Too Little, Too Late: American AAdvantage Targeted Offer to Win Incremental Business

Looking back a couple of years when I needed to fly somewhere I went to AA.com and booked one of the itineraries it offered me. I connected on American rather than flying non-stop on a competitor, or took less convenient flight times. I even spent more on tickets because American Airlines treated me well as an Executive Platinum member.

That’s the power of a strong loyalty marketing program. It earns incremental business and increased wallet share, converting trips that would have gone to a competitor.

I will still earn Executive Platinum status meaning I’ll hit at least 100,000 qualifying miles and — having spend $50,000 on the Barclaycard Aviator Silver MasterCard and received 6000 elite qualifying dollars — I’ll hit at least $12,000 in qualifying spend.

However I don’t go out of my way to fly American. I’ve flown United, Delta, Alaska, Southwest, and Virgin America on paid domestic itineraries this year. In fact I fly Southwest Airlines today.

American is making a predictable play to try to generate incremental business, sending out targeted offers of bonus miles based on spend over the next three months. The offer they sent me is too much spend for too little juice.

Register below using promotion code FM30J before you travel and no later than July 21, 2017

Earn 6,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) on American or other select airlines* between the date you register and October 13, 2017

Once reached, we’ll deposit the award miles into your account within 10 business days

With higher award prices and virtually no saver awards on American flights 30,000 miles just aren’t worth what they used to be.

And $6000 in 3 months is more than I’m going to spend on American tickets, because upgrades are harder to get and confirmed upgrade inventory even on domestic flights has dried up. Fewer confirmed systemwide upgrades (that are harder to use) are awarded. And fewer redeemable miles are rewarded for flying, too (since break-even mileage earning with the old distance-based system is set substantially higher than the average fare).

Last year United ran a targeted offer of bonus miles based on qualifying dollars earned between April 19 and September 4. My offer required fewer dollars spent on tickets, and offered up to 75,000 miles. Along a certain margin it did encourage me to book more United tickets for travel I was going to do anyway, where United schedules were equally convenient and priced.

In my case 30,000 American AAdvantage miles isn’t going to move the needle on my wallet share enough to get me to more than double the spend I’d give American in the upcoming quarter.

Perhaps others received better offers!

Terms and conditions:

This is an exclusive offer only for members who received an email directly from American Airlines. You must register by 11:59 pm CDT on July 21, 2017, and prior to travel in order for your flights to count toward this promotion.

* AAdvantage® bonus mileage offer is only valid for travel on American Airlines marketed flights (operated by American Airlines, American Eagle service, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair or Japan Airlines). Flights marketed and or operated by other codeshare partners are not eligible for this promotion. Qualification for the bonus miles offer is based on Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) earned on purchased, published fare tickets on eligible airlines between the date you register and October 13, 2017. Bonus EQDs earned as part of another promotion do not count toward elite status qualification or AAdvantage® Million MilerSM status. Travel flown prior to registration for this promotion is not eligible for the bonus mile offer. Bonus miles will post within 10 business days of reaching the EQD threshold.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I got a 75000 miles for 7500 dollars in 3 months offer. Concurrently to get 10000 EQMS, I need to spend $40000 in 12 months.

    Weighing it up. With the devaluation of miles, especially MileSAAver awards vanishing leaving only the AAnytime points, I’m leaning towards passing.

  2. I was Gold last year but didn’t requalify this year. AA just sent me an email offering Gold through 2018 if I did 7000 EQM and 1000 EQD by Sept 22. I would also have gold during the 90 days, and they deposited 10 500-mile upgrades to use during the period too.

    My wife’s email was not as good – same qualification criteria, but no status during the qualification period and no upgrades. Neither one of us solicited status challenges.

    I of course accepted. I’m far from a loyal customer with AA though, and would think that if they’re trying to win people like me over that they’ve dumped thousands of customers into the upgrade pool for all of their flights over the next three months.

  3. Mine was for 50K bonus miles-I signed up for it, but won’t be going out of my way to achieve it. It I get it, fine, if not, no biggie. Like the author said, I used to go out of my way to stay on AA because of how I was treated as an EXP, but those days are gone. I think these offers do show that someone, somewhere deep in the bowels of AA, is starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, they need our business after all.

  4. Well said Gary. American probably won’t care for a while because the devaluation has resulted in a major reduction in the deferred liability from unused miles. But when it comes it will come. Sophisticated members have aleady woken up to the devaluation and are changing their behavior. Over time, even casual members will figure it out. I expect these targeted offers will be largely ineffective, because the people getting them are more sophisticated than the average traveler. Citi is sitting on a pot full of miles left from their billion dollar bail out purchase, so they are hosed. Sooner or later their other non-air partners will ask why they pay 2,3 or even more cents a mile for miles to American that are worth less than 1 cent to most recipients.

