How To Earn 500 Mile Upgrades?

How To Earn 500 Mile Upgrades

Have you ever wished for an upgrade on your next flight, but didn’t want to pay the full price for it? How to earn 500-mile upgrades? Did you know that there’s a way to earn 500-mile upgrades that can help you get closer to that coveted first-class seat?

In this article, we’ll explore the different ways you can earn 500-mile upgrades and make your next flight a little more comfortable.

How To Earn 500 Mile Upgrades?

To earn 500-mile upgrades, frequent flyers can earn elite status with an airline, which rewards them with upgrades. They can also use co-branded credit cards or purchase them with miles or cash. Some airlines also offer promotions or contests to earn upgrades.

Joining an Airline’s Loyalty Program

Joining an Airline's Loyalty Program
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

The first step to earning 500-mile upgrades is to join the loyalty program of the airline you’re flying with. 

Most major airlines offer loyalty programs that reward frequent flyers with points or miles which can then be redeemed for upgrades and other perks. 

To sign up, simply visit the website of the airline you’re flying with and look for the loyalty program section. From there, you’ll be able to register and start earning your rewards right away.

Fly Frequently 

The key to earning 500-mile upgrades is to fly frequently with the airline you’ve signed up with.

Depending on the program, you may need to fly a certain number of miles or complete a set number of flights to qualify for the 500-mile upgrades. 

The more often you fly, the more rewards you will accumulate, and the higher up in elite status you’ll move.

Earn Elite Status

Once you’ve earned enough miles or points, you may be eligible for elite status.

This is a great way to get access to exclusive perks such as free upgrades, discounted fares, priority boarding, extra luggage allowance, and more. 

To move up in elite status, you’ll need to continue flying frequently with the same airline.

Redeem Your Rewards

Once you’ve earned enough rewards to qualify for 500-mile upgrades, it’s time to redeem them. This can be done directly through the airline’s website or mobile app. 

From there, you’ll be able to select from available upgrades and use your rewards to book them.

What Is a 500-Mile Upgrade?

A 500-mile upgrade is a type of reward program. It allows frequent flyers to upgrade their economy class ticket to business or first class for a flight that is less than 500 miles in distance. The upgrade can be purchased with miles or points earned through the airline’s loyalty program. 

This type of upgrade is particularly useful for short flights where the cost of a business or first-class ticket may not be justifiable. 

However, it is important to note that not all airlines offer 500-mile upgrades and the availability of upgrades may vary depending on the airline and the route.


Upgrade Type Required Miles Eligible Fare Classes
Domestic Upgrade 500 miles Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O classes
International Upgrade (North and Central America) 500 miles Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O classes
International Upgrade (Europe, Asia, South America) 500 miles Y, B, H, K, M, L, V, G, S, N, Q, O classes

How To Use 500-Mile Upgrades?

To use 500-mile upgrades, a member of the American Airlines AAdvantage program must have earned them through frequent flying or credit card spending. They can then be applied to upgrade flights of 500 miles or less. Upgrades can be requested online or at the airport, subject to availability.

  • Eligibility

The first step to using 500-mile upgrades is determining if you are eligible. To be eligible, you must be a member of the airline’s frequent flyer program and have at least 500 miles in your account. 

It’s also important to check the terms and conditions of the promotion to see if there are any restrictions or blackout dates associated with it.

  • Check Availability

Once you’ve determined that you are eligible for 500-mile upgrades, the next step is to check availability. You can usually find out what flights have upgradeable seats by searching on the airline’s website or app. 

In most cases, there will be a limited number of upgradeable seats available per flight, so it’s important to book early in order to get the best chances of being upgraded.

  • Purchase Upgrades

If you find an available upgradeable seat on the flight you are looking for, the next step is to purchase the upgrade. 

Typically, the cost of a 500-mile upgrade will be significantly less than the full price of a ticket in the more expensive class. 

Depending on your airline, you may also be able to purchase multiple upgrades at once.

Where Can You Buy 500 Mile Upgrades?

The process of buying 500-mile upgrades varies depending on the airline. Generally, the upgrades can be purchased online through the airline’s website or mobile app, or by calling the airline’s customer service center. Some airlines may also allow upgrades to be purchased at the airport. 

The cost of the upgrades typically varies based on the airline, the route, and the availability of seats. 

Once purchased, the upgrades can be applied to eligible flights to move up to a higher class of service. 

  • Request An Upgrade

Once you’ve purchased an upgrade, the next step is to request it. You can usually do this online or over the phone. Remember to give yourself enough time before your flight in order for your request to be processed.

  • Wait For Confirmation

After you’ve requested an upgrade, all you need to do is wait for confirmation. In most cases, you will receive a notification within 24 hours of your request. If your upgrade is approved, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of the upgraded class on your flight.

  • Enjoy Your Upgraded Experience

Upon boarding your flight, you’ll be able to enjoy the upgraded experience. 

Depending on the airline, this may include bigger and more comfortable seats, complimentary drinks and snacks, access to in-flight entertainment systems, and other perks.

What Are The AA Upgrade Priority Orders?

AA upgrade priority orders determine how American Airlines confirms passenger upgrades. The priority order is determined by the AAdvantage status level of the passenger, with ConciergeKey members being given the highest priority, followed by AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, AAdvantage Platinum, and AAdvantage Gold members in that order. 

This means that passengers with higher AAdvantage status levels are more likely to receive upgrades, while those with lower status levels may have to wait for available seats. 

When Does An American Airlines 500-Mile Upgrade Expire?

When Does An American Airlines 500-Mile Upgrade Expire?
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An American Airlines 500-Mile Upgrade does not have an expiration date. Once you earn them, you can keep them for as long as you want. Even if you advance to a higher tier in a subsequent year, you can still use those previously earned 500-mile upgrades towards upgrading a companion. 

