What Is American Airlines Concierge Key Status?

What Is American Airlines Concierge Key Status?

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For whatever reason, there’s a not-insignificant portion of the frequent flyer community that finds invitation-only status with US airlines to be sexy. I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t really get it. Is there any other context in which overpaying for the pleasure of indulging in a turkey pastrami sandwich, cubed cheese, and cheap chardonnay, is considered appealing?

Arguably the most well known invitation-only airline status is American Airlines’ Concierge Key, as it was a major theme of the popular 2009 movie “Up In The Air,” starring George Clooney.

What is Concierge Key status really? How do you earn Concierge Key, and what are the benefits? How many Concierge Key members are there? The truth is that there’s little published information out there about the status, but lots of data points.

In this post I wanted to attempt to answer some of the most common questions about Concierge Key status to the best of my ability. If you’re interested in details of invitation-only elite status with other airlines, check out my posts about Delta 360 and United Global Services.

What is American Concierge Key status?

On the most basic level, Concierge Key is American’s invitation-only elite status level. There’s no published criteria to earn it, and it has to be renewed every year, so you can earn it one year and lose it the next (though it has been extended for many members during the pandemic).

Going back several years, Concierge Key was completely separate from the AAdvantage program, but that’s no longer the case. Nowadays Concierge Key is a formal part of the AAdvantage program, and it’s a tier above Executive Platinum status (American’s highest published elite tier).

Concierge Key is American Airlines’ invitation-only status

How do you earn American Concierge Key status?

The criteria to earn Concierge Key is not published, but generally there are a few ways to earn it.

One way is to spend a ton on American Airlines travel. We’re talking $50,000+ of spending per year. That’s not to say that spending $50,001 will get you Concierge Key status, but rather that if you spend less than that, don’t assume you have any real chance of being invited. So you absolutely can earn Concierge Key purely through your own travel, and that’s probably the most common way it’s earned.

We don’t fully know what American looks for in this regard, though. Does the airline care purely about the dollar amount you spend, the typical fare classes you fly in (consistently full fare first class, for example), or something else? I’d also note that the above numbers are what has historically been thrown around, though perhaps during the pandemic it has been easier to earn. I haven’t seen too many data points of people being invited lately.

With American Airlines introducing Loyalty Points and changing how AAdvantage status is earned, I wouldn’t expect major changes to Concierge Key requirements. In other words, I’d guess that you could earn millions of Loyalty Points through credit card spending and still not get a Concierge Key invite.

You can also earn Concierge Key through the influence you have over others’ travel. Sometimes American Airlines will give Concierge Key nominations as part of a big corporate contract, or to key travel planners who have influence over a lot of others’ travel.

American Airlines is even known to comp Concierge Key to some “influencers.” For example, going back several years, a YouTuber was comped Concierge Key status and was really unhappy when it was taken away.

For avoidance of doubt, I’ve never been offered Concierge Key status. 😉

What are the benefits of American Concierge Key status?

Concierge Key has quite a few published benefits, but some would argue the biggest benefit of the status is better “soft” treatment in the event of irregular operations.

The benefits of American Airlines Concierge Key include the following:

  • Upgrade priority over all other AAdvantage elite tiers (complimentary upgrades start clearing 120 hours out, compared to the 100 hour window for Executive Platinum members)
  • An Admirals Club membership
  • Access to Flagship Lounges, even when traveling domestically
  • Two Flagship First Dining passes annually, though this has been an unofficial benefit
  • Two additional systemwide upgrades, beyond the rewards that Executive Platinum members ordinarily receive
  • Co-pays waived on international upgrades
  • A dedicated phone number and email address with 24/7 support
  • Access to Flagship First check-in, even when traveling domestically
  • Priority boarding before everyone else
  • Assistance during irregular operations
American Airlines Flagship First check-in JFK

Assistance during irregular operations is probably both potentially the most valuable perk, and also the most inconsistent one. On a good day, Concierge Key members may get proactive rebookings when flights are canceled and delayed.

American even has a fleet of cars at hubs for Concierge Key tarmac transfers, so during a short connection you may be picked up planeside and driven to your connecting flight. At the same time, there are also instances where you’ll likely be disappointed, because Concierge Key agents aren’t going to deliver 100% of the time.

Concierge Key members receive extra systemwide upgrades

How many American Concierge Key members are there?

American Airlines understandably hasn’t revealed how many Concierge Key members there are, so the best we can do is speculate. If I had to guess, I’d say there are somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 Concierge Key members. To be more exact, my assumption is that the number is roughly in the middle of that range.

