American Airlines Awarded 2020’s Super Secret ConciergeKey Status This Week

American’s 100,000 mile Executive Platinum status isn’t their top elite level. That honor goes to ConciergeKey.

American says very little about this level. There’s no published criteria for earning the status. Many of the benefits are unpublished. However ConciergeKey members aren’t often found complaining about air travel. While the rest of us suffer delays and cancellations, and find ourselves sitting cramped in the back, ConciergeKey members are taken care of.

American has just awarded this rarified status to select members for 2020. Reader griffingrowl shares that his ConciergeKey status showed an expiration date of January 31, 2020 on Tuesday morning. By Wednesday morning the expiration updated to January 31, 2021. American updated its systems, but hasn’t yet told customers they’ve made the cut.

conciergekey status expiration

What Is American Airlines Concierge Key Status?

American Airlines ConciergeKey is the ‘super secret’ level that George Clooney had in Up in the Air, in some sense equivalent to United Global Services and Delta 360.

ConciergeKey began mostly for corporate travel buyers and folks in their old VIP program back in 2007. They gradually expanded to individual high revenue customers.

  • Benefits have primarily centered around assistance during irregular operations. ConciergeKey will at times provide airport escorts and offers boarding ahead of first class as well as a dedicated customer service line. And since 2012 they get access to Flagship First check-in.

  • ConciergeKey get proactive monitoring of flights for rebooking assistance.

  • Before it was a separate status level it came with Executive Platinum status (since 2012). Members receive Admirals Club membership. They can use miles to upgrade without paying the cash co-pay required of other members.

conciergekey members can use flagship check-in at lax
Flagship Check-in, LAX

One nice benefit is that on tight connections they may be met on the jetway of their arriving flight and driven on the tarmac to their onward gate in a Cadillac (United uses Mercedes and Delta Porsche).

    conciergekey members get american airlines cadillac transfer

A couple of years ago ConciergeKey became the top tier in the AAdvantage program receiving top placement on waitlists for flights and upgrades. ConciergeKey are ahead of Executive Platinums. Their domestic upgrades start to clear 120 hours in advance of travel versus the current 100 hour Executive Platinum upgrade window.

upgrades for conciergekey members

There’s also a next flight guarantee for ConciergeKey members. There’s also access to American’s Flagship Lounges (so far open at New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Dallas Fort-Worth and Miami, and opening next in Philadelphia).

american airlines flagship lounge
Flagship Lounge Miami

For the past couple of years American has extended electronic coupons for access to Flagship First Dining too.

american airlines flagship first dining jfk
Flagship First Dining New York JFK

american airlines flagship first dining food
Miami Corn Chowder With Corn Fritters

What Does It Take To Earn ConciergeKey?

You cannot qualify for ConciergeKey with a specific amount of flying or a published amount of spending. Over $50,000 has historically been enough – at least buying a $50,000 ‘AAirpass’ of prepaid travel would come with the status. Spending alone isn’t the only driver. Margins matter more. For instance spending $50,000 and flying 300,000 miles isn’t likely to earn ConciergeKey, while there are members spending $45,000 to fly no more than 100,000 miles who will make it.

American has run ‘challenges’ for ConciergeKey membership. A targeted fast track has included four spend levels for American Airlines flights that had to be met during a 90 day period. Different members received different amounts, $10,000; $12,000; $14,000 EQDs; $16,000. (Those are annual run rates between $40,000 and $64,000.)

After successfully completing the promotion, updated status was promised within 10 business days with member kits following in 4-6 weeks… which seems insane to me. ConciergeKey recognition should happen immediately.

ConciergeKey is also given out to decision-makers of big corporate contracts. Before the US Airways merger there were between 10,000 and 15,000 in this elite pool. That remains valid today.

There are also more than one tier of ConciergeKey. 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 »

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  1. Is the required spend level for Concierge Key the same for all? Reports are that Delta 360 is determined by being in the top X percent of the local market. An ATL medallion would need to spend more to qualify than a medallion in GSP.

    Also is the level of spend determined by EQDs, which include spending on partners, or only the amount of spend on AA?

    If airlines can get away with making the top tier of their ff programs a mystery level subject to invitation at the airline’s discretion, we should not be surprised if airlines begin making other levels or benefits invitation only based on the value the airline assigns to each member. That would seem to be the way to maximize the benefit and minimize the cost to the airline. That’s their goal, right?

  2. @Gary – refresh my memory, does George Clooney give his total spend elsewhere in the movie? Now I’m curious…

  3. @John
    I don’t think the same logic applies – historically at least – to CK. There will certainly be a subset of individuals who want to attain the unattainable at any cost, and would be motivated by such nebulous definitions of status. However, if an airline is simply trying to induce loyalty for millions, then having attainable goals is going to be more effective.

    CK serves a different purpose than AAdvantage. CK is a reward/retention for people who are already high-value flyers. AAdvantage at its core is a program to get the masses loyal to the airline.

    AA (and other airlines) fully realizes that road-warriors get the perks of flights the company paid for. That’s why all of the airline loyalty programs are “playing games” with upgrades. The airlines know that – in the end – most road warriors are always still susceptible to company travel policies which limit how much money the airline can wring out of the flyer. Those are not high-value customers. Airlines want their loyalty, but don’t want to spend much on it.

