American Airlines ConciergeKey is the ‘super secret’ level that George Clooney had in Up in the Air, in some sense equivalent to United Global Services and Delta 360.
ConciergeKey began mostly for corporate travel buyers and folks in their old VIP program back in 2007, and gradually expanded to individual high revenue customers.
- Benefits have primarily centered around assistance during irregular operations. ConciergeKey provides airport escorts and pre-boarding sometimes as well as a dedicated customer service line.
- ConciergeKey supposedly gets proactive monitoring of flights for rebooking assistance.
- It also comes with an Admirals Club membership and members can use miles to upgrade without paying the cash co-pay required of other members.
You cannot qualify for ConciergeKey with a specific amount of flying or a published amount of spending, however over $50,000 in a year may be enough (or buying a $50,000 ‘AAirpass’). ConciergeKey is also given out to decision-makers of big corporate contracts.
Up until now the status hasn’t officially helped with upgrades. Like United’s Global Services, it began outside of the mileage program (there used to be Global Services members who didn’t have MileagePlus status at all). It was only 2012 when ConciergeKey members received Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer).
That same year ConciergeKey members also got access to (international first class) Flagship check-in privileges.
American announced today that ConciergeKey members will receive top status on waitlists for flights and upgrades.
ConciergeKey will be ahead of Executive Platinums, and their domestic upgrades will begin to clear 120 hours in advance of travel versus the current 100 hour Executive Platinum upgrade window (Platinums will see their upgrade window shrink to 48 hours out.)
I also predicted that it would finally become effectively the top elite tier. I also — to date mistakenly — bet that they’d introduce a spousal benefit for ConciergeKey members. This is low hanging fruit that they should still pursue.
I suggested back in March that American would either create a new top tier with more miles needed than the 100,000 for Executive Platinum or make ConciergeKey a true top elite tier. It looks like at a minimum they’re doing the latter. (Which makes me two out of three for now.)
Across the whole system, this may not matter very much.
- The new upgrade priority American is rolling out next year already effectively does this for ConciergeKey members earning their status based on spend. Starting at some point ‘later in 2017’ American will be prioritizing upgrades within each status tier based on 12 month rolling elite qualifying dollars. ConciergeKey members making their status based on qualifying dollars would have been at the top of the upgrade list when they were prioritized with Executive Platinums anyway.
- ConciergeKey members earning their status based on spending disproportionately buy premium cabin tickets to begin with, which is how they’re earning ConciergeKey in the first place.
- ConciergeKey members receiving their status through sales, as influencers of major corporate travel spend, don’t travel as frequently.
- There aren’t that many ConciergeKey members to begin with, before the US Airways merger it was somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000.
That said, as they formalize the tier they might also expand it. And ConciergeKey members flying on premium tickets for work, and economy tickets for leisure, will in fact trump other Executive Platinum members.
Perhaps they should, but with as few upgrades are remain available — with full planes, with first class fares having fallen to be a small premium over coach, and with monetized upgrades via miles and cash copay available to anyone — this won’t make the larger pool of Executive Platinum customers happy. And it shouldn’t, if only because of the lack of notice.
- These changes go into effect January 1.
- Customers have been flying all year for their status benefits next year. They were told 100,000 miles was the top level, and would put them at the top of the upgrade list. Having done that, given American their business, they now learn the deal has changed.
- Indeed, American told customers how they would be changing for status and upgrades in 2017 over the summer and it wasn’t this.
As a result the roll out here is unfortunate in my opinion, even if the practical effect for most customers will be limited. Of course, it was surprising to most ConciergeKey members that they didn’t have automatic top upgrade priority to begin with.