American Airlines ditches physical elite status cards, luggage tags

Sep 25, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

There are many perks of airline elite status.

Some of the most lucrative ones include space-available complimentary upgrades, free checked bags, lounge access when traveling internationally and more. Top-tier elites even get upgrade certificates that can be applied to bump up to long-haul business class.

When achieving elite status, many flyers are naturally excited about their accomplishment. And what better way to celebrate than by adding a bag tag prominently displaying your status to your carry-on?

Well, from now on, you won’t be receiving a bag tag or physical membership card when achieving elite status with American Airlines.

Stay up-to-date on airline and aviation news by signing up for our brand-new aviation newsletter.

Instead, as confirmed by a spokesperson for the airline (and first reported by Gary Leff), AAdvantage elites who qualify for status will now receive a digital membership welcome kit. This online pamphlet will outline the benefits of your status, provide you with the elite-only reservations phone number and congratulate you on your achievement.

American will continue sending physical mailers for its top-tier, invite-only status, ConciergeKey, as confirmed by a carrier spokesperson.

Some elites will surely be upset that they can’t wear their status on their bags. But with reduced demand for travel, there’s less flying going on nowadays.

Photo from The Points Guy archives

The pandemic is likely also the reason why AA decided to forgo sending out these mailers. As the airline looks to cut costs and reduce cash burn, sending physical mailers is a substantial line item.

Related: The complete guide to American AAdvantage elite status 

Aside from the missing bag tags, American’s move doesn’t have too many other implications. You don’t need a physical AAdvantage membership card to earn miles or access AA lounges. However, gaining entry to some international partner lounges might have been easier with your physical card. Either way, pulling up your status on the latest version of the AA app should be enough to get you entry. 

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The other part of the travel journey that might be disrupted is the check-in experience. The airport kiosks can use the physical membership card to look up your reservation. Without the cards, you’ll need to either enter your AAdvantage number or reservation record locator to pull up your flight. But now that the future is touchless, most elites will likely end up checking in with their phones, bypassing the kiosks all together.

If you’re a newly-minted AA elite or recently requalified (at the reduced thresholds), don’t wait by the mailbox. Your membership kit is waiting for you online. 

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.