American Airlines Demands $10,000 Or 1 Million Miles To Renew Status: ConciergeKey Members In Shock

A month ago American Airlines rolled out status renewals for ConciergeKey members.

ConciergeKey is the status that American Airlines gives to its top spending customers and top corporate travel influencers. It’s the status that George Clooney had in Up In The Air. I had the status briefly and the best thing about it wasn’t:

  • top priority for upgrades
  • being met with golf carts and driven to American’s international business class lounges on domestic flights
  • being driven across the tarmac if you had an especially tight connection.

The best thing was getting confirmed on sold out flights when a flight is severely delayed or cancelled – American being willing to bump another passenger to get you where you’re going.

Those who were on the bubble for ConciergeKey renewal got a one-month extension so that their status would last through the end of May, and were told they’d receive a special offer to keep the status. Now they are being contacted with those offers.

  • I assumed it would be a ‘challenge’ of earning a certain number of loyalty points in the next three months, similar to what American has done before with a targeted set of members.

  • But it turns out to be a straight “buy back” offer. American normally extends buy backs at the end of a status year for elites, and these are usually obscenely priced, but they generate tens of millions of dollars across the membership. Buying back Executive Platinum for instance might cost around $2,000 and members can generally spend miles if they prefer at around 1 cent apiece to cover the price.

As with other buy backs the price for ConciergeKey is variable. Most customers are being told that the price is $10,000 or 1 million miles. However there are also reports of members being told they can spend $5,000 or 500,000 miles to have their status back for a year (or, really, for 11 months as they’ve already gotten an extension).

Compared to the buyback prices for other status levels, $5,000 makes a certain amount of sense. But these are customers who at least in the past have spent around $60,000 or more on tickets. This is a status level without published criteria, by invitation only, for the airline’s commercially most important people – and putting a price on it cheapens the experience both for those asked to pay and for those who haven’t, at least based on reactions by ConciergeKey customers on social media.

While I’ve never been keen to recommend buy backs at the price asked, which just seems too high for standard AAdvantage benefits, and also because if you haven’t earned the benefits it’s likely that you aren’t traveling enough to make paying for them worth it, I also think that ConciergeKey is different. You may be traveling a great deal just not on pricey enough tickets to be renewed.

I’m not sure what price it is worth, but I have to think I’d pay ‘a couple hundred per roundtrip’ and so if I’m flying American Airlines weekly then $5,000 may feel high but isn’t crazy. I haven’t been flying American as much – in the past couple months I’ve flown Delta, United, Southwest and more. But if I were ConciergeKey again I would go out of my way to stick with American. $10,000 cash to keep a status that I was probably close t being renewed for anyway? That does feel egregious, and first being denied renewal and then asked to fork over ten grand just adding insult to injury.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I had been CK during five qualification years — all on my dime. As Mr. Spock said, “After a time, you may find that ‘having’ is not so pleasing a thing after all as ‘wanting.’ It is not logical, but it is often true.”

  2. God, imagine being such a fat ass that you need to be driven to and from lounges. Oh wait, you don’t need to imagine if walking through US airports. Americans are such hideous gluttons.

  3. Why do you black out the number in your million miler designation? Not sure why you’d hide it since it doesn’t give access to your info etc like your AA number or a PNR.

  4. There was a huge difference in experience as a CK vs EXP that goes well beyond the list of benefits… texts in advance of flight, being met at the gate, generally being treated as an individual guest vs. part of a machine.

  5. If that’s what it takes to shore up your self esteem, go right ahead.

  6. It’s “apron”, not tarmac.


  7. @ Gary — The headline on this post is so over the top. I mean, “Demands” and “In shock”? 😉

  8. Is AA actually TRYING to go out of business? With crap like this they are certainly headed that way.

  9. AA didn’t DEMAND anything. It is an offer. Like every other offer, take it or leave it.

    Either the author or the headline writer needs to get over themselves.

