Home Airlines American Airlines Is At It Again, Offering Status To People For Nothing

American Airlines Is At It Again, Offering Status To People For Nothing

by joeheg

At times I wonder what it might be like to be a loyal American Airlines flyer to see your airline of choice giving away the status you flew countless miles and spent a good chunk of money to acquire.

Last year American gave Sharon Platinum Pro status for a few months and while we didn’t fly with them enough to keep the status, I did take advantage of it to confirm seats for us in Main Cabin Extra, which made it seem that flying American could be tolerable.

Well, American is at it again. This time, I am the one with the targeted offer and American wants me to see what being a Platinum member is like.

I can’t help but think that giving away status is the only thing they have left going for them to get people to fly on their airline.

Here’s the offer I received in the mail:

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  • Platinum status through December 13, 2019
  • Twenty 500-mile upgrades for registering – no questions asked
  • Keep Platinum through 2021 with 12,500 EQM and $1,500 EQD by 12/13/19
  • Platinum Pro status with 20,000 EQM and $2,400 EQD by 12/13/19

American has plenty of problems and even the mailer from American has a typo on it and says I need to fly by September 25, 2019, to qualify. FWIW, I received the mailer this week. It’s only when I went to the registration website that I saw the qualification date for flying with them or the partners isn’t until December 13, 2019.

500-Mile Upgrades

Normally I wouldn’t even consider this offer but the twenty 500-mile upgrades, no questions asked, piqued my attention. The problem is, I have no idea what they are and how to use them.

Now, I know how to use “The Google” and I found an article from Monkey Miles explaining how to use these certificates. There are a couple of flights we could take on American next year and I’ll have to fly them eventually to use up the vouchers we received when taking a proactive bump to a later flight earlier this year. All I can hope is by then that American has put their labor problems behind them so I’d only have to worry about the usual delays.

Final Thoughts

My question is, how useful are these upgrades? I’m not worried about wasting the opportunity of taking a status bump with American as I don’t think I’d ever need to apply for one in the future. However, are the 20 upgrade certificates worth anything? Should I apply for the status bump to get them just to find out that five years from now that none of the flights where I have tried to use them have cleared?

Such are the questions that keep those of us in the game up at night. I’m glad I only have a few days to agonize over the decision.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

63 comments

Alan d September 23, 2019 - 6:41 pm

I was executive platinum for 16 years and stopped flying AA. My status dropped to platinum (50k level) since I have 4.7M lifetime miles. I have been delta diamond for 3 years. I got no offer…and not even a “hey we noticed you’re not flying note.

Meanwhile, my partner who never was more than gold got an offer for platinum pro and exec platinum. No cost and immediate 500 mile upgrades. He’s been dead for 8 years.

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Keith Collyer September 25, 2019 - 9:48 am

I’ve been a platinum and now gold elite status for years and have a ton of the 500 mile upgrades. I always request the upgrades on domestic flights and for the last 5 years have never received a single upgrade. They are absolutely worthless. I miss US Air so much. AA should have been the one that went bankrupt. Worthless airline

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Andy September 25, 2019 - 10:29 am

I agree, USAir was awesome. I felt like a valued customer when I was Chairman’s Preferred for 11 years. AA took over, but I kept flying US Metal. After being Exec Platinum for 2 years, I stopped flying, AA is terrible. I now have no status at all and cant even use my 19 Upgrade Certificates because I dont have status. Never got any offers at all.

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Sheppard Lake September 25, 2019 - 10:43 am

And the sad thing is that the CEO of American is Doug Parker, former CEO of US Airways. It’s like he was waiting to hide behind the curtain of American to bring out his evil side!

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efphoto321 September 25, 2019 - 10:51 am

100% agree…I have probably 30+ 500 mile upgrades and every time I check in for a flight I try to use them (I fly every other week). Since AA took over US Air I have been successful in obtaining an upgrade 2 times. When it was US Air I upgrades were soo much easier to get.

