14 Ways American Executive Platinum Status Has Gone From First To Worst

Filed Under: American

With American having rolled out basic economy fares within the Continental US today, I thought this would be as good of a time as any to look at how the American Airlines experience has deteriorated as an Executive Platinum member. As far as I’m concerned, American has gone from first to worst when it comes to the value of their top tier status among the “big three” US carriers.

While they’ve all been making some cuts to their program, American is leading the pack when it comes to devaluing their top tier benefits, in my opinion.

Negative changes to American Executive Platinum status

I figured I’d briefly look back at the changes that have been made at American that impact Executive Platinum members, roughly in chronological order, just to show how things have changed:

American cut their Executive Platinum phone desk

In 2012, American shut down their Tucson call center, which was where most of their Executive Platinum phone agents were based. These agents were the best in the industry, and if you were an Executive Platinum before 2012, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I hate the phone, but I loved calling up these guys, as they were so friendly and competent. While American still has Executive Platinum phone agents, they are no longer dedicated agents, and aren’t nearly as good as they used to be.

American downgrades Executive Platinum boarding

Until 2014, Executive Platinum members could board with first class. Then they changed that to allow Executive Platinum members to board right after first class. In the meantime, first class doesn’t even get to board first — Concierge Key members board ahead of everyone else.

Systemwide upgrades cut in half

As of January 1, 2016, Executive Platinum members earn four systemwide upgrades per year, rather than eight. That’s one of the most valuable elite benefits, so to see that cut in half from one year to the next is rough.

A MASSIVE award chart devaluation

As of March 22, 2016, American introduced a huge award chart devaluation, where we saw the cost of some premium awards go up by 60%.

American award availability going from first to worst

American used to be by far the most generous of the “big three” US carriers when it came to saver level award availability on their own flights. They’ve gotten so bad about award availability on their own flights, to the point that they’re significantly worse than Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus, in my opinion.

AAdvantage awards miles based on spend rather than miles flown

As of August 1, 2016, American is awarding redeemable miles based on how much you spend rather than how much you fly. For a vast majority of members, this has greatly reduced mileage earning (which was the goal).

AAdvantage adds a revenue requirement for status

As of 2017, American has added a revenue requirement for status. In addition to all these other cuts, you now need to spend a certain amount every year to earn status.

GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
25K EQMs or 30 EQSs50K EQMs or 60 EQSs75K EQMs or 90 EQSs100K EQMs or 120 EQSs
$3k EQDs$6k EQDs$9k EQDs$12k EQDs

Confirmable upgrades being slashed

Late last year American realigned their fare classes. In the process, they went from being the best US airline when it comes to domestic confirmable upgrade space, to being the worst. It used to be that you could confirm an upgrade as long as a discounted first class ticket was available, though that’s not the case anymore.

Concierge Key added as a formal status level

American has long had the invitation only Concierge Key status, though it used to be an unofficial level, meaning that Concierge Key members didn’t receive upgrade priority, etc. As of January 1, 2017, Concierge Key is a formal status level, so those members are always ahead of Executive Platinum members for upgrades. I’m not saying this was a bad move on American’s part, but it unarguably makes Executive Platinum members second tier.

Flagship Lounge access changes

American is changing their access policies for Flagship Lounges. They’re making the lounges better, though are also letting more people in. Now both oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members get access to Flagship Lounges. I’m not suggesting this is necessarily bad, but it does eliminate one advantage that there was to Executive Platinum status over Platinum status.

First class cabins getting much smaller, upgrades getting tougher

In the process of updating their fleet, American has also made their first class cabins significantly smaller, meaning upgrades are tougher as well. The backbone of American’s fleet used to be the MD-80, which had a great ratio of first class seats to economy seats (16 first class seats, 134 economy seats).

They’re now taking the opposite approach. American reconfigured all A319s with just eight first class seats, the big A321s have just 16 first class seats (and a lot more economy seats than the MD-80s), etc.

And even if you get upgraded, nowadays the biggest benefit is the additional space, because the food is…

Issues with partner award access

As if the award chart devaluation and American’s lack of award availability on their own flights weren’t bad enough, American has also been consistently having issues with seeing award availability on some partner airlines. Most recently, it seems like American doesn’t have access to a lot of Etihad award availability. The workaround was always to call American’s Australia call center, and they could see space that the US couldn’t. That doesn’t even work anymore.

Basic economy rolled out nationwide

Today American rolled out basic economy fares throughout the US. Want to even be able to take advantage of your elite privileges, which are tougher to earn and less generous than before? Then you’ll have to pay a premium just for the privilege, typically around $20-40 one-way. Thanks, American.