In 2019 there was a clue — American worked with a company to send out chocolate to Concierge Key members, and the company posted that 11,300 packages had been prepared. Now, not all Concierge Key members received this chocolate, suggesting to me that there are more members than that.

If you’re curious how other elite ranks compare, I’d guess the number of Executive Platinum members is maybe 3-4x as high as the number of Concierge Key members. Again, that’s purely speculation on my part.

Concierge Key members can even board before first class

Bottom line

Concierge Key is American Airlines’ invitation-only elite status. It gives you priority over Executive Platinum members for just about everything, lounge access, extra systemwide upgrades, and also (hopefully) proactive help in the event of irregular operations. However, don’t expect it to earn it if you don’t spend at least $50,000 per year on American Airlines flights, and even then it’s not a sure bet.

Is the status life changing? While I’ve never had it, I’m inclined to say “no.” But others certainly may disagree…

If you’re a Concierge Key member (or have been one in the past), what has been your experience with the status? How does it compare to Executive Platinum status?

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  1. David Guest

    I forgot, it appears there are least 2 tiers of CK members: regulars and «Do not miss». The do not miss status is printed on the bording pass.

  2. Steve Guest

    I was a member when it was first started and didn’t even know about until a flight attendant approached me and told me I was the VIP on the flight. Another time when I was flying on an award ticket in First to Tokyo I was met at the door as I was disembarking and escorted through special security to the JAL lounge to wait for my connecting flight. Another time I was paged at...

    I was a member when it was first started and didn’t even know about until a flight attendant approached me and told me I was the VIP on the flight. Another time when I was flying on an award ticket in First to Tokyo I was met at the door as I was disembarking and escorted through special security to the JAL lounge to wait for my connecting flight. Another time I was paged at the gate in Miami, upgraded to Business for my flight to Bogota and pre boarded and ordered my meal all before boarding began. Now I’m just a lowly “million miler”.

  3. David Guest

    You forgot something important, CK status is also immediately obtained by purchasing a 50k$ American Airlines Airpass plan.

    1. Reno Joe Guest

      $60,000 not $50,000.

  4. Eric Guest

    Your post sounds a little bitter. "HOPEFULLY" help you on irregular operation , "it won't be 100% of the time". Nothing is perfect, but you best believe they will go above their way to accommodate you. Yes, even overselling a flight. Burn.

  5. Mark Guest

    There is no money cut-off. I have spent $63,000 one year flying full fare weekly. If you are a celebrity, influencer but really enragingly have any influence over travel policies at a corporation of any meaningful size they will give you CK.

    1. Reno Joe Guest

      Ben said that "the" revenue number is somewhere around $50k but it's not guaranteed. A second factor is whether the person's flights are low-margin fares or high-margin fares, economy or premium cabin. That's where the "not guaranteed" comes in.

    2. Mark Guest

      I did mention full fare, right?

  6. Scott Schultz Guest

    When I started the expat life for my job, my company pays for business class. I wasn't flying a lot, but I had enough to make Gold on United my first year. Then after that I made Platinum the next. Then spent a couple of years as a 1K. I was invited to Global Services the following year. I was no where near 50k in spending. It was likely more like $20-25k. It might have...

    When I started the expat life for my job, my company pays for business class. I wasn't flying a lot, but I had enough to make Gold on United my first year. Then after that I made Platinum the next. Then spent a couple of years as a 1K. I was invited to Global Services the following year. I was no where near 50k in spending. It was likely more like $20-25k. It might have helped that I had a couple of United branded credit cards as well?? It just sucked that we were living in Germany at the time and not really able to take full advantage. So every time we flew Lufthansa, I was just SA Gold. We were able to use it to get upgraded from economy to business on a trip to San Fran and Hawaii and it helped when our award flight from Sydney to Beijing, back to Munich was canceled months in advance. There was no business award space left, so the Global Services agent created space and was able to get us back to Munich through Los Angeles instead.I have since switched to BA and got Silver status and OW Sapphire for now. When that runs out, we'll just play the field and see who has the cheapest business class fares (it's been Delta/Skyteam the last few times) when crossing the pond as we live in the UK now.

  7. Andrew Gold

    Good guide Ben.

    That said, my view is that status can only do so much. Concierge Key customers are still in the same first class cabin of the same E175 parking in the same, very sad Eagle's Nest at LAX. They may have cleared your upgrade sooner and boarded this 20 year old bird earlier, but we're in the same place at the end of the day.

