Why I Choose American Airlines — And You Should Consider it Too

In the fall I offered Five Good Reasons to Fly Delta. As I told a reporter yesterday, you fly Delta for a reliable airline operation and because you live in or near a Delta hub or the Upper Midwest. You don’t choose Delta because of its frequent flyer program.

Despite United’s “monkey see, monkey do” copy cat approach of Delta, theirs remains a better frequent flyer program but a far worse airline operation. Perhaps their IT problems are the reason they haven’t been able to cram down their mileage program the way Delta has done.

For the past four years I’ve been fairly focused in my domestic flying with American. I’ve flown United and Delta and Alaska of course, but I’ve chosen American for the bulk of my paid travel and have been an Executive Platinum (100,000 mile level).

I criticize American’s award availability and myriad other things. As one commenter observed as it happens while I was in the middle of writing this post,

Good job criticizing AA Gary (despite being their #1 fanboy). Credit where due.

I thought I’d explain what makes me a loyal American flyer — and areas where I think they fall short. Not everyone will make the same choices that I do, different elements of an airline will carry different weight for different folks preferences. But these reasons have been pretty compelling for me, and I think I have a reasonable sense of the product that each of the airlines offers.

Executive Platinum Really is Top Tier

American’s 100,000 mile flyer level is true top tier elite status.

  • American has their revenue-based special ‘Concierge Key’ program but that doesn’t put a designated member above Executive Platinums in the upgrade queue the way United’s Global Services does.

  • American doesn’t privilege fare paid over status. This is especially important to me with all of my DC trips, where a Delta or United Silver member on a government YCA fare trumps a top tier member flying on a mid-priced fare.

  • Delta’s top tier takes 125,000 miles and doesn’t even offer complimentary upgrades on New York – Los Angeles/San Francisco routes as a published benefit (it’s an unpublished day-of backpedal). American still offers complimentary upgrades on the ‘good’ domestic flights.

In addition, at the top of the upgrade list, I tend to clear upgrades even when my flight is cancelled or I misconnect. Unlike United, American holds back first class seats until the gate. The first class seats aren’t all gone by the time I get there off of another flight. So instead of a middle seat in back, I generally still get upgraded. (In fairness, Delta rarely ever cancels a flight.)

If I don’t clear the upgrade? I’m not only comped a cocktail, but also a buy on board snack. (Delta bundles snacks with their extra legroom economy seats.)

Help When Things Go Wrong

American’s club lounge agents take amazing care of me during irregular operations. Now, their system does a good enough job providing automatic protection on backup flights when it looks like I might misconnect (and preserving my upgrade while doing so). But their club agents have gone several steps further even proactively rebooking me and calling me to suggest I take an earlier flight.

I also get outstanding help from American’s Executive Platinum telephone agents and even their twitter team.

To be sure, Delta’s strongest suit has been in their willingness to accommodate in rebooking situations.

But American – as official policy – will let you keep a confirmed international upgrade when rebooking you even when they put you on a oneworld partner. And they’ll treat separate tickets as one when you misconnect as long as you’re traveling with oneworld.


I can monitor my American AAdvantage account better and more closely than my United and Delta accounts, because American lets me use AwardWallet.com to track my miles. As a result I see even the smallest of changes. I’ll know quickly if anyone has made unauthorized redemptions, so it’s great for account security. And I actually notice small amounts of miles posting, so it’s worth making transactions with American’s partners.

United, Delta, and Southwest don’t allow members to track their miles with Award Wallet. That’s annoying, I track all of my other miles with their service (hotel programs, car rental, credit cards, shopping, etc). Fortunately there’s a workaround that keeps things up to date once a month by directing my e-mail statements through the service.

What’s more, I can search award and confirmed upgrade fare classes using Expert Flyer. That way I know when there’s confirmed upgrade space available, I’m not relying on phone agents to hunt and peck with me — I do the research myself and then call. It’s much more efficient. And Expert Flyer can even email me when the space I want opens up. United and Delta both block Expert Flyer from searching special classes (although Expert Flyer has a new workaround for Delta award seats only but not awards or even revenue flight availability).

For me, being able to be an educated customer puts me in the drivers seat in my flying and is a modicum of control I wouldn’t want to give up with someone else.

First Class Awards for My Miles

I’ll admit that one of the things I really love about frequent flyer miles is the ability to travel in a manner I wouldn’t ever feel in a position to pay for. It’s not just about transportation — and business class is fundamentally just transportation and a better seat — but about making the journey a part of the experience in addition to the destination.

