I’ve posted previously about my desire to see the current way that American Airlines handles its AAdvantage elite upgrades stick around after the new American merges the Dividend Miles program into AAdvantage. For background purposes, American offers complimentary upgrades to its top-tier AAdvantage Executive Platinum members. Gold and Platinum members earn four 500-mile upgrade credits for every 10,000 miles flown. They can also buy upgrade credits if they don’t have enough, and wish to upgrade. The price for those is $30 per 500 mile upgrade. Many of us that have been around AAdvantage for a while still refer to these electronic upgrades as “stickers.”
Many took some solace in recent comments in Business Travel News by AA CEO Doug Parker that a move to a revenue-based frequent flyer program was “not even on the plate right now.” He went on to say that “we have to get the frequent flyer programs merged first.” While I don’t think this necessarily means AA never goes revenue based, it does give them a window to measure the effects of the Delta and United changes. While many are understandably focused on that, I keyed in on the focus on getting the programs merged first.
There is a ton of work that needs to happen behind the scenes on that, a lot of which is likely already in progress. Management has stated previously that they are focused on adapting legacy AA systems. Adapting the systems of the larger airline is a wise move, as there are fewer employees to train, and fewer customers to educate on new systems, etc. Could this also make it more likely that the merged program adapts legacy AA’s upgrade system too? I think that’s a distinct possibility. At least I’m going to keep telling myself that!
While one could argue that the fact that AA Executive Platinums means that AA already has the tools in place to offer complimentary upgrades, you could also argue that the fastest way to merge the programs is to roll Dividend Miles into AAdvantage as it stands. That might upset some US elites, but they might enjoy a better upgrade percentage for the flights they really care about upgrading on. That’s been my experience with the current system, and I hope it remains. In the meantime, here’s a reader poll. Tell us how you feel. Which upgrade system do you like best?
-MJ, August 14, 2014Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.