American Airlines Business Extra Upgrades Just Went Paperless (And Two Promotions You Should Be Registered For)


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Business Extra is the loyalty program from American Airlines aimed at small and medium sized businesses. Anyone can sign up for Business Extra (even private individuals who don’t have a business) and, if you fly American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia with any frequency, it’s a program you should  probably be signed up to.

Business Extra is a completely separate program American Airlines AAdvantage and you can accumulate points/miles in both at the same time and for the same flights (more info on Business Extra via this link).

Over the past couple of years Business Extra has become more useful as the scope of the flights which qualify for Business Extra points has increased – US-based flyers can now credit British Airways flights to Business Extra – but the program has always had its annoyances.

I’ve always disliked the fact that, in order to redeem Business Extra points for upgrades, you have always had to request a paper certificate (yes, paper!) which then had to be presented at the airport when checking in (and claiming your upgrade)….so you couldn’t check-in online.

Considering paper tickets haven’t been around for over 20 years it has always seemed a little bizarre that American has persisted with this system for so long but, according to an email I received yesterday, the airline is finally bringing Business Extra into the 21st century….sort of.

Here’s what the airline has had to say:

Upgrade awards are going paperless
Going forward, when you redeem points for an upgrade award, you’ll receive the upgrade certificate via email – allowing you to request an upgrade immediately. No more waiting for paper certificates to arrive in the mail!

Is the process for requesting an upgrade changing?
Nope, American Airlines Meeting Services is still available to assist when you’re ready to apply your upgrade certificate to a ticketed reservation. Simply follow the instructions provided with your electronic upgrade certificate.

American Airlines now asks for an email address rather than a mailing address when you head over to Businessextra.com and ask to redeem points for an upgrade.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that there is still no way to apply the upgrade (or to request the upgrade) online so you still have to call up American Airlines “Meeting Services” to have the upgrade applied or to ask to be put on the waitlist (the more likely of the two options given how hard upgrade inventory is to find).

The value of upgrade awards went down a few years ago when American Airlines added “N” fares to the list of fares that were not eligible for Business Extra upgrades (so only the more expensive Economy Class fares are upgradable) but, as you still don’t have to buy a fully flexible Economy Class fare to upgrade, these vouchers can be useful.

Two Promotions You Should Be Registered For

Business Extra is running two promotions you should be aware of and, as it costs nothing to register, you should make sure you sign up so you don’t accidentally fail to pick up easy points.

The first promotion is celebrating the news that I’ve written about above:

“Take Flight With A Paperless Upgrade Award”

Image courtesy of American Airlines

OT: Is it just me or does the image above make the model look a bit crazy? (take a look a the eyes!)

Here are the details of the promotion:

We’re helping you get closer to an upgrade. To celebrate the launch of paperless upgrade awards, we’re offering 100 bonus Business Extra points on your next flight.

Bonus point offer

Your company will earn 100 bonus Business Extra points when you:

Register for the promotion between February 27, 2018 and May 31, 2018 with the promotion code BXP1UP18

Complete one qualifying flight between February 27, 2018 and May 31, 2018

There doesn’t appear to be anything untoward in the terms and conditions and, importantly, it doesn’t look as if existing reservations are being excluded. This should be an easy 100 points for a lot of people.

Here’s a link to the promotion registration page and the full terms & conditions.

The second promotion has been running for a while and centers around American’s Premium Economy product:

“Experience Premium Economy & Earn Double Points”

Image courtesy of American Airlines

With Business Extra you earn 1 point for every $5 spent on airfare and, if you book Premium Economy on select routes, you can double that earning rate.

Earn double Business Extra points when you fly Premium Economy on select routes on American Airlines, British Airways or Iberia through June 30, 2018. To earn, register using promotion code PELAUNCH and complete qualifying travel in the select routes. See below for more information on service start dates**.

Here’s a screenshot showing the “select routes” and their launch dates (click to enlarge):

Here’s a link to the promotion registration page and the full terms & conditions.

Bottom Line

It’s nice that we’re seeing small efforts to modernize the Business Extra processes but I’ll be happiest when I no longer have to call up to apply or request an upgrade and I can just do it online (just as I can with 500 mile upgrades right now).

If you’re US-based and you fly with AA/BA/IB with any frequency you should be signed up to the Business Extra program (there’s no downside to signing up) and you should make sure you’re signed up to all the promotions that come along….starting with the two I’ve mentioned above.