Delta does not allow redemption of their miles for international first class. Business class is the top cabin offered.

United is admittedly better than American for both transatlantic and transpacific business class awards. They have more partners who offer more availability, and they don’t add fuel surcharges to any awards.

However, their first class awards are truly exorbitantly priced. Lufthansa won’t give them access to first class awards except within 14 days of travel (outside of rare anomalies). Swiss won’t offer first class awards to United at all. Neither will Singapore Airlines. That leaves Air China, Asiana, and ANA.

In contrast, I’ve had great luck with American redeeming for Cathay Pacific first class (that could change and of course award space isn’t as generous as it was four year sago) and especially Etihad. I’ve redeemed for Qantas Airbus A380 first class, and even British Airways first class (fuel surcharges and all).

Cathay Pacific First Class

Etihad First Class

Qantas First Class

Confirmed International Upgrades from Any Fare

As an Executive Platinum I receive 8 confirmed upgrades valid on any American flight with any paid published fare.

  • Delta introduced international upgrades from any fare 18 months ago. They give out only four.

  • United offers 6 but requires paying a higher fare to get them. It can cost several hundred extra dollars per itinerary to be eligible to request one of these upgrades. If confirmed space isn’t available at booking, you’re playing the lottery. If the upgrade doesn’t clear you’ve given United several hundred extra dollars, and you still sit in back. You don’t get the higher ticket cost back.

A Business Class Product I Enjoy

When using miles I want to fly first class. When paying for a ticket I’m buying economy and I want to upgrade. I prefer American’s business class.

Remember, I believe that business class is first and foremost about the seat.

American 787 Business Class Seat

  • United crams in more seats. They don’t offer aisle access from all of their seats. If you’re in the window you climb over someone to use the lavatory, if you’re in the aisle by the window someone climbs over you. And if you’re in a legacy United 777’s business class you’ve got dorm-style 8 seats across compared to American’s and Delta’s four.

  • American has more reverse herringbone seats. US Airways, a brand that will disappear in 3 months, pioneered the reverse herringbone business class seat that Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, and others copied. American has it on their 777-300ER, and a similar product on their 787 and refurbished 777-200s. Delta has it on a limited subset of their fleet. But Delta’s predominant seat is four-across on their 767s, an inferior product compared to four across on wider planes, and that’s matched by American on their 76’s.

American’s 767 Business Class Seat

With fully flat business class, every seat an aisle seat, I’ve got one of the best hard products in the sky that I’ll take any day not just over Delta and United but also over Lufthansa, Austrian, and British Airways. (Air France is beginning to put in a similar product, and American seems behind in reconfiguring 777-200s to these new seats.)

Not Everything is Rainbows and Unicorns

To be sure there are several things I don’t love, there are always tradeoffs, and in a perfect world American would offer things that its competitors do.

  1. Delta is installing faster internet on their planes. United is finally catching up in offering internet, I’ve been thrilled with the mainline internet that American has had for years and US Airways even has on its regional fleet. But the older installations are slow, and competitors are updating speeds. American should get with that program. Having internet isn’t enough when it lacks the bandwidth to keep up with usage.

  2. Award redemption routing rules are draconian. In my Ultimate Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American Miles I explain that the airline imposes unreasonable rules for redemptions (not as bad as Delta’s ‘journey control’ where they won’t let you have flights that have saver availability). You’re constrained both by published routings of the primary airline you’re flying and by a rule that won’t allow you to connect in a region other than the one you’re starting or ending in unless there’s a specific exception. Those two are duplicative and only one or the other should be in place.

  3. American charges co-pays on mileage upgrades — even on domestic flights. United waives these fees for elites, American only waives them for Concierge Key members. On the other hand, American’s domestic upgrade availability (at least aside from their JFK – San Francisco/Los Angeles flights) is much more generous than what United or Delta offer.

  4. Fuel surcharges on British Airways awards. American doesn’t offer much premium cabin award space on their own flights. Their primary transatlantic partner is British Airways. You’ll often pay about $900 in cash on top of taxes for the privilege of redeeming your miles across the Atlantic. (Delta though adds fuel surcharges onto some partners, and onto award tickets originating in Europe, so it’s not just an American phenomenon — but it’s still utterly egregious.)