Million miler cuts

One of the nice things about long term loyalty to an airline is the prospect of eventually earning million miler status. Up until 2011, American awarded million miler based on total miles earned, rather than just miles flown. That was far too generous. But now they’ve gone the opposite extreme, and million miler has been devalued.

The highest status you can earn for American million miler status is Platinum, and lifetime Platinum members are worse off than they were, given that American just introduced the Platinum Pro tier.

Meanwhile United lets million miler members nominate a companion to have whatever elite tier they have. So if you’re a United 1K million miler, you can nominate a companion to be a 1K as well.

Positive changes to American Executive Platinum status

I want to be as balanced as possible here, and not just share the negatives. I thought long and hard, and could only come up with three (sort of) positive changes that American has made in the past few years that impact Executive Platinum members:

A 120% mileage bonus

Before American introduced revenue based mileage earning, Executive Platinum members received a 100% redeemable miles bonus, while nowadays they receive a 120% mileage bonus. This comes in the form of earning 11 miles per dollar spent compared to five as a general member, so that’s hardly generous.

The only area where it’s a slight positive is when traveling on partner airlines, where miles are often still calculated based on distance flown rather than dollars spent. Even those earning rates have been cut significantly, though.

Upgrades on award tickets

As of a few months ago, Executive Platinum members get upgrades on award tickets in markets that are otherwise eligible for 500 mile upgrades. I’m not even sure for how many years Delta has been offering this at all elite levels.

Better longhaul cabins

The domestic American flying experience is about as sad as ever (from the food to the lack of power outlets), though internationally there’s no denying that American has made great improvements, at least when it comes to their hard product. Their entire longhaul widebody fleet features direct aisle access from every business class seat, so that’s good at least.

Bottom line

Unfortunately I think AAdvantage’s slogan should be “from first to worst,” since that’s how I can sum up many of these changes. AAdvantage used to be an industry leading loyalty program, while now it’s… not.

You’d think the purpose of loyalty programs would be to, you know, make people loyal, but the patterns we’ve seen at AAdvantage have the opposite effect. Unfortunately this is the reality of the US airline industry, at least for the “big three” Us carriers. It’s uncompetitive and there’s no incentive for innovation, and to add insult to injury, the “big three” US carriers cry about unfair competition while earning record profits.

There has never been a better time to choose to fly Alaska, JetBlue, and Southwest. They deserve our business, because they’re actually trying to offer unique products.

  1. Hello Ben, When are you going to start focusing on COPA, Avianca . Copa has one of the best upgrade program. Connect Miles and part of the Star Alliance

  2. You’re right. I would point out that AA is trying or seems to be trying to improve Hawaii premium seats. We’ll see if the American 3 keep pace with each other on that.

  3. Incredible the way they have gone. The situation with Etihad is ridiculous, its (or it was?) one of the best things on the program nowadays, even after the huge devaluation last year. Having tons of seats open in Etihad from JFK, LAX, LHR, etc on F and C and not even one call center being able to see it is ridiculous. Lets hope it gaining some attention from bloggers and forums it can be corrected, or an workaround founded.

  4. Lucky, I fully agree. They have destroyed the Aadvantage programme and the great benefits of EXP are a sad memory.

  5. Here is another way that AA has become the worst: In the past decade American has gone from having the strongest partners in OneWorld, to now having — by far — the weakest.

    JAL has gone from an Asian powerhouse with one of the largest route networks in the world, through bankruptcy, to become a shadow of its former self. British Airways is large but of no use due to absurd surcharges and lousy product. Malaysian had a decent regional route network and U.S. connections from LAX and EWR, all of which are now gone. TAM has gutted its foreign route network since the merger with LAN. Air Berlin is pretty much toast. S7? Qatar and Etihad are ok, but since AA won’t allow you to book an award to Asia on them, these are only useful to Sub-Continent.

    Since redemptions on AA itself are almost impossible, my only use for AAdvantage miles these days is on Cathay Pacific. If that goes, AAdvantage miles will be almost valueless. Right now its the only thing that keeps them in the game at all.

  6. Stop it. Like a battered spouse you will run back to them when they talk nicely to you, only to get battered again.
    All the bloggers and frequent flyers are the same.

    You are already running back to your first lover deDElta.

  7. 100% accurate, but you’re a bit slow to catch on.

    “Loyalty”, especially to AA, no longer pays. Just buy whatever airline has the better product at the fairest price — in premium cabins in the USA it’s JetBlue, (legacy) Virgin America and, a distance third, Delta. Endure the rest at your peril.

