Dear American Airlines: Thanks For the Platinum Pro Status

As a rule (or mantra, or life principle), status with airline and hotels isn’t something I care about. I have most of the same benefits through the perks of credit cards we have, so devoting time and money to the quest just isn’t worthwhile to me. However, if you’re going to drop some sort of elite benefit into my lap, you bet I’m going to accept it. I was able to match my IHG platinum status to Hilton Diamond, as well as Hyatt Platinum status (I was too slow and missed out on getting Hyatt Diamond status). Considering that I get IHG platinum status solely by having the IHG Credit Card, this was an amazing deal.

I was still amazed when Sharon received this email yesterday.

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This is American’s next to top level status, normally requiring 70,000 miles or 90 flight segments and $9,000 of qualifying spending. Thats quite a benefit to give away for free. Even moreso considering that we only flew four flight segments on American last year.

Lets see what Platinum Pro level provides:

  • Complimentary auto-requested upgrades*
  • 72-hour upgrade window
  • 80% elite mileage bonus**
  • Complimentary Main Cabin Extra and Preferred Seats*
  • 2 free checked bags

Not bad. Not bad at all. Unfortunately, we have our travels planned for the beginning of the year as we’re trying to stay closer to home with our travels. Two of the trips are going to be by car and the one set of flights is already booked (and not on American).

However, free status is tempting and I can see how this could be very valuable. Getting two checked bags for free can save up to $60 per flight and the extra bonus on mileage means we’d be getting a reasonable amount of miles from the flights. I’m not sure how often Sharon would get an upgrade based on American’s priorities for issuing them but even if we didn’t get to sit in to first class, the complimentary Main Cabin Extra seats often go for $30-$50 a flight.

Besides the status upgrade, American is also providing a way to keep that status:

To extend your elite benefits through January 31, 2019, earn 20,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) on American or other eligible airlines for travel between the date you register and May 25, 2018.**

So if you earn 20,000 EQMs and $3,000 EQDs by May, you’d be Platinum Pro for the rest of 2018.

What’s more interesting is that Sharon’s the only one who got this offer. We both flew the same flights last year and paid the same amount for our tickets. We also both have the Aviator Red card from Barclays. I’m sure there’s a reason for this but right now the awarding of this status is seemingly random. Adding to the mystery is that some people were gifted Gold status instead of Platinum Pro.

Airlines (and hotels) provide status matches all the time as a way to incentivize you to change your travel habits. If you have status (and the perks it provides), you may be more likely to fly on one carrier than another. However, this seemingly broad based granting of status, and high level status at that, to seemingly random members of your loyalty program is a new twist on that idea.

These promotions always ruffle the feathers of travelers loyal to an airline’s mileage program. Hey, I’d be mad too if I worked all year to fly 70,000 miles on your airline and spend $9,000 just to get status and then just ten days into the new year you just start handing out the same status to people, that’s good for almost half the year,as well as give them a shortcut to keep it for the whole year.  Fortunately for those frequent flyers, I don’t think that this offer was sent to many people who will be using it often. Maybe that was the point? If American gets someone to fly with them once or twice extra in 2018, it’s worth it to let them to let that flyer sit in Main Cabin Extra or have a free checked bag. While I’d like to think that I could use Platinum Pro status and purchase a coach seat to London on American and get a free upgrade to business class, I’m not sure what the likelihood of that happening would be.

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For a few minutes, I considered what trip we could go on to take advantage of this new found status. Common sense prevailed and I realized that we have our plans made for our trips thru May of this year and going on an extra trip just to take advantage of status that we did nothing to earn would be plain dumb. Instead I feel better thinking that since it didn’t cost anything to get this status, I’m not losing anything by letting it sit there unused.

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