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Phen Jof September 25, 2019 - 11:22 am

Keith, I could have been the person writing your message above. Identical situation for me and yes, I too miss US Air so much for so many reasons. I’m doing everything to NOT fly with AA but sometimes I have no choice. I have moved over to JetBlue as much as possible, even trading my departure from West Palm Beach which is much closer to my home and I love the onsite parking, to fly from Fort Lauderdale as JetBlue has a large presence there.

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Phen Jof September 25, 2019 - 11:25 am

Oh and I forgot to add that I have had THEIR credit card for years too!!! So I get Group 5 boarding now instead of Group 4 which is all I got for being a gold member.

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Richard Guimond September 25, 2019 - 11:43 am

Upgrade certificate are good if you are Platinum or above. First class seats are usually full by the time a gold member would be eligible.

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Jolene September 25, 2019 - 12:21 pm

We were on an AA flight from Dallas to Austin this past weekend. Full flight – 737-800 with 16 seats in First class. Out of 150 passengers, there were 26 people on the upgrade list….for a 35 min flight.

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Gene Hookenlooper September 25, 2019 - 1:25 pm

Uh, AA went bankrupt after US Air. US Air was a horrid airline, and now AA has turned into US Air because the US Air Leadership Team took over AA. AA was a premier airline US Scareways could never match

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Mark Ravan September 26, 2019 - 8:27 am

Absolutely agree! I miss the old USAir!

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Rick Jimenez September 25, 2019 - 2:30 pm

WOW ! Sorry to hear that !! it is not the “American” way…

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Jon September 23, 2019 - 6:58 pm

Those 500-mile upgrades are only useful if you have elite status (have to be at least gold). So, if you will not have status next year, they will be pretty useless.

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Claudia September 25, 2019 - 9:34 am

I am currently Platinum with AA and have been a loyal frequent flyer with them for many years to get to this level. I would love to get one of these offers to move to a higher level. I do find this offer unfair to those of us who are loyal to this airline since I have their credit card and jump through all the hoops to receive their benefits. In addition, those 500-mile upgrades are very useful when you request an upgrade, which I do receive often. How fortunate for you that they have given you twenty of them as I have always had to purchase the upgrades and have them sitting in my account before I can even request the upgrade.

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Bob muir September 25, 2019 - 10:11 am

Platinum for Life but couldn’t get mike redemption for August 2020. Not much use having the Citibank Black card either.

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Claudia September 25, 2019 - 12:52 pm

Forgot to mention that Citibank has recently removed many of the travel benefits from its AA credit card. Barclay Bank recently did this as well. It’s almost like AA wants us to give up our loyalty to them. I did cancel my Barclay card, which I had from the US Air days, and I am still weighing the benefits of keeping the Citibank. Also, on a recent flight to the Caribbean, I had purchased tickets for me and my husband using miles. On the first leg of the trip from RIC to MIA, there were six empty seats in first class. I asked for an upgrade at check in using my 500-mile upgrades and was told that since I used miles that I could not upgrade. The first class seats remained empty for the entire flight. Would it have hurt them to upgrade their platinum flyers and others on the flight whom I’m sure also had elite status?

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Richard B Clark September 25, 2019 - 10:00 am

The airline is offering free elite status along with the 20 ,500m upgrages. If I buy those upgrades they cost me $40 each. I earn 4 free for every 12k miles I fly. The point is they are giving away the elite status and the upgrades along with it.

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Les September 25, 2019 - 10:36 am

Use to get a 500 mile upgrades on short hops years ago but n more. The only way to know for sure you will have any comfort is to fly biz.

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Sheppard Lake September 25, 2019 - 10:46 am

I was platinum pro for a year and could rarely use my 500-mile upgrades. As one other person mentioned, you can request all you want but they never award them – unless it’s a puddle-jumper or a short flight.

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Jay A Soncrant September 26, 2019 - 12:24 am

As a Platinum Pro you receive complimentary upgrades and don’t have to use your 500-mile upgrades.

