I remember the moment you accepted my status challenge. I had been a long time United 1K, but the Premier Qualifying Dollar (PQD) introduction was too much for me, coupled with fewer upgrades, so I bailed. All of my friends said you would be so much better, even if your aircraft cabins weren’t at the same level.
I met that status match/challenge with an impromptu trip to India (visiting the Hyatt Delhi and Oberoi Amarvilas), flying on your partner British Airways. It was a 74 hour trip of a lifetime, I still share stories from the trip. It was an amazing start. I had even been successful in convincing my wife to do a status challenge from her United Premier. By the end of 2013, we were both Executive Platinum. A status we coveted and enjoyed for 4 solid years.
I even did crazy things to maintain status with you. My wife too! We did date night–dinner, a movie, and a Cairo transit–in February of 2015. It may have been our craziest mileage run ever, I look back on that as amazing fun.
In 2014, my wife and I commonly did Date Night, which at the time constituted of round trip flight from DCA to SFO, via DFW. They were painful. The Centurion Lounge in SFO was never open for us, but at least we could rest at the DFW Centurion Lounge each way. I may be getting older, but gosh, I remember those trips as being fun yet exhausting, even with the complimentary domestic upgrades.
But things did change. In 2015 you devalued your award chart. I was sad. Many were sad. But we understood. United had devalued their award chart. Delta, well, we’re not quite sure whether they even have an award chart anymore. So we moved on from there.
I continued to fly. In fact, my wife and I flew the cycle–sort’ve–closing the deal on our status in 2016. We had a double open-jaw flight from Europe to Brazil where we flew Economy, Euro Business, International Business, and International First. The economy part was tough for me. It took a lot, we burned many more miles than we earned, just to get to and from Europe. On the way home though, I did get Schnitzel, but you didn’t have any part in that one.
Then you changed the AAdvantage Program. Like United 3 years before, you instituted Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD)s. You changed the status paradigm from: “hey, you love to fly us, and you fly a ton, so we’ll reward you.” to “what have you done for me lately?” American, you went from the bigger, wider, global view of loyalty, to a more transactional view. As Gary Leff has said (though I can’t find an appropriate link), I am not my fare, but you now believe I am.
I stuck around in 2017. I had my Executive Platinum status anyway, but I’ve found myself wandering. I don’t feel like I’ve cheated on you with Southwest, after all, we have the companion pass, and if you value me by my fare, well, maybe I should value you based on your cost. Southwest was cheaper.
I still flew a few dozen flights on your metal, with varying experiences. You should really take care of that. I can tell in the first few seconds on a plane whether it is a Legacy US Airways aircraft, or a Legacy American Airlines aircraft. Wait, I’m not so sure of that last statement, because it seems like so many more aircraft look much more like Legacy US Airways. A lack of personal In Flight Entertainment (IFE). Perhaps I should look to see how many ovens are onboard? We know US Airways had fewer. Really, American, your aircraft don’t really pass muster compared to your competitors.
I won’t even let myself get started on your award chart. Yes, you devalued it in 2015, but the amount of saver space you release now-a-days is quite simply embarrassing. The joke within my circles now is that your “lowest level standard” space is the new saver. Every time I look for awards, I feel like I’m being slapped in the face. Another example where you demonstrate that loyalty means nothing to you!
The one shining grace of American Airlines
The single aspect that I will miss the most about having Executive Platinum status, is your amazing twitter team. I cannot say enough about the cadre of individuals that you have on your twitter team. I’ve been able to upgrade flights while wandering the streets of Taipei, I’ve been able to do things that would normally take 20-120 minutes waiting on the phone, with but a single direct message. If there is a single area that you have continued to do well since the merger, American, it is your twitter team. I wish I could give each and every team member a big hug. They are amazing, and they are your greatest strength.
But let’s consider that statement for a second. American, you are an airline, a transport company. Your greatest strength is your twitter team. Really, they are that great, but consider how many other aspects of your business that you are neglecting! We’ve discussed your woeful aircraft interiors. Some don’t even have power, and this is the 21st century.
I haven’t made the final decision. There are still 3 months left in the year. Perhaps I’m naive, but maybe you will see the error of your ways. I am holding out hope. But, if you don’t, I have a wonderful JetBlue Mosaic challenge that I plan to make. I’ll also be looking into other status match and challenge offers. I’m not sure, but it could be refreshing to be a free agent again.
But really, as I finish off this brief introspection. The saddest part for me, is that we had so much together. I can’t count the number of amazing experiences that we shared together. You were the first US Airline to take on the 777-300ER, and boy did we enjoy it together. To Hong Kong so many times, as well as a flight to Sao Paulo. My only regret there is that I never had an espresso onboard. But you have so much potential American, I truly believe that. But, you, who has one of the oldest Frequent Flyer programs, need to remember those foundations. They economy won’t always be as it is now. Soon, instead of worrying about Voluntary Denied Boarding (VDB) candidates, you’ll be concerned whether you’ll have enough paying passengers to make a flight profitable. That is when loyalty matters most, and what you are doing now, is poisoning the well.
So please, consider the value of loyalty before it is too late for myself and so many others.