A month ago American AAdvantage announced an exceptionally generous 2013 ‘elite rewards’ program offering choices of additional rewards for reaching milestones between the various elite qualifying levels.
Unlike in past years, the offerings are based on miles flown and not just the more revenue-based ‘points’ system and in addition all members are eligible to earn rewards at each milestone rather than just earning rewards for exceeding requalification for their current status level.
Put another way, an Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer) like me can earn rewards after 40,000 and 75,000 miles — not just after 125,000 and 150,000 miles flown.
This afternoon I received an email prompting me to login to the Elite Rewards page to claim my 40,000 mile threshold bonus.
The choices after flying 40,000 miles, earning 40,000 points, or flying 45 segments are:
I actually had a difficult time claiming my reward. I would log in, select my choice, and when I would confirm I was taken back to the login screen — several times. Instead of using Google Chrome, I tried again with Internet Explorer and everything worked fine. I don’t know if I was doing something else wrong earlier, but the request processed with a new browser.
I figure that a 10% discount might save me $50 – $75. That’s real, but not the most valuable choice for me.
As an Executive Platinum I don’t need 500-mile upgrades (since Executive Platinums get complimentary upgrades, while lower tier status levels do not). Others who are regularly trying to upgrade companions with them would, since companion upgrades aren’t free. I thought about grabbing these for future use, as they don’t expire, but I don’t know what will happen post-merger with US Airways — my guess is that they’ll adopt the complimentary upgrade model for all elites and 500 milers will be a thing of the past. Perhaps they’ll convert unused 500 milers into miles, perhaps they’ll just disappear. I don’t see these as a sure-fire store of value.
I don’t need Admiral’s Club day passes. I can redeem Business ExtrAA points (American’s small business program) for these any time I wish. I am a British Airways Gold so get lounge access (next year I will drop to Silver which still gains me that access) and I also have an American Express Platinum card which generates access.
That left miles and luggage delivery. I rarely fly with checked bags, and when I do it’s on long haul international trips for which I wouldn’t often fly American (I redeem for first class on premium international carriers when I can). So I doubt I’d use this savings.
While I do have plenty of miles — probably more than is wise — I still do place some value on them as a future store of value even if it’s only a penny, in which case they would still be my highest valued option although barely once I discount for time (that I’d use the last 10,000 miles a very long time in the future).