AAdvantage's superiority (or lack thereof) to its competitors

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by jpeterson, Aug 29, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. jpeterson

    jpeterson Member

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    As we all very well know, United MP and Delta SM introduced published minimum spend requirements for their FFP. This being said--also noting the recent, short-lived, and unintended publishing of the elite status fast-track promo--do you think the airline programs are growing more or less exclusive in terms of benefits, drawbacks, and of course, exclusivity?
     
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  2. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    I don't think they're exclusive at all - they're inclusive. They openly include anyone that meets the stated requirements and provide multiple requirement tiers to work with.
     
  3. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Are you conducting some sort of poll (at our expense:)) ?
    How about giving your opinion and/or thoughts on the matter as some sort of lead in to where you think/hope/want/expect this to go.:)
     
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  4. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    Are you being evasive and not answering yourself? :)
     
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  5. John777

    John777 Silver Member

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    Minimum spend is making them more exclusive "in terms of exclusivity."
     
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  6. Pizzaman
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    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    There's been a small erosion of benefits at some levels but I think that's balanced by the progression to a better in-flight product (upgraded seats and IFE). I don't like revenue-based loyalty but it's common in many other industries. Yes, it makes for more exclusivity and may ultimately be a bad fit for airlines because of the desire to sell otherwise empty seats for something. Sure seems likely we're going to find out.
     
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  7. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    It appears that there are two conflicting trends emerging: UA and DL attempting to restrict the number of elites by implementing the "spend" and similar requirements, while AA seems to have opened the flood gates to increase the number of its elites through status matches and fast tracks. We all know the fewer the number of elites, the better access to benefits can be had. Next year will definitely be a transitional one for all programs, with AA going through its merger with US and a redefinition of both the basics of the FF program, and a shakedown of which benefits will survive. And over at DL and UA, the first filtering year based on "spend" qualifications for 2015.
     
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  8. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    This was a nuanced and accurate response IMHO.
    The upper Elite tiers and Premium products are rapidly improving IME. In my opinion we have Emirates to thank for that as they have become the largest international carriers and have mopped up legions of premium fare-paying passengers with superior product. Freight too FWIW. It took some time for legacy carriers to understand but the responses are visible all over. Lie-flat business class, better amenities, improved uber-elite services. AA's new A321 three class transcon, many new and refurbished LH aircraft, etc.

    Short haul and standard economy are hardly changing in comparison other than a shift to generally higher density. That reflect the other big event; the growth of LCC's that, inspired by Southwest are becoming the largest volume carriers in their markets, as Southwest, Ryanair etc are demonstrating. The legacies do want to keep their Elites elite and induce them to higher fares as much as possible.

    Those two competing trends are excruciating adjustments for legacy carriers, but they are trying hard.

    IMHO AA is trying as hard as it can to get Elites to try them while they are improving and receiving so many new aircraft, independent of merger. If a good percentage of those status matches actually produce retention it will be a win for almost everyone, possibly excluding short-haul flyers from major hubs.
     
  9. zpaul

    zpaul Gold Member

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    And obviously, with elites tending to be the higher-spending demographic, if AA can attract them before they get too far down the minimum-spend well with UA and DL, so much the better.
     
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  10. zpaul

    zpaul Gold Member

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    But to answer the actual question, I find AAdvantage to be far superior to the other North American programs I'm familiar with. That said, I don't know many, especially from recent experience, but AA seems to be ticking all of the right boxes for me (award redemption availability, bonuses, upgrades, treatment at the airports, customer service, etc.). Yes, it's a very full program, but then I fly so infrequently compared to the rest of you that I can pay for premium cabins and don't see the upgrade lists and have that anxiety as often.
     
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  11. ballardFlyer

    ballardFlyer Gold Member

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    AA is my favorite program. Have been elite in all major/legacy US programs at some level in last ~10 years. Gave AA a whirl through a OW MegaDo challenge and I've been impressed ever since. In good times and bad they operate fairly and do their best to provide great, genuine CS. My best awards have been via AA too.
     
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  12. John Woram

    John Woram Silver Member

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    I'm way ahead of (read, behind) you in the infrequent-flyer category, doing hardly any flying these days, other than my annual JFK/EZE junket. So, almost all of my 125,000 miles are from credit-card purchases. And for folks such as me, these points are pretty close to worthless these days. Hardly a week goes by that I don't get some credit-card promo (buy this, buy that, buy, buy, buy) that offers 3x mileage, along with a phony "get to your next vacation quicker" blurb, or similar. Yet, when I try to redeem the miles for an upgrade, I get a "sorry, no upgrades available" even though the cabin is just about empty. In previous years, just about every upgrade request cleared almost instantly. Today, forget about it. Seems to me that AA is doing its best to discourage us infrequent flyers from staying loyal. But I suppose they'll be glad to be rid of us, to make more room for elites.

    Oh well, it was good while it lasted.
     
  13. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Look, where you stand depends on where you sit.

    having different elite levels means that the pie gets sliced up diffently. If you are a high spender, excluding pure mileage runners from competition for the goodies is great. If you are a mileage runner, the reverse.

    It all depends on which you are..
     
