American Airlines no longer sends membership kits to frequent flyers when they earn AAdvantage elite status. This is one of the many little cost cuts the airline has instituted, despite the program remaining profitable throughout the pandemic and being poised to become security for a $4.5 billion loan.
This means that elites are no longer sent a membership card, luggage tags, or employee recognition certificates. Instead the airline tells newly minted elite members that AAdvantage is “a fully digital experience.” Here’s the new message in lieu of an elite kit:
As recently as the beginning of the year, as an Executive Platinum member, I received a renewal kit with membership card and luggage tags. The membership card isn’t usually necessary, but can be helpful accessing some partner lounges internationally.
Inside the kit was also (6) employee recognition certificates with an expiration date that coincided with the expiration of status. (They used to provide more certificates and those certificates didn’t expire.)
Each coupon is a raffle entry. They used to be called “Round of Applause” certificates, often referred to by frequent flyers as “AAplause” certificates. Each month American would draw winners of prizes of AAdvantage frequent flyer miles (and before that the You’re SomeOne Special or “SOS” program gave positive space travel). They’ve moved to the US Airways system and now do quarterly drawings for cash. It’s a nice way to say thank you to employees who provide ‘above and beyond’ service.
It seems that the employee recognition program hasn’t ended. Oddly, they haven’t told members this, but a spokesperson offered,
We know our customers enjoy presenting appreciation certificates to team members as a way to recognize excellent service. Whie the membeshp kits are digital, customers can continue to reach out to us and we’ll gladly send them physical ceritficates in the mail.
American confirms that all elite members can request certificates.