  8. I agree 1000% with your opinion. I sold my AAdvantage Points and by the end of the Years end, when my AAdvantage exec. Platinum membership ends. I will switch to other airlines and fly just with what comes up cheaper at each of my trips. For example: I found the Jet Blue low priced seats with a extra blocked middle seats to give me some extra space when needed.

  9. Why are United and Delta’s top tier status’ better?

    I’m not saying they aren’t, but you have consistently bashed AA while not property examining United and Delta when it comes to award availability and other items you care about. Kind of lazy, IMO.

    American does offer the most generous standby program for elites, which I use frequently, so that’s a plus.

  10. Gordon Ramsey with placing my head between two frequent flyer cards:
    Gordon: WHAT ARE YOU?!
    Me: An addicted frequent flyer who is an idiot to continue being loyal to American Airlines
    Gordon: And don’t you forget!

  11. It’s funny, but when Doug Parker and company took over American, it was the first time their involvement made the airline worse.

    When Doug started running things at America West, the planes got cleaner, more likely to run on time, and their frequency flier program was improved (although far from competitive with the legacy carriers).

    Then America West bought US Airways and their planes got better. Not much, mind you, but a little bit. Their operations also improved, and aside from losing access to United’s Economy Plus seats, their FF program mostly didn’t suck, which was an improvement over what it had been immediately pre-merger.

    Then they bought American and it’s been nothing but slash and burn. I don’t get it.

  12. I was an Executive Platinum member for > 10 years, when I quit flying frequently. With 4 mil miles, I’m still Platinum. But I have noticed I cannot use any upgrades, never get free upgrades any longer and even the reserved seats at the front of the plane are smaller. Lucky, you’ve explained what had happened to a fine program. May trade in my Citi AA card!

    I’m glad I retired!

  13. I don’t disagree that EXP of 2-3 years ago (and beyond) is sorely missed, but most of these points affect AAdvantage members as a whole, not just EXP members.

  14. Check out economy award availability to any of its non-stop destinations in Europe all the way out to next summer. Its a joke. Its worse than a joke – it feels like a scam.

  15. Another great summary by Lucky. I’ve been an AA EP for over 5 years and this year alone have flown over 170,000 miles so far I can speak as a loyal customer.

    AA has improved its aircraft and have younger crews in service which are great but the people who really matter are treated as second tier customers. In fact, I would dare say that it is pretty much the same feeling with most US airlines.

  16. @ Ben — I made my own loyalty program. I just but First whichever way is best for us and fly on whatever ailine. Screw the Big 3.

  17. You left off another big negative: ALL elites (and AA credit card holders) are now equally elite at check-in.

    Want to deal with an agent at check-in? Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, oneworld Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald, and AA credit card holders are all in the same queue now as Executive Platinums.

    When everyone is elite, no one actually is.

    AA made the qualifying criteria much higher and made the benefits much lower.

  18. Thanks for your concise and accurate summary of AA’s damage to a formerly great frequent flier program.

    It took some guts on my part, but I finally made a decision to let my EXP with AA lapse for next year.

    I wonder how many other long-term EXPs AA will lose as a result of their callous disregard for loyalty.

    Tomorrow, I have a flight to Europe with an airline other than AA. I no longer feel obligated to show loyalty to AA who no longer shows loyalty to me.

    Tit for tat.

  19. One cannot argue with any of these 14 points however, I’m left wondering if we are seeing the bottom or if more gutting is in store? It’s not hard to imagine many other ways they could continue to erode benefits.

  20. RE: Upgrades on award tix… I believe Delta allows it for Gold Medallion and above (not Silvers). So not “at all levels.”

  21. Congratulations Well said
    I’ve been wanting to share much of that with American
    but thought they would never take the time to read it
    This is the post that just put you in a whole other light elevating my perception of
    your assessment and blogging skills and ability to see the light
    A summary of a once Golden Airline and program trashed/destroyed by overly
    greedy management that think they are shooting at fish in a barrel

    Like you I’ve moved on to other programs/airlines and I hope that others wake up and smell the burnt coffee ☕️
    I mourn and yet moved on from US Air oh excuse me I mean American
    Same thing only the name has changed or shall I say merged

  22. Pretty much all of the domestics have devalued their FF programs to the point where staying loyal to an airlines really isn’t worth it any more. Try booking a TATL award flight in Business class – even 10 months in advance – on United and see what you get.