    1. Reno Joe Guest

      Perhaps. But, they do drive CKs over to / back from the Eagle's Nest at LAX in that SUV. When there's the line of 120 people ahead of you waiting to get on the shuttle, you appreciate the status. (Never mind not having to deal with the condition of their personal hygiene. You know what I mean.) When you are trying to make a close connection or to get on the road quickly, you appreciate the status.

  8. RobPHX Guest

    Hi Lucky, maybe an interesting article could be a comparison of AA CK and UA GS, and any other such invitation only tiers. Does Delta have one?

    Incidentally, I think Hertz has (had?) one called Platinum.

  9. AA CK and UA GS Guest

    I’ve had CK status since 2013 - earned from travel but my company also spends (spent) a boat load of money on American. We used to get an allotment of CKs to give to road warriors - the execs that used to claim it were rejected by AA when they never flew AA. AA took some back and said they wanted oversight on who was getting it (so EVPs and SVPs weren’t just taking for...

    I’ve had CK status since 2013 - earned from travel but my company also spends (spent) a boat load of money on American. We used to get an allotment of CKs to give to road warriors - the execs that used to claim it were rejected by AA when they never flew AA. AA took some back and said they wanted oversight on who was getting it (so EVPs and SVPs weren’t just taking for themselves when flying private). I would say it used to be special. Now, not so much. I was also “gifted” Global Services on UA. Have to say that United really caters to their GS members where AA views CK as just another tier - again, I earned it but still got the same old same old treatment from AA where United GS reps would bend the rules to accommodate a GS guest. Clearly I didn’t earn CK (or GS) in 2021, AA extended mine, UA didn’t. Living where I do, I’ll do what I can’t to spread the love. Being in a captive AA city, still prefer UA for their love of their GS members.

    1. Reno Joe Guest

      Fares come out of my pocket. Years ago, I had to choose a carrier. Each person's experience is different -- everyone has ones they love and ones they hate. My experience led me to choose AA -- it worked for me. Now, I have CK. I don't have GS or 360 so I can't compare the programs. But, my experience with CK has been top notch. I appreciate and am grateful for the highly attentive service.

  10. Richard Nathan Guest

    I have been a Concierge Key for 3-4 years and it’s wonderful. AA clearly selects their services team carefully, as I have always been treated extremely well. Given the stresses of travel, it’s a great treat. I have barely traveled the last two years, but on the few occasions I have, every interaction was top notch. The additional systemwides are also appreciated, as well as the quieter Flagship Admiral’s Clubs. CK gets 5 Stars in my view.

    1. Jack W Guest

      Agree. Just flew for the holidays and it was awesome. I just wish AA sold fewer 5 Star passes so there would be more capacity for CK. Also the level of service varies depending on airport and team.

  11. anon_M Guest

    I am currently CK, GS and DL360. Of those, CK is without a doubt the best program.

  12. Jack Guest

    Home city is also a big factor. If you’re a frequent AA flier with a lot of corporate travel out of a city like Boston or San Francisco, you have more favorable odds. I have a friend that spent much closer to $30k on travel out of Boston, a city where Delta and United have a decent shot of winning corporate business. Compare that to a Dallas flyer that’s spending $50k on travel….. kind of a dime a dozen and not many other options.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      There is no corporate business at the present time. All your people are working from home because that’s what CNN is telling them. That the pandemic will never end. So I don’t know what business travel anyone expects to bring to American this year when all their employees are home , your offices closed down as a cost cutting measure.

    2. Santos Guest

      As usual, you have no idea what you're talking about. The creative and pharma industries have been chock full of travel since the jabs were going into people's arms. The numbers back it up. Pipe down.

  13. Reno Joe Guest

    Every business will pay more attention to its largest-revenue relationships and those individuals who have an influence over its success. It's natural and expected. It would be unfair to criticize a company for doing so. I'm a CK. Payment for every single flight has come out of my pocket. I've busted my rear-end for many years and now want to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Admittedly, the cheese cubes are not high on my...

    Every business will pay more attention to its largest-revenue relationships and those individuals who have an influence over its success. It's natural and expected. It would be unfair to criticize a company for doing so. I'm a CK. Payment for every single flight has come out of my pocket. I've busted my rear-end for many years and now want to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Admittedly, the cheese cubes are not high on my list. But, I appreciate and am grateful for AA's attentive service.

    1. Mick Guest

      I agree. AA service is pretty good imo. Btw. My 5yo and me heading to Vegas. 100k points for the two of us to fly first class return. Thanks simply miles ;)

      I’m a lowly platinum but main cabin extra fantastic at booking for free for my family of five.

