New Way To Earn American Airlines ConciergeKey Status Besides Flying

I woke up this morning to ConciergeKey status on American Airlines, and several readers did as well. Based on all of these data points it appears to be the result of earning substantial AAdvantage miles from activity other than flying which is new.

Historically top ‘secret, unpublished’ ConciergeKey status has been for the highest value spending customers. For 8 years I’ve estimated between 10,000 to 15,000 ConciergeKey members and in 2019 American ordered 11,300 chocolates as ConciergeKey gifts.

However the AAdvantage program has shifted from looking at flight activity to determine value, to a more holistic understanding of the customer. Selling miles to partners is much higher yield to American than customers buying tickets. Now it seems that this is a path not just to earn Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status – but also, potentially, ConciergeKey.

What Is ConciergeKey Status?

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 regular invites to First Class Dining); and a next flight guarantee to ensure they get to their destination.

How Is ConciergeKey Usually Earned?

There have been two primary ways to earn ConciergeKey status: spending a lot of money on airline tickets, and being 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.

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 Concierge Key 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.)

Concierge Key is also given out to decision-makers of big corporate contracts. There are 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.

Non-Flying Activity Now Seems To Count Towards ConciergeKey

Last year I earned 7 million miles with the year-end SimplyMiles holiday bonus offer and Conservation International. That’s the only way to explain why I now have ConciergeKey status in my account, unless it is a mistake.

I’ve heard from readers with several data points on this in addition to my own:

  • 8 million miles earned via SimplyMiles = ConciergeKey
  • 6 million miles earned via SimplyMiles = ConciergeKey
  • 3.6 million miles earned via SimplyMiles = Not ConciergeKey

In each case there’s no other plausible explanation for ‘earning’ the status. The 6 million mile earner has had zero flight activity with American this year. The 8 million miler is on track to generate enough Loyalty Points to become an Executive Platinum later this year, and has flown one business class trip.

It’s interesting that 6 million miles did it while 4 million did not. My guess is that $50,000 or $60,000 in non-flight revenue to AAdvantage is what it’s taking to generate ConciergeKey status.

  • We know that American Airlines and Mastercard were running the year-end promo ‘jointly’ which seems to me means that American was charging less for the promo miles (as they do with signup bonus miles from a credit card).  It seems reasonable to assume American was paid a penny apiece for the miles.

  • That would mean 4 million miles = $40,000 revenue; 5 million = $50,000, and so on.

  • And historically ConciergeKey has taken ~ $50,000 to $60,000 to the airline to qualify for, apart from status given by sales to influential customers and other edge ways in. [Margin on ticket purchases matters, but non-flight mileage sales are high margin with the AAdvantage program overall reporting a 52% margin.

How Long Will New ConciergeKey Status Last?

Status that’s just been awarded and reported by those earning from significant redeemable miles accumulation all expires at the end of March, 2023.

There’s no way that – absent another SimplyMiles bonanza, and I view that as highly unlikely (presumably they’ve learned their lesson) – I’ll never ‘earn’ ConciergeKey again. I have no reasonable way to put $5 million in spending on American Airlines co-brand credit cards, for instance.

So will I only have this status through March 31? Unclear. I imagine American will do a lookback on non-flight miles generation again in the fall for next year’s status. Maybe it’ll be a trailing 12 months of revenue for non-flight activity.

  • Historically ConciergeKey renewals have been shared in November, if I recall correctly
  • But the AAdvantage program year has shifted out by two months (regular status qualification year is now March – February instead of January – December)
  • So perhaps notifications go in January, which means looking at non-flight revenue generation through… December
  • And SimplyMiles miles posted in December.

As a result maybe we could get ConciergeKey extended through the start of 2024? I am not counting on it. I never in my entire life expected to be a ConciergeKey member to begin with. But it would sure be nice. Once I lose it there’s no way I’ll ever gain it again, sadly.

I’m grateful for the 2 confirmed upgrade certificates that have already posted to my account as a ConciergeKey member.

SimplyMiles, for me, is the gift that just keeps giving.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. This year is going to be an outlier for AAdvantage qualification. It feels like they did a total re-haul of the program, without thinking it through.

    All we can do is take advantage of the opportunity while we can, and hope that they don’t take corrective action in the next 5 months so we might be able to do the same for 2023.

  2. Small possibility AA may retract the status from customers who earned this through the Simply Miles mess up as this most likely wasn’t the intention. Same thing with AA Shopping mis-posting miles only to remove them 2-3 months later. Some have seen this with SWUs or e500 upgrades that weren’t deducted properly or mis-posted.

    Sometimes they set a baseline then run a data dump then do a little housekeeping.

    If not then enjoy!

  3. Can you explain this more
    My guess is that $50,000 or $60,000 in non-flight revenue to AAdvantage is what it’s taking to generate ConciergeKey status
    Are you suggesting spending that much on credit cards is potentially enough to get CK?

    I feel like that’s pretty easy to do.

  4. It is a wise business decision to give noun frequent flyer away to spend towards status. If they are getting extra revenue from simplymiles, then it would be a win-win for American. It does not cost American much if any to let these non frequent flyers to use status, and if it draws extra flight revenue from competitions because of the easier to earn status, it is overall a big positive for AA. God knows AA need something to show to wall street.

