American Airlines is surveying some top elites on how they might reorganize systemwide upgrades, the upgrades American’s top elites and million milers receive that can be used to secure a seat in a higher cabin than what you purchase any time after booking. They’re looking at how they might replace at least one of these upgrades with other rewards. Here’s what they seem to be testing, according to reports I’ve seen:
- Whether to take away a sytemwide upgrade from Executive Platinum members and replace it with something else
- In this world, one systemwide would be earned at the Platinum Pro (75,000 mile) elite tier and two earned at Executive Platinum – instead of 4 being earned by Executive Platinums today
- Alternatives to a systemwide upgrade include 10,000 elite qualifying miles; a pair of headphones, giving Gold elite status to a friend; carbon offsets; a discount on mileage redemption (such as a percentage of redeemed miles rebated); travel voucher; Admirals Club membership.
- It could be done entirely as ‘choice benefits’ with 1 taken at the Platinum Pro level and 2 or 3 at Executive Platinum.
This suggests they know that Platinum Pro isn’t a very well-differentiated elite tier and needs to be better.
It also underscores that Executive Platinums often don’t get much value out of their systemwide upgrades – a problem that manifested itself once US Airways managemnet took over and really cut back on the inventory allocated to advance confirmable upgrades.
Of course much of what gets surveyed never happens, and some of the choices are downright silly. It’s one thing to throw in a pair of headphones as an option when considering some sort of ‘choice’ award (where the member selects from a menu of options (something American did back in 2013). But gifting Gold status (which is itself more or less a giveaway level) instead of a confirmed international upgrade is just sad.
One Mile at a Time has his own take on this, that it’s definitely positive, but that depends on whether systemwide upgrades with the same any fare rules remain options and the same number of choices are presented as Executive Platinums receive systemwide upgrades today.
[…] Airlines has been surveying changes to elite benefits, including whether systemwide upgrades become part of a ‘choice benefit’ that would allow members to choose something else instead (and could even extend this choice to […]