Unboxing The American Airlines ConciergeKey Welcome Kit

Two weeks ago I woke up to the unbelievable news in my American AAdvantage account that I’d been granted ConciergeKey status. Traditionally that’s been reserved for VIPs directing big corporate business to the airline and for their biggest spending customers (usually over $60,000 per year on high fare tickets).

However they are now looking not just at ticket spend, but on total activity with AAdvantage during the year, similar to to how most activity counts towards earning published status levels in the Advantage program. And I earned a windfall of 7 million miles at the end of December.

Following the change to my account status, from Executive Platinum to ConciergeKey, I received a welcome email and then a phone call thanking me for my business. I was told to expect a welcome kit in about 3 weeks. In total it took 17 days.

On Friday I received an email that I had a Fedex package coming from “Specialty Print Communications” and that it would arrive by Tuesday. I googled them and saw they did work for American Airlines, so I knew this had to be my ConciergeKey package.

Inside was a label addressed to me, that identified itself as ConciergeKey, and a very solid black box that read simply, “ConciergeKey” on the front.

Inside was a letter and ConciergeKey credentials.

At the top of the package was a welcome letter under Julie Rath’s signature. Julie is leaving the role of Vice President of AAdvantage to become Senior Vice President of Airports.

The letter directs members to the public ConciergeKey microsite which details benefits of the program. There is also a site which requires credentials to access that notes the ConciergeKey telephone number and e-mail address. There’s a dedicated email that gets real answers from the airline on an as-needed basis.

Benefits of ConciergeKey include top priority for upgrades; a ‘next flight guarantee’ where they’ll put you on the next flight during many delays even when that next flight is already sold out; proactive flight monitoring and rebooking; escorts between flights during tight connections; Flagship business class lounge access even when flying domestic economy; and more.

Behind the letter were customer service appreciation certificates. These are included in the welcome kits sent to Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members as well.

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 of regular drawings for cash. It’s a nice way to say thank you to employees who provide ‘above and beyond’ service.

At the bottom of the package was a ConciergeKey luggage tag and membership card.

Here’s the luggage tag itself, and explanation of the tag. The tag has my name on it and the year (2022). And it turns out that it is made out of metal from a retired American Airlines Boeing 757.

On the bag of the tag is a drawing of the aircraft and its service dates in the fleet. The accompanying tag explains that 757 tail N657AM was turned into the tag, and provides stats on the aircraft’s travels.

Finally, here are close ups of the tag and explanation.

I’ve already had occasion to use my ConciergeKey benefits. There’s a domestic flight I’m booked on that’s operated by an Airbus A319 – only 8 first class seats – and one opened up for upgrade. I’m traveling on a Thursday afternoon and the flight is over 4 hours. I decided to drop 15,000 miles to confirm the upgrade, and as a ConciergeKey member I didn’t have to pay the $75 cash co-pay that’s normally required for domestic mileage upgrades.

I have also called the airline a couple of times to sort out future travel, and haven’t had to wait on hold – not even the short time I’m used to as an Executive Platinum member (a status I’ve held for over a decade).

While I am almost certain to lose this status – I am not a heavy spender on tickets, and I don’t expect any mileage windfalls like the SimplyMiles bonanza from the end of 2021 again – I am hoping that they offer new ConciergeKey members ‘at least’ 12 months of status, so that I’ll have my status extended through March 2024 – instead of losing it after a mere 9 months, when the current status year ends.

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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Comments

  1. Congrats, Gary. You’re no George Clooney, but you’ve earned “hero” status in my book! Seriously, that is beyond cool.

  2. Well, I think that’s pretty cool…the luggage tag especially. IF you didn’t know they made key tags out of the MD-80 or one of them…apparently a premium for employees/crew, but they ultimately went up for sale on ebay and I am a very happy owner of one as I loved that MD 80. Enjoy the perks…

  3. ConciergeKey is exceptionally superior to AAdvantage Executive Platinum. Hopefully, you will soon receive an automatic status match invitation to Delta 360° and United Global Services for your flying convenience.

  4. You know what’s sad. What they are offering to the Concierge Key (CK), they used to do this in the back ground for platinum members in the olds days (prior to 9/11/01). I used to travel SNA-SFO on weekly basis and SNA to LGA on monthly basis. They would call me that they would reroute me through DFW, STL, or ORD when weather was causing delays. I would also get calls from them to ether go early by an hour (there used to be SFO to SNA every 2 hours), or offer alternatives if SFO had delays. Now platinum is no body. I have life time platinum because I have over 2 million miles lifetime miles.

  5. Here’s a random absolutely true story:

    I hired a new CEO for my company a year and a half ago. A month after hiring him, I noticed a CK tag on his backpack one random day. I’m AA EXP for a while, but never CK. I mentioned to him I was jealous he had that status but he wouldn’t be flying that much in his new role to keep it. His reaction: “It’s okay, they just keep giving it to me and I haven’t flown much recently.”

    Come to find out, he earned CK from paid business travel to/from China over the past 10-15 years. Like a ton of revenue. But he hasn’t really flown anything close to that since 2018. He’s actually shocked they just re-upped his CK status this year until 2023.

    I suppose there is some internal algorithm that certainly comes into place here to keep these people loyal even for years when they don’t fly/spend enough. Sure, COVID entered into the equation, but he estimated his spend on AA in 2018 was under $20,000. Not even reaching $5k in 2019, 2020, and 2021. But he kept CK along the way.

    I guess it makes sense. These people have “potential” to spend a ton more in the future with AA, so why not gift them the status over and over in the hope they direct spend or it increases in the future? If I were AA, I would be researching my top revenue generators, see what they do for work, and keep them on-board forever.

  6. @Mike, he may be attached to a corporate account that gets x number of CK per year and they forgot to remove him.

  7. Congrats on the CK status, though don’t get your hopes up on the customer service. I find the agents to be nicer than EXP agents but less capable in complex situations. I do wonder what the qualifications are to get to that level of CS; it does not seem based purely on experience/outcomes.

  8. I’ve emailed CK a few times with request for assistance (connection help, retrieve phone at gate when I’m outside secure area, something else) and responses have been so delayed that by the time they’ve responded, it’s simply a “sorry for the delay, we aren’t able to help with xxx.” It used to be better, now rarely see or expect anything in terms of “special service”

  9. @Mike it makes total sense to keep a legacy high-volume flyer on the CK list. It doesn’t cost them anything and even less if they don’t fly often but they will stay loyal I’d assume.

  10. Welcome to the club Gary. Me and my wife Donna are both also CK. We love your blog and read it nightly.

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