      Airlines are a business. If they want to give politician’s ck that makes sense to me lolllllll

    2. Reno Joe Guest

      Speaking of Vegas, one time, my wife and I were headed to Vegas connecting in PHX. The flight to PHX was significantly delayed. They held the LAS flight for us (only 5 minutes). Four other passengers from that first flight were also going to Vegas and they also made the flight. I like to think that those four passengers also received CK benefits that day. Ha.

  14. Steve Diamond

    A couple of partners at my old firm had CK based on the amount the firm spent on travel obviously the top partners gave themselves the CK even though they never actually traveled for work.

    1. Mark Guest

      Exactly - it’s all about corporate decision makers. How much cattle (pardon - regular employees) can they get through the gate

  15. Doug DeNunzio Guest

    It varies as to the benefits you get in first class or economy or business on a regular flight that varies by the airline.

  16. Johan Tally Guest

    I believe the partnership with Cadillac has ended and they now have rental cars provided by Avis. The same staff that operated the Cadillacs now operate the Avis SUVs.

  17. Eskimo Guest

    So I guess all Casey needs to do is run for Mayor?
    Since Adams is brand new, and assume he survived the full 2 term. Too bad Casey won't requalify for CK until 2030.

  18. Mick Guest

    Lol.... isnt this the case for all lounges and biz/first class travel?

    " Is there any other context in which overpaying for the pleasure of indulging in a turkey pastrami sandwich, cubed cheese, and cheap chardonnay, is considered appealing?"

    Like, SIA and Emirates F seats are great.... But if that was a hotel room what would you pay for it? $150 a night? I love etihad apartment. Basically a tiny narrow bench of a bed.......

    Lol.... isnt this the case for all lounges and biz/first class travel?

    " Is there any other context in which overpaying for the pleasure of indulging in a turkey pastrami sandwich, cubed cheese, and cheap chardonnay, is considered appealing?"

    Like, SIA and Emirates F seats are great.... But if that was a hotel room what would you pay for it? $150 a night? I love etihad apartment. Basically a tiny narrow bench of a bed.... and a shower! Wow.

    Dont get me wrong... I LOVE it. I love flying. But its a weird dynamic that appeals.

  19. CK in Dallas Guest

    I have been a CK since 2014. I am assuming it was granted since I travel (Asia) overseas 10-14 times per year; all in business class (or first class to Hong Kong). Current pandemic environment, they have extended the “benefit” - with no real benefits. I believe that the “spend” is the biggest reason for the status. I guarantee when I slip below their spend threshold, they will drop me like a hot-potato

    1. Reno Joe Guest

      Correct. Revenue and influence over travel spend.

    2. Reno Joe Guest

      PS And, whether your flights are low-margin or high-margin bookings.

  20. Jeff Guest

    I was on an AA flight from Chicago to Detroit and a certain big city mayor sitting across from me in first was CK

  21. Randy Gold

    I would say closer to 20K. Was on a PHX-DCA the other day - 6 people boarded when CK called. I have seen 4 on flights out of DCA.

    I won CK once from the AA MegaDo flying contest - then it was just Exec Plat which I already had. Only benefit was - Admiral's Club membership dues refunded (before the Exec card), flagship check in at LAX - but took longer than just...

    I would say closer to 20K. Was on a PHX-DCA the other day - 6 people boarded when CK called. I have seen 4 on flights out of DCA.

    I won CK once from the AA MegaDo flying contest - then it was just Exec Plat which I already had. Only benefit was - Admiral's Club membership dues refunded (before the Exec card), flagship check in at LAX - but took longer than just going up the escalator to the TSA checkpoint, and one time was re-accommodated an LAX-IAD in F, when the LAX-DCA was cancelled.

    Of course now CK gets higher priority for upgrade. Priority boarding is really a nothing. I won't not go out of my way to earn it - most are comp'ed from corporate contracts.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      After carefully reading.

      Wait, are you that Randy, the legend, the collector, the Godfather?

    2. Roper Guest

      Dallas-based and I have had CK for a few years. I fly in J four or five times per year TATL or TPAC, but nothing obscene like some of the flyertalk folks. Qualification is apparently based on dollars per segment or dollars per EQM but no one knows. It was extended earlier this year for all CK members.

      Best benefits to me are IRROPS where they will proactively put you on several other flights,...

      Dallas-based and I have had CK for a few years. I fly in J four or five times per year TATL or TPAC, but nothing obscene like some of the flyertalk folks. Qualification is apparently based on dollars per segment or dollars per EQM but no one knows. It was extended earlier this year for all CK members.

      Best benefits to me are IRROPS where they will proactively put you on several other flights, being ahead of EXP for upgrades, the car tarmac transfers in U.K. and boarding first, particularly when traveling with my family. I have no complaints about the status or benefits.