This is great news for frequent flyers who want to save up their upgrades for a special occasion or a long flight. 

However, it’s important to note that the terms and conditions of the 500-mile upgrades may change over time. 

Hence, it’s always a good idea to check the latest rules and regulations before using them.

How Much Are 500 Mile Upgrades Worth?

Some estimates suggest that each 500-mile upgrade is worth around $40-45, although this can vary depending on the circumstances. These upgrades are typically used by frequent flyers to upgrade their flights on American Airlines and can be purchased or earned through loyalty programs. 

The value of each upgrade can depend on the cost of the original ticket, the availability of upgrade space, and the route being flown. 

Can You Use 500 Mile Upgrades Without Status?

The answer is no, 500-mile upgrades are only available to elite members of the airline’s loyalty program. These upgrades can be used to upgrade a segment of a flight up to 500 miles, and are a valuable perk for frequent flyers. 

However, those without elite status will not be able to use these upgrades. 

Is It Cheaper To Upgrade To First Class After Booking?

It is not always cheaper to upgrade to first class after booking. It may be costly depending on the airline and the specific flight. Airlines often offer upgrades at a premium price, especially if the flight is fully booked or if there is high demand for first-class seats. 

However, there are some instances where it may be cheaper to upgrade after booking, such as during off-peak travel times or if the airline is offering a special promotion. 

What Are The Different 500-Mile Upgrades in American Airlines?

American Airlines offers two different 500-mile upgrades: one for elite status members and one for regular members. Elite status members can earn 500-mile upgrades through their frequent flyer program, and these can be used to upgrade any flight up to 500 miles in length. 

Regular members can purchase packs of 500-mile upgrades, which can also be used to upgrade any flight up to 500 miles. 

These upgrades can be used on both domestic and international flights, and they can be used to upgrade from economy to business or first class. 

How Many American 500-Mile Upgrades Do You Need?

The number of American 500-mile upgrades needed will depend on the length of your flight and the cabin class you are traveling in. For every 500 miles of travel, you will need one upgrade. So, if you are traveling 1000 miles, you will need 2 upgrades

If you are traveling in first or business class, you will not need any upgrades. 

It is important to note that upgrades are subject to availability, and it is recommended to request them as early as possible. 

Additionally, upgrades can only be used on American Airlines flights, and not on partner airlines.

Which Cabin Can You Sit in When Using a 500-Mile Upgrade?

Is It Worth Paying For Main Cabin With AA?
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

When using a 500-mile upgrade on American Airlines, you can sit in a higher-class cabin than the one you originally booked. This upgrade can be used to move from Main Cabin to Premium Economy, or from Premium Economy to Business or First Class. 

However, the availability of upgrades is limited and depends on factors such as the route, time of day, and the number of seats available in the higher-class cabin

Additionally, the upgrade may only be valid for a one-way flight, and cannot be used for Basic Economy fares. 


How Do You Use 500-Mile Upgrades On American Airlines?

Generally, in order, to use 500-mile upgrades on American Airlines, you must have earned them through loyalty program status or purchased them. They can be applied to eligible flights when booking online, through the mobile app, or by calling reservations

Each upgrade is valid for 500 miles of travel, and multiple upgrades can be used for longer flights. 

Upgrades are subject to availability, and priority is given to elite members of the loyalty program.

When Will Your American Airlines 500 Mile Upgrades Expire?

Generally, your American Airlines 500 Mile Upgrades will not expire. This means that even if you advance to a higher tier and earn more upgrades in the future, you can still use your previously earned upgrades towards upgrading a companion

American Airlines’ policy of not expiring these upgrades is a customer-friendly approach that rewards loyalty and encourages repeat business. 

However, it’s important to note that these upgrades are subject to availability and can only be used on eligible flights within the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

How To Buy American Airlines 500-Mile Upgrades?

To buy American Airlines 500-mile upgrades, you must first have elite status with American Airlines. Once you have elite status, you can purchase 500-mile upgrades in increments of four for $40 each. These upgrades can be used to upgrade flights that are less than 500 miles

You can purchase these upgrades through the American Airlines website, mobile app, or by calling the reservations department. 

How To Earn 500-Mile Upgrades?

In order, to earn 500-mile upgrades, you can either purchase them outright or earn them through frequent flyer programs. Frequent flyer programs allow you to earn miles based on the distance you fly or the amount you spend on flights

Once you accumulate enough miles, you can redeem them for 500-mile upgrades. 

Some airlines also offer credit cards that earn miles for everyday purchases, which can then be used towards upgrades. 

Can You Transfer 500-Mile Upgrades To Another Person?

No, you cannot transfer 500-mile upgrades to another person. These upgrades are tied to your MileagePlus account and cannot be transferred or sold to someone else. However, you can use your 500-mile upgrades to upgrade someone else’s flight as long as they are traveling with you on the same reservation

If you have unused 500-mile upgrades, you can donate them to charity through the MileagePlus Charity Miles program.


In conclusion, there are various ways to earn 500-mile upgrades, which can help you move up to the next cabin class on your next flight. Most of these strategies have been outlined in this article.

With some effort and strategic planning, you can earn enough upgrades to enjoy a more comfortable flying experience and make your travels more enjoyable. 

Remember to check your airline’s website or contact their customer service to get the most accurate information and to maximize your opportunities to earn these upgrades.

Swati Jaiswal

Swati Jaiswal is a dedicated traveler and an even dedicated individual who specializes in travel, digital marketing, & health and fitness niches. Passport stamps and coffee stains are her badges of honor.

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