Will American Introduce An Official Fifth Elite Tier?

As of now American AAdvantage has three formal elite tiers — Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum. Starting in 2017, American will add a fourth elite tier, called Platinum Pro, basically matching the qualifying levels that US Airways used to have. The tiers and (newly added) revenue requirements will look as follows:

GoldPlatinumPlatinum ProExecutive Platinum
25K EQMs or 30 EQSs50K EQMs or 60 EQSs75K EQMs or 90 EQSs100K EQMs or 120 EQSs
$3k EQDs$6k EQDs$9k EQDs$12k EQDs

As many of you may be aware, American also has an invitation only status, called Concierge Key. This is given to very high spenders with the airline, and also in some cases those who control a lot of corporate spend. The benefits of Concierge Key include the following:

  • Executive Platinum status
  • An Admirals Club membership
  • Two additional systemwide upgrades
  • Copays waived on international upgrades
  • A dedicated phone number and email address with 24/7 support
  • Flagship check-in
  • Assistance during irregular operations
  • Airport escorts and pre-boarding

American-Flagship-Lounge-New-York-04
American’s Flagship check-in at JFK, which Concierge Key members have access to

As of now, Concierge Key isn’t an official tier in the AAdvantage program, meaning that there are no published Concierge Key qualification requirements, and also that Concierge Key members don’t necessarily get upgraded ahead of other Executive Platinum members.

Well, the always reliable JonNYC shares the latest rumor in regards to Concierge Key on Twitter:

As this point I wouldn’t assume this is set in stone, but at the same time when JonNYC says something, there’s typically merit to it. So at a minimum, I think it’s interesting to discuss.

What could this look like in practice?

  • American could finally publish formal qualification criteria for Concierge Key status, though they could also formalize the status level while keeping it invitation only
  • In practice, the most likely implication is that Concierge Key members would actually get preferential treatment over Executive Platinum members in every way, in terms of upgrades, standby, etc.

Perhaps they’d be adopting the same model United has with their invitation only status, Global Services. Global Services is formally a MileagePlus tier, but at the same time there aren’t published qualification criteria.

Historically American has done a good job continuing to make Executive Platinum feel like top tier, while I know at United many Premier 1K members feel like “second class” elites, since Global Services is formally part of the program. At the same time, I suspect there are significantly more Global Services members than Concierge Key members.

In general American seems to be headed in United’s direction. For example, nowadays Concierge Key automatically comes with Executive Platinum status, which didn’t used to be the case.

American-Business-Class
Concierge Key members could receive formal upgrade priority over Executive Platinum members

Bottom line

I’ll be curious to see if this rumor is true, and if American does in fact introduce Concierge Key as a formalized elite tier. Personally I doubt they’d publish qualification criteria, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see them formally add it as a tier, so that Concierge Key members get priority over Executive Platinum members in every way.

Do you think American will formally introduce Concierge Key as an elite tier? 

Comments

  1. What they should do is give free premium economy to those in Concierge Key and have the upgrades go Y > Y+ > J > F. That way top tier elites can upgrade only once to get J while keeping Y+ as a separate class.

  2. “Global Services. Global Services is formally a MileagePlus tier, but at the same time there aren’t published qualification criteria” isn’t correct. 4mm lifetime miles on United qualifies for GS.

  3. “At the same time, I suspect there are significantly more Global Services members than Concierge Key members.”

    Why do you think this is the case? (Not challenging it, just curious why)

  4. Funny. If you haven’t noticed, the words “global services” was removed from most of the site except the million miler page (removed from upgrade priority page, baggage info, etc). Looks like AA and UA are running in opposite direction.

  5. Well, AA seems determined to destroy the loyalty program as quickly as possible these days, so downgrading EXP at the expense of CK is a great way to do it…UA is still recovering from the wreckage of ruining 1K 2012-2015.

  6. @NYBanker – The “4mm” requirement is for lifetime Global Services. There are, however, other unpublished criteria for earning GS within one year. Most people theorize this is ties to falling within the top percentage of spenders, while others believe there is a certain amount of purchased premium travel required within the year.

    As a 1K, flying out of a United Hub on a peak travel day certainly makes you feel less than top tier due to number of GS, while flying out of a non hub city or on a non peak day typically still feels “top tier”.

  7. Those who would qualify for Concierge Key will already be getting priority next year when EQDs factor in to upgrades, correct?

  8. Andrew B, for some, yes, but not all CK’s are $$-determined, and, just overall, CK having it’s own elite their for upgrades would be quite different than just having many (or even most) of them be at the top of the EP elite grouping for upgrades.

