Oneworld’s anticipated alliance-wide upgrade system is now in a soft-launch phase, with AAdvantage members now able to use miles to upgrade Qantas-operated flights. A note on the website promises ‘additional partner airlines will be added in the future.’

Curiously, the system is run by Plusgrade, a company best known for managing cash upgrade bids. A wide range of carriers use Plusgrade, including both Qantas and Virgin Australia. But under this trial, AAdvantage members can also use a fixed number of miles to request an upgrade.

The AAdvantage/Plusgrade portal now invites you to request an upgrade on Qantas flights.
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Bid with cash or use miles

As the details of the oneworld upgrade program aren’t officially released yet, we don’t have all the figures for how much the upgrades cost. But it’s likely the rates are set based on the original fare class and the distance of the flight.

The Plusgrade website mentions that most Qantas fares are eligible for an upgrade, excluding international ‘Sale’ fares. This broadly mirrors Qantas’ own criteria for points upgrades, where Economy Sale is excluded.

We don’t yet know whether Premium Economy Sale and Business Sale fares are excluded from upgrade with AAdvantage miles, as they are eligible with Qantas Points.


Conversely, reward seat bookings are NOT eligible for upgrade with AAdvantage miles, although they are still eligible to upgrade with Qantas Points.

Using an example Sydney-Tokyo Qantas flight booking, the American Airlines portal is offering cash upgrade bids starting from a reasonable minimum of $840 or a fixed-price upgrade for 60,500 AAdvantage miles.

It’s worth noting that an outright Business Class redemption from Sydney to Tokyo will only cost 40,000 AAdvantage miles + fees and taxes, so paying 60,500 miles for an upgrade from a cash Economy fare is steep.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction for improving the usability of points within the oneworld ecosystem.

AAdvantage upgrades on Qantas: key points

The FAQ section covers most of the scenarios you might face, but here are the main points to know:

  • Upgrades are available to Premium Economy, Business and First Class on Qantas-operated flights.
  • You can pay for the upgrade on behalf of someone else using your cash or AAdvantage miles.
  • Upgrades are not immediately confirmable. Qantas will confirm upgrades within 24 hours of departure.
  • You can lodge an AAdvantage miles upgrade request without having enough miles, but you’ll need to ensure your account has enough miles at least 24 hours before the flight.
  • You can request an upgrade at least 5 hours before a domestic flight and 10 hours before an international flight.
  • Upgrade priority will be based on oneworld status, but we don’t yet know how much priority this is given compared to those upgrading with Qantas Points.

Over to you; what do you think about the soft launch of oneworld alliance upgrades?

American Airlines launches Oneworld upgrade trial with Qantas was last modified: March 6th, 2024 by Brandon Loo