American Airlines is Quietly Poaching Delta and United’s Top Flyers (And They Have An Offer For You)

After Delta Air Lines announced a major devaluation of its SkyMiles elite program and new restrictions on lounge access, Alaska Airlines quickly offered to match the status of Delta elites. American and United were quiet.

United promised its members no material changes to next year’s program. But American, in its laboring way, sees an opportunity both with Delta and United top elites, Platinums and above.

American Airlines quietly launched an elite status match offer for United and Delta elites – and top tier status is available.

  • United and Delta Platinums get American’s Platinum Pro
  • United and Delta 1Ks and Diamonds get American’s Executive Platinum.

It’s really a status challenge. There’s no fee to participate. American wants proof not just of current status, but details on 2022 and 2023 year to date activity:

American Airlines has status challenges, called Instant Status Pass, that are way too confusing.

  • Earn points in the first few four months that determines your status in the next four months
  • And your earning during those four months determines what status you have for the next four and what status you’re “going for”
  • Finally, during the last four months to earn points to keep the status for the year ahead

However these offers aren’t always available and aren’t always free. This is an explicit offer for anyone with United or Delta Platinum and above.

At the same time American straight-up sold status earlier this year. And these Instant Status Pass offers are complicated. They’re a lot of hoops to jump through for a competitor’s top customers to move their business.

  • A Delta Diamond would receive 4 months of American Executive Platinum
  • They’d need to earn 67,000 Loyalty Points in 4 months to keep it for another 4 months
  • And then do something similar in the next four months to keep the status

For top Delta (and United) top elites, American Airlines shouldn’t use this tool at all. American should want Delta Diamonds. Match them to Executive Platinum through February 2025. Send them a couple of lounge passes, “we know your lounge access at Delta is limited, we welcome you to our Admirals Clubs.” And take the message a step farther, “we value your business, every time you step into the airport. You have full benefits every time you fly, no matter what the fare. We’ll upgrade you on basic economy fares, and welcome you into our lounges.”

They should strive for fast, simple, and welcoming. A customer that’s matched status is at the peak of their interest. The status match is focal. The customer will pay attention to the product, and American should be educating them about it and helping them to educate themselves. It should be a simple process for a customer they actually value, and there should be a follow up communication strategy. JetBlue is calling everyone they matched with Delta status to try to win their business.

In contrast, the terms and conditions of American’s offer say “Please allow at least 4 weeks for AAdvantage® Customer Service to review your submission.”

(HT: Jonathan B)

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. Great. So in no time at all, AA lounges will be as overcrowded as Delta’s have been. There must be a better way. The whole industry seems to be lost and the DOT doesn’t seem to be helping the airlines to find a healthy path out of our collective flying misery.

  2. @Paul – none of these status matches give you Admirals Club access so that won’t change. Will knock people farther down the upgrade list but few clear anyway.

  3. After being a loyal Delta flyer and Amex platinum card holder for almost 20 years, the recent changes announced by delta and Amex pushed me to AA. I’ve swapped my Amex platinum for a Citi executive card (that includes lounge access) and all flights going forward are on AA. I’m doing the status challenge too.

  4. After being a loyal Delta flyer and Amex platinum card holder for almost 20 years, the recent changes announced by delta and Amex pushed me to AA. I’ve swapped my Amex platinum for a Citi executive card (that includes lounge access) and all flights going forward are on AA. I’m doing the status challenge too.

  5. American employees are too inconsistent in their treatment of passengers. I’d be concerned they’d decide I didn’t obey an order fast enough and I’d get kicked off. I don’t fly Spirit ever and only fly American if there’s absolutely no other option. Fortunately that’s rare. Delta is #1 and united isn’t terrible, that’s it.

  6. I can’t find my 2022 skymiles statistics, just 2023 YTD… does anyone know where to find that.

  7. The real question I have is why Jet Blue will only match Delta Status and not United, American, etc. Pretty shortsighted of them. I am AA EP and wont fly JB now that the Northeast alliance is dead due to my last of status. DL is getting all of my business instead of JB getting it….

