For years I’ve been obsessed with airline loyalty programs, and have been a proud American AAdvantage Executive Platinum member. I’d dread January 1, since it meant my elite qualifying miles for the year would be reset, and I’d have to start all over again. At the beginning of the year I’d plot out my travel for the year meticulously, to make sure I passed 100,000 elite qualifying miles.
Unfortunately AAdvantage has made a lot of changes over the past couple of years, from awarding redeemable miles based on distance flown, to adding a revenue requirement for status, to cutting the number of systemwide upgrades that Executive Platinum members get in half, to hugely devaluing their award chart. The program is now merely a shell of what it used to be.
The end effect is that I don’t think it’s worth going out of your way to earn airline status anymore. Premium cabins are priced more reasonably than ever before, which has made upgrades tougher. Nowadays if I really value first class and the premium isn’t crazy, I just pay for it, because the gamble isn’t worth it to me.
All of these changes have caused me to no longer be loyal to AAdvantage. Don’t get me wrong, I may very well still earn status with them in 2017, but it won’t be because I have some irrational allegiance to them. Instead it would just be because they happened to be the best carrier for specific flights I needed to take.
Nowadays I mostly fly the airline that has the most direct routing or offers the all around best value and experience. There’s no way I’m paying extra to fly an airline just because I have status on them, etc.
Anyway, the point of this post is that something very surprising just occurred to me. Like I said above, I’m someone who historically religiously checks my mileage accounts to track my progress towards requalifying for status. I couldn’t believe this, but I just realized that prior to today, I hadn’t once checked my progress towards AAdvantage elite status for 2017.
The only reason I checked was because I was considering booking a discounted business class ticket on American from Europe to the US, and was trying to decide whether it would get me any value towards status or not. If that’s not a clear indicator of how this program makes me feel, then I don’t know what is.
So, how close am I to status with American for 2017? We’re almost at the halfway point of the year, and I’m about a quarter of the way there when it comes to the mileage and spend requirement… and that doesn’t bother me one bit.
So I’m not sure whether I’ll requalify for Executive Platinum status or not. I’ll keep flying as usual, and at the end of the year it’ll be a decision that’s made at the margins. I haven’t gone out of my way to fly American this year, so if I naturally end the year with somewhere under 100,000 EQMs and 12,000 EQDs, the question will be what the incremental value of the status is.
Could it be worth going out of my way to book a ticket at the end of the year to earn Executive Platinum status, if I’m within 10,000-20,000 elite qualifying miles? Maybe. But that’s about it.
Has your approach towards elite status changes in 2017 compared to past years?