  5. You hate AA and yet as you stated you keep coming back. Lets go back to the early 2010s when you stuck with UA…

    You gleefully shared you had lifetime status but NEVER/rarely flew American or partners. The company is doing well and isn’t looking to put out offers that will appeal to low value FFs so I’m not surprised you won’t bite. They have sophisticated CRM and know all about you and your travel patterns that’s why it’s called a targeted offer…

  6. @johnny actually American’s deferred liability hasn’t fallen they have valued future redemptions based on incremental cost rather than value of travel redeemed so is already super low.

    American’s accounting method means it carries 2.5 billion in liability va 4 billion at Delta and 5 billion at United.

    Accounting rules change January 1 which will entail an increase in liabiloty for redemptions and mlre revenue deferred until miles are redeemed.

  7. My behavior when booking flights has been very similar to yours, Gary. After 20 years of flying AA whenever possible I have flown with many different airlines in 2016 and 2017.
    Just like you, I will probably still have Executive Platinum status with AA next year, but I am not too concerned if that happens or not.

  8. Other offers exist for 50,000 and 75,000 miles – but they don’t seem scalar. (75,000 award miles for $7,500 EQD, 50,000 miles for $12,000 EQD!) No idea who was targeted, but these picayune quantities of miles for those spends and the devaluations are certainly no incentive to me (full disclosure: I did not receive the offer).

  9. I don’t know what if any offer I got as I delete AA’s marketing emails without reading. I guess that sums up my attitude towards these opportunities. 🙂

  10. Please dude. After hitting exp you wouldnt have gone out of your way to fly American anyway. You harken about your financial genius and want us to believe this what you would have done?

    American is treating you like shit and you still are trying to get their exp. Whatever they are doing seems to be the right thing. People can’t seem to let go. Breaking up is hard.

  11. I whoheartedly agree with all of your comments ! I flew on AA from MIA to JFK on june 27th flight 64. I was #1 on the upgrade list with one seat left in First. The gate Agent in order to upgrade someone below me Cancelled my upgrade request !! When I arrived at the gate after checking with the Admiralds Club two minutes before that I was #1 on the upgrade list. I arrived to the gate and my name was gone. I thought my upgrade cleared. The Agent blatantly told ne in my face that she had given it away !!! ” you exec plats dont pay for your upgrades anyway” she said. I am still outraged about this.

  12. The typos, sentance flow, and punctuation errors are enough to turn this first time reader off. American upgraded me twice unconfirmed last week. And I always thought when choosing the airline I want to earn mileage with, MY convenience comes first.

  13. AA has forgotten what customer service means. They think the market is so large who needs loyal customers. Someday they will wake up with empty seats on every flight and wonder what happened.

  14. American has become my “only fly if I have to (Nonstop offering)” flight and those miles go to Alaska (Best Status carrier imo). I agree their reward inventories have dried up and their is no longer any incentive to fly them as a main Domestic flight.

  15. I have delta diamond and aa exp status. Number of times I have been thanked for my loyalty on A A: zero. Number of times on delta: every single time I speak to a delta employee.

    Number of times delta asks me how they did on a flight: every single flight. Number of times AA asks me; zero.

    On my most recent AA flight the oven wasn’t working so no hot meals in first class. Also meant there was not enough meals in first clsss. Did exp status on paid first class matter? Hell no. Did FA offer compensation on the spot? Hell no.

    AA’s loyalty program is an insulting joke.

  16. Can you please explain to me how AA selects flights for saver awards. Because there seems to be zero correlation to fare price, it could be less than 1¢pm and they still won’t open a saver seat.

  17. Enrique Gallo: I whoheartedly agree with all of your comments ! I flew on AA from MIA to JFK on june 27th flight 64. I was #1 on the upgrade list with one seat left in First. The gate Agent in order to upgrade someone below me Cancelled my upgrade request !! When I arrived at the gate after checking with the Admiralds Club two minutes before that I was #1 on the upgrade list. I arrived to the gate and my name was gone. I thought my upgrade cleared. The Agent blatantly told ne in my face that she had given it away !!! ” you exec plats dont pay for your upgrades anyway” she said. I am still outraged about this.

    She’s right-we don’t ‘pay’ for them, we ‘earn’ them & there’s a big difference. It also shows little she understands her own product. I sincerely hope you wrote to customer service about this!

  18. I fly regularly between New York and San Francisco. Because of certain physical issues I need to fly business class nonstop. . American Airlines charges an absurd number of frequent flyer miles for this, but they are the only carrier I’ve been able to find that offers flatbed seating in business class, and that is extremely valuable to me. Do you know of any other carrier that flies nonstop NYC to SFO with flatbed seating in business class?

  19. Since the dropped saver awards in premium class, I have moved on. No more AA for me. I hope they are listening to all the negative comments about their mileage program.

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