Why American’s Platinum Pro Buy Up Offer Is Leaving Many Angry

It’s normal for airlines to send out emails to elite members around the end or beginning of a year offering them to buy up to the next elite tier for a cost. However, American’s current Platinum Pro elite tier buy up offer is a bit unusual, and is leaving some members with a bad taste in their mouth.

American was already offering status buy up opportunities

In mid-November I first wrote about how American sent out emails to elite members giving them the opportunity to buy up to the next elite tier. While the prices weren’t officially published this time around, in the past you could typically buy up status if you were within 15,000 elite qualifying miles of the next elite tier. The cost varied based on which status you were going for, and how many elite qualifying miles away you were from earning it.

elite-status

In general my advice is to only take advantage of such an offer as a last resort, because the cost per elite qualifying mile through such an offer is exorbitantly expensive.

American is introducing Platinum Pro this year

American is introducing a fourth status tier this year, called Platinum Pro. Platinum Pro is between Platinum and Executive Platinum, and requires 75,000 elite qualifying miles or 90 elite qualifying segments, plus 9,000 elite qualifying dollars.

aa_platinum_pro

The main benefits of this tier are that you earn eight miles per dollar spent, receive unlimited upgrades within markets eligible for 500 mile upgrades, and your upgrades start clearing 72 hours out.

aa-status

However, American isn’t awarding Platinum Pro based on activity last year, but rather only based on activity in 2017.

Why American’s Platinum Pro buy up offer is different

With that out of the way, American is emailing people who earned AAdvantage Platinum status to give them the opportunity to “buy in” to Platinum Pro early. For example, reader David is dropping from Executive Platinum to Platinum this year, though would have qualified for Platinum Pro based on his 2016 activity, if the tier already existed.

So they’re not giving him the status he would have earned, but rather are giving him the opportunity to pay $899 to buy up to the status level early.

american-platinum-pro

This leaves a bad taste in his mouth, and if I were in the same situation, I’d feel similarly. It’s one thing to let someone buy up to a status level they didn’t quite meet the criteria for, but in this case they’re letting people buy up to a status level that they really did qualify for, but just too early.

Bottom line

While elite buy up offers are nothing new, there’s something a bit different about letting people buy in “early” to a new elite level that they would have earned anyway. I can certainly see why a lot of people are unhappy about being asked to pay for a status they would have qualified for if it were active.

What do you guys think — is this like any other buy up offer, or is there something different about asking someone to pay for a status they would have otherwise earned?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Forget about praying for an upgrade. The US domestic F fares are relatively reasonable these days. If I want to fly F, I’ll pay it. Find another oneworld program that you like and bank the miles there.

  2. I had no status in 2016 and am not trying for any in 2017. And this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I am sure people that said they were done with American are angry as well. Every one changes their minds so quickly in this game.

  3. Also in the same point 2016 activity exceeded 2017 Plat Pro requirements but they want $$? It is pretty darn difficult to swallow.

    At least it appears they are not A / B testing those of us that would have qualified and offering $899 across the board

  4. I requalified for plat and finished the year at 74300EQM, I was almost tempted to do a last flight but it didn’t happen and that’s because With all the changes it’s not really worth anymore. Yesterday I got the Plat Pro offer at $1099! At $499 or lower I might have pulled the trigger

  5. I’m trying to be constructive in this question. I don’t want to come off like a douche, but I have read so many articles about revenue based programs being “liberating” for FFs because now they can choose flights based on price, convenience, etc. rather than loyalty. It seemed like many people in the comments felt the same way. Now AA wants people to buy a status that they would’ve otherwise qualified for if it existed previously and people are mad. My question is do you actually care about loyalty programs as they exist today or don’t you? If you value loyalty programs today in which loyalty is defined by how much money you contribute to an airline’s bottom line than you should have no issue paying for a status that no one will have right now due to it being implemented this year. If you don’t, why aren’t you taking this with a grain of salt and just accepting it as the way things are (i.e. the monetization of status). Thoughts? – This is my point of view as an AA Gold for the past few years.

  6. So it looks like they’re trying to mirror Delta with 4 tiers of status. Makes sense to follow the most profitable legacy carrier, though i get why a few people felt like they got burned by this new change.

    But i’ll echo what Tony says, domestic F fares appear to be at an all time low. As a Delta platnium, it’s still nice to get the free upgrade on short flights such as EWR->DTW or JFK->RDU but on longer flights I find its just easier to pay a little extra for first. Yesterday I purchased r/t EWR->MSY in Y which automatically cleared into Y+ and then I was offered an upgrade to F for $179. Well worth it in my opinion for 4 flights and 7 hours in the air.

