Rate American AAdvantage

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by Darcie, Sep 15, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Darcie
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    Darcie Silver Member

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    InsideFlyer magazine is reviewing American AAdvantage in our November issue and would like your input.

    If you would like to participate, please post your response in the thread with the pros and cons of membership in AAdvantage and grade the program from A to F (A being the highest grade). You can include a plus or minus with the rating.

    You can also respond directly to the editors at InsideFlyer at dmankell@insideflyer.com if you would prefer.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Eloy Fonseca Neto
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    Eloy Fonseca Neto Silver Member

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    I would rate C after the MillionMiler program change. The pros are very good for EXPs which get 8 EVIPS per year and complimentary Stickers on domestic 100 hour prior, could be 120 hours though! The major con will actually happen on Dec.1st when AA will introduce a not so fair program toward de Millions Threeshold, they will only allow the flight miles to compute, my only disagreement is the class of service bonus being out of that. In my opinion if you pay more, you deserve more! That's it!
     
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  3. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    B+

    ELITE STATUS
    Arguably the very best top tier elite level. Executive Platinums get complimentary upgrades at a very high percentage rate. They also get 8 confirmed upgrades for any American flights, valid from any fare.

    Lower tier elite levels don't get unlimited complimentary upgrades,which is both a blessing and a curse, there's less competition for those upgrades but purchased upgrade stickers aren't free. Unlike United there's no economy plus for those times when sitting in coach. But American has made great progress on the wifi front which compensates a bit.

    AWARD REDEMPTION
    American has the best award availability in the domestic US. Internationally they can be a bit tight on availability, though their South American route network is easy to get seats on.

    Access to amazing British AIrways premium cabin award space comes at a price, now that they add fuel surcharges to BA redemption bookings.

    Oneworld is smaller than Star Alliance, fewer routing options than using miles on United, US AIrways makes it harder to get to many destinations in Asia.

    Stopovers on awards are permitted only at the North American gateway city, except when redeeming a distance-based oneworld award (which requires at least 2 oneworld partners other than American, and doesn't allow including other non-oneworld partners).
     
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  4. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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  5. Travel2Food
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    Travel2Food Silver Member

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    B to B+ for EXP status. Would have been higher but for the coming MM change and the recent problems getting premium-cabin international award seats.

    Pros: For EXP: very good domestic upgrades, 8 eVIPs usable on any fare, additional award inventory, snacks/drinks in Y cabin. Generally good phone service & good airport service.

    Cons: surcharges for partner (BA) awards, co-pay on mileage upgrades, stopover limitations on awards, recent limitations on international premium awards made availability less than other airlines (used to be best), the MM changes are more restrictive than some other airlines, smaller alliance footprint, lack of earning/redemption on OpenSkies (a BA-owned airline....)
     
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  6. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Overall rating: B+

    What I Like About AAdvantage/AA:
    • Unlimited domestic upgrades for EXPs
    • Simplified, solid 3 tier elite system
    • SWUs usable on any fare
    • Strong partnerships with quality airlines in the OW alliance such as BA/CX/QF/JL
    • Award availability is generally not a problem to secure (though recently it's been iffy)
    What I Don't Like About AAdvantage/AA:
    • Weak geographic coverage of Africa, the South Pacific, and some areas of Asia
    • YQ charged on BA awards makes one of their best partnerships less attractive
    • Award rules limit stop overs except in the North American gateway
    • Inability to book partner awards through AA.com, and the general age and inability to improve technology
    • Preference to not publish some elite benefits
     
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  7. Since the question is to grade the AAdvantage program, I'll try as best as I can to separate my opinions about AAdvantage from those about AA itself. Compared to other US legacies, as an EXP, I'd give AAdvantage an A-. The EXP desk is hands-down the best of its kind, the 8 SWUs with no fare limits are also unmatched, and unlimited domestic upgrades are great. Award availability is also generally quite good. If I were GLD or PLT, I'd drop my grade to a B. The sticker system is a thorn compared to UA/DL, and even on its merits, there's no reason PLTs should earn "free" stickers at the same rate as GLDs. Some differentiation for international upgrades would be nice too (lower co-pays on mileage upgrades for PLTs?). For award travel, the presence of booking fees for PLT/GLD is also a big negative. Across all elite levels, the inability to book/search for partner awards on AA.com is a huge minus as are the YQ charges on BA flights (maybe that's the point-- to discourage redemption on BA?). Other, smaller negatives include the inability to check upgrade/standby waitlists online, and no rollover of EQMs.
     