  23. I am not an executive elite merely a platinum member, and just for one yewlar and when I am sure the programs in general are going down in quality – I don’t think some of the complaining is warranted. First the food. I have only been in first class 3 times but have found the food to be quite good, though the portions are small. The pilot mignon I got was.one of the best I have had on – or off an airplane. The cheese enchilada was also quite good. I only. Dissapointed with the chicken dish which was a bit overcooked. Note the sides are a bit too healthy for my liking but I suppose they are what top tier folk like too frequent quinoa salads. Also in general I like the new planes. The MD80s were so old they were a wreck. I cant recall the md80 flight I have been on where something didn’t fall off in the cabin like bin door or flashing. The 321s are nicer and if you want the power outlets flights with power and video are clearly marketed as “sharklets” flights so book accordingly.

    When I codomiciled in San Diego and Dallas there were only three airlines that did direct stops from Dallas to San Diego – and being a low end cheapskate I chose American to premiere up because of the following. Flight selection American had the most flights – Spirit though $100 cheaper on average – I would have to fly to San Diego in the morning I prefer evening (I know most of you wouldn’t be caught dead in Spirit – though I find it a reasonable airline) southwest was more expensive – their tier program really stinks with “free drinks” and early birding @25k miles. SW also charges for movies doesn’t use go go so I can’t get my free Mobile internet – so American was the choice.

    One thing that has really improved since the merger is friendliness of the staff. When I flewn10 years ago the staff were a bunch of nasty wenches who clearly hated their jobs. Today the attendants and hate staff seem more than helpful – even to rubes like me. I think American has taken great strides in becoming a better airline.

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

  24. The notion that the dAArk side was ever “best” or “first” on many of the listed elite perks is highly debatable, especially coming from someone who, until recently, did not fly or interact with UA or patronize MileagePlus, which by default becomes the #1 FF program now that the dAArk side has been ‘officially’ downgraded as being worse than even Skymiles. I will just chalk it as yet another case of travel bloggers claiming for their favored programs (cf. Hyatt, SPG) better and more expansive benefits or features than the competition when, in fact, the benefits or features are the same or less compelling compared to the competition.

  25. Great post and unfortunately spot on. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be an EXP for 9 consecutive years and enjoy some of the most amazing privileges a ff program offer. 100% accurate about the Tuscon Reservation Center. They were the best and I could always rely on the team. Thank you DP and company for destroying my fAAvorite airline.

  26. Good summary. The problem is generally with the Big 3. I left United for Alaska and fly mostly internationally. Instead of EQD, I just spend similar amounts on Alaska partners such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific or BA (well not so good, but some good values) for premium class tickets. Wish I had some status on these carriers so I would get better services such as phone reps (but as you pointed out AS has cut back there too.

  27. Yeah… I travel over 200k miles a year and used to use American for nearly half. Now I do everything I can to avoid flying them. Is sad for a once great airline.

  28. Don’t forget the excessive phantom Finnair space as well. Shows up continually on AA.com and ultimately is never bookable.

  29. These things seem to go in cycles, I was a UA loyalist for many years (1.4M BIS miles, 2 years as GS, 6 years as 1K) and when UA hit bottom a few years back I switched to AA. It was great…then AA decided “going for great” meant being first place in the race to the bottom. I’m waiting for the cycle to come around again but I’m becoming less hopeful with every “enhancement”. In the meantime as I’ve already requalified for EXP this year I’ve been doing more on DL, which has been great except for the SkyPeso. I strongly prefer to fly F for holidays (usually to Asia) even if it means paying cash, though I strongly prefer to use miles, and since one cannot book F awards with the peso so I’ve taken to converting them to Krug at the SkyClub :/

  30. When your only competition is Delta and United, you don’t have to be that good.

    The favoring of OneWorld elites is probably a recognition that these are high net worth individuals from overseas whose spending power is very desirable.

    The MD-80’s will all be gone by 2018 and good riddance. They are 30 years old!

  31. Great piece Ben. I complete agree. American has gone from my first choice to barely a consideration. I just booked One Jet over AA. I would rather help this start-up than deal with the total lack of customer service AA thinks is acceptable. I would love to hear a reply from someone at AA. Please post if you hear from them.

  32. Wholeheartedly agree. I travel for work, and decided to let my EXP go. My sanity is far worth warm nuts, occasional warm cloth and soda served in a glass.

    I’m over it. It’s been harder to earn anything, I haven’t been able to use SWU’s on my OWN vacation trips (as few and far between as that is!) and just over the vibe of everyone feeling like they are better than everyone else.