  7. why should anyone have the right to be angry ? It’s an entirely optional purchase. No one held a gun to your head to pay this highway ransom. News flash – status buy-up is NEVER about fair value of the desired product, but more about “let’s see how many suckers fall for this”. Faux outrage here.

  8. I ended 2016 at 60k EQMs and my offer yesterday to upgrade to Platinum Pro was $1,749, which was roughly the same as my wife’s November offer to buy from Gold to Platinum in. That buy-up makes “sense” but charging people for a tier they essentially hit would be hard to swallow.

  9. But the tier didn’t exist last year, so there was no way to qualify for it. I think AA is being pretty generous by allowing people to pay a fee to get a status that didn’t exist (AT ALL) last year based on activity from a closed qualification year. By definition, no one flew the incremental 25,000 EQMs last year in anticipation of becoming Platinum Pro on 1/1.

  10. I really did bail on AA this year (PLT with LT Gold) — flew maybe 10K with AA while trying out other airlines (I’m now Gold Medallion on Delta. Benefits aren’t special but the flights are more comfortable). Yet a few weeks ago they offered a $1449 (something like that) buy-back to retain PLT. Would I have gotten the buy-up offer if I had bitten? (and do I care?–shrug).

    If I had flown 75K in 2016 and were offered the buy-up opportunity, I would not be pleased.

  11. Lucky, I got the e-mail about buying up to PLTPro, too. As a daily reader, it would be helpful to hear why one should do it – I can’t be your only reader considering it. I hope you’ll lay out the “Pro” case as well. #asklucky

  12. Lifetime Platinum 2 Million miler here who is “not eligible” for the PP buy-up opportunity. Yet, my 2 Million miler status with UA gives me lifetime UA Platinum status with the same benefits (mileage, 8x, upgrades, etc.) as AA’s PP. Guess I will have to reluctantly fly UA if AA can’t compete with them on this new tier.

  13. I agree that AA should have given PlatPro to anyone who earned 75K or more last year even though the new tier won’t be officially “earnable” until people start earning 75K this year. The new team at AAdvantage don’t seem to be as with-it as the old crew. Too bad. They’re taking AA through the same downward spiral that afflicted UA/CO after that merger.

  14. It’s interesting from both perspectives. AA unusually created a Plat Pro tier without giving out the status based off 2016 credits (as Hyatt’s program would have). It can argue that they don’t have EQDs handy and they see an oppty to get some more cash for selling Pro to Plats. However, the flyers would assume the more usual approach of honouring certain members as Pro in 2017. Hence the conflict of two parties’ views.#justsayin

  15. As usual, AA could have handled this “much better” and either give the people who would have qualified for Plat Pro, the Plat Pro status or bite the bullet and give all the people between Plat and Exec Plat the opportunity to buy into Exec Plat.

  16. They should have started the status on Dec 31 and let in everyone who would have qualified in 2016. Nothing stopping them from doing this retroactively.

  17. This angered me to no end. I flew 80k miles, 74 EQS, and spent nearly $13k on American last year. When I emailed American as to why they couldn’t just place those of us who clearly qualified they responded with:

    “Because we were not able to track the elite qualifying dollar threshold
    for each member and it is a requirement for this level, we are only
    offering our Boost offer to those would like to begin using the new
    Platinum Pro level before members can actually earn it if they reached
    certain thresholds.”

    Shameless and disgusting. Loyalty means nothing on this airline anymore. They’ve given away / sold elite status to far too many corporations and individuals.

  18. Lucky
    Plat Pro is useless
    On DL and UA one at least gets free award cancels (on UA till 60 days out)
    On DL I get upgraded on award tickets (as on UA for having the Club card)
    This tier on AA only works on imaginary upgrades as AA has effectively closed upgrades.

    “The main benefits of this tier are that you earn eight miles per dollar spent, receive unlimited upgrades within markets eligible for 500 mile upgrades, and your upgrades start clearing 72 hours out.”
    In short, worthless, while the program is worth less and less each day

  19. Lucky, I’m on the same boat, but I’d like to ask you about the offer to a ExPlatinum buy-in.
    Besides PPro offer, I received a ExPlatinum one, $2,499.
    Since my interest comes from the systemwide upgrades, what would you suggest on this offer?
    I tend to consider this offer really expensive since I had a $1,000 offer last year for the same ExPlatinum! (roughly the same EQMs flown both years).