  9. The two “eVIP” upgrades, that’ what they are listed as in AA’s system, haven’t been given since 2014

  10. It’s more than a rumor. AA has already loaded all 5 tiers into some of its IT systems. It’s a question of when the switch gets flipped.

  11. The airlines’ incentives for Global Services and Concierge Key and the like are obvious: There is no way to game one’s way into that status through cheap mileage runs or creative routings or anything of that sort. People have to spend a ton–at a minimum many tens of thousands of dollars and in some cases over 100K–and in almost every instance this will be company money rather than their own.

    For what its worth, as a Global Services member in recent years I have not really seen what the big deal is…they go through some perfunctory motions–first on board, addressing me by name a lot, etc.–but it’s hard to assign a lot of value to that.

    There is one unquestionably cool and high-value benefit that isn’t mentioned a lot: When I am traveling on a paid ticket I can bring a guest with me in a premium cabin using miles at the saver level. So that’s very nice to be able to take a spouse or child along cheaply on a business trip. (Of course it’s not necessarily a huge treat for them to go to Europe for 72 sleep-deprived hours and take in a little sight-seeing while I’m in meetings…)

    And so the paradox of premium travel for many mid-career professionals: When I was younger and had the freedom to travel more and regarded it as a huge privilege to be in the front of the plane I had very little means to do so. Now that I have mileage balances that are in the seven figures, and the ability to just pay cash outright if I need to, I would on balance rather just stay home….Indeed if given the choice between flying to Europe or being present at a kid’s school or athletic event I’d gladly spend miles or cash for the latter.

  12. For what it’s worth, BA GGL, AA CK, and AY’s equivalent have been receiving reciprocal recognition/special services for at least a few months, with the other carriers aware of someone’s above OWE status. For example, I received the AA special services CK treatment as a GGL on Sunday during a tight connection at LAX. It does not seem very consistent compared to what AA’s own CK might receive, but it does seem like they are experimenting with the concept. Perhaps it is limited to joint venture partners?

  13. I was seated next a someone who had Concierge Key (escorted to the front of the line and boarded before everyone else). He told me he doesn’t fly much (about 50,000 miles per year), but everyone at his company received CK, so in his case, it was the business that got them the status.

  14. The name “Global Services” sounds more like the cleanup crew company for their planes – United couldn’t come up with a better name for their super elites?

    More to the point, maybe the goal is to throw a few more perks to the CK people and that’s totally understandable in this revenue-based FF environment. The big spenders get the big prizes. Not sure they need to publish the criteria or formalize a fifth tier. People who need to know about it already do. I think the mystery of it all makes it more elitist and special.

  15. totally feeling John’s comment… it’s that whole thing about “when you’re young you have time and health but no money, when you’re middle aged you have money and health but no time, when you’re old you have money and time but no health.”

    I think this is the first time we’ve had six consecutive weeks at home in years and even though I’m excite about our Taipei/Boracay trip in November, half of me wants to just stay home until after the holidays.

  16. @John – UA has neutered upgrades (both CPU and GPU/RPU) for 1Ks and lower by keeping the GS upgrade bucket (PN) flush at all times while starving the “everyone else” (R) upgrade bucket…that’s an insane benefit.

  17. Meh.

    The 8–>4 SWU cut and the change to $-based upgrade priority is going to far more of a (negative) impact on my elite experience than any formalization of the CK program will.

  18. Concierge Key will be prioritized and controlled tightly to reward and influence those that can be positive within those entities setting travel protocol…and corporate travel budgets.
    I am sure there will be a few smarmy runners and bloggers that try to hint at their inclusion in the ranks, but the majority of those invited will be exceptional profit centers.
    Even the blind can see the writing on the wall.
    Those that bring in the revenue will be offered the best rewards, as it should be.
    I wish I had a nickle for every player in the golden years of rewards and the recent past years that vowed they would never use a travel service provider when they did not get a banana, fruit basket or limo ride to the budget long term parking lot .
    Free is not revenue in any business.
    Loyalty in commerce is merely a marketing word.

  19. Notice what user AAer said above. If it’s true, then there’s your answers.

    This is just another strike against loyal AAdvantage customers. As an ExP, I guess my upgrade ratio will go down. Will I shoot for ExP next year? NOPE.

    Became a LT Plat a few years ago, and sadly, I’ve come To Remain Unfazed My Platinum status keeps getting knocked. Regret I didn’t earn my 2m with UA.

  20. How do you know when you are in CK?
    I flew today and my boarding pass had conciergekey above my name. I didn’t receive any invite from AA.

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