Upgrade Qantas flights with American miles

American Airlines AAdvantage members have long been able to use their miles to upgrade various flights within the American Airlines network, as well as on partner airlines like British Airways and Iberia. However, earlier this year, American Airlines announced their plans to expand the upgrade options for their members by introducing the ability to upgrade flights on other partners using AAdvantage miles starting in 2024. Now, the airline has taken the first step towards fulfilling this promise by allowing members to upgrade Qantas flights using American miles.

For travelers looking to upgrade their Qantas-operated flights, the process is relatively straightforward. Most fares, including AAdvantage award tickets and those booked through online travel agencies, are eligible for upgrades through the Plusgrade website. The only exception is sale fare classes for international flights. Once you have booked your Qantas-operated flight, you can check the eligibility and upgrade rates by entering your Qantas confirmation code and last name on the Plusgrade website.

Each segment of your flight must be upgraded individually if you have multiple Qantas-operated flights on your ticket. When submitting an upgrade request, you will have the option to bid for a cash upgrade or use American miles for the upgrade. The number of miles required for the upgrade is static for your specific flight and date and cannot be changed. The upgrade request will only be confirmed within 24 hours of departure, so you will not know if your bid was successful until shortly before your flight.

While the option to upgrade Qantas flights using American miles seems appealing, it may not always be the best deal for travelers. The upgrade rates for using American miles to upgrade Qantas flights can be unimpressive compared to the standard award pricing for booking into the business-class cabin directly. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to purchase a business-class ticket outright or book a premium economy fare if available, rather than using miles for an upgrade.

For example, on a premium economy flight from Sydney to Santiago, the upgrade cost using American miles was significantly higher than the standard award pricing for booking into the business-class cabin. Similarly, on a flight from LAX to Sydney, the upgrade rates for premium economy and business class using American miles were higher than the award rates for booking into those cabins directly. In these cases, travelers may find better value by booking a premium-cabin award if available or purchasing a paid fare in the higher cabin.

In conclusion, while the ability to upgrade Qantas flights using American miles is a welcome addition for AAdvantage members, it is essential to consider the value proposition before deciding to use cash or miles for upgrades. In many cases, booking a premium-cabin award or purchasing a paid fare in the higher cabin may offer better value than using miles for an upgrade. Travelers should assess their options based on availability, cost, and their travel preferences to make an informed decision on how to maximize their miles and travel experience.

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