Rumor: Top Tier Changes Coming To American AAdvantage?

Filed Under: American

Holly Hegeman of PlaneBusiness Tweeted the following yesterday, regarding the American Airlines Annual Leadership Conference:

On one hand we don’t actually know anything beyond that. On the other hand, this is at least a reputable source, and the information is clearly coming from American.

So I figured it would be fun to speculate a bit. Again, this is completely baseless, but for a lot of us this is what we enjoy talking about, so we might as well do some speculating… right?

The most interesting thing about the above statement is the possibility of American adding more levels at the top of AAdvantage.

The possibility of this follows some major changes to the AAdvantage program coming with the 2016 program year, including the following:

  • The number of systemwide upgrades Executive Platinum members earn being cut from eight to four
  • Redeemable miles being issued based on revenue rather than miles flown starting in the second half of the year
  • Increased elite qualifying mileage earning for travel in paid premium cabins
  • An award chart devaluation, with some awards going up in price by ~65%+

So what further changes could American be considering? Total speculation on my part, but I think there are two possibilities which are most likely. I’d note that I can’t imagine they’d implement them for this program year, but rather they’d kick in starting in 2017 at the earliest.

Possible changes include:

The introduction of a fourth elite tier

This seems the most likely to me.

Before American and US Airways merged, US Airways had four elite tiers, at 25K, 50K, 75K, and 100K elite qualifying miles. I was a bit surprised when the new program didn’t have a fourth tier, since there is a huge gap between 50K and 100K miles. Furthermore, American is being led by US Airways’ former management, and there’s an inherent bias for the incoming management’s policy to be the “standard.” I would guess part of the reason they didn’t want to add a fourth tier is because they wanted to keep things as simple as possible while the integration was underway, though all along I thought there was a chance they’d introduce a new tier.

However, if they do introduce a new fourth tier, I suspect they may change the “goal posts” around a bit, and follow Delta’s lead, with tiers at 25K, 50K, 75K, and 125K, especially since they just made elite qualification easier with the elimination of elite qualifying points, and the increase in elite qualifying mileage earning.

If they make this change, I’m guessing they’d only issue the four systemwide upgrades at 125K elite qualifying miles.

Making the qualification criteria for Concierge Key official

American has their invitation only Concierge Key, though the requirements aren’t published. Given the progression of the industry in trying to encourage more “profitable” behavior, it wouldn’t surprise me if American does something to make Concierge Key status more “official.” In other words, there’s not any formal recognition as of now for those who earn a disproportionate number of elite qualifying miles, or otherwise spend a disproportionate amount. Sure, you might get Concierge Key, but it’s not a guarantee.

Why not publish criteria for marginal recognition for those who spend a certain amount or earn a certain number of elite qualifying miles?


Bottom line

It’s all speculation at this point, though I think it’s interesting to at least bring up, given that it’s clearly something American is discussing.

Personally I’m not too pessimistic about the possibility of these changes. I think American has done enough damage to their program with the 2016 changes, and I think the changes “align” them pretty well with the competition. I don’t think they want to do anything which will further degrade the value of the program.

What changes do you see American making to their top tier status?

  1. 30K, 60K, 90K,120K tier levels would make more sense given the growing competition. So is making exclusive award availability vary across the tiers for Elite members

  2. I am all for squeezing the business travelers aka their elite members so that the rest of us get better deals.

    Throw a few bones to the ego driven people so they end up spending a lot more money to get recognition that only few can get but most people wouldn’t care about. Hehe.

  3. Lucky with concierge key, you do get 2 extra SWUs, i really don’t think they would make concierge key a official tier though

  4. I am a Concierge Key and there are requirements and criteria. You only know them when you qualify for the first time but they have rules to requalify.

  5. They will never publish the requirements for CK as they vary. Some people who have CK spend very little on AA and are simply influencers. The requal criteria mention by Danny also varies person to person.

  6. When they go revenue based, the miles/$ earning rates will be: General-5, GLD-7, PLT-8, EXP-11. It seems as if they reserved a vacancy for 75k tier to earn 9 miles/$.

    But what will this 75k tier be called? Will there really be 3 tiers with “platinum” in the title?

  7. @Pat Oh man, if they add one more tier with the word “Platinum” in it I am taking my business elsewhere lol.

  8. Would it hurt you to attribute where you got this “speculation?” What you posted looks strikingly like what is on Flyertalk….

  9. Watch out EXPs, if they ever make CK more formal and give it “harder” benefits a la Global Services at UA, which has absolutely ruined the 1K level the past few years.

  10. Given that American and BA are aligning some things more closely, it would not surprise me to see something like BA’s GGL on AA. This is separate from BA’s Premier (which is more like AA’s CK). GGL is still OWE, but reached at 5000 tier points instead of 1500. So having a qualification around 300,000 miles (which would probably be achieved only through business and first class bonus qualifying miles), and including some extra exclusives similar to what BA offer would seem possible.

    That said, I think it would be far more interesting if this was followed and created a new OW level above emerald, where these extra perks at the highest tier are shared across the alliance.

  11. I was consistently a Platinum on USAir, usually flying around 85k-90k miles a year. There are too many AA PLTs now. It would be good to thin the heard a little with a 4th tier. I’ll never make EXP, but it would be nice to be recognized for flying closer to 100k miles a year, rather than 50K.

  12. I’m lifetime Plat, although I get a new plastic card every year showing a February expiration the following year. The card showing February 2017 has not arrived…fingers crossed that AA hasn’t quietly eliminated lifetime status.

  13. Maybe I missed it here but over at TPG there was a post about AA targeting certain fliers with instant Plat (and giving them 20 stickers!!!) through April with the opportunity to re-qualify through 2017 with just 10,000 EQMs.

    That and the elimination of an F cabin on almost all flights I take regularly (thanks to no more Envoy Air contracting for Eagle) mean I’m seriously considering what value AAdvantage has to me anymore. It sucks because I can’t imagine jumping to SkyPesos but there’s really no reason to requalify for AA Plat this year. I get maybe 1 transcon upgrade out of 20 attempts.

  14. @Pavel I was targeted with the “instant platinum” promo. Used to fly AA a lot for work, then changed firms and we favor Delta for whatever reason within our travel dept. So I suspect it’s trying to recapture former heavy users? I don’t think Plat is worth much personally (so many EXP flying out of NYC area, I will always be last in line for the upgrade) but I’ll fly the 10k EQM’s by June (july?) to keep it for the year. Might as well try it for the optionality.

  15. I think it was inevitable for them to do what they are potentially planning to do. But I have to say, this is like Chinese water torture. Why doesn’t AA just release the changes all at once as opposed to doing this piecemeal?

    I also believe the days of complimentary upgrades on domestic flights will be coming to an end in a few years time.

    I booked an F ticket for a mileage run this weekend for lax-ord-lax cause I need to re-qualify for Emerald for my FFP. The F fare was reasonable enough. If I were still banking with AA, why would I wait for an upgrade to clear when I have a peace of mind about having an F seat?

  16. Hello Everyone. Right NOW we are onl JAL from JFK to NRT then Saigon. My family is enjoying Executive Plat. from last year and soon all will re-qualify for 2017 (before June of May just in case). I will be makeing a huge change in 2017 and not qualify. Change of habits. I see the writing on the wall and I hope American can see my writing. Maybe that is what we will need. Some nice road trips.

  17. I was told today that American is going to start issuing upgrades based on ticket dollar amount rather than status and reservation date. Has anyone else been told this?

  18. I’m a very loyal AA flyer. Explatinum for many years .Probably 200k this year and would be honored to have concierge Key status. Is that possible?

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