  5. I elected by email reply on July 14 to have my e500 certificates that I purchased converted to miles. But the conversion miles still are not shown in my account. The remaining e500 certificates in my account that I had accumulated from flying were converted to LPs the other day. I email replied back the original Executive Liaison that provided me the 4 options but have not gotten a reply from her. Does golfingboy or anyone else have an idea about m you next step??

  6. @Brian – I’m suggesting that AA earning $50k – $60k off of partner mileage sales is enough, and that would require some amount more than $3 million spend on a co-brand credit card.

  7. I’ve earned 4M miles this year with BaskBank and Aviator card so if I hit 6M, maybe I’ll get CK too?
    Unfortunately, interest rates have gone up so it doesn’t make sense to earn miles now.

  8. Hal – Those are redeemable miles and don’t count for status qualification, sadly.

  9. Having 7 million miles to burn, I am sure you’re only flying 1st class wherever you go, so the Concierge Key is probably not making much of a difference for upgrades.

  10. @ FabinhoBP — No reason to buy F when you get free upgrades. That will be even easier as a CK!

    @Gary — Does +1 on same record with CK get same CK upgrade priority?

  11. Something about this irritates the snot out of me. And yes, I am probably jealous. I’m probably being unfair. But also there is something fundamentally…off about this (not Gary, and not any particular individual, just this…system or something). I am not being very articulate.

  12. Good for you Gary. Enjoy it while you can. I look forward to reading how this impacts your travels on AA.

  13. I reconsidered my earlier comment and mainly I’m just mad at myself for not jumping on the promo. I figured it wouldn’t be honored. Gary, enjoy your CK; you made a valid $30,000 donation and reaped the rewards. My takeaway is to be in the game more, especially on the AA loyalty point side as it sure seems like they haven’t figured out what the hell they’re actually doing yet.

  14. For what it’s worth, I was a senior VP at a company from 2008 to 2012, traveled about 120k miles per year on AA and topped out at Exec platinum each year.
    From ‘12-‘15, I was EVP and traveled about the same, but made concierge key each of those years. I have been at a different company in the same industry as an SVP since ‘15 and traveled closer to 150k miles each year, topping out at executive plat each year. During Covid, my boss, who is at president level, has flown maybe a handful of times, yet he still hit concierge key this year again. So, I have to surmise that title level in a corporation weighs heavily on the qualification scale.

  15. Congrats. I had always thought CKs were manually selected but I guess that is not the case. Good data point regardless.

    I wish I had doubled my purchase but I really did not believe it would be honored.

  16. Anyone want two AA SWUs? Expire 7/31…..so if you have a trip in the next 2 days, let me know, yours for free. Assuming Gary can connect us?

  17. @AA SWU
    You can use your 2 SWUs by booking a ticket for a few months out with currently available C space.
    Then change the flight later but your SWU will still be valid.

  18. Gary, another possibility is that you were awarded CK because you are a significant travel influencer yourself. You have a large following of those who spend a great deal on travel and that has to be of value to AA.

  19. @David P – Since writing this I’ve been told that non-flight activity is now factored for CK qualification (which I knew from the data points of readers who received the invite as well)

  20. @DavidP. That would be rather ironic given his “influencing” consisted of telling people last week that AA is going bankrupt.

  21. Unfortunately, American Airlines has now done something that is forcing me to start flying United! In this day of trying to be fair to all concerned, American has a program that they can discriminate with no rules or regulations to upgrade whomever the CEO or upper management of American want to reward! And the Flagship Lounges? Another boondoggle to “reward” certain people! C’mon American, you can do better! Use the money from the “Flagship Lounges” to enhance the experience of your “regular lounges” for all people not just the cronies! I’m glad to hear that you, Gary have gotten the “key” status, and I know that I am venting as I have been at the highest (published level with rules to attain the status) for more than 10 years and have never been “invited” to be a “Key”!

  22. @David I switched to UA in the winter after the credit card spend announcement and seeing them now throw status to everyone. The mess at clubs these days is a preview of what “status” will become at AA. I am very happy at UA. It’s not much different from the product standpoint but I feel much more valued for actually flying. Star Alliance has been great as well with far more options.

  23. I don’t know what the Simply Miles promotion was, but I’ve been totally frustrated trying to sign up for Simply Miles. It asks me for my AAdvantage number and password, but tells me password is wrong. Password is not wrong, but won’t let me sign up.

  24. @ Gary — If AA uses revenue through December, wouldn’t you expect that they would be looking at 1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022 to set CK status expiring 3/31/2024? Since the Simply Miles promo occurred in December 2021, I wouldn’t think it would count, so no extension. OTOTH, it seems unfair 😉 to grant the status for ONLY 8 months, when it is normally given for 12 months, so maybe it will get extended.

  25. @Gene – I just do not know. I’m hoping that since this was done in the second half of 2022, that we get “at least a year” and an extension through March 2024 😀

  26. I too got upgraded to CK til march 2023. I’m a plat pro and recently obtained the executive world elite mc. those in combination with 4,150,000 miles from the simplymiles promo put me over the finish line. I oddly also received globalist without staying one night.

  27. Gary, I earned CK from the conservation international promotion. CK expires in Feb but i would LOVE to keep it. Do you have any thoughts for how we might be able to extend CK status?

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