    I have a companion pass with Southwest and they’ll be my company from this point forward, and if they don’t fly where I need to get, someone will… and I’ll make sure it’s no longer with AA.

    Well said article. Hope the folks at AA read it (doubt they’d care anyway) and realize they’ve done some irreparable damage. Just because the other airlines do it, doesn’t mean you should follow suit.

  33. The stupidest change that infuriates me is the inability to check through baggage on separate pnr’s. It’s not unusual for me to have a positioning award flight to start an international journey and then an award flight at the end to get to my final destination. Last time was DFW to LAX, exit pickup bags, recheck, etc…….Arrive NRT, immigration in super hot day, pick up bags, recheck, security and three hours totally wasted in sweltering heat. All for what reason???? These guys are doing this for one thing and that’s executive bonuses. I’d line all AA exec’s up and bbq them and feed them to the sharks. Why not just carry-on? Because I have a wife and a life.

  34. I agree with your post overall, though there are some other things to consider, too. Many of the negative items like mileage accrual, qualifying dollars and massive award chart devaluations first began at other airlines. So they make AA equal to not worse than other programs. And AA’s chart devaluations have come with advance notice. While going from eight to four SWUs at 100,000 miles with ability to earn more was an enormous devaluation that wiped out most of the EXP lead over other programs, you can still earn eight SWUs on AA whereas DL is capped at four, and it takes 125,000 miles and $15,000 in spend (or credit card waiver) to get to DL Diamond.

    One of the cutbacks for EXPs still keeps it ahead of at least DL anyway. That is Flagship lounges. More AA elites have access than before which is sort of a downgrade for EXPs, but still leaves EXPs in a better position vis-a-vis DL Diamonds as DL has no comparable lounge. Plus DL Diamonds have zero access to first class lounges of partners. The fact that EXPs no longer get International First Class Dining is to me the biggest downgrade as far as lounges.

  35. Use you corporate buying as a tool. We have long told carriers that we do business with that we like A, B, and C, but with X, Y, and Z you are not treating our employees fair or are causing undue problems, etc. we give them a chance to respond and if they do, business continues BAU. If it doesn’t we remind them why we are not renewing our contract and voting with out corporate wallet. Align with your procurement teams to ensure that supplier performance is managed and maintained. Can be a powerful tool against these money-grubbing monopolies.

  36. I agree with your article whole heartedly. I have been EXP for 14 years and will re qualify the same way you did this year and as of next year I don’t care. I’ll fly Alaska domestically and look for the deals on international business class tickets with all the carriers.

  37. I get all these complaints, but many of your readers are business travelers who pick an airline based on their hub city. Delta isn’t an option for those flying out of ORD or PHL.

    And as a Platinum marching to Plat Pro, I get upgraded about 40% of the time. Maybe the NYC or LA flights are always jammed, but for people who travel secondary cities for work, the upgrades are relatively easy to get.

    Food for thought. If you’re traveling for fun and getting status that way, I hear you. But for those of us humping it out for business, a lot of this complaints fall on deaf ears.

    And I’m happy about the spend requirements. Too many people getting status without actually being good customers to the airline. Reward those who spend (aka people who fly for work and not fun).

  38. Brilliantly captured Lucky. AA still treats me reasonably well, but nowhere near how I was treated a few short years ago. Oddly, my CK friends feel much the same and end up in the back – perhaps not as much as I do, but enough to make the unhappy.

    I go back to the great days of Delta when Platinum’s could upgrade from a coach fare at the time of booking and you could actually reach Delta executives with comments, compliments or complaints and someone would actually get back to you. In those days a flight delay had you covered by at least one, if not two, backup flights and usually upgraded.

    AA has been in a slow but steady decline for several years, definitely hastened by the merger and leadership or lack thereof of Doug Parker. Loyalty has lost its value and the order of the day is to nickel and dime passengers – especially those at the bottom rungs. I personally think this is shortsighted, but I hear even worse stories about UAL from their top tier flyers.

    AA today is not too different than US Air was prior to the merger. I was a multi-year dual EXP and CP and I much preferred flying AA. In fact most of my US miles were international Star Alliance. When the merger was announced I didn’t want to believe that the US culture would dominate, but sadly it has and AA is no more.

    I’ve made EXP again for 2018, but not entirely sure I will stick around for the end. I have to fly coach on most flights due to corporate requirements, but I find myself caring less and less about where I am sitting.

    Eventually an airline will realize that there is a market for premium flyers and re-institute a decent frequent flier program with upgrades. By then the change will be disruptive since no one will recall how pleasant it was in the good old days. These are definitely not the good old days.