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Peter A. Hatton, Jr. January 2, 2020 - 12:21 pm

Platinum Pro do not require use of the 500-mile upgrades – they were complementary. With the number of Exec Platinum flyers, even Platinum Pro has a low chance of getting the upgrade – especially in Hub Cities.

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Phen Jof September 25, 2019 - 11:24 am

Jon, I had gold status since AA took over US Airways and I have not had a SINGLE upgrade in many years. I have given up my status as I had to pay up just to receive premier seating. It pays me if I want a premier seat, to pay the $17-$30+ per elite seat rather than almost $700/year to maintain my gold status. It’s a scam!!

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TJ September 25, 2019 - 12:51 pm

I have 60 of these worthless upgrades and I’m platinum and never get to use them…. They are basically worthless.

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Christian September 23, 2019 - 8:17 pm

Great questions. I have some from a previous offer and wonder when they expire. Now I’m being offered a challenge to platinum because of my Hyatt globalist status. I’ll take the challenge because I’m flying a paid ticket next month and better earnings are better earnings, but it’s not worth it to me to mileage run for this.

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D Kra September 23, 2019 - 8:37 pm

If you don’t have status the upgrades are next to useless. A general member can only upgrade a full Y fare. So yes you might get them but never be able to use them if you don’t maintain at least a low level status.

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Mak September 23, 2019 - 9:59 pm

500 mile upgrades are worth jack-sh*t. I’m Platinum (will be my last year), fly mostly internationally (where these are completely valueless) and haven’t had an upgrade clear on an AA transcontinental domestic flight in years. I dozens and dozens of unusable 500 mile upgrades in my account at the moment — they could give me 100 more and it wouldn’t mean anything.

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Tom September 24, 2019 - 3:28 am

True

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BBW September 24, 2019 - 8:17 am

Same here!! When I do fly domestic my upgrades never clear.

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Lans September 25, 2019 - 9:29 am

I am an AA million miler and have gold status weather I fly frequently or not I had 10- 500mile upgrades in my account for the past 5 years as I wasn’t travelling as frequently anymore well last month I had to travel and I had to take 3 AA flights and I put in for upgrades for all of them and I got them too I was pleasantly surprised and got to travel first class all the way.

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Holger Baeuerle September 25, 2019 - 9:33 am

same here – was Platinum Pro and never got upgraded.. to add insult to injury when i flew domestically in coach with my wife I saw people with Gold status get an upgrade yet because I booked my wife on my itinerary we were not eligible.. despite Platinum Pro status.. i switched most of my business flights to United.

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Steve September 25, 2019 - 9:47 am

Well, I would have to disagree with the statement they are worth nothing. I get you cannot use them if you never get upgraded, but as an EXP level member, companion upgrades come out of my account. So I would have to purchase them at $35 a pop – 20 for nothing looks real good to me.

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Chris September 24, 2019 - 9:32 am

As others have said, they are pretty useless these days as much of FC is now sold and EXP and Plat Pro will trump you in the upgrade queue. If you’re planning some travel to a leisure destination or on slow business days or over the holidays, you might get some use out of them if you meet the status challenge (those are about the only times I score an upgrade these days, and even that’s pretty rare). The golden days of free upgrades are long gone.

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Josue September 24, 2019 - 5:22 pm

What??? AA no way, Never, ever again… I prefer to pay little more money fly on Delta o jetblue…..No Thanks AA…..

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Rodney Harris September 25, 2019 - 9:45 am

I stop flying AA 2 years ago because of crappy service and taking advantage of the people who fly them the most they are a crap airline i am glad we have other airlines who want and try hard every day to earn our business. I go our of my way not to fly AA

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Dan E September 24, 2019 - 10:15 am

I got the offer for Platinum pro through the end of the year but no upgrades. I was EXP but left American about 3 years ago. Now I’m 1k at United. I still don’t see myself flying American.