  8. @Paul, what are you smoking? People mob the DL lounges because of the good food and decent booze offerings. Admiral’s Clubs offer neither, so except during the period between banks at key hubs the clubs won’t get super crowded.

  9. I really wonder how many are actually completing the challenge and staying with AA. It’s important to note that passengers move both ways and some will defect from AA.
    I will go back to AA’s failure to address the fact that their million miler program is now woefully uncompetitive. No real incentive to go beyond 2 million lifetime miles with AA. I can see people status matching to AA as a backup but not really sure that many will stay when they can get a much better proposition with their lifetime loyalty at competing carriers .

  10. Any guess on how long this match will last? Any data points on whether they actually look at 2022 and 2023 travel?

    Would prefer to match near the end of the year but don’t want to miss out.

  11. I think Spirit is matching too. Just saying, and it’s just as relevant to anyone who flies Delta (and can afford it)

  12. Any idea if United will offer their match to Delta again in 2024? I was going to apply, but the matched United status ends 12/31/2023.

  13. I absolutely love it.

    I live rent free on this site and in the minds of dozens of people.

    The reason why AA and UA are keeping their status matches lowkey is because they know what DL can get from AA and UA if DL chooses to do so.

  14. I would argue that their status matches areow key because the customers currently fleeing Delta don’t bring a lot of value with them.

  15. Gary, I don’t agree with You at all on this. For one, LOTS of people game the system, so any business has to check something and ensure viability. So JetBlue is calling some matchers, cool. They are desperate and very small. Lastly, don’t crowd up my Admirals Clubs. Thank You very much!

  16. No disrespect, but an airline offering status match is nothing new. With that written, 1 I left aa last year for united, it’s way better, 1k actually have dedicated help line that picks up, no waiting 2 to 4 hours for a call back and 2. All these delta superfans, I don’t get it, delta lounges are not all that.

  17. @Benjamin G – my issue is not looking to validate status, it is saying it could take a month to do so and the complicated and confusing instant status pass offers

  18. I have AA Status for 2 years now. I do 2 Flight per month R/T on AA. I have no other better option because they are my hometown airline. But why would anyone with status at DL move to AA. If it’s for the upgrade from Main Cabin to Business or First Class Cabin Don’t Hold your breath. EWR/DFW First Class Wait List on 10/27/23 had (43) AA Loyalist on the Upgrade Waiting List. DFW/LAX on 10/29/2023 had (39) AA Loyalist on the Upgrade Waiting List. Both AA flights noted where full. Why even do the AA challenge. Instead of us passagers waiting to be upgraded just purchase a Business or FC seat. These airlines have to up there game up there offerings if they want to poach DL/UA Loyalist. What they offer is peanuts.

  19. Understood Gary, Thanks for responding. I also asked a question on your AA Business Program/Citi Card post as well.

  20. The American cheerleading here (and the United cheerleading at LALF) is very odd vis a vis this Delta thing. I apparently can’t sign up for this as I did the Hyatt Instant Status Pass earlier… but maybe American doesn’t wan to give hordes of Delta elites status without any qualification, which could push their real elites down the pecking order? JetBlue giving away status is not that meaningful to them as few people had their top status anyway (I can tell because no one on JetBlue forums had meaningful experience with upgrade certificates and such).

