American Airlines is running a promotion to earn double miles towards lifetime elite status with flying through end of the year. This isn’t double redeemable miles, or double elite qualifying miles, this is just double credit towards earning 1 million, 2 million, or higher tiers of lifetime status.
The promotion is targeted, and requires registration under ‘promotions’ in your AAdvantage account. (HT: Loyalty Lobby) Register by August 24, book travel after registering and complete travel by December 31 and those flights will earn double million miler miles.
It’s striking that they’re excluding previously-booked travel (ironic they want to offer less lifetime loyalty recognition to those who were being loyal and buying tickets early). But they don’t want to give out double elite miles to business they’d have gotten anyway, which is strange in a way because it can’t possibly cost them that much – either in terms of incremental progress towards a higher level of elite status, or in terms of fulfillment of that status once achieved.
Why Would American Be Leaning On Lifetime Status To Encourage Business
One million milers earn lifetime Gold (and 30,000 miles), two million milers earn lifetime Platinum (and four confirmed upgrades), and each million mile level beyond earns four more confirmed upgrades.
This year American is already counting credit card spend towards lifetime elite status. Why could they now be counting flights double, for some customers? Here are some possibilities:
- Lifetime status is something the most committed frequent flyers care most about. This group is also underrepresented on planes with business travel virtually non-existent. So it’s a way to get your most brand loyal customers back in the air with incremental leisure travel.
- They may have found it’s helped drive credit card spend.
- They view lifetime status as cheap, it’s the promise of benefits later for business today
- They lack creativity, it’s easiest to lean on the promotion they’re already running
- They’ve invested in the tech updates so it’s easy to do, and remember they just laid off about 30% of headquarters staff
American has made elite status easier to earn this year but since they’ve extended status for current elites there’s little incentive to earn the same elite level as before. Unlike Delta there’s no ‘roll over’ of elite miles from this year towards earning status next year. So for most current elites travel this year is ‘wasted’. But some can make progress towards lifetime status if targeted for this offer.
American’s Million Miler Status Has Been On The Decline
I’m rounding the bend towards 4 million miler status. That’ll just earn me additional confirmed international upgrades which have been increasingly difficult to use in recent years. And the million miler program has been substantially devalued under current leadership.
- The top lifetime elite status is Platinum, but they’ve added a new level that’s higher (Platinum Pro) for 2 million milers to be behind (previously those Platinum Pro customers would have had the same Platinum status as 2 million milers).
- After elite status, the tie breaker for upgrades is spending with the airline over the previous 12 months. So elites buying more and more expensive tickets now are prioritized over those who gave a lifetime of loyalty but are no longer as active. (American similarly devalued retired employee benefits.)
Adding more lifetime elites at higher levels of status as a result of promotions doesn’t bode well for the likelihood of American improving the program.
American Needs To Fix Its Lifetime Status Program
Delta offers up to lifetime Platinum status, and an annual gift for million milers. United offers up to lifetime Global Services, and extends the lifetime member’s current status to a spouse. American’s program is less generous than competitors.
American should add lifetime Platinum Pro at 3 million miles and 10 years of Platinum Pro status or higher and lifetime Executive Platinum at 4 million miles and 10 years of Executive Platinum or ConciergeKey status. This would allow American to introduce a competitive lifetime elite status program without flooding the ranks with customers who earned their lifetime miles in the past via credit card spend and other non-flight activity.
Don’t Chase Lifetime Elite Status
Given American’s devaluation of lifetime status, and devaluation of benefits at United (which promised that annual confirmed upgrades to lifetime elites would remain after the Continental merger but eliminated those anyway), I don’t see it as wise to chase lifetime status. When it comes that’s great, but don’t give your loyalty now trusting a program to deliver benefits later.