The Travel Bloggersphere was a aflame with talk of the latest promotion from American Airlines. It was offering people without Elite Status on the airline the opportunity to fast track to their three levels of Elite Status as follows:
This is a vast reduction from the standard requirements to achieve this status:
However, what it would mean is that you would still need to spend real money to get on these flights and earn ‘Bum in Seat’ miles. Now, there are people who have legitimate flights not booked yet for travel between September and December of this year. In fact, typically with such promotions if you have already got an AA flight booked during this time frame you would just tap in their code and whammo – you would be part of the promotion.
It would be a no brainer for someone who has already booked a ticket from say, NYC to Tokyo to type in a few letters and gain instant Platinum Status with American Airlines for a trip they were going to take anyway.
However, what I am seeing is the IWYTKWIA coming out of the closet on this – we are familiar with the term ‘DYKWIA’ (or if not it means Do You Know Who I Am?) a tactic deployed by totally irrelevant people when things don’t go the way they expect. The IWYTKWIA crowd (I Want You To Know Who I Am) are those people who wish they were able to be DYKWIA but don’t even have status so can’t do much at all.
How to spot a IWYTKWIA
They don’t have any legitimate reason to want to fly anywhere other than to gain the status and subtly brag about it. As such they embark upon ‘mileage running’ where they fly from point A- point B for no other reason than to earn the ’bum in seat miles’. Generally speaking a mileage run should cost no more than 5 cents per mile to fly, therefore the Executive Platinum level on the Fast Track should cost no more than $0.05 x 30,000, $1,500.
Once the IWYTKWIA achieves status they will evolve, like a Caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly into DWYKIA, they will be the proud owners of 8 eVIP Vouchers – these are the holy grail of AA DWKYIA’s as they allow any paid flight to be bumped up one level of service. In other words they need to now fly on a paid ticket for 8 flights for the next year in order to get value. Also they are addicted to the excitement of being able to say ‘oh I am EXP with AA don’t know’ so they need to keep the status, at 100,000 bum in seat miles, that means that they now need to ‘mileage run’ even more. In order to keep that status at a max of 5 cents per mile they would be spending a further $5,000 to keep Executive Platinum.
Burning Executive Platinum eVIP Vouchers on Mileage Runs
Yep, earning those eVIPs is so much easier when you can upgrade your paid Coach ticket mileage run – err… you are paying to fly somewhere you don’t want to go, in order to earn vouchers to fly places you don’t want to go…
More Elites is a Bad Thing for You Elites!
Lowering the bar on Elite status devalues your existing status, that applies not only to the old Executive Platinum folk, but also the new guys coming in, they are by their very presence in the ranks creating dilution of value. The things they think they are ‘buying’ aren’t the same once they enter the pool. The number of seats available for eVIP upgrade are finite, so if there are more people vying for them then there are fewer available. After a point, you may not even be able to use your eVIPs because every flight that you pay for has already been snapped up.
Devalued Elite Status opens the door for a new tier
OK – So the merger with US Air is on the ropes right now, but that doesn’t mean that American cannot take a page from the US book and add a new top tier for Elites, what better reason than to ‘reward our most valuable customers’ if the EXP level is flooded then the real high value customers at EXP will be getting disgruntled – cue opening up the newest level of tier, and in the process devaluing EXP by say, giving you DYKWIAs 6 eVIPs from now on…
I travel for Free
The point of Status really only applies to Revenue tickets, the upgrades and the extra mileage mulitpliers (you earn bonus miles when you pay for a ticket when you have status) when it comes to reward tickets there is some value too, in that you get to avoid change fees if you have problems with your booking, but even when these fees are expensive, by not buying into the $1,500 of nonsense flights to fast track to EXP I have that $1,500 available to spend on ticket changes, which I have never come close to spending in the years of award travel that I have taken.
Nope, AA, you aren’t going to get my money, I am not going to be duped into ‘buying status’ and then forced into flying on 8 paid tickets in 2014 in order to get the max value out of my eVIP upgrades. I haven’t bought 8 plane tickets in the past 10 years and I have travelled to over 60 countries in that time.
Lastly, I am not going to start being that guy
You know, that guy who demands that whenever a mistake happens they get full credit from the mistake and screw the system. I actually engaged with American Airlines Twitter Support about this on the day it was released, and they didn’t know what they heck was going on, should I then spend hours on the phone alternating between pleading hope and threatening behavior in order to ‘qualify’ no, I will not jump through hoops to qualify for something that I am not invited for, and then live in hope that they keep up their side of the bargain.
Also, btw, the Twitter team at American Airlines failed miserably at addressing this problem, their solution to my question of if they would honor the people signed up was for me to call customer support. The entire purpose of a Social Media support unit on Twitter is that One Fact is distributed to Many people using the power of the network. Asking everyone to call in makes the phone lines jammed, fills up the entire support department with the same question.
That’s just dumb, American Airlines.
If you guys in support don’t know the answers say ‘we don’t know, but don’t call in as that would waste your time’
If there is an answer, then say ‘hey here is the answer for everyone, don’t call in’
That actually leverages the power of social media to alleviate customer support demands and improve customer satisfaction.