  5. Flights should board when American says they will, not 5 – 10 minutes before. American has a big emphasis now on on-time departure and that’s great. But if a flight is going to board before posted boarding time, posted boarding time should be changed. Similarly, boarding and departure times should be updated when there’s no plausible way a flight will meet them. If an inbound aircraft isn’t on the ground 35 minutes before departure, the flight won’t board 30 minutes prior. Boarding time should be updated before the scheduled time for boarding has passed.

    It’s the uncertainty that’s frustrating — I leave the lounge and get to the gate only to find the flight either already half boarded (will I have overhead space?) or not boarding for at least 20 minutes (I should have stayed in the lounge). When the airline should have better information, better information should be provided to reduce uncertainty and wasted time.

  6. No upgrades on award tickets. A first class seat will go out empty rather than moving up a top tier elite on an economy award. This one stings because using British Airways points for short haul American flights is such a great value.

  7. Food got pretty bad there for awhile. September 1 last year American went with pre-merger US Airways-style catering and it was mostly inedible. They had a mystery meat (that I’ve been told is short rib) that seemed to come in infinite varieties and descriptions. They even got rid of baked on board cookies.

    Well, they improved the cookie and brought back entree salads. August 1 they’re introducing a new domestic first class meal service. So things could be getting better.

    And the soups introduced in the lounge this year are actually pretty good. My favorite was this spring’s tortilla soup — but the chicken coconut curry soup is a definite winner, and the roasted corn and green chili bisque is good.

  8. US Airways Inflight Product. Since there won’t even be US Airways flights anymore in three months a consistent inflight product matters — but the US Airways product severely lags. There’s no extra legroom economy seating at this point, and no timetable announced to get it. US Airways actually removed seat power from Airbus planes in order to save fuel. American needs to fix this now that they’re one airline.

If American Changes, I Might Too

Their people and their loyalty program drive the bulk of my decision-making. I’ve heard good things about the people at Delta.

I believe American’s AAdvantage program is a real competitive advantage. If they decide to follow the pack at United and Delta, they’ll change the value proposition and I’ll have to rethink things.

Despite going to a revenue-based program (or because of) United’s financial performance, especially operating margins, lag the industry. Delta is a strong performer, but they were before they made changes to their program. There’s no reason to think that their program has been a contributor of any sort to their bottom line.

On the contrary, it’s precisely because airlines have been operating full that they haven’t needed to spend money marketing to fill incremental seats.

And now that we’re seeing a loosening of capacity to go along with lower fuel prices, and we’re seeing more seats in the air (both because of more planes and because of packing more seats into planes), it’s not so obvious that the planes will remain full at historically high fares.

That means a need to spend more on marketing to fill planes, not less and undermines the reason to cut back a program’s rewards the way that Delta and United have.

I’m hopeful, then — for my own interests and American’s, which I believe align — that they haven’t gone too far down the road internally where they’ll make wholesale changes to their program once the US Airways merger integration is complete.

In the meantime, though, I continue to fly American. I’ve never understood those who choose a less rewarding option because of the possibility that a more rewarding one will change at some point in the future.

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. Gary, minor clarification on point 3 – United now on PS flights charges all Premiers the same punitive co-pays it charges non-elites, up to $250 for lower fare classes (in addition to higher mileage amounts for said lower fare classes). The 1K value proposition continues to drop each year.

  2. Great post Gary! Really sums everything up.

    For me, their twitter team really is great, and deserves even more of a shoutout than you had given.

  3. I couldn’t have put it better myself. I’m bookmarking this, and from now on when people ask me, “Why do you always fly AA,” I’m directing them to this. Now if only I could get schedules/connections that work for me…

  4. Also, one point to note is that elite status on UA or DL confers hotel elite status, and that’s something that AA doesn’t do. Would be nice to see AA catch up here.

  5. I agree the agents at the ACs are top-notch. Always assisted me when I needed help with my itinerary.

  6. Great post. I’m loyal to United at the moment but seriously considering switching to AA and oneworld based off the spate of substandard treatment I’ve received lately. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s worth it, though. Most of my international travel is between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa, and as much as I wish it otherwise, Star Alliance reigns supreme here. Any thoughts on the utility of switching? If it helps, my domestic travel usually ends up being approx. 20k per year, travel to Europe and Asia about 30k, and travel to Africa around 40k.

