This Gold Elite Promotion is Really Disturbing

Old Aug 2, 01, 10:17 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Dallas, Texas; AA EXP; AA 2 MM
Posts: 726
This Gold Elite Promotion is Really Disturbing

It's nice that all these people are getting free elite status, but this is a really disturbing trend.

Obviously, elite status with AA isn't really elite anymore.

Two weeks ago, I wasn't able to upgrade to first for the first time as an EXP (DFW-LAS). Obviously, EXP is being diluted.

I can remember 3 years ago when I first hit gold status and I usually got upgraded most of the time. Now, I can't imagine ever being able to upgrade as a gold member.

Elite status is supposed to reward those travellers who fly AA alot. Now, it seems elite means that you fly a certain segment several times, fly alot in a month's time, or have friends that are EXP.

Elite status certainly isn't reserved for the elite anymore, and I think it's really pathetic.

Anyone know if UA or CO is better at making sure their elite status stays elite?

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Old Aug 2, 01, 11:00 pm
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Making everyone on the planet Gold AAdvantage won't put them ahead of you for upgrades. Some routes out of DFW are full of EXPs. I sat next to another one this afternoon, DFW-AUS, and there were enough other black luggage tags showing that it wasn't a big distinction. I may not be able to upgrade my return flight tomorrow - I'm still waitlisted, though the second (DFW-BOS) leg has long since cleared. That has nothing to do with how many Golds there are, everything to do with how many EPs there are and what their geographic distribution is. Let's keep the two issues separate.

You're right that EP was diluted somewhat in 2001, due to the OBC ("Our Best Customers") experiment. The number of EPs went up a lot, but the impact on us was smaller because OBCs don't fly as much as "real" EPs. In any case, the program won't be continued in 2002.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 2:55 am
Join Date: Sep 1999
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I would generally tend to agree with the first opinion of the promotion but for different reasons. I strongly sympathize with those who are not elite status looking to get upgraded having lived that way myself for far too many years, but the real issue is if AA wants to put this huge bulge into its elite member base its got to devote more resources to it. The pricing structure on upgrades is nasty enough for those who don't fly enough not to use upgrades indiscriminately (although believe me, I enjoyed life a lot more last year with emptier P and J classes versus seeing a Gold tag next to me far more frequently - not to mention EXP!).

Where I become far more concerned regarding resources is in things like mileage redemptions and even more so in terms of check in lines. The only EXP check in lines I know of are at LHR, ORD, and DFW. Otherwise, this is a another clear example of dilution of membership benefits - those of us who travel 100K miles a year start having to show up at the airport not our customary 35 minutes in advance but 50 now here in Boston: not a big deal if you travel 6 times a year, but if you check in 70 or 80 times that's an extra 20 hours out of your life. It reminds me of the discussions early this year on the replacement of the VIP2s because of AA's huge dilution of EXP specifically, as well as the deteroration of probably the best benefit of EXP, the desk (which is still far better than anything else out there, but two years ago was simply superb versus good today.)

This helps firm my response, which was starting to build after AA didn't bother including me in numerous promotions that would have at least kept me on par in terms of Aadvantage miles generation - like the SOW08 one for instance, as well as free Gold one. I'm at almost 70K points this year having traveled almost exclusively on Y tickets - something like 65K miles. Given my fall and winter I will easily do 35K miles. You know what? Since AA wants to treat me like an annuity, that's fine. I'm perfectly happy doing my best savvy travel agent imitation, having already booked 20K of business travel for $800 and likely to finish off the last 15K with a couple of VIPOW upgraded long haul trips to HNL and LHR for under $900 - and believe me, I'll still travel more than this. So, for 1H I generated $25K in revenue for AMR. For 2H, they're getting maybe $4-5K at best, which will include the upgrades I'll purchase to make up for the free Y upgrades I'm giving up (by the way, thanks to Delta for forcing AA to match the complimentary upgrades they'd had in the program for a couple years) and probably at least one or two last minute trips that I'll have to book in Y. My sincere thanks to AMR for their incentive for me to twist revenue management around on its head.

