Why Hasn’t American Airlines Extended Status Yet?

Filed Under: American

Update: American Airlines has now extended elite status, and more.

Four days ago, Delta SkyMiles announced that they’d extend elite status by a year, and since then we’ve seen United MileagePlus, Air Canada Altitude, and Alaska Mileage Plan, all match. We’ve seen a similar trend in the hotel industry, with Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt, and Marriott Bonvoy, all extending status.

Over the past 96 hours, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked if and when American AAdvantage will match. I’ve been hesitant to write a post about it, because I figure by the time I write it, the announcement may very well be out from American.

But that hasn’t happened as of now, so let me share my (perhaps controversial) take.

I am confident American will extend status

I’m very confident that American AAdvantage will extend elite status by 12 months. Not based on any inside info, but rather just based on industry trends.

When it comes to just about all major program policies, Delta SkyMiles has been the first to announce things, and for the most part American AAdvantage followed.

I don’t expect this to be any different. I certainly could be wrong, but with virtually all of their competitors having extended status, I don’t think American will be an outlier here, especially when you consider that they’re the most vulnerable of the “big three.”

Unlike in the past few years, airlines will actually have to use loyalty programs to fill planes once things return to normal. That’s something we should be looking forward to as savvy consumers.

This shouldn’t be a priority right now

This is probably a controversial take, but I actually don’t understand the urgency that some people feel for getting programs to make these announcements right away.

I understand how we got to this point — one program made the announcement and then others matched for competitive reasons.

Personally I don’t have any issue with a program choosing to wait to make an announcement like this, because no one actually knows what’s going on.

At this point no one should be imminently planning discretionary travel, so at this point it really shouldn’t matter. Airlines are fighting for survival, and the measures airlines take should be different based on whether we’re traveling again in a few weeks, or whether we’re basically shut down for the entire year.

Even with extensions, programs can’t win

Even for the programs that have announced extensions, there has largely been an element of “stay tuned, there’s more coming.” For many consumers,  it seems programs can’t win.

For example, we’ve seen Marriott announce they’ll extend status. I hear people complaining that they already qualified for status this year, and it’s not fair that other people get the status for free. Apparently we should be writing to Marriott executives complaining, because they don’t have anything better to do right now.

I’ve seen similar complaints with other programs.

My point is simply to give programs some time. No one has a full sense of how bad this situation will get. No one knows when we’ll be traveling again. No one knows the real impact this will have on the airline and hotel industry.

While the instant gratification of knowing status will be extended is nice, I also don’t mind a program being thoughtful and taking their time to announce measures that fully reflect the current situation.

Bottom line

Personally I’m confident American Airlines will extend elite status.

I don’t know if they’re just a few days behind everyone (which wouldn’t be surprising), or if they’re actually going to wait several weeks so that they can not only extend status, but also announce other initiatives that reflect the current reality.

Even among the programs that have extended status I’m seeing all kinds of complaints from people about how their very exact scenario hasn’t been accounted for, and how they’re not happy.

To answer the question posed in the headline — I’m confident American will extend status, but I don’t know if that announcement will come this afternoon or next month. And I also don’t really care, personally.

Don’t get me wrong — I’d love as much as anyone to hear that my status will be extended, because that’s kind of reassuring. But I guess I’m just confident enough that this will happen, and that’s why I don’t care when the announcement comes.

I hope that American’s delay in this announcement is because they’re being thoughtful, and are going to announce a creative element to these extensions. But maybe I’m just optimistic, and they’re simply several days behind, which wouldn’t be a first either…

What’s your take on American not announcing status extensions yet?

Comments
  1. Lucky what’s your take on international airlines? I am gold with BA and can totally see them being pretty much the only one to ‘not extend’, because, well, that’s BA.

  2. Come April 19, lots of people who were given a Platinum status challenge will have their status expired. Maybe they are waiting for after that?

  3. My speculation is that they are taking time to announce some changes to also make their program more competitive. Currently they’re all at a disadvantage to Delta in this scenario because Delta offers rollover points beyond the qualification threshold.

    Given AA’s very recent post-LATAM trend to actually fight back and do something different, I’m expecting AA’s announcement to include some favorable changes, whether it is rolling back to how things were before minimum spend or adding the option to roll over extra miles or some other incentive, or introducing something like BA has with a minimum number of seats available on every flight at the saver level, or something else to make people actually want to put their flying towards AA in the future.

    Otherwise they would have already copied and announced the same thing as the others in my opinion.

  4. Hmmm so it was Bravo Delta!
    Then United was just being a Lemming.
    (Not quoting you)

    Now you’re ok with AA being the only one who hasn’t extended yet?