  21. We fly Delta. Have used both AA and UA when we had no other option. DL is the best. We fly business so points, gold, diamond whatever is no concern for us however the overcrowding in the lounges are a joke, especially ATL. I found the Virgin Atlantic lounge in Manchester UK sublime. Peaceful, plenty of space and good food. DL has to curtail the amount of travelers in their lounges as using the eateries at the airports looks a better option at this time

  22. No, no, no. I worked really hard for my AA Platinum Pro status, and I don’t want a bunch of Delta elites who don’t fly AA leapfrogging ahead of me on the upgrade list and clogging up lounges with free passes. Delta has too many elites because they didn’t deduct MQMs during the pandemic. The MQMs continued to build each year, resulting in more people with higher status, not necessarily more frequent flyers. This year was the first year Delta started deducting MQMs again, and so next year there will (finally) be a reduction in the number of those with status. This was true even without Delta’s draconian changes. Regardless, why would AA want a bunch of people who are living off their final gasp of pandemic-related status on Delta coming over to AA? No — AA should reward those who were and remain loyal to AA by not devaluing our status by inviting non-loyal freeloaders on to upgrade lists and lounges.

  23. @Tim Dunn – the ONLY reason people read this site is because of you.

    It’s sure not due to well-rounded and unbiased reporting.

    This author is clearly getting comp’d

  24. @Bob if you earned Platinum Pro you’ll be ahead of any of the PM matches since AA then prioritizes by LP earned

  25. @Jon — good and fair point. However, AA is also matching Delta elites to EP, putting those folks who don’t fly AA ahead of me and my Platinum Pro status. Not fair.

  26. @Bob – “fair” is where you go for rides, candied apples and elephant ears. AA has to do what is in their best interest and owes you NOTHING. Get over the entitlement please!

  27. @AC — wow, rude, much? AA published rules for its program and I followed them. That’s not “entitled,” it’s AA making an offer, and I accepted it by completing the required tasks. Now AA is watering down that status by allowing Delta elites to waltz in by doing NOTHING. That is unfair any way you look at it, and being inequitable to your most loyal members is definitely not in AA’s best interests.

  28. I think it is nice to get upgraded but it is pretty unlikely on Delta Airlines when you fly out of one of their major hubs such as Atlanta. Delta Airlines is known to be the business person’s favorite airline. People fly on Delta Airlines because they are professional and consitent. The American Airlines Admirals Club food at Miami International was terrible. Regardless status or no status domestic travel is a miserable experience.

  29. @Bob. – guess you weren’t aware AA has had status matches and trial periods for other airlines elites, as well as Hyatt elites, for years. There are no “rules”. You qualified per the current terms but AA can always, and has, changed the program and also acted in their own self interest (as they should as a for profit company) to attract other high value customers. If you didn’t realize that you are clueless on how the programs work. They aren’t a reward for you but a marketing plan to attract and retain customers. BTW AA member since 87 w 3 million miles (and 2 1/2 million on DL). I have seen more change and devaluations than you can imagine. If you are this butt hurt over a status match to MAYBE entice DL elites to fly AA you really don’t understand the programs.

  30. @AC – I understand your comment. I have been into points and miles for roughly 30 years (I first stated with a subscription to Inside Flyer back in the day). I understand how the programs work and specifically how status matches work. But launching a formal campaign to entice a specific group is slightly different than simply having a status match offer always up in the background as most airlines do. Regardless, it’s reasonable for a loyal AA member to express dissatisfaction when AA entices others who have done nothing (and likely haven’t done much even for Delta with the way Delta let MQM’s build up without deduction during the pandemic). Perhaps if AA wants to retain customers as you say above, it should value its existing elites who already spend money with it rather than disadvantage its current elites by giving out higher value status to others. Finally, while I understand the programs, you apparently don’t understand simple courtesy. We’re just having a discussion about airline miles and status. There’s no reason to be rude and cast aspersions. These forums are a great way to exchange information and opinions, not attack others simply for expressing their views. That’s not being “butt hurt,” it’s just stating my POV of how American could employ a better strategy of treating its existing elites better.

  31. You’re all playing the game of the airlines they’ll keep you happy for a year until they change the rules of engagement so I stopped playing her game

  32. @Frank – agree domestic travel (even w PreCheck/Clear, lounge access, high elite status, etc) is often a bad experience. I was lucky to work for a couple of companies where we had our own planes and flew private. Night and day experience and after you have flown private it is hard to go back to any commercial airline.

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