      Unknown how loyalty points will change that equitation. I do put several hundred k per year on my AA Citicard already so maybe some of it will count for CK going forward.

  22. BenjaminGuttery New Member

    I fly a lot out of DFW (Plat Pro for the last 5+ years). I find I'm "up against" that largest amount of Exec Plat and Concierge Key members for upgrades and boarding. I've been on many flights where I see the CK agent at the gate, they greet the member, walk them down the gate to the plane, and often circle back around after seating right before takeoff to make sure the CK member...

    I fly a lot out of DFW (Plat Pro for the last 5+ years). I find I'm "up against" that largest amount of Exec Plat and Concierge Key members for upgrades and boarding. I've been on many flights where I see the CK agent at the gate, they greet the member, walk them down the gate to the plane, and often circle back around after seating right before takeoff to make sure the CK member is comfortable and happy with their seat. The only CK flyer I've ever "known" is the longtime former Mayor of Fort Worth Betsy Price. I'm sure she flew alot for conferences and such, and definitely supported the "hometown airline" AA. But I always thought to myself: She was gifted CK status. I flew in domestic First Class on several flights with her and her staff/assistants. They would often have a row to themselves in Economy, the exit row to be sure, but still: Economy. It also made me happy that my cities Mayor was "frugal" with taxpayer money and that her and her staff weren't overtly splurging on expensive seats for a short conference. She always talked to people at the gate and even on the plane and was very friendly. The 12th largest city in the US is now Fort Worth (on it's own, WITHOUT Dallas) and she could have easily used her influence to get better seats. Anyways, that's my only CK experience. Besides a former Government Ambassador to Germany, he had 3-4 million miles, and was greeted and pampered in Charlotte and then less so in Munich. But they made a big deal about delaying the flight JUST because he was onboard.

  23. SF Guest

    Sad to say, an important group of people (to American Arlines) that gets Concierge Key status is politicians - specifically lawmakers. Having Concierge Key status shields those individuals from much of the pain that the regular no-status public experience with air travels. Thus, they are less likely to pass the kinds of laws that are clearly needed to improve customer experience in a business that's in dire need of more regulation.

    1. BenjaminGuttery New Member

      So funny you say that, I just wrote my comment above and BOTH of the CK's I've met/flown with were a big city Mayor and an Ambassador! BOTH Government Employees!!!

    2. Another Lump Guest

      Please share an example of when more regulation resulted in better customer service. You really think that government can mandate better service? Prepare to be disappointed.

    3. Wiz Guest

      If you're in Europe and you get screwed by the airline the law requires that you be compensated. In the U.S., there's been a consistent decline in airline service across the board since airlines were deregulated.

    4. Laughing at You Guest

      Please share an example of when services improved or fees reduced when the government DEREGULATE a particular industry. You really think corporations care about better service when they can obtain monopoly status and force you to take whatever they dish out?

    5. SF Guest

      I am a proponent of limiting government regulation in a free market with healthy competition. The airline industry is very much not that.

    6. brett randolph Guest

      Well said!!! Thanks SF for making this important point. Politicians should be legally required to live by the same rules as constituents.

  24. SF Guest

    Sad to say, an important group of people (to American Arlines) that gets Concierge Key status is politicians - specifically lawmakers. Having Concierge Key status shields those individuals from much of the pain that the regular no-status public experience with air travels. Thus, they are less likely to pass the kinds of laws that are clearly needed to improve customer experience in a business that's in dire need of more regulation.

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Mick Guest

Lol.... isnt this the case for all lounges and biz/first class travel? " Is there any other context in which overpaying for the pleasure of indulging in a turkey pastrami sandwich, cubed cheese, and cheap chardonnay, is considered appealing?" Like, SIA and Emirates F seats are great.... But if that was a hotel room what would you pay for it? $150 a night? I love etihad apartment. Basically a tiny narrow bench of a bed.... and a shower! Wow. Dont get me wrong... I LOVE it. I love flying. But its a weird dynamic that appeals.

1
SF Guest

Sad to say, an important group of people (to American Arlines) that gets Concierge Key status is politicians - specifically lawmakers. Having Concierge Key status shields those individuals from much of the pain that the regular no-status public experience with air travels. Thus, they are less likely to pass the kinds of laws that are clearly needed to improve customer experience in a business that's in dire need of more regulation.

1
David Guest

I forgot, it appears there are least 2 tiers of CK members: regulars and «Do not miss». The do not miss status is printed on the bording pass.

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