  20. Checking in yesterday at LGA to discuss upgrade casually said to agent “So, Platinum Pro? What’s the word?”

    I got this wry smile with the reply: “Uh, no comment on that.”

    Doubtless he’s heard more than an earful from other platinum members. 😉

  21. @ Marcus Lima — Tough to say. Would the offer come with systemwide upgrades? If so, I could potentially see it being worthwhile, as it’s like paying ~$600 per systemwide upgrade, not factoring in the other benefits. It all comes down to your travel plans over the next year, I think.

  22. “”This angered me to no end. I flew 80k miles, 74 EQS, and spent nearly $13k on American last year. When I emailed American as to why they couldn’t just place those of us who clearly qualified they responded with:

    “Because we were not able to track the elite qualifying dollar threshold
    for each member and it is a requirement for this level, we are only
    offering our Boost offer to those would like to begin using the new
    Platinum Pro level before members can actually earn it if they reached
    certain thresholds.”””

    There has to be a way to track that at least on direct purchases through AA. I had 78k EQM on only 12 segments and can assure you that each of those round trip flights was over the $9,000 required spend for Plat Pro.

  23. I flew over 75k miles last year, spent $10k and received a Plat Pro upgrade offer for $899. Sorry AA, not enough benefit for the cost.

  24. Sadly, the company that created air miles now resorts to following the competition with regard to mileage rewards. This is probably a reflection of the Management of a smaller ”me too” company taking over at a larger company. There is no innovation. A once proud airline that was a leader is simply a follower even if they presently are the largest airline in the world. No wonder you cannot find any US airline voted amongst the world’s best. Their customer service truly sucks. Not worried about mileage rewards on any of them any more. I’ll pay my money and enjoy great customer service on others where I can.

  25. Received the $1,099 PP boost email, having missed 75k by 2,300 miles in ’16. Arguments for boost pricing and fairness aside, my mother forwarded me an email from her corp travel team congratulating her on 2017 Plat. status. In 2016 she stepped on only TWO aircrafts – both were United. She’s a doc and hasn’t traveled for work at all her entire career. Boost are one thing, but it’s complete BS that AA is filling in Plat. ranks with zero-revenue passengers while also reducing the benefit of being Plat. I emailed two different AA depts. and sent a letter (like on paper with a stamp) and got the exact same response:

    “We are sorry for your reaction to our promotion offering a “fast track”
    to AAdvantage® elite status. For exactly the reasons you cite, we
    generally do not provide elite membership without qualification. Still,
    for competitive reasons, we sometimes feature special promotions that
    offer elite membership at a reduced qualification level. Our expectation
    is that given the standard 12-month qualification period, these members
    would earn their status on their own.”

    Yeah, okay… back to the days of USeless Air.

  26. I am pretty annoyed that I am not being given platinum pro based on 2016 qualification. Here is the final email they sent me when i made this point:

    “We are sorry to learn that you disagree with our decision to collect a
    fee to obtain the AAdvantage Platinum Pro status.

    In lieu of an exception we cannot make because this status did not exist
    in 2016, we instituted what we believe to be a fair and equitable
    program. We thoughtfully considered the various ranges of activity and
    determined what we consider a favorable pay scale. Still, we know that
    this program may not be suited for all of our members. For that, I am
    sorry. ”

    This was in response to my email:

    I think this is slightly unfair.

    At the very least, it should not cost me $1000 to get the status I have
    earned, considering I flew enough miles to qualify.

    “While I recognize that you just introduced this status, it doesn’t seem
    reasonable to me that you can’t make an exception.

    Particularly if you check my account and find that I achieved platinum
    pro milage last year in less than 6 months.

    Obviously, there are status match challenges with other airlines and
    I’ll be able to qualify at any level I choose on any carrier.

    So I would appreciate you reconsidering. ”

    Annoyed enough i will probably take the Delta status challenge..

  27. I happy to see that I am not alone in being pissed at AA. The excuse for not granting Platinum Pro to those of us who would have earned is is weak at best. Total BS and no way to treat good customers.
    I missed Executive by a fraction and spent almost $24,000 with them in 2016 and will gladly spend that with united/Continental for my Latin American routes. The upside is I’m more connecting through Miami

  28. Same boat here – 94k EQM in 2016 (2 million miler, first time not qualifying for ExecPlat in many years) – to be “offered” to buy in to Platinum Pro for $899 when I would have qualified for it anyway is outrageous. One more reason to stop being loyal to a corporation that has stopped reciprocating that loyalty.

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