  8. Eloy Fonseca Neto
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    Eloy Fonseca Neto Silver Member

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    People here are being too generous, I was very realistic and compared to other airlines my marks were:

    As a:

    EXP - B
    PLT - C+
    GOLD - C-
    Member - D

    Overall Rating: C
     
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  9. Out of curiosity, what aspects of the program are bad for you?
     
  10. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I was thinking the same. It'll help Darcie right the article if it's more detailed. Also, I'd think AAdvantage is pretty good when compared to other US programs for a general member. I can see where DL/UA/CO might be more appealing to a mid-tier elite though, if their main concern is free upgrades.
     
  11. Eloy Fonseca Neto
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    Eloy Fonseca Neto Silver Member

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    1 - The "Blocked" Upgrades when Seats are available within the Window of time for the elite members.
    2 - The "non-availability" of MileSaaver Award, even when there has been none purchase whatsoever.
    3 - The Lower benefits of Gold Member
    4 - The Lack of a third Checked bag for EXP/PLAT
    5 - PLAT has none EVIP. AA should consider give them at least 2 per year.
    6 - The Cap limit of 40K is way low, could be at least 100K (With Bonus at least)
    7 - Boarding policy is not respected everywhere
    8 - The "Piority bags" are just for show.
    9 - The Lack of assistance of Elite Phone Lines due to system restrictions, even when the situation requires a fix.
    10 - MM program extremely devaluated, they just destroyed it, with no reason, since there can never be an EXP there.

    I could go on... but I think this is enough. There are a lot of other flaws that we only experience in practical situations. These are my points of view. I try to give a impartial look, AA program has a lot of benefits and good ones, but it has also flaws and bad ones, that is why my overall rating is C!!!
     
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  12. jorgeluis500

    jorgeluis500 Member

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    I live in VE and my first choice when traveling to the US is American... but for the miles, since the service level is somewhat disappointing; I suspect because the lack of competition in the routes CCS-MIA, CCS-JFK.
    Things I like:
    1) How easy it is to check award availability through the website
    Things I dislike
    2) The lack of opportunities to get more miles other than the local Citi card. I think you could create some promotions catered toward your international customers as well.
     
  13. (Warning: This review is long because I expect and hope that American executives will read this.)

    B-. By comparison, I'd give Delta an A-, United 2011 an A, United 2012 a B or a B+, and I haven't flown Continental or US Airways enough lately to rate them, though I'd probably give Continental a B+ and US Airways a C+.

