Delta and Starwood introduced Crossover Rewards, an attempt to share each others’ best customers — they will tell you that Starwood customers fly Delta more and spend more with Delta, for instance. Marriott and United got into the act together.
That’s left American and Hilton as the only remaining possible dance partners. Hyatt has too small a footprint to be the major partner of the world’s largest airline, and IHG Rewards Club doesn’t have a meaningful elite program.
Still, Hilton and Delta have remained close (despite Delta’s Starwood partnership), continuing to offer credit towards Delta elite status via Hilton stays at the end of each year.
There may not be any full fledged partnership brewing between Hilton and American, though I’m certain it’s been discussed.
In fact, what Hilton and American are doing here is exactly what I would do if I were running a program. Giving out bonus points the way Delta and Starwood are doing, to all members, is really expensive. Targeting top tier frequent travelers with status, and incentivizing them to travel and switch brands, seems like a good investment.
Remember that marketing really does come down, more or less, to figuring out who your customers are and where to find more people like them. American’s Executive Platinums (and United 1Ks, Delta Diamonds) are exactly the customers that Hilton, Starwood, and Hyatt want. Hilton’s top customers are likewise members that American, United, and Delta want.