Bonus Systemwide Upgrades For Executive Platinums?

American has been doing a lot to incentivize paid premium cabin travel this year. Among those, American is offering both bonus elite qualifying points and bonus redeemable miles for paid first & business class travel.

American-Bonus-EQPs

Unlike Delta and United, American still has a “traditional” mileage based frequent flyer program, whereby you accrue miles based on how much you fly as opposed to how expensive your tickets are. These promotions are clearly intended to go after those who would benefit from the revenue based systems of Delta and United, which is a minority of customers.

Anyway, in past years American has published Elite Rewards. Basically they’ve offered incentives to those who over qualify for a given status level. In other words, it takes 100,000 elite qualifying miles or points to qualify for Executive Platinum status, though they offered bonuses for passing 125,000 and 150,000 elite qualifying miles or points. That’s smart, because they want to incentivize incremental travel.

AAdvantage-Elite-Rewards

They haven’t offered such a promotion last year or this year. That’s probably because:

  • Planes are full and airlines are profitable anyway, so there aren’t as many incentives needed to fill seats
  • Over the past decade we’ve gone from six US legacy carriers to three legacy carriers, so there’s less competition in general; people are largely choosing airlines based on route networks rather than frequent flyer programs
  • Delta and United have taken so much value out of their program, that American in many ways wins by a long shot just by keeping the status quo

American is still pretty good about rewarding individual travel patterns, in particular for Executive Platinum members. Last week someone posted on FlyerTalk about emailing American to see if they’re offering any incremental incentives for over qualifying for Executive Platinum.

The part of the email which received the most attention was this glitch, suggesting that Executive Platinum will require 120,000 elite qualifying miles or points as of next year:

Please know that the new qualification for Executive Platinum status isnow at 120,000 Elite Qualifying Miles/Points in a calendar year.

This was confirmed to be a misinformed agent. Here’s the part of the email that most caught my attention, though:

If you earn a total of at least 175,000 elite points by year-end, I will add 6 more systemwide upgrades into your account. I am hopeful you can achieve this goal since you are currently at 150,895 elite points.

I’ve had a lot of paid premium cabin travel this year (thanks in no small part to some great fares to Asia), and just passed 175,000 elite qualifying points for the year:

Executive-Platinum-Requal-1

I figured I’d send customer service an email and see if they were offering any incremental incentives this year above Executive Platinum status, and received the following response:

First, on behalf of all of us here at AAdvantage® Customer Service, thank you for being one of our valued AAdvantage Executive Platinum® members.

We’ve found that we best solve these issues via conversation.

So that we can speak with you directly, please call AAdvantage Customer Service at XXX-XXX-XXXX. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8:00-7:00 Central Time and any representative will be happy to assist you.

Outside the United States and Canada, please visit www.aa.com/phones to find the telephone number in your country or refer to the bottom of this website for instructions on how to call our United States telephone number.

Thank you for participating in the AAdvantage program. We appreciate your business.

I phoned up AAdvantage customer service today, and got a friendly agent on the line. I asked if American was offering any incremental benefits for over qualifying for Executive Platinum this year, as they had in past years with the Elite Rewards program. She offered to check on my account to see if there were any offers for me.

She put me on hold for a minute. I assumed at this point she was looking up my Eagle Rating. AAdvantage members have Eagle Ratings, whereby they’re rated on a scale of 1-5 based on their importance. This is an internal metric, and not something which impacts upgrade priority, etc. This typically only matters when it comes to having exceptions made, offering incremental benefits, etc. Now, we have no way of knowing our own Eagle Ratings, though I guess we can sort of deduce them based on what we’re offered when asking about exceptions/extra benefits.

After putting me on hold for a few minutes she said she could offer me four bonus systemwide upgrades valid through February 2017. And she even apologized for them not proactively reaching out to offer them (personally I haven’t heard of that happening, though I appreciated the sentiment).

American-Business-Class

The extra systemwide upgrades showed up in my account within minutes.

American-Systemwides

Bottom line

If you are an Executive Platinum member who has way over qualified for status, it could make sense to call AAdvantage customer service and see if they have any “offers” attached to your account.

I’m guessing if you earn 175,000+ EQPs they’ll throw you some sort of a bone, even with a low Eagle Rating. As you can see, my offer wasn’t as good as the person referenced in the FlyerTalk thread, though I certainly won’t complain about an extra four systemwide upgrades!

I have a good bit of paid first/business class travel coming up throughout the rest of the year, so I might give them another call if I pass 225,000 EQPs for the year.

To those over qualifying Executive Platinum members, have you called American to see if your account is eligible for any additional offer? If so, what were you offered?

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this Ben. I have been keen on calling AA and see if they were able to do this or offer any other rewards for over qualifying! I have a hefty balance so let’s see what they tell me when I call in!

    Cheers.

  2. Very helpful information for me. I’ll pass 175,000 miles in a another month, so I’ll try to claim my extra upgrades then. Thanks!

