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
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.
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?