  5. @ Pete — Not really what I’m saying. My point is that I think it’s great for programs to be extending, but I also don’t mind a program waiting if they’re going to announce some more concrete changes to go along with it. I could see American trying to make the AAdvantage program more competitive, and bundling that entire announcement into one. As I said, that could be wishful thinking, though I think they at least deserve the benefit of the doubt until we hear one way or another.

  6. For once I actually agree with you. Extending status now, in early April, is a thinly veiled PR stunt. None of this actually matters until Q4.

  7. @ Dylan — Well said, that’s my hope. I’m not necessarily confident that’s what’s going to happen, though I think they at least deserve the benefit of the doubt that this could be the possibility, since timing shouldn’t actually matter.

  8. @Sam, which is not entirely thru because when they had the IT breakdown In the summer and strikes I do believe they extended status. I guess they are waiting.

  9. These miles / points are a virtual currency. If AA is being given millions by the US government, then maybe there is an aftermath? By accruing all these points, we never really paid taxes….. I’m not the expert….. but, obviously, all will have to change in the future.
    Nothing will be the same again.

  10. In almost every “Status has been extended” blog post, there has been multiple “But what about me and my circumstances, its not fair” type comments.

    I get the feeling that the Airlines/Hotels could have extended status and dropped a $200 credit in peoples accounts and you would still get complaints that it wasn’t $500.

    Its a perfect example that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Being based in DFW, I am effectively Hub Captive, to me there is nothing to be gained. American announce extended status right now, the main comments will be along the lines of “Took their sweet time didn’t they?”. Until then they get multiple posts/commentary about why it hasn’t happened and I to paraphrase Oscar Wilde “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about……”

  11. I think you’re being overly generous to AA. The reality is their manager has given us no inclination they are free thinkers, have foresight nor do anything outside of the box. If I was to guess, they are trying to hold out to see what happens. If travel opens back up to some degree by September, I would suspect their extension to be very lukewarm. The reality is the longer they wait, the worse it will be for customers.lets be honest here, they’re not holding meetings trying to decide how to be different, they’re holding out in the hopes they can be the same as they always are. The longer they worse the worse it bodes for passengers in my opinion.

  12. Exactly. It is odd that AA has followed DL and UA yet.

    But it also doesn’t matter. Announce now or announce 6 weeks from now. It’s irrelevant, I’m not buying any plane tickets before June anyway.

    Signed,

    An AA EXP

  13. @FNT Delta Diamond – wondering who this is directed at:

    “For example, we’ve seen Marriott announce they’ll extend status. I hear people complaining that they already qualified for status this year, and it’s not fair that other people get the status for free. Apparently we should be writing to Marriott executives complaining, because they don’t have anything better to do right now.”

  14. AA has no choice but follow or improve Delta’s policy. Well, good luck improving Delta’s policy but maybe they can match it. I only considered AA when flying to South America since they had way more routes than Delta. Now with Latam and Delta together I don’t think I will ever fly AA again.

  15. Knowing AA I have a feeling they will put some caveats to extending status, something that will remove many flyers the possibility to re-qualify. AA is super shady about these things.
    Also, they announced their knew policy of travel waivers on April 7th, for flights booked before or on April 7th, lol.

  16. Everyone’s worried about status but you can’t go anywhere. So what’s the concern.

    Luckily I have platinum status at my house and I’ve been getting a great breakfast every morning.

  17. I guess it doesn’t really matter if they announce now or in the near future, but if they don’t extend status that means I move to United 100%. I currently have 1K and EXP, but I already know my business travel for the rest of the year will basically be zero so i won’t requalify at all. So i’m only booking the minimal travel i do have with United since at least I know my status will carry to next year. If AA finally comes out with a plan, i’ll revisit that.

  18. I get it Lucky, you are talking about airlines based in the USA. But then, what about Emirates uhh? They are extending memberships which are valid up to 30th September (extended) to 31st December, the worst part is that my Gold Membership is valid until October, and it doesn’t count for an extension. And I have to fly 40 sectors by October (cuz to retain your status, you will have to fulfil 80% of the status requirement) and I am pretty sure I cant shuttle between Kuwait and Dubai 20 times in this scenario.

  19. @Marsch – It’s probably that folks are hoping they will be back in the air by next year, not next week!

  20. I know AS announced their extension already, but could it possibly be there are extra complications with the AA-AS-OW partnership that is in motion? I’d have to assume that’s part of the hesitation. I do agree that there isn’t a rush. And no matter what they do there’s always happy/furious pax

  21. Wouldnt hate it if they didnt extend, i already requalified before the wuhan flu so for selfish reasons i hope they do not extend because right now everyone in AA hubs has status, and if everyone has status than no one has status.

  22. They also have to work with Citi and Barclays to modify credit card benefits. Ex: waving or refunding annual fees, extending the card year because benefits like Admirals Club, Free $25 credit for inflight food purchases (Aviator Silver) are not available to card holders.