  7. This can’t be true, because DeltaPoints says we’re just over entitled, and just expect too much. Customers are to blame! And gosh, the deep philosophical MJ knows nothing On Travel says that we should adjust to the new reality that airlines owe loyal customers nothing, spoken as a true Stokholm syndrome Delta victim would. Always shocks me how somebody who worked for an airline (commuter feeder nonetheless) is an expert on airlines??
    If you’re stuck in Atlanta then so be it, you may be stuck, but to defend the most dishonest airline in the world and say that it’s the customer’s fault, make those those bloggers complete idiots.

  8. Gary I like the way you’ve modified your commentary in the past few months, even if it always reflected your views. I’m platinum with Delta and AA and Delta has a far better product for me. I have power at my seat without a bag of adapters as opposed to the AA hit or miss of none or DC.

    I get better food and larger portions and a better seat

    But I usually fly AA because I prefer their points program to the miserable skypesos. But I think it’s perfectly reasonable for someone to preference the superior product in the air.

    United as a “tweener” with miles not as good as AA and in flight product not as good as Delta is my fourth choice for travel after SWA who is just plain friendlier

  9. As a GLD, my gripe would be the relatively low ratio of MCE seats to regular Y seats, especially on newer planes like the 737, compared to the MD80 it’s replacing. And that’s not even counting the US metal planes with no MCE except the exit rows and bulkhead.

    BTW, since you mention that “British Airways points for short haul American flights is such a great value”, are you aware that they have been un-bookable for the last couple of weeks, at least online? Universally shows no award flights available for domestic AA flights.

  10. If you look at their recent credit card mileage promos and the way they are reducing availability of saaver J in their awards, it is obvious we are in for a serious deval.

  11. @ Gary – Haha, nice. You’re fun.

    I like AA and their miles too. What do you think are the odds that Parker guts AAdvantage? I’m an optimist, and I say 50/50.

  12. Gary, appreciate the thoughtful and fair writeup. Would love to also get a comparative sense for how the U.S. airlines treat lower elites or even non-elites. Though I guess you’d have to find a guest writer for that 😉

  13. Gary, I fly mostly to Europe. In spring I’ve been able to find good award availability on AA (and their 20,000 mile off-peak award rocks – even their 45,000 mile AAnytime dates are a reasonable value) but during summer there’s absolutely nothing except outrageous fuel surcharges on BA. UA continues to offer reasonable award availability even West Coast to Europe during the summer. Bottom line – I value my UA miles about 50% higher than my AA miles, because I can usually get much better value out of them.

  14. @afterbang I think there’s (1) a good change (2) but it will be Kirby wielding the axe (3) and even after that they’ll still compare favorably to UA/DL. We’ll see!

  15. @Peter Y – the credit card promotions are hardly new in fact less generous than they were 12-18 months ago and 3-4 years ago.

  16. Hey Gary – as a new ExPlat in AA, I was wondering how AA prioritizes the upgrade list. If they don’t do it by fare class, how do they prioritize the list?

  17. We fly to Europe quite a bit on miles and get around the BA trap by flying AA business into Germany and then taking a high speed train to our ultimate destination. Works well for leisure travel.

  18. As a DFW resident, I almost always fly them, but as others have noted, the availability of saver awards seems to have been dramatically reduced the last year or so. And, the change to anytime has bumped up prices. For those of us flying domestically or to Europe, I think AA award tickets are starting to get tough as reasonable rates. Maybe there’s an advantage to places like Japan and Hong Kong with partners, but the BA partnership and high fuel surcharges really hurt.

  19. I think you have a good argument for why we would all like to be Exec Plat on AA, however, I think it falls apart if you are anything less than an exec plat. I had 14 complimentary upgrades as a silver on UA last year and would have only been able to get two of those on AA without buying more stickers. As noted above, AA does not have as many economy plus seats as UA and every time I did not get upgraded, I was able to get my preferred aisle seat in economy plus at 24 hours. Most importantly for most infrequent flyers, United has, for my flights, had better connections and considerably better prices for where I needed to fly. The only exceptions have been during the summer and at Christmas, when it is a toss up between them and AA. My experience with IRROPs both before I was silver and after has been much better on UA than AA as well, with interminable rolling delays in Dallas driving me to distraction and my only cancelled flight on UA resulting in UA moving me onto a Delta flight that got me home 3 minutes before when my UA flight would have. I think what you have laid out in this post is that AA takes excellent care of the Exec Plats, but I think that this may very well be at the expense of all of the other passengers.
    I also think that your experience as a solo flyer is far different from most people’s experience who will fly with their spouse, family or friends. Yes, Cathay Pacific releases first class seats, but only one on each flight in advance, which, for most people, is at least one too few. Releasing them within a few days or hours of the flight does not work for most families/couples because usually at least one of the people needs to be able to plan ahead, either practically or psychologically. I have been sitting on 3/4 million AA miles because they can’t be used in premium cabins to get me and my family where we want to go without paying the BA extortion. I think that I may finally be able to use them on Cathay Pacific, as long as an Avios collector does not get to them before me and CX does not decide to take away access to their premium cabins before I can book them.