And for the gentleman who is trying to go to Australia in F on points, good luck - Qantas releases minimal F seats per month under an agreement that predates OneWorld, and having tried this a year ago for about 4 months as an EXP may you have better luck than I did. Please don't take this as a flame - I'd be doing the same mileage maximization you are under AA's looney system that incents low revenue, non-flying miles for some wacky concept of brand loyalty if I weren't generating more miles than I could use for 3 years if I quit working tomorrow - but its frustrating to watch step after step taking relative resource levels away from people who actually cram themselves into a metal tube for hour upon hour. Ok, enough ranting.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 6:09 am
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Making everyone on the planet gold might not put them ahead of EXPs for upgrades, but it will end up putting them in front of us in check-in lines, and during preboarding for coach flights, not to mention putting millions of golds in front of us for upgrades when we have to fly on short notice.

Newby gold members will probably be the first ones rushing for the door during preflight boarding.

Please don't get me wrong -- Gold elites deserve the perks they get for flying 25k miles on AA. However, they don't deserve the perks when they don't earn them. I had to earn my way to Gold Status, and if I were a Gold Elite that spent money and time earning it, I'd be pretty POed about this.

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Old Aug 3, 01, 6:15 am
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We need to start a campaign --- writing to AA customer service, AAdvantage also about this...

congratulations to all that are going to get the benefits of this! But I am sorry for allof the Gold's that now have more competition for upgrades and for all of the elite's that now have 90% (OK not really 90% but you get my drift!)of the plane boarding in Group #1.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 6:47 am
Join Date: Oct 1999
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Great post. I'm with you -- strange not to be included in targeted promotions all year, because AA presumably knows that my company has a contract rate with them and they can pretty well count on 100K points from me. However, my company also has a contract rate with UA and others -- I could just as easily switch to PremEx on UA which is why I'm often surprised that those of us in the ORD area seem to get few of the targeted promos.

When I first started reading FlyerTalk, ExPlats would talk of having received gifts from AA and other special perks. I think there are too many to go around, now, and while the perks are really, really, really nice, they are all programatic -- what's expected at ExPlat level.

I have been wondering when AA will make gold the baseline, and make Plat, ExPlat, and some uber-ExPlat the "real" elite levels. After all, with the program now going 20 years, more and more people are going to make "lifetime gold" by crossing 1 MM miles (myself recently included). Certainly there will be a point in the future where Gold won't mean much, unless the qualifications are raised in some way.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 9:33 am
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I agree about there being more elites than ever, but I have to take issue with your complaint about not being able to be upgraded on one flight.

Being EXP does not give you (or me) a divine right to sit in the front of the plane. I'm batting better than 95% for upgrades on AA, but there are times I don't get one. Sometimes it's because I didn't book till the last minute. Sometimes it's because the FC section is 100% full with revenue premium passengers (yes, this does occassionally happen, even domestically).

That said, there has been a definite decline in the level of EXP service offered. Most notably, the new EXP desk in Dallas. I simply refuse to deal with them any more. They make more mistakes than all of the other desks put together. I've had FOUR itineraries blown by them this year. Luckily, agents at the other desks (especially RDU) have been able to salvage three of them.

I'm already at 100k q-miles and q-points for the year, and I feel that AA has *definitely* been taking me for granted. I haven't gotten a single cool bonus offer all year. Consequently, I've been moving a bunch of my recent travel back over to DL and UA. You'd think that AA would be taking better care of their cash-cows, especially given the shape of the economy.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 9:39 am
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my hunch is, with the economy slowing down like it is, this is some sort of land-grab marketing where they lure more dollars at the expense of pi$$ing off the "real" elites. if i am american airlines, and i sit there and do the math, maybe i realize that i can get all sorts of newly loyal travellers, boost (or level off) my sagging revenues, and wait the slowdown out. if you plats and exps just sit around complaining, but keep flying, then i would have to say american is very smart.

here is the good part, and the real stroke of genius on AA's part... - EXP's are complaining about the program and expect to see reduced perks, dilution, correct?

who does the referring?

any EXP who refers another flyer, is just doing it to themselves. i think its brilliant. go slam AA all you want, but its the EXP's that are comping the undeserving ones. from a poetic standpoint, that is absolutely beautiful. its like shakespeareor homer works in their marketing department.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 9:45 am
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Let me add me name to the list of elite flyers disturbed by this trend. But unlike the Plat and ExPlats, I'm only Gold.

But it's what most of us would consider "earned" gold. I've been Gold since 1994, except for two gaps totaling about 6 months. I've always qualified and re-qualified exclusively by flying domestic segments, and when you're flying out of DFW, that averages 1000 miles per segment, not the 3000 you get for coast to coast. Most years that's 25-30 segments, 30-40,000 miles. The majority are at full coach fare, which out of DFW ain't cheap. I've never made Platinum.

