American Airlines Discontinuing Soft Landings for AAdvantage Members

by on May 22, 2013 · 14 comments

in American, Elite Status

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Historically some airlines, like American, have given “soft landings” to elite members who didn’t quite re-qualify for their elite status. Instead of dropping these elites to the cold hard world of non-elites, they’d drop them down a level to hopefully keep them engaged and wanted to keep their business with the airline and earn back their lost status. Sometimes they’d even be able to buy back the higher status, which could be seen as a win win for the airline- keep the customer loyal and draw in new revenue instead of losing them to a competitor.

American has also been known to bump members up if they were short a few miles to their earned status, so if you flew 99,000 EQM’s instead of the required 100,000 EQM’s for Executive Platinum status, American would give you the higher status.

But not anymore!

According to this Flyertalk post, American sent out an email to some AAdvantage members saying they would no longer would be offering soft landings.

Elite status on American must now be earned each year.

Elite status on American must now be earned each year.

Here’s what the email says:

“Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2013? Hopefully you’re on track to achieve your goal of elite status qualification for 2014. To check how many elite qualifying points, miles and segments you’ve earned thus far, simply log in to your account.

Previously, based on your prior year status, you benefited from an exception to receive a higher level of elite status than you actually earned. Next year, regardless of your current status, your elite status for the next membership year will be based on your elite qualifying activity in 2013.

We invite you to achieve the highest level you can to earn the greatest benefits. You can also find details about qualifying for elite status here.”

Why The Change of Heart?
American has historically been really generous with EQM promotions, running several double EQM promos and even enhancing their Elite Rewards program to reward frequent flyers who go above and beyond the basic elite requirements.

Airlines are copycats and I’m sure American looked around and realized that their major competition was no longer continuing this generous policy. Delta stopped doing soft landings after they launched Rollover Medallion Qualifying Miles in 2010. United rarely does soft landings, however they will offer MileagePlus members the chance to buy back their status if they were close and didn’t quite make it.

See: Airline Status Match and Challenge Information for those struggling to maintain status

While this is bad news for those who may be banking on a soft landing, I think it is a wakeup call that you can’t expect the airline programs to continue their generous ways- especially as we see more consolidation and less competition. In the end these are loyalty programs, so if you aren’t loyal enough to maintain your status- do you really deserve it?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Sir_Shurtleff

    One way to thin out the herd.

  • trAAveller

    A start to many upcoming AAdvantage changes with the merger…

  • Mileage Update

    I’m sure its an “enhancement” to the program.

  • D Daniel

    Considering that US allows you to buy status outright I doubt this will “thin the herd” at all. Quite the opposite. Either I can do a bunch of MR’s to keep Platinum or I can use the same (or less) money and buy Chairman’s Preferred.

  • Hello

    @D Daniel
    I guess you are completely unaware that US will no longer be around by 2015.

  • LlamaOfDoom

    I think the idea was that at least for this year you could buy your way to the top and enjoy it with AA when the merger happens. And a hope that the new AA will continue this practice.

  • Jetsettr

    I received an e-mail in Jan from AA regarding my Gold status. I didn’t travel enough to requalify but they did extend the offer to buy another year of status. I jumped at the chance, since it was only the cost of about two flights. The offer was available for the next five months, so if it is true, then it was probably among the last of those offers extended.

  • Jason Mickleby

    That is not what it says. Lots of FT report meeting their mileage quota last year. They are mentioning that due to a special DEQM situation, they attained a different status. Basically it says, that this year real EQM will count. Nothing about a soft-landing policy.

  • Jason Mickleby

    Correction: As per AA

    To clarify, the Soft Landing policy will be going away at the end of the year.
    However, this does not change how an AAdvantage member can earn Elite status. If you currently hold Executive Platinum status (through February 28, 2014), but only earn enough Elite qualifying miles to qualify for Gold status by December 31, 2013, then you will receive the status that you meet the criteria for (as opposed to receiving a soft landing exception to Platinum status), which would go into effect March 1, 2014.
    Status earned as a result of Double EQM promotions and Elite status challenges will, of course, be honored. Additionally, customers who have earned AAdvantage Gold or Platinum status as a result of the
    Million Miler program will continue to receive their benefits for the
    lifetime of those programs

  • Schmenge

    “In the end these are loyalty programs, so if you aren’t loyal enough to maintain your status- do you really deserve it?” Seriously? Can you hear yourself?

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  • Schluter

    So, let me get this straight: you spend your time (life?) churning credit cards, gaming the system to take free flights everywhere and teaching others to do the same….but “we” aren’t loyal to these airlines by paying full fares and actually supporting them financially? Sir, I disagree with your position completely.

  • thepointsguy

    All I said was that if you can’t maintain elite status, maybe you don’t deserve it. I don’t believe elite status is a birth right, but if an airline wants to give it away- sweet. If not, ill earn it the hard way.

  • susang

    If American Airlines doesn’t want my business any longer, then this is the way to do it. See ya American…

  • susang

    Couldn’t disagree with your comment any more….

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