American Airlines hints at new rewards for its most loyal customers
At a time when airlines are making unprecedented cuts — from in-flight service to staffing to routes and more — at least one airline is exploring ways to invest in its loyalty program.
American Airlines seems to have quietly acknowledged the importance of customer loyalty this week in a survey it sent to some AAdvantage elite travelers. Depending on how the survey goes, the airline may introduce new milestone rewards for Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum, and ConciergeKey members.
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In the survey viewed by TPG, American asks customers about new rewards it can offer upon status qualification. For Platinum Pro members, some of the possible options include a charitable donation, an AA travel voucher, a one-time mileage redemption discount, bonus miles, systemwide upgrades, Admirals Club day passes and a one-year music and TV streaming subscription.
While American seems to value this reward around $150 to $200, the actual value you might get will depend on your personal habits. For instance, it's possible to get more than $200 in value from 20,000 bonus miles and less value from the streaming subscription.
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Executive Platinum members would potentially be offered two to three rewards, each valued at around $250 to $300. The rewards would include the ones available to Platinum Pro members as well as a few others, such as a pair of Bang & Olufsen or Bose headphones, bonus elite qualifying miles (EQMs) and the ability to gift elite status (either Gold or Platinum).
Related: Your guide to American Airlines lifetime elite status
TPG reached out to American for more information about the new benefits and received the following statement:
"The AAdvantage team is continually exploring opportunities to reward our best customers. This survey represents one such initiative that is being considered, among many, for future implementation. At this time, we do not have a set date for introducing any new Elite benefits."
These rewards would be a great addition to the AAdvantage program, but they aren't entirely unique. As is often the case, this move would follow in the footsteps of Delta, which already offers its top two levels of elites — Platinum and Diamond — Choice Benefits. When qualifying for these two tiers of status, members get to choose a reward, such as Regional Upgrade Certificates (RPUs), Global Upgrade Certificates (GUCs), bonus SkyMiles or the ability to gift status. Meanwhile, United introduced PointsPlus last year, a revamped system for securing upgrades.
Related: Successfully completing a status challenge: AA Executive Platinum to Delta Platinum
At the end of the survey, American also asks some questions about the value of AAdvantage miles. More specifically, the airline wants to know how customers feel about changes made in the past two years. With the introduction of web specials and removal of the legacy award search interface, there's been an overall shift toward more dynamic pricing — again following Delta's lead.
Adding milestone rewards for higher-tier elites would be a terrific addition to the AAdvantage program. Overall, these benefits shouldn't cost the airline much but will help boost loyalty — something that will be very important when travel rebounds.
As of now, this idea is still in the conceptual stage, so there's no timeline for when or if it will be rolled out. This isn't the first survey American sent customers this summer either. In June, American surveyed customers on alternate forms of compensation it can offer when things go wrong.