The Last Holdout: What Is American Airlines Strategy In Withholding Elite Status Extensions?

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American Airlines is the last holdout of the legacy carriers that still hasn’t announced any relief effort for their AAdvantage Elite members for the current and coming membership year.

Pretty much all competitors have now published a complimentary elite status extension policy for their customers but so far it’s been crickets from American.

We’ve been monitoring all loyalty programs and kept our readers up to date whenever a new program announced the complimentary extension which most of them did by now.

For example:

American has been noticeably silent though and as of now no information about status is included on their COVID-19 related site.

People aren’t very patient when their airline of choice is the only one that still hasn’t come out with any relief policy and the related comments on social media isn’t all too kind to say the least.

The only reaction to the topic of Elite extensions was a video with AA’s Sr. VP of Customer Experience American Airlines released last month where the matter was briefly touched upon.

That was three weeks ago though and since then their entire competition has reacted. So why hasn’t American?

One possibility is that they are still doing some modeling how the blanket status extension for all members would likely impact business. The argument against this would be that all other carriers have already given their members a free extension so the optics would be really bad if AA decides to abstain from offering something similar. Customers would feel cheated and not valued, resulting in an avalanche of complaints and likely lost business in the future.

Personally I don’t think they have a choice but eventually do the right thing and extend everybodies status and certificates. The airline industry especially in North America basically just copies each other in terms of program structures.

Conclusion

Just like in the case of Marriott who was also the very last hotel company to announce their extension I believe that American isn’t doing themselves any favors by dragging this out. Get it out of the way and let members plus their own departments breathe, focusing on more important things.

Readers have also asked about the implication of a possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on their miles and status. In previous bankruptcies the mileage programs remained untouched and in fact the programs nowadays are extremely profitable so it would be unwise to do away with them. Customers wouldn’t forgive that. The only instance where I can remember this happening was Ansett Australia. However part of participating in the U.S. governments “bailout/stimulus plan” is that the airlines aren’t allowed to file for Chapter 11 so I’d say it’s unlikely that this is on the horizon this time.

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