  23. If they don’t extend I may take the opportunity to start flying Delta or United. I have been top tier for years and the only reason I stick with AA is because of my status. This would be my opportunity to jump ship and take my business elsewhere.

  24. I don’t know what the incentive is to extend. They need people to start flying again as soon as possible and if there is no incentive for the best customers to start flying again, because their status is already secure, it is not going to happen to the extent they need it to. It seems to me the better option for them is to just lower the thresholds for qualification for next years status. Sure their competitors have already extended, but it is not like people who currently only have status in AA (like myself) are going jump ship. Sure we can status match to another program, in that case, you are not getting any benefit from the extension.

  25. It does matter to some of us that they are delaying the announcement. 8 years straight Exec Plat, self employed, with no corporate spend. For people like me, we have to be very strategic to make EQD requirement each year. We don’t know that they will extend status. If AA reduces requirements to hit status, but don’t flat out extend, i’ll be looking to speculatively book some of these partner J class deals in the fall. Also, if I need to finish making the $25k spend on my Aviator biz card to get $3000 EQD, I’d like to know sooner rather than later. Otherwise, I can put that spend elsewhere as it’s a poor ROI.

  26. @Jay

    Consider temporarily moving to DL. Be strategic, complete the status match and potentially enjoy it till Jan 2023.

  27. Why would they care. If they dont have enough EXPs just give it to Hyatt Globalists to make the number. Easy fix.

  28. For me, as an EP who had to work very hard and strategically to make EP again this year (because they slashed the Aviator EQD earnings in half), I do want to know about any extension now so I can at least try to plan a strategy for the rest of the year, assuming things return to “normal” in the coming months. Every day they delay an announcement, I assume it’s because they are trying to come up with a monkey wrench to throw at us which will make it all the more difficult. After all, they have only made reaching and maintaining status more challenging in recent years. While I’m loyal to AA to the extent I never fly another domestic carrier, I don’t feel they have our backs and we are taken for granted. Just match what your competitors have done and let us all move forward, I say. You would think their twitter folks are getting tired of reponding “we know your status is important and we value your loyalty but we don’t have any news to share”. At least send us an email from your VP of Loyalty saying you are really working on something….

  29. @Jay, @Jon – You’re both right. I pay for all of my travel with no corporate spend. I and ExpPlat now and I also have status with both UA and DL. Those two carriers have already extended my status so I’m not worried about them.

    I’m now planning travel for mid-late summer. If AA has no intentions of extended my ExpPlat status, then I might as well apply the travel spend to either UA or DL to try and get to a higher status level.

    The ball’s in your court, AA.

  30. What @bizguy said. This is not a headline story which seemingly this blog is obsessed.

  31. I’m also using this time to reassess my loyalty given the AS and AA partnership, so I am eager to see AA’s counter offer. OW status is very important to me so if I can get that through AS along with their better mileage redemption options, I am jumping.

    That being said, I am also looking at picking up more United since Gold with them was good to have a couple years ago based on my typical work travel.

    I missed Pt Pro in 2020 by 1K EQM (and just ran out of time to staus run). The pay for status offer I received was truly insulting and left a very bad impression. So yeah, maybe I am looking to jump ship anyways.

  32. The reason announcing now is important for some people is because of how we would arrange our travel to make the desired status. I personally need 120 legs. If they announce now then I don’t have worry about the extra legs and can just fly direct.

  33. Buck up kiddos, life isn’t fair. But this will give me an opportunity to work on status with another airline the rest of the year since my current status is secure.

  34. People are complaining because they already achieved status?

    The US declared a state of emergency on March 13, which means people had 73 days to qualify for their program of choice. Come on guys, if you already qualified in that amount of time, you’ll have no problem doing it for years to come. And some of you probably continued to travel when you shouldn’t have, let’s be honest.

  35. I completed a very long survey and told AA to be a leader and do the right thing and not a follower Regarding status and make a decision top airline or cut throat choose your identity.

  36. @ben (lucky) can i suggest with the Bottom Line section of each article, you write it in bullet /point form as its supposed to be a synopsis.

  37. Lucky… I am a 4MM 12-plus year EXP and like most everyone else here uncertain about what my future will be relative to travel. I am about to cancel my last booked flight today as that meeting was just canned. It is the first time in memory that I don’t have multiple flights scheduled.

    I think you are missing the point and making the same mistake Doug Parker has consistently made. There was a time I would go far out of my way to make sure I was on AA metal even though another airline was less expensive or more direct. Over the past few years I have been treated so poorly that I have been questioning the value in staying on AA – other than burning through the several million miles I have accumulated. This is an uncertain and a very emotional and vulnerable time for most of us.