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jaws1080 September 24, 2019 - 10:41 am

I recently got this offer as well and just did a flight on AA. I quickly realized how spoiled I am on United. I tried to use the 500 mile upgrades for me and my wife, and each time, they only put me on the upgrade list every time. Even after calling their platinum desk and being assured we were both on the list, they kept trying to upgrade my seat only. 6 legs total and it was a nightmare. You can only see the upgrade list 4 hours prior to the flight, and you can’t even see how many upgrade seats are available. I’ll be glad to continue flying United with status.

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Tone Loc September 24, 2019 - 11:02 am

Platinum status is worth nothing. Even platinum pronis garbage. Had platinum pro for 2 years and was upgraded maybe 4 times in 2 yrs out of 100 flights taken. Pure garbage.

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David Lotter September 24, 2019 - 6:53 pm

I agree with the comments. First – the twenty upgrades are essentially worthless if you do not have status. They will sit in your AA account for years as far as I know. Second, first class usually sells out these days. If AA has one or two seats left it will almost always go to someone with higher status. American also changed the way they upgrade a few years ago. It favors more recent flyers who spend money. I’m not anti-AA. But the 500 mile upgrades are largely a relic of the past. That said – I would say elite status can be useful for seat assignments and free checked bags.

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Jen September 24, 2019 - 11:07 am

It may be stated in another part of the flier, but the one posted reads that you have to register by 9/26, not travel, so that could be helpful.

I just got Plat Pro, though I usually hang out in the Platinum range. My upgrade tickets have worked on odd flights or weekends as someone mentioned. I mostly try to use them to get my family an upgrade if they are traveling with me. It’s about 20% of the time that it works – again those are usually not peak times.

My favorite feature really is the ability to book Main Cabin extra for me or anytime traveling with me. I’ll admit I have become a bit spoiled by the extra room

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Paula Pedigo September 24, 2019 - 4:18 pm

My husband flies American every week, twice a week and gets auto upgrades, has Executive Platinum status most of the time— but he never gets offered any other promotions.

I use to travel all the time but have used all my miles and have not received any offers but would love to! So what is up?

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Davis W September 24, 2019 - 6:01 pm

I live in Dallas, and know quite a few good people who work at AMR. AA tends to have the best flight options in/out of DFW due to the fact this is their hub, but I go out of my way to fly anything but AA. They literally act like they hate their customers.

Every time I think they’ve run out of ways to give their customers the shaft, they come up with a different fee, an even tighter cabin config, or take away yet another service or feature. It’s miserable and pathetic.

Short term: show positive results to shareholders.

Long term: destroy a once great company.

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Luis Reich September 24, 2019 - 9:32 pm

Platinum is worthless and so are the 500 mile upgrades. I fly almost every week, been EXP for 11 yrs in a row and I only ear upgrades about 60% of the time.

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Keith McKenzie September 25, 2019 - 12:12 am

After taking our prime seats away from us in first three times from Dallas to Honolulu, we left AA behind for United. While AA’s 777 may have better designed seats in business class and better flight attendants, we now fly UA and WN. An airline can only disappoint their long term frequent fliers before they move to another flying option. And although I gave up my permanent Platinum status and my wife her permanent Gold status on AA, we are both Gold on UA. Like another writer, AA never inquired why we had stopped flying with them after 35 years of total loyalty. While UA has narrower business seats and their crews are not as friendly, we cannot forgive their lack of interest in their passengers. Fool me once, shame one you, shame me twice, shame on me.

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Lee September 25, 2019 - 8:13 am

You have to register to receive promotions to be viable for a Sales Challenge. And register by 9/25. Please read the offer before you complain of typos. Glad you’re not flying AA. More room for us non-elites. All airlines have their pros and cons. And why am I taking the time to read this junk?

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John Costagliola September 25, 2019 - 9:23 am

500 mile upgrades have become worthless unless you fly out of a City which is some other airlines hub & AA happens to serve too or you are top tier. I’m a lifetime platinum & can’t remember the last time I was able to use them. 20 years ago as a gold member I could use them almost on every flight.

