American Airlines Demands $10,000 Or 1 Million Miles To Renew Status: ConciergeKey Members In Shock – View from the Wing

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American Airlines Demands $10,000 Or 1 Million Miles To Renew Status: ConciergeKey Members In Shock

A month ago American Airlines rolled out status renewals for ConciergeKey members.

ConciergeKey is the status that American Airlines gives to its top spending customers and top corporate travel influencers. It’s the status that George Clooney had in Up In The Air. I had the status briefly and the best thing about it wasn’t:

  • top priority for upgrades
  • being met with golf carts and driven to American’s international business class lounges on domestic flights
  • being driven across the tarmac if you had an especially tight connection.

The best thing was getting confirmed on sold out flights when a flight is severely delayed or cancelled – American being willing to bump another passenger to get you where you’re going.

Those who were on the bubble for ConciergeKey renewal got a one-month extension so that their status would last through the end of May, and were told they’d receive a special offer to keep the status. Now they are being contacted with those offers.

  • I assumed it would be a ‘challenge’ of earning a certain number of loyalty points in the next three months, similar to what American has done before with a targeted set of members.
  • But it turns out to be a straight “buy back” offer. American normally extends buy backs at the end of a status year for elites, and these are usually obscenely priced, but they generate tens of millions of dollars across the membership. Buying back Executive Platinum for instance might cost around $2,000 and members can generally spend miles if they prefer at around 1 cent apiece to cover the price.

As with other buy backs the price for ConciergeKey is variable. Most customers are being told that the price is $10,000 or 1 million miles. However there are also reports of members being told they can spend $5,000 or 500,000 miles to have their status back for a year (or, really, for 11 months as they’ve already gotten an extension).

Compared to the buyback prices for other status levels, $5,000 makes a certain amount of sense. But these are customers who at least in the past have spent around $60,000 or more on tickets. This is a status level without published criteria, by invitation only, for the airline’s commercially most important people – and putting a price on it cheapens the experience both for those asked to pay and for those who haven’t, at least based on reactions by ConciergeKey customers on social media.

While I’ve never been keen to recommend buy backs at the price asked, which just seems too high for standard AAdvantage benefits, and also because if you haven’t earned the benefits it’s likely that you aren’t traveling enough to make paying for them worth it, I also think that ConciergeKey is different. You may be traveling a great deal just not on pricey enough tickets to be renewed.

I’m not sure what price it is worth, but I have to think I’d pay ‘a couple hundred per roundtrip’ and so if I’m flying American Airlines weekly then $5,000 may feel high but isn’t crazy. I haven’t been flying American as much – in the past couple months I’ve flown Delta, United, Southwest and more. But if I were ConciergeKey again I would go out of my way to stick with American. $10,000 cash to keep a status that I was probably close t being renewed for anyway? That does feel egregious, and first being denied renewal and then asked to fork over ten grand just adding insult to injury.

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