    I split my time between consulting and seeing patients. In my practice we are calling patients just to connect with them and to reassure them that we are here if they need us, that we value them and remain connected with them, especially during these challenging times. This was a moment where AA could have strongly bonded with their most loyal customers when they most needed to be connected with and reassured them that things will go back to normal and that AA will be there for them when it does. The reality is that AA is in the people business and as bad a job as they have done running the airline, they have done a far worse job managing customer relationships.

    The peak of the crisis is about to pass and AA has days to come out with something truly disruptive for the fliers who keep them in the air. Once that moment is gone, i suspect so is AA.

  38. Very well-said @OnTheRun. I’m Sr. HR director for my company and with my team scheduled wellness check-ins with every employee as we are all now remote and everyone is stressed and anxious about work, home and everythings going on around us. Just to let them know we cared even though we might not have all answers was enough to make them feel valued and appreciated. I agree with you that this was a missed opportunity for AA to lead and show they truly value those who will be critical to their ongoing success. And @chris…if your current status wasn’t already secure (lucky, you!) wouldn’t you also be expecting to hear from AA???

  39. If there were more paying passengers instead of the majority flying using points they might be in a better position overall. It’s hard for an airline to be profitable when few of it’s customers actually pay for a plane ticket not to mention they are consistently the lowest cost ticket to purchase as well. That all boils down to tight seats poor reliability and bad customer experience. All following what ran USAir into the ground.

  40. Ben (lucky): I think the answer lies in this response: “JohnC says:
    April 9, 2020 at 9:22 am
    Come April 19, lots of people who were given a Platinum status challenge will have their status expired. Maybe they are waiting for after that?”

    Yes, April 19. You should explore that. Of course, if American doesn’t extend their elite status before then, these people will happily go to Delta or United, who are going to welcome them with open arms to help fill all those empty seats.

  41. I think those programs who responded quickly could win. In the European airline industry BA was the quickest, reducing thresholds for those renewing in Q2. Hilton was the first mover for hotels, together with Accor. At least I will remember those quick moves, as a sign of customer awareness. Which I pledge to honor with loyalty.

    However, I don’t think moving as number five or so has the same advantage.

  42. @Lucky —

    OK. You “hear people complaining that they already qualified for status this year, and it’s not fair that other people get the status for free.” I say if they’ve qualified for 2021 in the first 12 weeks of 2020, more power to ’em, but it is PERFECTLY FAIR to extend status and they should simply STFU….

    But on a related note, the issue is NOT “I qualified, why should ‘they’ benefit?” But rather, “what happens to the nights/miles/flight segments that have already accrued?”

    I am *not* speaking of (e.g.) elite nights one gets annually for free due to a credit card, but rather the nights actually stayed, or the number of flights and miles actually flown. My guess is that they’ll all “zero out,” and we’ll all start over. After all, here in the SF Bay Area, we have been under quarantine since March 16th —> that translates to having 75 days (out of 366; it’s a leap year) to accrue “X.” Not much time… I would expect them to “carry-over” everything if this happened in, say, September. But for March, most people have not yet qualified for 2021, and extending status makes sense.

  43. No one is talking about lounge access. For those who pay an annual fee for lounge access, will that be extended?

  44. I’m Executive Platinum on American. If they’re going to drag their feet, I’d fully support Congress bailing out Delta and United, and letting American (who is the most fragile of the three) go under. If I lose all my miles, so be it. There is an extremely low bar for any investors who buy their liquidated assets to delight its former customers.

  45. My travels have taken a hit and I will not earn the same status level on AA this year unless they extend status. I certainly hope that they jump on the bandwagon and do what United and Delta and other airlines have done. But at this point we just have to wait and see. Right now my concern with American is getting e-vouchers for the trips that I have had to cancel or change. They are so backed up and have to look at reservations on a case to case basis to see if you qualify to get an e-voucher.

  46. I am on an American flight as I write this from MIA to LAX. There are 3 passengers,including me in First class and 4 passengers In Economy. For someone who still has to fly they are going above and beyond right now. Someone from corporate called me ThursdY just to check on me and thank me and then proceeded to ask me what routes are important to me.

  47. At this point how can you possibly even care about elite status? The world in a few months will be unrecognizable, as will air travel. As someone who is forced to keep flying I can tell you it will never be the same again.

  48. @Robert, I guarantee in 6 months this will all just be a distant and fleeting memory to road warriors at large. Just because you’re chicken little doesn’t mean that the sky is actually falling.

  49. My medallion status was extended 12 months with lowered 2020 elite qualification requirements and lowered levels required to earn additional Exec Plat choice rewards. Added credit card spend opportunity to earn towards Million Miler status.

    Email received on April 13 at noon.

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