  3. Oh I don’t know – What’s the point in getting extra system wide upgrades? We have 16 unused system wide upgrades between my partner and I. Cant use them when we want to…

  4. @nkk EXACTLY. AA could offer 20 SWUs but if you can’t use them half the time, what’s the point? There are way too many EXPs to compete with on popular flights such as DFW-HKG or soon to be LAX-SYD. I think they should only allow use of those SWUs on certain Y class fares, so you have a better shot of clearing.

    I can’t imagine how a route such as DFW-HKG makes money if it’s mostly passengers buying cheap ycl fares for upgrade.

  5. @ Nkk @ Tony — If nothing else they’re very useful for locking in domestic upgrades. American’s confirmable upgrade inventory domestically is wide open, so if you can’t use them for international, you can still use them to lock in the tougher domestic upgrades.

  6. AA should offer an elite “good anytime” system wide upgrade. Then it would be posted at maybe 1:5 the standard upgrade. Or they could offer a trade in of 5 regular upgrades for 1 anytime one.

  7. Your blog has inspired me to be an avid frequent flyer.

    I am an AA EXP and was contemplating whether or not to continue flying with AA or get United 1K instead, but because of this thread, it looks like I will stick with AA. Thanks!

  8. Amazing. AA has the most generous upgrade policy for its top tiers, and some of you guys are complaining! 8 eVIPs is more than UA or DL offers its top tier elites, and these are only good from higher economy fares. I’ve had no problem using mine, even on the DFW-HKG route (3/4 this year), though confirmation is now coming closer to flight time. J seats are where airlines make their money, so it is realistic that upgrades should be rationed. Just like the DFW-HKG route, I don’t expect an upgrade to clear on the new LAX-SYD route, but if it does all the better. It does take judicious planning, and flying during off-peak business travel periods, when these become quite useful for those of us who don’t have corporate patrons paying our way.

    It’s a shame there was no formal “bonus” this year for crossing thresholds, but the extra mileage bonuses for those whose companies fly them in premium cabins have certainly benefited and have plenty of extra miles. And IIRC those US top tier elites not only received US systemwide upgrade certs this year, but also the 8 eVIPs when accounts were merged.

  9. Keep it up Ben!

    I hit 175,000 last year and I believe they gave me 6 extra upgrades….I am curious to see what they give when you reach 225,000

  10. Now I wonder what my Eagle rating is:) They tend to make exceptions, so it might not be bad. So I will surpass 100K this year but haven’t yet, but it is booked. Did you call before or after hitting 100K and what would you recommend?

  11. I remember not to long ago after the mistake Beijing fare and that AA said they will honor them, AA updated the AAdvantage T&S specifically to call out that mistake fare in the future may not earn EQM/EQP. However, AFAIK all of us that went to PEK all got our EQM/EQP. I’m wondering if those of us who reached higher status than we normally would because those fares, our Eagle Rating may not be as high as other elites because our spending level isn’t as high. Thoughts?

  12. I don’t understand why people like flying American long haul. They have some of the worst service and food ever. BA is much better and their service is top notch

  13. @ben @Nkk @Tony, I really dont understand how one can be overflowing with SWU. I used up all my SWU back in June! :(… So if you guys are generous enough, throw them my way, and I’ll be happy to make those SWU in good use for you.. 😉

  14. @ Ben — In my opinion business class is all about the hard product. The 777-300ER reverse herringbone business class hard product is spectacular, and those planes have wifi. To me food and service are secondary.

  15. @ Ben (not Lucky) — I’m not sure they’ll ever enforce it, as I think it was added as more of a “threat” than anything. I wasn’t under the impression it would apply to the existing Beijing fares either.

  16. Does AA maintain an eagle rating for passengers who credit to BA, but fly AA/US a lot? It seems a bit off that they don’t attempt to do more for OWE who spend a lot on them, even though they prefer a different program.

  17. Just my two cents- I love AA as they take “great” care of me. I have flown Singapore Air, Cathay, and YES they are amazing. Alas, we are not an asian culture. (We have sub-cultures, though. Flying out of SAN or anywhere on the west cost is far nicer than flying out of MIA!)
    I also love SWUs which I consider to be the ONLY bonus to being Exec Plat- using them on the 77W to Asia.
    Who really cares about an upgrade from Y to J ….being in the front cabin on a DFW to MIA flight?
    Lucky- can you explore (if possible) which are the best dates of the year to avoid high business class demand. Or, what are the best times to use SWUs on flights to HKG, NRT, etc.
    Thanks!
    Miami Traveler

  18. I already re qualified for EXP via 120 segments this year. Only at about 70k miles / points. My only offer was additional SWU once I hit 150k points. They did not care about segments or miles.

  19. Hello. I am traveling on the AA 62 MIA – CDG flight in BIZ. It’s a 767-300 reconfig. I am (SUPER) excited with this new product in Business. Lie Flat with staggered seating. I tried to research other routes with same equipment…. can not fly to Paris each weekend……. (I think I asked you this before) but I can not find any information. Any info on how we can fly this out of MIA?

  20. Hi Ben,

    Question about SWU’s. My partner just made EXP and received 8 SWU’s. I know that AAdvantage program’s year is from March 1 to Feb. 28. My question is will he get another 8 SWU’s on March 1, 2016?

    Thanks.

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