American Airlines Rolls Out Status Updates For The Chosen ConciergeKey Members

Yesterday American Airlines shared the news with customers who would become ConciergeKey members for the next year. AAdvantage members saw the status update in their account – as happens each year, before receiving an email and (for new members at least) receiving a phone call.

Concierge Key is the status that American Airlines gives to its top spending customers and top corporate travel influencers. It became legendary when George Clooney was portrayed as a Concierge Key member on a quest to earn 10 million miles in Up In The Air.

The benefits of this status include top priority for upgrades (and no cash copay when spending miles for upgrades); airport escorts and even occasional vehicle transfers on the tarmac; access to Flagship business class lounges (and, historically, regular invites to First Class Dining); and a next flight guarantee to ensure they get to their destination.

Those who were on the bubble for ConciergeKey renewal got a one-month extension so that their status lasts through the end of May, and will receive a challenge to keep the status. Others see their status downgraded.

Many of the current low five figure number of ConciergeKey members were stressed over what would happen after the expiration of their status at the end of April. American Airlines changed how they assess this status – and when.

  • The normal AAdvantage status qualifying year runs March through February. Everyone gets their new status March 1 (although late February activity that takes a little while to post can lead to some adjustments a bit later).

  • ConciergeKey status was changed to run through March 31, so that activity March through February could be evaluated just like it is for normal AAdvantage status.

  • Since ConciergeKey isn’t automatic based on published criteria, and is therefore a more manual process, American gave themselves a tight turnaround – take data through March, evaluate it, and update accounts all in April. So customers were buying travel not knowing what their status would be in a week before yesterday’s update.

Status is no longer just based on ticket spend. Historically it might take around $60,000 in spend mostly on premium cabin tickets to qualify for ConciergeKey status, although that’s never guaranteed (and seems to be the case that customers in smaller markets may not have to spend as much as someone based in, say, Dallas).

There are plenty of reports now that someone with around 750,000 or more in Loyalty Points from flying getting renewed – and also reports of customers with very little paid flying (if any at all!) but millions of dollars in credit card spend. It’s unclear what the minimum amount of spend is there, but $5 million on cobrand cards seems to do the trick. Small business owners can be ConciergeKey members while redeeming miles for all their travel.

I was a ConciergeKey member but didn’t get renewed last year.

ConciergeKey was amazing. Benefits I took advantage of,

  • Emails to reservations for things I needed. I received text messages and was met at gets when dealing with delays.
  • No cash co-pays on mileage upgrades.
  • Met at gates with a golf cart when I had long connections. (I never received a tarmac transfer, currently a GMC from one gate to another on tight connections at hubs.)
  • Use of business class Flagship lounges when flying domestically, even on arrival, as well as Flagship check-in. At New York JFK this means access to the Soho lounge on domestic trips, and Chelsea on international.
  • Guaranteed next flight, they actually booked me onto a sold out flight to get me where I was going when my flight was cancelled.

Chelsea Lounge, New York JFK

It’s also possible to become a ConciergeKey member as an important customer who influences a lot of travel (for instance, an executive with a big corporate customer). Corporate contracts may come with a certain number of ConciergeKey memberships. In some sense there is also more than one tier of Concierge Key. There are a handful of members (perhaps a dozen) that are tagged ‘Do Not Miss’ because of their commercial importance to the airline.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Here’s your fancy bag tag. No upgrade for you so go sit in the back because we sold the last few first class seats for $20.

  2. There are a handful of members (perhaps a dozen) that are tagged ‘Do Not Miss’ because of their commercial importance to the airline.

    I’m curious how or if this works. So if there’s a cranky gate agent who just dealt with 50 Karens who didn’t want to gate-check their carry-ons, and the overhead bins are legit full, then a DNM passenger walks up 30 seconds before boarding closes and demands to bring a carry-on onboard, the agent suddenly becomes sunshine and smiles and says yes sir is there anything else I can do?

  3. No call for. Guess I didn’t make the cut. Again. Seems 254K LP on minimal spend is not enough.


  4. Which airline was the first to come up with these “invited” levels. …and the fact UA has a level above GS (Chairman’Club).

  5. My friend got renewed – spent about $15k and earned 1.7M loyalty points if that data point helps.

  6. No call, and didn’t expect one !! And as a 25+ year Executive Platinum, who sent $65,000+ for multiple years, who has 6-Million plus miles, who owns a company that had a contract with AA for several years (guess even that didn’t make me an “Influencer”), who for the last decade flew international business class at least 6-8 times a year, nope. Still just a lowly EP. It’s OK, though. I now fly everybody except AA. Guess as I sit in a Qatar Q-Suite business class, or eat an incredible meal on EVA or Singapore, that I get a big smile on my face !! Screw the Concierge Key Pampered Poodle class.

  7. Sorry, Gary, that you’re once again just a regular plebe like the rest of us 🙂

  8. AA really put the screws to lifetine PLT when they added the level between EXPLT and PLT. CLEARLY THEY SHOULD HAVE MADE THE LIFETIME PLY’s That bew level.
    Basically a lifetine downgrade, after 25 loyal years as gold, plt then explt.
    Really a no class move.

  9. 690k in LP and spent just shy of $100k on flights…mostly business/first. Three of those were international. No CK this year, sorry!

  10. Ask AA. I have never done the math to confirm LP accumulation. I just asked our travel department what my profile reflects in spend for air travel last year.

  11. Loyalty only means for 12 months… does not matter anymore how long you have been a loyal CUSTOMER … with consistent traveling and spend for flying … Not sure they really know … “We Know Why You Fly” …. having obtained top tier levels every year since 1982… Lifetime status is so devalued with present day AAdvantage program.

  12. AAs loyalty program has become a joke! As a long time EP, I have become accustomed to being 20+ on upgrade waiting lists, and the AA lounges (which we pay separately for) are so crowded and service poor I have started to avoid them. And now their policies against GDS (and agencies that we need for service and duty of care) clearly don’t seem to value corporate high yield customers such as ourselves. Have started flying other carriers and wonder if the execs who are running AA are even noticing. They don’t seem to have analytics that tells them that “direct” distribution costs are high and only going to empower metas and fickle ad channels as Expedia and Booking and every other OTA found out .. and when they realize that — all of us high yield, agency service loving customers will be flying on other carriers.

  13. What if all the airlines simply did away with all loyalty programs and passed the resultant savings to lower airfares, both for coach and above. I believe it would greatly simplify expectations and F/A’s would have a much easier workload. Do the airlines really earn anything in maintaining their loyalty programs? I consider complimentary upgrades a nice gesture but not a Right! As for the AA Business Program it is barely worth the bother for small companies with all the restrictions and NO PERSONAL help.

  14. Can you point to anything you did differently throughout the year (or didn’t do) that might’ve led to the status not being renewed?

Comments are closed.