With the gold challenge, someone who flies a single trans-atlantic round trip can get the same status as I have. But with this new giveaway, if I understand correctly, a single short RT (DFW-AUS?) is enough to qualify someone who has been referred.

As a Gold flying out of the DFW hub, it's tough enough to get upgraded. And since I fly often on short notice (high fare), these comped golds may well be ahead of me on the list as we wait for the 24 hour window.

Of course, the folks giving away the referrals are all ExPlat, so it's not taking away upgrade seats from them.

Am I being unreasonable to expect a higher status, based on my flying patterns/history, than someone taking what may be only their 2nd trip in years?
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Old Aug 3, 01, 9:48 am
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2 Many Miles,

The point of me mentioning I didn't get the upgrade wasn't that I didn't get to sit up front -- I was only trying to point out the dilution of EXP status. A year ago, the situation probably wouldn't have been the same. Sorry if I offended you, but as much time and money as I spend with AA I feel like I have the right to speak my mind.
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Old Aug 3, 01, 11:20 am
Join Date: May 2001
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Having been Gold for the last 3 years, I also agree that this is diluting the meaning of an "Elite" status. I have qualified by flying the required miles each year (missed Platinum by 3K last year), often by choosing AA over another airline if the price was not that much higher. This loyalty deserves the recognition of Gold that should not be given out randomly. Of course, the EXP have the incentive to refer 4 people for the miles, so why wouldn't they?
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Old Aug 3, 01, 11:23 am
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Well I haven't got the offer....

and i havealready written 3 letters complaining about this promo... what's next --- Plat status if you can say the alphabet backwards?
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Old Aug 3, 01, 11:50 am
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I's a great marketing idea but it will have a serious flaw if real elites want to make it that way. Unfortunately I doubt real elites will be able to organise collectively to make this happen. How many of them will be annoyed enough to form a union which can then present AA with its complaints about elite perks dilution and demands for change. Anyone volunteering to start such an organisation?

It's a great marketing idea because if only 25% percent of these people are hooked by elite status and put enough business AA's way in order to requalify as a real elite that's a serious amount of cash to the bottom line (airlines are some of the highest geared businesses around). And there is nothing like elite status to build loyalty.

The flaw is of course that it can seriously annoy real elites. I hate a business that ignores its long term and best customers in pursuit of the next customer.

I am not as aggrieved by others as this because I don't have the perspective. I made elite this year for the first time after flying with AA only since Jan 98. But I personally disagree with the system and will join the union and pay dues if someone forms it. A good negotiating position would be to ask that fake elites only get bonus miles and no other perk.

For the record I made elite in the proper way but with a soft option. I passed 50K in June on my sixth transatlantic. Total income to AA was only about $7,000 as my company has a good deal with AA in economy. I bow low to anyone who makes elite on segments (especially if the fly out of a hub.)
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Old Aug 3, 01, 2:25 pm
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Irvine, CA, USA
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Unlike most of you I am the benefector of this promotion. I have only 5K miles in my AAdvantage but status on CO and UA. For me this is a great promo causing me to shift some flights to AA.

But I agree with your comments. It's just not fair to spend so much time and money (not to metion loyalty) to EARN the status, and others (like myself) are getting it for free.

In the past year, there seems to be a trend of dilution with Airlines and Hotels, namely DL,CO,AA Starwood and Marriott.

Conclusion: In hard times, companies don't value loyalty, only the mighty $!!
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Old Aug 3, 01, 2:37 pm
Join Date: Jul 2001
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I called AA Customer service today -- they knew nothing about the promotion. Even after search her computer for almost 5 minutes, she still couldn't come up with anything.

She thought that it sounded too funny and a little "too good to be true." (but we know it is!)

Called AAdvantage customer service. This lady had heard something about it but didn't have any details.

First of all -- no offense to those that will get Gold under this program --- it isn't your fault! But the Golds, Plats, EXP that qualified through the normal channels need to:

1. Go to and send an e-mail to BOTH AAdvanatge Customer Svc and AA Customer Service
2. Call executive offices at 817-967-2000 and complain
3. Send a fax to Don Carty at (817) 967-4162
4. Send a fax to Mike Gunn (SVP of Marketing) at 817-967-4162

[This message has been edited by AAExecPlatFlier (edited 08-03-2001).]
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