  39. very true, it’s sad how aa cut on all benefits for gold, platinum, executive members. and the worst you didn’t mention is their Airbus A321 mini toy plane, it’s a joke. a standard seat on delta or jet blue has as much or more legroom a d wider than A321 premium seats

  40. Is it new that the Australian call center workaround to book Etihad awards doesn’t work anymore? I used them to place an Etihad Apartments award on hold about ten days ago and successfully ticketed it a week ago. Wondering if I got it done just in time!

  41. OK I just moved over from Qantas Platinum to AA Exec Platinum which are equivalent in the last year.

    AA even as regressive as these changes have been are still better than Qantas……

    In all my US domestic flights I usually always get upgraded to F. That never happens on Qantas. Premium cabins fly empty.

    4 system-wide upgrades vs 0 upgrades with Qantas was the big clincher for me, as well as the domestic upgrades.

    Don’t even get me started on Qantas and their hard product cabins: business is a joke for the price compared to the American.

    So I hear you saying things are getting worse but sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t

  42. No brainer.

    Delta puts A350 (most comfortable long-range midsized widebody jet) in service and orders CS100 (most comfortable narrowbody jet) with IFE. American DELAYS delivery on the A350s and orders 737-MAX (narrowest seats of all narrowbody jets) with no *IFE* — an will put them on transcon flights.

    The future is clear: DL is improving, AA is making travel even more miserable.

  43. Can you please post which program you’ll accrue your oneworld miles in the future?

    As an emerald with a non-AA program you get lounge access on North American itineraries, something AA doesn’t give you even on a business class ticket (with the exception of 3 transcon routes — yes, only 3).

  44. You do not mention how upgrades compare against UA and DL. My experience is the your chance of getting an upgrade is higher on AA than on UA and DL.

    UA constantly tries to sell upgrades (with pricing changing continuously) to non-Elites at TOD prices. AA doesn’t do that. When there are upgrade seats left – AA gives them to Elites. They do not try to sell them at the last minute, including at the gate, like UA does.

    AA is much better for international upgrades – you request an Elite and use either a SWU or 25K miles +$350 copay. UA requires a mid-level fare (W fare) and the copay is $550. Any fare works on AA.

    Yes my upgrades are down (mainly on transcons and other key routes), but they do happen. My % is down, but still around 65%. Plus I have received international upgrades on all my AA international flights over the past couple of years. When SWUs are gone, I use miles/copay.

    To me the upgrades are the most significant Elite benefit.

  45. Ben if there award chart is so bad, why are you pushing their credit card referrals and links? This seems somewhat disingenuous.

  46. I’m not unhappy with the changes to Exec Plat. AA has rigged the program to heavily favor corporate travelers who spend a lot of money on last minute tickets, and those are the customers they really want. My upgrade success rate rose substantially when they shifted the priority to EQD’s rather than date of booking. The minor changes to boarding priority don’t make much difference and there are almost never CK members on my flights. Systemwides used to be good for bumping from business to first, but business is now a lot like old first. I’ve never had much luck in my 8 years as Exec Plat using systemwides to bump from coach to business on an international flight, so that part of the program hasn’t changed.

    I completely agree that AAdvantage has become a joke as a redeemable miles program. They’ve flooded the market with miles through credit card programs while cutting award seats to the point that you can’t reliably use the miles anymore. I think of AAdvantage miles like German currency during the Weimar Republic. They used to be something worth saving. Now you need to burn them off as soon as you can find something to spend them on.

  47. Welcome to monopoly capitalism. It’s really visible with the airlines but monopolization is sweeping through US capitalism. guess who wins and who loses.
    Now that LAN has bought TAM and it’s now LATAM, it’s almost impossible to get a OneWorld miles connecting flight in Brazil with TAM.
    And AA doesn’t seem to mind. I think they like the idea of the AAdvantage program failing.

    I’m burning through my AA miles and joining the cheapest, best airline club.

  48. I am glad you exposed American Airlines. I went from being an executive platinum having flown americain for nearly 3 million miles to not even flying them 5000 miles a year. I am now a proud United 1K member. They have and outstanding program And value their frequent flyers. It’s easy to get a Knowledgeable and competent Premier 1K representative on the phone. They are able to make decisions and not have to go to their superiors. Where as American executive platinum representatives cannot make a move without speaking to their supervisors. I always say what comes around goes around.

  49. As a million miler I gave up on AA last year. Enough is enough and if we all band together,we can get their attention!.