  20. Very fair assessment Gary. If anyone says otherwise, they’re trolling. As someone who only flies about 25,000 revenue miles per year, I have a different lens. Each of the four big domestic airlines offers a huge pro and a huge con

    American: Pro – great F product often attainable via FCM, Con – US Airways metal sucks
    United: Pro – very useful miles for transoceanic J, as you say, Con – not a good operation/pleasant to fly
    Delta: Pro – easily the best operation and best Y product, Con – everything about their miles pretty much
    Southwest: Pro – Companion pass! Also, incredibly generous cancellation policy. Con – no F, pretty no-frills, limited intl footprint

  21. How do you track if your qualyging miles or points are added correctly I can see my progress by flight on Delta but I have no way to see in AA

  22. I enjoy your posts, however, I’m not sure they apply enough to the “ordinary” traveler! I recently flew AA to/from Spain and the experiences were not very pleasant. Older planes; no choice of movies; really bad food; poor service (on domestic legs of trip); 1+ hour delay attributed to “paperwork irregularity (!); placed on hold for exorbitant amount of time when trying to reach an agent; lack of consistency re fares/policies among representatives. Although I’m not a fan of United, they may be the airline we use next time we go to Spain.

    As an aside… while connecting in JFK, I saw an AA gate representative treat a customer in what seemed to be a very rude manner. I have no doubt that the reps bear the brunt of travelers’ frustrations and it must be hard to remain courteous, but to hear one tell the traveler that “I am done with you,” and “I have nothing more to say to you,” and refuse to provide her name seemed a little out of line!

    Thanks for the informative and interesting posts.

  23. For me the main reason I might consider choosing AA is that they remain the only one of the US Big Three that has not adopted that monstrosity known as revenue-based FF system. For most other reasons cited to choose AA United remains highly competitive, if not stronger, including the fact that they are part of the largest airline alliance and, for me personally, they and Star Alliance are still the best way for me to get my favorite air travel destination: N and SE Asia.

  24. Just curious, what’s the plan if you did move over to Delta? Isn’t AA ideal when living in Austin, which is a short hop to DFW? I can see Houston being an easy close hub for United, but wouldn’t you almost have to go out of the way with Austin so far away from ATL, MSP and SLC?

  25. My husband and and I are platinum on AA. We both fly often for business and pleasure and earn rewards through AA partners, but not enough to achieve ExPlat. We’ve been loyal AA flyers for 15 years and are seriously considering making the switch to Delta, for the sole reason that since the merger, we have yet to show up for an AA flight that was not delayed or canceled for mechanical reasons. This, combined with the fact that half the time we show up believing we had booked an AA flight but are actually traveling on a U.S. Air code, means that trying to rebook when the flight invariably does not leave on time (or at all) is next to impossible, since the computer systems for the two airlines have yet to learn to communicate. If I am traveling from DC to the west coast for four days, I am not going to risk spending two of them stranded in DFW or Chicago (both happened to me since last September on AA/USA). The only reason we continue to fly AA is because of the upgrade system and availability of award travel, though I would not be surprised if miles are devalued the same way HHonors points have become virtually worthless in recent years.

  26. It won’t be long before AA changes their programme and all the airline bloggers will be weeping and not getting their paycheque from AA. As someone said before, your assessment usually based on one person availability. The only reason people like AA now because of the emergence from bankruptcy allows them to give away points, but how long will this last and how much will they be worth next summer? Seems most bloggers only care for points and not service. AA is trying to pull the wool over by offering all these points then not having availability on top of crummy service

  27. CMW sez: “…devalued the same way HHonors points have become virtually worthless in recent years.”

    You clearly have no clue what you talking about when it comes to HHonors points so I suggest you stick to ranting about AAdvantage 😉

  28. CMW how could you not know who operates the flight if you’re Platinum? When you’re booking on the site each option clearly says who operates the flight.