    Pros:
    • If you are a top tier elite, being an EXP in American is probably as good as it gets because PLTs and GLDs are forced to fight over sticker upgrades, whereas EXPs get unlimited complimentary upgrades. So even a last-minute EXP has a good shot at a complimentary upgrade.
    • For what people may complain about AA's award redemption, they don't know how good they have it against other air carriers.
    • Platinums get a 100% mileage bonus whereas on US Airways and the new Mileage Plus program, they only get 50% bonus miles. (Delta also has 100% bonus miles for their second-tier Gold Medallion members.)
    • Golds can go through elite security whereas on Delta, third-tier Silver Medallions can't. (Although Delta is the only legacy carrier that shafts their lowest-tier elites like that.)
    Mixed Pro/Con:
    • Companion upgrades without fare restrictions. On Delta, if you want to upgrade a companion, your ticket must be at a certain fare class or above. That being said, the Delta upgrade is complimentary, whereas on American, you have to pay for it with stickers. (On United, you get the best of both worlds.)
    Cons:
    • The biggest con of all: lack of unlimited complimentary upgrades for PLT and GLD members. American treats their topmost tier very well at the expense of their lower tier elites. (That being said, on other programs, lower-level elites get shafted in other ways. See my last two "pros" bullet points.) In one year as a Delta Gold Medallion, I get upgraded significantly more times than if I cashed every sticker I'd earn in a year. Seriously, AA PLTs and GLDs don't know what they're missing.
    • Lack of bonus miles for spending more on non-discounted economy tickets. US Airways is tied with American, here. Delta and Mileage Plus 2012 has bonus miles for expensive economy tickets. Mileage Plus 2011 has bonus elite-qualifying miles for expensive tickets.
    • On Delta and Continental, miles don't expire. On United, American, and US Airways, they expire every 18 months.
    • I used to give the AA Million Miler program some slack: every mile counted, which was fine because you can only ascend to Platinum, and I believe Platinum to be inferior to all other legacy carriers' second-tier elite levels, and Gold to be inferior to most other legacy carriers' third-tier levels. Now that American is bringing lifetime elite qualification to the same level, I would expect to see them bring up their lower tiers' benefits. Plus, American is the only carrier that doesn't have a way to earn lifetime top-tier status (except for US Airways, which has no lifetime program). If I were starting out with 0 frequent flier miles today with the expectation of earning at least 1 million lifetime miles, I would choose United. If I were expecting to earn at least 2 million lifetime miles, I'd choose Delta. If I were expecting to earn 3+ million miles, it's a little more of a toss-up and I'd have to weigh my options heavily. Under no circumstances, would I choose American.
    • Lack of a premium economy product. United obviously has Economy Plus, and Delta now has Economy Comfort for international flights, and hopefully domestic sometime soon. On United, lower-tier elites have complimentary access to premium economy seating; on Delta, lower-tier elites have to pay for it, although their product offers complimentary alcohol. So it's a trade-off. Once upon a time, American had More Room Throughout Coach, but that's long gone. I'd like to see More Room Throughout the Front of Coach, so elites don't have to fight over eight exit row window and aisle seats on a flight.
    • You can't book airline partner awards on aa.com.
    • With certain Star Alliance carriers, you can use United miles to upgrade to the next seating class. On American, you can only do that on Iberia and British Airways.
    Other Considerations:

    Although this is about the AAdvantage program and not the airline as a whole, I feel I should weigh certain peripheral factors, as well. For instance, although it's not part of the elite program, I do use the Admirals Club, and I do have access to Delta Sky Clubs, Continental Presidents Clubs, United Red Carpet Clubs, Admirals Clubs, and US Airways Clubs. If I had to rank them, I'd put them in that order in terms of snack offerings, availability of complimentary alcohol, and overall niceness of the clubs. Delta and Continental have unlimited complimentary alcohol, and a really nice selection of snacks; American has your choice of carrots and celery, pretzels, or unappetizing store-bought cookies...it gets really unappealing after so many flights. I really like the interiors of Red Carpet Clubs, although in the US, my favorite-looking clubs are the old Northwest WorldClubs in MSP and DTW...they have fireplaces! American's catching up as they do some well-overdue refurbishing of their clubs. (The ORD H-K club used to be ugly as sin. Now, it's beautiful. BOS is a step up, though the wow factor difference is not as great. I've heard SFO's club is wonderful, too, though I haven't seen it personally, yet. I am not a fan of the new LGA club.) Not factored into my ranking is agents' ability to fix flight problems. AA is very good at that, but I do not have enough experience with other airlines to rank them.

    Another factor is the actual airline product, itself. I liked "American Way" a lot more a few years ago than today. I love that Delta has in-flight entertainment on most aircraft, and American falls pitifully behind in this regard. I love the brightness of the United cabin interior and dislike how American's blue seats and dark carpeting really soak up natural light. United has Channel 9, which no other airline offers. I really like United's snack box selection, and I wish I had options like that on American. On the other hand, I wish I could buy a sandwich on a United flight. On a third hard, American's sandwiches are not very exciting. So that's a little give-and-take.
     
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