  50. I’m not even trying for EXP for 2018, after the better part of 15 yrs. Burned down 600,000 miles so far, 1,000,000 to go. I suspect my lifetime Platinum will yield little in the future. Burned my systemwide upgrades, and won’t see any more for 400,000 BIS miles, if ever. Cut my flying by 1/3, and am enjoying SW companion pass rather than buying AA tix for my wife to accompany me. Hoping for an AS status match next yr. Been crediting all VX and AS flying to AS. The race to the bottom sure sucks, but it’s liberated me from AA’s nonsense and my time is spent at home instead of at the airport.

  51. Man i was late to this party. Got gold in 2012, then Platinum in 2016. I’ve noticed the upgrades are gone, the Pre-Departure Drink is a blackjack 50/50 red or black scenario and the award availabilty has dried up.

    Frankly its been a bait and switch from when I signed up.

    Work is sending me to Vancouver BC for 3 years and i’m thinking of switching to Alaska

  52. “Kevin says:
    September 6, 2017 at 1:23 am
    Bravo….for once your article is well balanced and spot on. you spell it out exactly the way you see it.”

    Hi Kevin, it is not only the way Lucky sees it. Based on reading of the above comments, it is the way most of us see the problem with AA’s massacre of its frequent flier program

  53. From around the 3rd of Sept, it’s been reported that the AU/NZ call centre trick doesn’t work anymore. No seats whatsoever.

  54. +1 to Jack’s question: “Is it new that the Australian call center workaround to book Etihad awards doesn’t work anymore?”

    I am planning a Mumbai-Abu Dhabi-New York apartment redemption and have been saving up the miles, planning to book in that fashion. Are you saying that doesn’t work anymore? Thanks!

  55. why wouldn’t they? frequent flyers will stay loyal no matter what happens.

    you still fly them and still try and obtain executive platinum status with them… despite all this.

    so the devaluations are making very littlr

  56. @Drav – it would be interesting for Lucky to post dollars spent with AA vs. JV dollars (AA gets some small share of) vs. none at all (QR for example). One can get ExecPlat w/AA without being “loyal” to AA and spending money with the airline. Less easy to do on UA (unfortunately).

  57. @ejg239

    I just called today (Australian and New Zealand hotline), they can see flights from AUH to CDG / NRT but they can’t see anything to LHR & JFK despite it’s showing availability on Etihad’s website. Basically it really depends on your flight. It’s a partial glitch (hopefully not a block).

  58. Nice post + comments. Let’s face it, the golden days of FF programs are behind us. I concentrated on hotel elite status this year because in January the writing was on the wall with AA introducing Platinum Pro. Except for doing DL challenge later this year to get DL status I am totally over airlines. Fares are cheap, it’s pay-as-I-go. When I want a lounge if I don’t qualify then I just pay for it. Bah humbug, so it goes.

  59. I think that AA and all the others pay very close attention to the impact of each change. They don’t just do things randomly and without monitoring. What Lucky’s post obviously tells us is that the benefits to AA of doing all those things have outweighed the costs to this point. There are just too many people who stay loyal no matter what, grumbling but not affecting the bottom line. I see a few who say they are changing their habits. It needs to be many and it needs to stick before Delta or the UA/AA duopoly take notice. I’m not particularly optimistic on that score.

  60. One of the problem I’m facing is where I live, only has a regional airport and American Eagle is my only option. If I’m looking to get to a city airport then it will be a 2hrs drive per way. Not all the flyers live in big cities whereby you have the choices to pick and choose, I wish I have the options too! After getting to Dallas or Chicago for connection, I will pick one world airline over AA whenever I have the choice. I got tired of having to drive 2 hours to a bigger airport to avoid flying AA. I wish monopoly on the regional airports will end. I don’t want to be loyal to AA, whenever I can I bypass them, their service is terrible and thumbs down on their product too.

  61. You pretty much nailed it! I was an AAdvantage ExPlat member from 2012 until 2015 when I switched to LATAM.
    Based out in South America, I must say that AA is the worst airline to use to travel to the US, by a far margin, not only they destroyed their loyal customer base but they never renewed their fleet, they keep sending us the crappiest planes they’ve got, old smelly 767 with no lie flat business seats.
    In the meanwhile, LATAM is flying 787s & 777s, offering free upgrades to their Black tier members (One World Emerald) + 6 free upgrade coupons for companions (worth for 1 US/Europe return upgrade). Not to mention that their lounges are waaay better than AA’s, better event than the new Flagship ones!

  62. While I wouldn’t disagree Saver awards often tough (impossible) to find, the last month+, they have been more available. I managed to snag 2 business class tickets on AA (their flights) outbound to CDG (through ORD) and inbound from MUC (through PHL). I also saw flights to Nice, Venice, and several other locations in western Europe.