  29. Gary, a very good commentary on AA, which is 100% in sync with my thoughts, having also switched to AA 4 years ago (from CO/UA). AA really needs to run with the mileage based FF program for a few years and see how their revenue compares against UA. I think UA and AA are more direct competitors than DL which has hub cities with less competition.

    From what I see out of DCA, UA continues to cut back and replace mainline with smaller jets. Most DCA-ORD flights are now smaller jets. IAD domestic operations also continue to decline.

    I just hope AA doesn’t follow the pack. If they copy UA – I might have to just go back to UA (with my LT 1K status) and pretty much give up FF program only trips. Then travel only when I need to.

  30. I live in Hawaii and fly to BKK mostly, AA miles convert to Cathy Pac, but you have to fly to the mainland first, not a good trip, too many flying hours. AA blah!

  31. Gary, I’m a delta DM 2MM and switched to AA this year due to skymiles 2015 and trust and honesty issues with delta. I completed the platinum challenge and will be ExecPlat this year. So far I am very satisfied with AA for some of the reasons you stated, primarily the mileage-based program, first-class awards and 8 international upgrades, but have some questions and observations about AAdvantage. I hate delta.com because of the tricks played with pricing award and paid tickets. On the other hand, it has a lot of information that I cannot seem to find on the AA website. What fees (ticketing, voluntary SDCs etc.) are waived for AA elites? Can they cancel award tickets and redeposit miles without penalty? Delta DMs get free lounge membership but now must pay extra for guests. Credit cards can provide lounge access for me and guests for AA. The service on delta is generally better than AA but not a huge difference. One of the most glaring is the lack of a pre-departure drink on AA. A PDD really comes in handy to soothe frayed nerves that often go along with airports and travel. Admirals clubs seem to be equal to if not better than the skyclubs. AAdvantage seems to be better program but only if it retains a mileage-based program. Thanks to rollover MQMs (EQPs), which a AA doesn’t have, I’ll be DM next year and the year after (assuming no delta takeaway). So if AA makes radical changes I can go back to delta and still enjoy top-tier status. Any light you can shed on my questions or further contrast or comparison of the two programs is appreciated.

  32. @John Executive Platinums do not pay phone booking fees, have fee free same day confirmed changes, and can cancel/redeposit awards for free. Other elites do not have those benefits.

    Note that in my experience most Exec Plats who sign up for the BusinessExtrAA program earn enough from their travels alone to have enough points for a lounge membership.

    I’d say that predeparture beverages are hit or miss, I get them quite frequently (usually water or orange juice only, some crews take requests). The goal ‘is to get the plane out on time’ to PDBs are a suggestion and not mandatory at AA.. it’s left to the judgment of the crew and of course it is hard to move through the aisles while passengers are boarding. If there’s time many crew will serve drinks quickly once boarding has (mostly) completed. I wish they were better about this myself actually.

  33. Thanks for one of the most informative articles on American. I really appreciate your in depth coverage. My husband and I have long been Marriott platinum members with the help of our credit card. I’m thinking of switching to Southwest or American credit cards, and your article nudged me towards AA. I recently received a credit card offer from American for 50,000 bonus points, and a waived first year fee. Should I hold out for a better offer? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

  34. @Carolyn Z – that is the best available offer on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum MasterCard.

    There is a 75,000 mile offer on the premium Citi Executive card ($450 annual fee) that comes with lounge membership (and requires spending $7500 in 3 months to earn the bonus).

  35. Have to agree with some posts. AA might be better as executive platinum. But as a regular flyer at about 40 to 50 miles a year. I would take the much more dependable service of Delta. I have had nothing but flight delays sometimes hours with American lately.

  36. I used to live in Dallas and flew American all the time. However, the flights are consistently late, get cancelled often with the smallest hint of weather problems, the flight attendants are inattentive and the planes are old and worng. Now I live in NYC and fly Delta. I am a Delta Diamond and have a love/hate relationship with Delta. When they are good, they are very good, but they have their fault. But for the most part, they are alot better than American. Flights are usually on time and flight attendants much better. Being a Diamond, they always take care of me when something goes wrong. I cannot say that American did that, but I was a lowly Gold with American. I don’t know why everyone bashes the Skymiles so much. I have found some good awards (international) at decent levels.

