was correct. Just a few weeks ago I had already had reservations made for my son and I to go to Dallas. Just a week before we decided my husband would join us so I made his reservation as well, but wanted him to be able to sit with us on the return, and of course I couldn’t choose the seat next to us as there is a charge for him. When I called American and explained what I did , they had no problem moving him into the seat beside us with no charge. I think it’s a crapshoot on who you speak with.

  9. Shawn,
    As I wrote earlier, and none of the other commenters have realized, all companion benefits disappear once you’re upgraded and no longer in the same cabin, which is what happened to you.
    I’ve had the same problem.
    Additionally, as soon as the record is split, you lose other companion benefits like free same day change and checked baggage allowance

    • Yes, you were completely correct. The Twitter team didn’t quite explain why it was happening but after a lengthy phone call with the Executive Platinum line (where they refused to do anything), it was explained that the issue was me being in a different cabin. This really is an unfortunate policy/limitation.

      Thank Jonny!

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