  10. For a country and its ppl. proud to have not having classes in the society. You are pretty keen in buying your super upper class membership and to have a clear distinction to others. Dimply pathetic snd hypocrits! If you ask for the price or tries to negotiate the price, it is definitely not something special. Cheapos deserve what they get!

  11. This is what happens when you depend on free upgrades all the time, instead of maintaining your status.

    Considering all the free upgrades I’ve received, and the perks I use all the time. The value is well beyond 10 grand they are requesting to keep my status. Worth it.

    Personally, I’m thankful for the opportunity to keep my status. Instead of knocking me back to Pro status where I would have been.

  12. The worst part is after they made the offer to buy in, a lot of people refused, and days later got ‘gifted’ a year extension, even though they are still calling people with the offer. Why anyone would pay at this point is beyond me…

  13. the CKs should hire an ambulance firm and file a class action for more perks
    that’ll show ’em

  14. Cry me a river. Mostly a group of self important phonies that are fortunate to have access to OPM. They will bill this to their company just like all their other perks. However, if I were running a company and found out my person in charge of corporate travel policy was accepting a bribe like this from AA, they would be looking for new job pronto.

  15. CK gives you access to Flagship lounges on any domestic ticket. Flagship lounges are an actual substitution for a real meal in a restaurant.

    If you’re flying often out of a hub that has one at least weekly, you can easily save that $10k in restaurant alone.

  16. Non story.
    CK as mentioned are a bunch of self-important OPM flyers.
    They will either
    a) bill the company
    b) spend a million miles which is nothing to them because they are corporate slaves who dont have time to spend their miles anyway, and OPM will quickly just earn another million

    Good on AA for cashing in.

  17. @ Mike — A good meal at home will run you about $4. Use the money saved on Ozempic. Or, buy the Ozempic first, and then you’ll only want the $4 meal.

  18. The National Enquirer of travel blogs? “Demands” and “in-shock”? More like an offer and a laugh.

  19. You can easily spend $4k an hour for a NetJet flight. For ths private jet person who wants access to commercial airlines for long distance travel, $10k is no problem. For the rest of us, that is real money.

  20. All you bitter, unhappy people who do nothing but complain are free to quit subjecting yourselves to this site. The rest of us will be thankful if you do.

  21. “The best thing was getting confirmed on sold out flights when a flight is severely delayed or cancelled – American being willing to bump another passenger to get you where you’re going.”

    If you consider that to be the “best” thing, then you are a sociopath.

  22. @Mark – What it means is that the will confirm the CK member onto a flight that has no published inventory. It may not even wind up full. But if it is, they are willing to pay other passengers substantial cash to take a later flight

  23. Trying to price the real value of ConciergeKey status is like trying to price the real value of a Prada handbag. It’s a luxury good. You can’t determine it’s rational value. It’s worth what it’s worth to you. Emotionally. My guess is that AA knows it’s “overcharging” for the status, because it thinks there are suckers (I mean “customers”) who will pay that premium price. Most of the money made in the US is made on selling overpriced things. It’s a linchpin of our capitalist system.

  24. @Joe It has nothing to do with social class and everything to do with “economic class.” Economically, anyone can get in if they play their cards right and can pay for it. Try to pay for a peerage.

  25. It’s so wrong that these elite memberships include perks that literally f**k over other travelers. I mean it’s fantastic to earn special treatment and extra stuff…woo-hoo loyal customers absolutely deserve that…but it’s a DISGRACE to create a perk that destroys someone else’s PAID itinerary. That should be illegal.

  26. 1.) If I were going to cough up $10k to keep status with an airline, it certainly wouldn’t be American. Caring for you on life’s journeys… yeah, if AA is the kidnapper and you’re the prisoner in their sex dungeon. Hey CK, it rubs the lotion on it’s skin…

    2.) Well, I guess that’s one way to get a bunch of mileage liability off the books.

  27. Gary, your titles/headlines as of late have been. Kinda silly. “Demands”….really? Requires sounds like a better word that’s not click baity and frankly ridiculous when talking about an optional extension of a private airline status that 99.9% of your readers have ever even come close to experiencing.

