The airlines are always looking for ways to acquire new elite customers. Status match offers, where you prove you’re a loyal elite customer of another airline so you’re newfound
airline girlfriend airline of choice gives you a fast track with elite status from them.
Other times, the airlines will strategically look for customers who exhibit the types of patterns they like (and want to reward). That’s what happened to a friend of mine recently, who received the following note from American Airlines.
IMO, this is a pretty good offer for her. There was a reasonable chance she was going to try for Gold anyway, and she currently doesn’t have any status with an airline. She accrued the 11,000+ miles this year on a couple of higher-priced business class international tickets (read, big profit for airlines). Those were earlier in the year and American hasn’t seen much traffic from her since. I view this as a pretty low cost offer on their part.
If she wasn’t choosing to fly anymore on American this year, then they don’t really lose anything other then the couple shavings of a penny to send the e-mail. And, if she chooses to fly another 5,000 miles this year, she gets Gold status. That does come with some benefits, but not truly expensive ones for American Airlines.
The lower ranks of most big airline elite programs are bloated now, so a few more through these means doesn’t strike as drastically reducing value for those that committed to a full 25,000 miles to earn Gold status.
If my friend didn’t have any travel on American this year it still might be worth it to her to grab a mileage run for this. 5,000 miles is essentially a round trip transcontinental flight. Under the right conditions, those can be found for under $500 and pretty regularly under $400. Is Gold worth $400? Now that American has more legroom seats in coach, the Gold level is definitely worth a bit more. Throw in more likely domestic first class upgrades for the time being and a 25% mileage bonus, I think it’s pretty easy to argue she could earn $400 worth of value from this.
ETA: One of my readers was nice enough to remind me that Gold members may have to pay for extra legroom seats starting in 2014. There’s sure to be an update of some sort to American’s policy on upgrades, and potentially on extra legroom seats. I still think Gold is worth $400 if you don’t get extra legroom seats but I might not be convinced if they also drastically change the domestic upgrade policy.
Count me in the column of people that think these are win-win for the airline and the customer. Just don’t give away too many Executive Platinum memberships. I covet my 99% upgrade percentage too much.