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Lori September 25, 2019 - 9:31 am

It’s so interesting to read all the posts. I am somewhat relieved to hear I am not the only many mile many year Platinum who gets nothing….

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Joseph H Levitch September 25, 2019 - 9:31 am

If you are NOT Executive Platinum, those upgrades are essentially worthless. I am Platinum Pro and my success in getting upgrades in probably 1 in 20 flights. I am typically 7-10 slots or more below the top of the list and often find myself in coach next to an Executive Platinum member who did not qualify for an upgrade despite their higher status. So, if your status is only Platinum I would say that the likelihood you will get upgraded is very very low unless you are flying to spots like Des Moines Iowa.

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F. Torres September 25, 2019 - 9:32 am

It seems that AA is disloyal, yes, I said it, disloyal even to their highest tier frequent flyers, I have been ExPlat since the category was introduced and have flown over 5 million miles with AA and OneWorld. You would think that AA would have some kind of additional recognition or perk for people like me, but no, they don’t. They keep on giving us “Anytime Awards” which in theory would give you an upgrade to the next class of service that you are booked on. The problem is that these upgrades are extremely difficult to get and of course they expire if not redeemed within a year. In my case, I fly mostly international on business class, but American has almost entirely stopped offering first class accommodations, so what are these upgrades worth if they can never be used?

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Hazel September 25, 2019 - 9:57 am

I agree with all who replied “worthless”. My upgrades never cleared and I was Gold?

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S Hyde September 25, 2019 - 10:01 am

If any of you want to transfer your 500 mile upgrades to me, please feel free to do so. I am almost out of them. Thanks!

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Curtis September 25, 2019 - 10:04 am

There is a lot of disdain for AA in here. I’m Platinum, the beginning of real status with AA, everything below is just a teaser. I enjoy main cabin extra seats at not additional charge because I value the forward cabin with some extra legroom or an exit row. The first class upgrades don’t always hit but I always throw my name in the hat and enjoy the upgrades when they’ve hit, including a red-eye from the west coast. Each upgrade covers 500 miles although for flights under 500 miles, which I fly often, the upgrades are complimentary and don’t cost me a voucher.

As a business traveler, I want to board early to ensure my carry comes with me. I want forward cabin so I’m off the plane fast to make a tight connection. I enjoy my free drink and inflight discounts for when I do need to purchase a meal.

I also have flown with Delta, Southwest, Jet Blue, and several other carriers. I just don’t see the differences, although Delta has a margarita mix and tequila I’m jealous of 😉 The differences I do see is the legroom and the convenience as I navigate what are usually long days.

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Harry Porter September 25, 2019 - 10:34 am

I’m AA Exec Plat; wife is DL Plat. Both programs have +/-. However, the ability to confirm MCE seats at booking on AA vs Delta’s Comfort+ waitlist is absolutely precious.

When I’m not upgraded, 99% of the time I’m secure in having a confirmed MCE seat. My wife isn’t nearly so fortunate.

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Frank N September 25, 2019 - 10:45 am

My home airport is Philly therefore I have a hard time flying anywhere on other airline since AA is the dominant airline. I am a life time Platinum member with AA with 6.8 million miles and everywhere I fly I always ask for upgrade. However, the closest I have come to being upgraded is number 3 on the waitlist. I have 65, 500 miles upgrades on my account but have not been able to use them. The only thing the Platinum status brings me is the main cabin extra seat and that is all.
Good luck using the 20 upgrade. You can even have my 65 for all the good it will do you.

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Doug September 25, 2019 - 10:56 am

I think the value of the 500-mile upgrades is directly proportional to the status you have and the flights you fly. People with higher status who request upgrades will get them before you do and, if you’re like me and mostly fly legs that are packed with EP and P+ flyers, my Platinum status rarely gets me within striking distance of the hope of an upgrade. Being #13 on the list is about my record this year.

Unless I am missing something (at which point, I *really* want to know!), if you can’t get to the top of the list and offered the upgrade, you can’t really use the 500-mile vouchers.