    And these blogs certainly have increased the number of people using awards compared to the 1990s and pre-2008 so I can see why airlines are making things tougher.

  63. Unfortunately, a lot depends on where you live. I live in a medium sized city (Tucson) with poor connections and choices. No Jetblue, or Virgin America etc. Stuck with basically the big 4.. United has cut back services drastically and essentially only uses the regional jets and their prices always seem to be higher. Obviously phoenix is better, but the added expense of getting there, and leaving your car etc just doesn’t make it worth it. IMO, American now has terrible redemption, Delta is crap also.. United seems to have decent redemption (mostly on partners, but that’s ok, however they charge higher mileage. In the end, as my travel as decreased, it is just best to purchase the cheapest first class ticket I can find.

  64. Vis-a-vis delta, which is American’s true competition in my view, AA EXPs still enjoy a significant advantage in that EXPs can use SWUs to fly first class. Delta, of course, has no first class and its miles cannot be redeemed for first class travel.

  65. Wow, your words match my sentiments exactly! I live in Dallas and I DO have a choice. I am beginning not to feel so loyal anymore to AA. I am hearing many good things about Alaskan Air and always have realized SWA was a great airline – now they even fly more places internationally! Several of my systemwide upgrades will expire this year (in January now, not Feb as in the past) – not because I didn’t try to use them when flying internationally many times, but because there were never any upgrade seats available.

  66. I agree completely. AA has ruined the AAdvantage program. I have largely stopped using my AA credit card and I see little reason to participate in collecting miles. The Saver awards are a joke. I also see little use in mileage runs anymore. And first class upgrades are scarce. I decided to accumulate Chase points because there is some value with that program.

  67. I just got another follow-up e-mail advising me that there was another post made to Lucky’s September article about the decline in AA’s loyalty program. Therefore, I feel it is appropriate for me to comment on my recent AA experience lacking AA status.

    I was an AA EXP for many years. Due to repeated negative AA changes that affected me personally, I decided to let my AA EXP lapse and use AA only when needed. I now spend most of my flying with UA where I also have status.

    Early this week, I had occasion to use AA. It was an international business class flight. My having no status anymore with AA, I thought that I would have a less pleasant flight.


    Even with the AA EXP status stripped away, I still have tsa precheck through Global Entry. I still am in group one for boarding with AA. I still have AA lounge access. I still had good service on the aircraft. What did I miss from being downgraded?

    The answer is nothing. I am one former AA EXP who has zero regrets at being downgraded in a loyalty program that lost its compass when it comes to knowing loyalty.

  68. I was a Diamond Delta loyalist for several years before I moved to Dallas and switched to American for all the directs. Even with a status match of Executive Platinum, AA is not close to the same league as Delta. As a Diamond you are sitting in the front of the plane quite frequently. It was actually pretty rare I didn’t get upgraded, unless I was doing the NYC-LA flight. With American, I’ve actually never been upgraded as an Executive Platinum. I think if you are not concierge key its pretty much a long shot. Service top to bottom was just much better at Delta.
    Less frequent delays, baggage handled like clockwork, customer service agents A-level employees compared to B-level at American. Better in every way you can be measured. I’m considering taking the layovers just so I can go back to getting my upgrades….

  69. I found great solace in reading everyone’s comments about the current state of the AAdvantage Executive Platinum program and AA premium service in general. I’ve been a loyal AA flier for the past 18 years and have watched as Doug Parker and his America West management team have taken American Airlines from ‘Something Special in the Air’ to a glorified America West Low Cost Carrier. Many of the former legacy AA employees have left as Parker brought in many of his previous AWA management team along with their Wal Mart caliber gate agents, flight attendants and ramp staff…need I say more? Like many of you, the polished and polite AA front-line staff have mostly been replaced by rude, rough looking agents agents and flight attendants from the AWA. The biggest insult was expanding the size of the CK program significantly and giving them higher status than the true road warriors. The CK program is given complimentary to many infrequent fliers who have political clout and influence over travel programs or can influence travel in some manner. Most of them are not George Clooney…They are City, Government Officials, Airport Directors, Travel Managers, Business Executives, etc. Not Premium customers who spend countless hours traveling across ‘Fly-Over States’. I too have contemplated letting my EXP status expire and re-direct my loyalty to Delta or United, where their best customers seem to be more appreciated and respected. It’s the old 80/20 rule Doug, didn’t they teach you about that at AWA?

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