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  14. Pizzaman
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    Pizzaman Co-founder

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    Lots of good points here. AA has traditionally more stingy in the past with status matches and challenges, especially at the EXP level. For my two cents, if they're NOT going to have a revenue requirement next year then they should be offering status challenges like crazy to UA and DL folks that are considering a defection. If there was ever a better time to exploit the differences in the programs and grab share of frequent business travelers...
     
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  15. jpeterson

    jpeterson Member

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    No, I just am not keeping up with my own posts :p I myself value the AAdvantage program (partly because I'm a Gold--low-level elite but nonetheless, elite) and partly because of the value of the program itself. Even the lowest level elites have pretty good benefits especially compared to Premier Silver and Silver Medallion: I get priority boarding (like on any other carrier); Priority AAccess (a benefit not available to Delta Silver Medallions or United Premier Silvers); complimentary MCE and Preferred seating at booking (through Dec 31, 2013); and overall, much better benefits than those of Delta, United, or any other carrier IMO.
     
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  16. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    In programs where the highest level elites (Explat, 1K etc) get much higher levels of CS than lower level elites, the drive to eliminate "parasites" (i.e. MRs :eek:) is much greater than in a program where there may be less diifferentiation between levels of elite. So for DL and UA, who do give their highest level of earned elites very high amounts of benefits, there is a new requirement to achieve status. That is called money in the game. Will AA do it?. If AA keeps a disproportionate amount of benefits for its highest tier flyer, then I predict that it will eventually roll out some revenue based requirement for elite status.
    (And for a history lesson on why UA followed DL....just think back many years ago to when DL rolled out only 50% EQMs for certain low fare class tickets. Who else jumped on that bandwagon? CO! And they stuck with it long after DL had jettisoned it as a bad idea. So I am not surprised at this development and the characters who are involved in it.)

    Think of it like Las Vegas. High rollers get much more from casinos than cheap drinks.
     
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  17. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    AA has done that for some time. They call it Concierge Key.
     
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  18. radonc1951

    radonc1951 Gold Member

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    If you noticed, I specifically left out the "non-defined" elite levels such as GS or Concierge Key. They are a completely different story. These elites are admission by airline invitation only, and what gets you the invite is not published or well advertised
     
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  19. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Sorry, I could not resist.:oops:
     
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  20. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Stop thinking in terms of upgrades and start thinking in terms of booking award tickets instead, and those miles will regain their value. Like you, I have no status and get my AAdvantage points mostly through credit card spend - but I've had no problems booking business-class award tickets to both Europe and South America with my AA miles.
     
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  21. John Woram

    John Woram Silver Member

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    I guess I'm still puzzled on the difference between "award tickets" and upgrades. F'rinstance, in 2011 and earlier I'd buy an economy r/t (JFK/EZE and/or JFK/UIO or GYE) every year and then go for a business-class upgrade -- miles plus co-pay. These always cleared immediately. But not this year. For my December flights there are "no seats available" even though the cabin is still almost empty. So (to me at least), it seems that my accumulated 100,000+ miles are now pretty close to useless. As I mentioned before, both AA and Citi Cards make almost weekly promises of all sorts of "get there sooner" goodies if I spend/spend/spend with my credit cards. But then when I try to claim what they promise to deliver, it's not available. If this is some "new" way to build customer loyalty, I don't get it :(.
     
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  22. Pizzaman
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    No question that award seats and upgrades come from different buckets on AA. I can't answer the question of why the seat might go out empty. It may look empty on the seat map but I'd be surprised if there was upgrade inventory sitting there if you asked for an upgrade and ultimately didn't receive it. If AA can't sell the seat I'm sure they'd want to take your co-pay, barring the occasional computer glitch.
     
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  23. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    That would be an upgrade. An award ticket would be using miles to obtain a business class ticket without first buying an economy-class ticket.
     
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  24. John777

    John777 Silver Member

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    You'd be waitlisted for the upgrade like an EXP would be using a systemwide upgrade. They often open up the upgrade bucket closer to departure, so just because its not available at booking does not mean you wouldn't get it.
     
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  25. moongoddess

    moongoddess Silver Member

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    Don't buy an economy-class ticket! Instead, select the "Redeem AAdvantage miles" option on the AA.com website, select either the one-way option (AA allows booking of one-way award tickets, and often booking two one-way tickets instead of one round-trip ticket adds a bit of flexibility when searching for available awards) or the round-trip option, then type in your departure and arrival cities and trip dates. A calendar will pop up, showing availability of cheap Economy Class MileSAAver awards (light green), more expensive Economy Class Aanytime Awards (which cost twice as many points, but allow travel on any date and with more direct routings), cheap Business Class MileSAAver Awards (light blue), more expensive Business Class AAnytime Awards (dark blue), and First Class Awards (purple). Pick your flights, and pay with miles - the only dollars you'll spend are to pay taxes and airport fees.

    About two weeks ago, I booked a round-trip Business Class ticket from OMA to SCL for April 2014. Total cost in miles was 100,000 AAdvantage miles. Total cost in taxes and fees was $57. Yes, you burn more miles that way, but you spend a lot less money!

    (Things get more complicated if you want to fly on other oneworld airlines besides AA, like LAN or Iberia, because the AA website doesn't show award seat availability for all its partner airlines. But there are ways around that which you can learn about later. If you're used to upgrading Economy Class tickets with your AAdvantage miles, you've probably been flying AA anyway.)
     

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