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How to Buy Back American Airlines Elite Status

Did you know that if you lost elite status with American Airlines AAdvantage program you can now buy it back? If you ended 2013 short of the miles needed to maintain elite status, then hope is not lost! AA just launched a new program called 2104 Elite Boost where you can pay to buy back AA elite status you had last year.

AA elite status buy back

How Much Does it Cost to Buy Back AA Elite Status?

The table below summarizes the cost to buy back the status you had in 2013. Obviously the prices are not cheap, but I can see some individuals who fell short of the required miles and who have a lot of upcoming business travel in 2014 getting enough value out of paying $399 – $1,799 to buy back status. If that is the case, buying back you AA elite status could be profitable.

2013 Status Level 2013 Elite Qualifying Miles or Points 2013 Elite Qualifying Segments Cost
Gold 20,000 – 24,000 25-29 $399
Gold 0 – 19,999 0-24 $649
Platinum 45,000 – 49,999 55-59 $699
Platinum 40,000 – 44,999 50-59 $899
Platinum 0 – 39,999 0-49 $1,199
Executive Platinum 95,000 – 99,999 95-99 $1,199
Executive Platinum 90,000 – 94,999 90-94 $1,799
Executive Platinum 0 – 89,999 0-89 Not Available

What I like about the AA elite buy back program is that it not only offers people who fell short of retaining elite status by 5,000 or less the opportunity to buy back their status, but even flyers who fell drastically short of meeting the elite points or mileage requirement can also buy back their status, albeit at a significantly higher price. I do think that if you had Executive Platinum status in 2013 and didn’t come near the 100,000 EQMs to maintain your status, paying $1,799 to buy back AA Executive Platinum status is a reasonable price. This is especially true considering that you will get:

  • 8 systemwide upgrades
  • Unlimited domestic upgrades
  • Complimentary upgrades on Y/B fares
  • 100% mileage bonus
  • Complimentary preferred economy seating
  • Complimentary food and beverage in the main cabin

Otherwise, I’m of the mindset that the incremental difference between AA Platinum Status and AA Gold Status is not enough to pay $699 – $1,199. If I were in the situation where I failed to come close to earning Platinum status, I would instead opt for doing a AA Elites Status Challenge rather than pay $1,199.

How Do I Buy Back AA Elite Status?

Simply visit this page and log in. You will be presented with the offer that applies to the status and mileage/points you had last year. You have until February 28, 2014 to accept the elite status buy back offer.

How Long Will The Elite Status I Bought Back Be Valid For?

If you buy back your elite status by February 28, 2014, the status will be valid for one year, and will expire on February 28, 2015. Therefore, if you are considering paying to retain you elite status, it would behoove you to buy your status back earlier than later, since you will have more time to enjoy those perks (assuming that you have trips coming up before now and February 28, 2014).

Analysis

While AA elites who earned status the hard way will be crying foul by AA’s blatantly obvious revenue ploy, I can’t blame the guys at American AAdvantage for doing this. They obviously are trying to retain as many high value customers as possible, and while the elite perks (e.g. upgrades) will be harder to get for existing elites, I hardly think that the elite attrition will negate the revenue benefit of this program. In fact, I am of the mindset that AA likely deployed this scheme for one of two reasons:

  1. They say a drop off in elites who requalified for elite status in 2013 and are attempting to retain those customers
  2. They see this as a competitive tool to kick United while they are down, and retain the elites that they stole last year by offering those generous elite status matches.
  3. They are aware of the fact that both United and Delta have deployed revenue spend requirements to earn elite status and they see this program as a way to attract lower value elite customers who fly a lot, but purchase the lowest available, economy fares. There is some merit to this line of thinking as more and more corporations and small businesses have become savvy about buying airfare further in advance and making sacrifices (like booking a connecting flight rather than nonstop) to save on travel expenses. If this becomes the new normal in travel, then these customers still have value to an airline, but they are just not the 200,000-mile road warriors who are the creme de la creme of the high value frequent flyer.

In any case, I see offers like these as a harbinger of things to come for airline elite programs. As airlines become more focused on revenue rather than filling empty seats, they will explore more ways to monetize their assets, and buy back programs like these are an excellent way to do so.

Filed in: Airline Elite Status, Elite Status Tags: , , ,

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