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Dr Daniel and Mrs Lydia Daniel September 25, 2019 - 11:34 am

We have been flying AA for over 15 years and are advantage members. Most times our daughter made reservations and put them on hold before purchasing for our approval. Recently she found a competitive rate by premium economy class and put it on hold for a day. When she tried to purchase the tickets long before the deadline she was told that AA had cancelled the reservation. What is the big idea of allowing a reservation and keeping it on hold for 24 hours if the airline cancels the reservation without notice before the time ?

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Hugh Whipple September 25, 2019 - 12:23 pm

Seems to be a “broken record” of responses here. Echo the same sentiments. I have a bucket full of 500 mile upgrades accumulated over so many years that I can’t begin to remember when it began. While I appreciate having Platinum Status, it has been watered down to the point of being worthless. If it weren’t for my Lifetime Status with The Admirals Club, I wouldn’t patronize AA. Inflight product suffers, seats becoming more cramped, increased flight cancellations don’t give a very positive impression for the traveler. Now, AA is slapping me in the face by these current offers. Founding Father Smith must be rolling over in his grave.

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Ed Sparks September 25, 2019 - 1:10 pm

To American Airlines, the ONLY two groups who mean anything are (a) their “Pampered Poodle” Concierge Key and (b) Spirit passengers (who they are fighting hard to pick off). Everyone, or everything else, is mere “unwashed masses”. I have been Executive Platinum for 20+ years, and have 6 million miles. As one of our famous American Vice Presidents once said when has about how important the job of VP is, “it isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit”. And that is how EPs are now treated. And giving away these upgrade awards is worthless. Even us EPs rarely score an upgrade. And the Systemwide Upgrade certificates are just plain worthless. These are the realities of “The New American Airlines”, courtesy of a CEO who ran two budget carriers before AA (U.S. Scare, and before that America’s Worst). Sorry for the hard reality …

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lindseywbblog September 25, 2019 - 2:20 pm

I agree with the theme of the many comments responding to this article. Myself and wife are both EP status, and have been since the 90s. The program eroded for us upon the merger with US Air. American went away, and today’s program is totally US Air driven. Service has eroded. To maintain status, you must fly a minimum of $15K a year per person and 100K miles. Your chances of a complimentary upgrade is dependent upon how much you pay for your tickets. Also, boarding as an EP status (group 2) often is after 1/2 the plane has boarded (military and family members along with 1st/Bus class). Flight attendants disappear after one run through with service carts…a terrible experience if you are flying 3500 mile legs. I never fly on miles since you can purchase a ticket for much less than the value of the miles…unless you are willing to take 18 hours or more to your destination with connections. My experience results in our upcoming last year of EP status due to cost and value. I can purchase any class of service or main cabin seats for less than the annual cost to maintain EP status. I attribute my displeasure to the collapse of AA and sell out to US Air policies and control. This is my view from atop my hill.

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Kathy October 10, 2019 - 11:02 pm

Very well said. I have 5 SWUs I have not been able to use. Emerald lounge access worthwhile, but I am a 2M miler. Seriously reconsidering my 2020 strategy.

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Joseph Martinez September 25, 2019 - 2:20 pm

This is almost the same identical offer that is being done with Hyatt.

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Becci Dougherty September 25, 2019 - 10:05 pm

My husband has been executive platinufor 3 years now. He receives upgrades on a regular basis & for both of us when traveling. If you’re platinum you get many of the perks even if you are in main cabin.
We’ve been extremely happy with AA.
We live our black credit card as well…. It gets us into any Admiral”s club & has been totally worth the yearly fee.

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Sheena September 30, 2019 - 10:36 am

I don’t fly American (and posts like this make me glad a I don’t), but it seems at a glance that one intercontinental business class trip would get you the highest status for 2020?! I’d hate to spend the whole year wondering which of these people took my place in the upgrade line.

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VYoud November 25, 2019 - 5:45 pm

FYI, the local American Airline flyers feel the same way about the merger. It all went downhill after the merger with USAir.

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