I recently wrote about how American may be willing to extend the expiration date of systemwide upgrades for some customers based on their Helix Score.
A lot of you didn’t know this was a thing, so in this post I figured I’d talk a bit more about that. The catch is that there’s not a whole lot of info out there about it — American is really good at keeping this stuff secret, much more so than other airlines. So I’m going off what I’ve heard over the years, including this post by JonNYC.
Airlines have secret ways of rating customers
Airlines obviously have a lot of data to go off of. In addition to published elite tiers, some airlines have elite tiers that have unpublished qualification criteria, like American Concierge Key, United Global Services, etc.
But in some cases there are even more mysterious ratings for customers. For example, British Airways gives their customers “scores,” and this is something that the cabin manager on a flight will have access to.
It’s not just airlines that do this. For example, Hyatt also has (or at least used to have) different tiers of Globalist members.
So this isn’t unusual as such, the question is just how secret companies can keep this.
American Airlines’ Helix Score
American Airlines has what they call their “Helix Score” system, where elite members get an “Eagle Rating.” All elite members get a rating of 1-5.
It’s my understanding that Executive Platinum members have three to five Eagles, while Platinum members have one to two Eagles. I’m not sure where Platinum Pro members fall, or if all Gold members have one Eagle.
Can you find out what your American Eagle rating is?
American keeps customer Eagle Ratings super secret. Don’t even bother asking an American employee about it, they’ll pretend it doesn’t exist. There are some ways to extrapolate some information (more on that below), but don’t expect to have luck asking an American employee what your rating is.
For that matter, most employees don’t have access to your ratings. This isn’t something that flight attendants can see, for example, but rather it’s just reservations agents and management that have access to this.
What determines your American Airlines Eagle Rating?
Some might be surprised to learn that your Eagle Rating isn’t directly correlated to how profitable you are. It goes beyond just how much you spend with the airline.
I don’t know exactly how it works, but the idea is that the rating somehow also factors in issues you may have had, or how likely they perceive you to be at risk of defecting as a customer.
Like I said, there’s some super secret formula, but the idea sort of makes sense. They want to give the highest Eagle Rating to those they care most about. Those could either be the customers that spend the most, book the most profitable tickets (which is different than just spending the most), or those who have had a lot of issues with customer service, lots of delays, etc.
Does your American Eagle Rating actually matter?
Yes and no. Your day-to-day customer service experience shouldn’t vary. Crews don’t even know your score. In my opinion reservations agents aren’t empowered to help anyone nowadays, regardless of your Eagle Rating.
I imagine there are really only two ways in which this matters:
- American is probably largely just using this as an internal metric to gauge their general elite population, so it’s not even about what service they provide outwardly, but rather is about them having a grasp on their customers
- In some cases American may be willing to do some things for those with higher Eagle Ratings, like extending the expiration of systemwide upgrades
So perhaps the closest you’ll get to being able to figure out your Eagle Rating is to see if American is willing to extend the expiration of your systemwide upgrades. If you’ve requalified and have some you haven’t used, they generally will allow it if you have four or five Eagles, but not if you have fewer than that.
They still won’t acknowledge that the score is a thing, but you have to read between the lines.
Like I said, American’s Eagle Ratings are so secret that there’s not really much info out there. The best thing I can do is go off what I’ve read and share my understanding, though it’s entirely possible that this information is outdated, that the metrics have changed, etc.
You shouldn’t be too worried about your score one way or another, though I figured it’s something that people would find interesting.
If you’ve had any experience with your Eagle Rating, please comment below!