  37. The link for maintaining the upgrade if switched to a oneworld partner yields a 404 error.
    I am very interested in having a hard copy of this since earlier this year I was told both by the agent and exec plat desk that this is NOT the case and spent a miserable 18 hours in coach on Cathay because AA didn’t bother to notify me of a cancelled flight before I got to the airport.

  38. I wish SFO had more AA flights. I’d be flying AA more too. But alas, over 50% of flights from SFO are United, so it always comes up cheapest or easiest for me. 🙁

  39. Excellent summary Gary! I have been EXP for the past 7 years, except for a 2 year sabbatical to UAL when the AA pilots were going through contract negotiations and AA stranded my family and I in SFO. During the period that I flew UAL, I had 150K miles in each of the two years. Of the 16 upgrades I received, all but 2 went unused – even though I routinely tried to upgrade myself and others in my company. If you are not UGS, don’t bother, and you can’t be UGS unless your company has negotiated this for it’s executives (or spend lots and lots of money). One of the most infuriating things for me was flying on a paid 1st class ticket out of Houston, and I was asked to step aside in the boarding lane to allow 3 UGS’s to board. There is something wrong when an airline asks a passenger holding an $8K ticket to move for some schleps who are being upgraded. I like the way AA treats all 1st class equally. After this incident I moved back to AA and have lived happily until the merger. As you stated, the US-Scare product is substandard. In fact, if not for the extra leg room, it is really almost not worth upgrading. 🙁

    Like all AA flyers, I am praying that Doug Parker is smart enough to realize who is paying the bills at AA and does not ruin the EXP perks. If he does, I will also be looking to move elsewhere. 🙂

  40. American must know who is Platinum (and know who you are as a reporter). I fly monthly and I’m at the Ruby level. I NEVER see anything like what you report on. More than 50% of the flights I fly on are delayed mostly for mechanical reasons and delayed for 2 – 6 hours. I have never seen a joyful, happy American airlines service rep.

    I did see one and only one flight attendant that appeared happy. But that was one in the last 5 years. Re-booking! Good Lord! it has been such a hassle for me, standing in lines for 20 minutes only to get to the counter and they close it in front of me and send me to a different place to stand in line. I took a picture with my cell (which I still have) with 20+ flyers in line at a customer service center capable of supporting 6 agents but they only have one agent there…. I watched her call for 20 minutes for reinforcements and no one came during my 1 hour pus wait.

    Try re-booking on the phone… I was on hold waiting for so long that my cell phone ran out of power…..

    The only thing I can say positive about American Air is that they have not lost my bags YET!!!!!

    Possibly American Air only considers those Platinum flyers as customers and everyone else remains “cattle” to fill the other seats.

    I Just Don’t See It.

    Ben Cranmore

  41. United probably has the best App & Award availability. Easier to switch flights. GPU on Lufthansa flights is a benefit neither Delta nor American can match. I think it is fare that passengers paying Y & B fare are upgraded over 1K.

  42. I recently redeemed 110k AA miles for an AAnytime award to Europe, only to have the plane swapped for one with old business class. Any chance I’ll have luck asking AA for some sort of accommodation? It seems like when paying double miles they should be a little more generous when they don’t deliver the product that was promised.

  43. I know I am late to this post. I’d like some thoughts. I fly out of PIT, use to live in PHL, so was a USAir person, now AA. I actually hate AA, because they are always late and cancelling flights. In the past four months, I have spent 2 nights in CLT, due to mechanical issues and the second time they ran out of hotel rooms and told me I’m on my own. I am platinum and I hate the 500 mile upgrades. Spare me how great these are, they aren’t – I have used them twice and each time it was a real hassle, never available until I was at the gate, even though I could see first was available and by available one seat had been sold to-date out of 12. I personally think miles are worthless, I do it for the elite benefits. On US Air, I would have been upgraded 40 to 50 percent of the time and I read an analysis that states this is where I’d be with Delta and in fact with Delta I would be at the 75k plus level, but on AA, only when I blow upgrades which go fast. The few times I have flown Delta the personnel are so nice and when there’s been a issue they help like nobody else. On AA, yes the lounge people are good, but the rest make you feel like they are doing you a favor. As executive platinum with AA, I see how good that is, but I think the rest of the elite people don’t get much if anything. Finally, I would note, I’d actually do better with Delta as I tend to fly with mixed to higher costing tickets. Thoughts, move, what is it about Delta people don’t like, and I ask this from the perspective of elite benefits.

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