    Differentiating CKs from EXPs signifies that AA wants to provide a different value proposition to people who likely pay for their own flights, have large expense accounts, or who are otherwise almost entirely price-insensitive. Flyers who don’t actually use their miles a lot. To the airline, these are flyers worth the expense of retaining, since they not only are routinely paying to sit up front, but are also likely to care more about how well/quickly the airline can get them to their destination rather than how inexpensively.
    There’s a reason that CKs don’t get a bump up in mileage-earning while all of the standard Loyalty levels do. These are people who are not incentivized by mileage/points/upgrades. They pay for their seat. They want a better experience surrounding it.

  4. I’m so important to AA they offered to sell me gold for only $1595.
    Seats and service get worse, price goes up.

    Am buying exit row aisle v first class. It’s just a lot more legroom and a lot cheaper than the bar in the back of first class.

  5. @ Jon, The possibility of ff benefits and invitation only tiers is speculation on my part. But one thing seems sure: the goal of everything airlines do is to maximize profits. It used to be that airlines viewed merely building “loyalty” as supporting the goal of maximizing profits. Now, with high load factors, the Big 3 oligopoly, and limited choice, loyalty is not very important. FF programs are profit centers. The goal of every profit center is producing higher profits. To the extent that an airline can reduce the costs of a ff program or better align benefits to those it views as profitable by applying the principles of CK qualification to qualification for lower tiers or certain benefits, it would surprise me if they don’t do it.

    When Delta led the way with a revenue-based program, it claimed (without explanation) that change would increase revenue by itself. Things like dynamic award pricing, and revenue-based earnings and status make ff programs much less standardized and much more complicated than they were a few years ago. For airlines, the more segmentation the better. Absent regulatory intervention (a remote possibility at best) or an economic calamity, my guess is that trend, which has benefited airlines, will continue.

  6. @Jon: Thanks for the explanation. I’m normally price-insensitive but AA just provides such an inferior product to MINT or several other options , and the 36 inch pitch seat is less comfortable than exit row aisle . My knee should not end up touching the back of the seat in front of me when I cross my legs in first. I’m not paying more for a poorer experience.

    That said, I will fly AA first if they are the most direct means of getting to my destination.
    I guess I should thank AA for causing me to get back to private aviation.
    Thanks AA!!

  7. I have been told that spend does matter based on where you are located. I’ve heard $50,000-$100,000 in annual spend (excluding any key decision makers that are just granted the status) with people in hub cities requiring more in the way of spend. For CLT and DFW, for example, I would expect you need closer to $100,000 (unless very high margin like full fare international first or business class)

  8. “For CLT and DFW, for example, I would expect you need closer to $100,000 (unless very high margin like full fare international first or business class)”

    Yes, there are many people based in DFW that make CK on their own spending and have less than 50k EQD. To even have a chance at those levels, though, you’d need to be almost all long haul F or J flights on AA metal.

  9. FWIW the emails went out today mid-day. Gary’s post failed to mention that CK now get Hyatt Globalist status, too. And as with last year, “a select few” of us are offered the opportunity to give Executive Platinum status to someone else.

  10. That gifting EXP was happening again this year? Missed that above–or even a suggestion that it might happen again…

  11. So to not feel like crap as an Executive Platinum I can spend say 100 k and not be treated like shi#?
    Where do I sign up? I can’t wait to feel valued @ American Airlines unlike the rest of the peons
    Someting Special in the Air

  12. Well explained Jon.
    Got my email yesterday.
    Unfortunately, I paid for the lounge about two weeks ago. Will they give me a refund?

  13. They have dedicated department and staff for Concierge Keys in USA and around the world . Excellent agents, best in the industry and they have different uniform and all . I have seen it in London. Goodness me ..Concierge Kets staff treat them like royalty. One of my mate is concierge key and he absolutely loves it . They will take care of you 100 % even when you travelling with families . Is that only in London ???

    I would love to get that special invitation email one day !

  14. Gary – I’ll have 78,000 EQD’s / 540,000 miles tomorrow. I called AA Customer Service last week & asked why I wasn’t considered for CK. She told me they were still reviewing accounts. But if I haven’t heard by now does that mean I probably didn’t make the cut? My new 2020 bookings will be different if I am not going to make CK.
    (Wasn’t sure how to contact you directly).

  15. @ Gary — $45,000 for 90,000 miles of travel would be 50 cpm. WOW. I certainly hope to never pay those prices for air tickets. I am happy to pay 20-25 cpm to sit up front. I’m not sure what paying 2x-2.5x that price would get me beyond an inflated ego.

  16. My first experience with First class AA this year surprised me. I took seven flights in this period on several different craft.

    While the flight attendants were kind, the seats were less roomy (no legroom) than many European airlines economy (let alone Business or First Class).

    There was no reasonable space under the seat for the pet carrier I had carried. This was for a small KITTEN. I was not going to crush him, so I hid him in my jacket and blouse. He slept, thank god. He would have cried had I followed rules.

    I think I will stick to competitors except when I have to.

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