  28. If the offer is $5k, that’s $100 a week. If you’re a road warrior, seems like cheap insurance to keep the hamster wheel running, with some nice perks. Use the enhanced benefits of CK, like getting on sold out flights a few times a year and you’re ahead.

  29. @Alaina Lohan to make such general comments especially about a nation’s own citizens , shows a total lack of disrespect and obviously shows the kind of bigot bully and spoiled brat that you are.. the article was about American Airlines ,not about the weight of the American public. So nice to see that ignorance is still alive and well.

  30. Gary, thanks for the info. I as a lowly EXP appreciate the viewpoint of someone with the experiences. I used to never get above Gold and I felt special then lol. Knowledge is power.

  31. [quote]Bichael Moyd says:
    May 25, 2024 at 8:07 am
    It’s “apron”, not tarmac.


    Tarmac is actually closer.

    Terminal Area Ramp Macadam. Though they are all concrete or asphalt now.

    APRON is Airport Parking for aircraft Remaining Over Night which would indicate dedicated parking for RONs not the terminal area per se.

  32. Doesn’t surprise me….AA seems to love shafting their dedicated customers. I quit patronizing them over 20 years ago when they stole 20k miles that were to have expired and when I tried to resolve they pretty much told me ‘too bad so sad’….they used to be a great airline, now they suck

  33. @Gene; don’t invite me to your home for a $4 dinner.
    Even a nursing home resident would find that unappealing.

  34. Regarding the bumping, get the story straight, please. If the CK has access to unpublished inventory or AA will pay someone what that person requires to accept a bump and assignment to a later flight, that’s OK. But if AA will actually bump someone off the flight involuntarily and stick that passenger with whatever compensation is mandated by the government for a bump, the CK should have trouble looking himself in the mirror, and AA and the CK may be looking at a lawsuit (since using algorithms predicting no-shows to overbook in good faith but getting it wrong is far different from canceling a confirmed reservation to accommodate a specific CK at the last minute when AA knows enough people have shown up or are likely to show up for the flight to be full).

  35. “Buying back Executive Platinum for instance might cost around $2,000”??? They offered to sell me the lowest Platinum status for $1,600. LOL…

  36. @Big Jeff if you think that’s bad they offered me $1,200 to keep Gold. Certainly not worth it IMO.

    @Mike not sure what restaurants you’re eating in for ~50 meals to come out at $10k for 1 person?

  37. @Dave I fly the AA JFK-SNA flight monthly in J. It is a very pleasant experience. Ample space, access to the flagship lounge, pricing is reasonable, fast wifi, flight is usually ontime, and the crew is polite. I find value in the AA product. Its not perfect, but I am not paying private jet prices either.

  38. Greyhound gas a similar program. The more you ride with them and earn status, the more showered and less drunk your seatmate will be. You also get seats further away from the crapper on trips of 36 hours or more. They call it “HowDoYou EvenPronounceConcierge” Program

  39. I’ve long thought AA had reached the bottom and could only go up.
    I’m wrong.
    Horrible customer service, no reliable operations, messing with mileage earning with corporate travel agents and surly staff.

  40. @Aliana Lohan

    Broad brush much?

    Aliana Lohan says:
    May 25, 2024 at 7:22 am
    God, imagine being such a fat ass that you need to be driven to and from lounges. Oh wait, you don’t need to imagine if walking through US airports. Americans are such hideous gluttons.

  41. So I got the call to see if I would pay AND meet certain requirements to continue to be CK…. Issue is that AA has devalued not only CK but EP as well. I got on a flight from Miami to Wash DC to see that there were 2 pilots in first because they were on their fly to “pilot”. Issue is that as a result of the recent labor negotiations, now Pilots have a higher priority. Great. What a way to devalue your highest paying customers. So the likelihood of getting now an upgrade has been greatly diminished. On top of it, you ask for me to pay $10,000? What lack of touch with your top 20% of revenue generating customers. This issue is all over social media. Of course we were going to find out… It’s just not worth it….

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