Dear American Airlines,
It’s not too late to save your loyalty program. You need not go down the path of Delta and United.
On the redemption side, both Delta and United have moved toward a more dynamic pricing model. Such a model eliminates awards charts and allows, in both theory and practice, for a rapid escalation of pricing. These airlines point toward “new lower prices” for select short-haul redemptions, but the most valuable redemptions–the sort of redemptions that truly make collecting miles worthwhile–have been sacrificed or are being prepared for slaughter.
I see you are already halfway to that goal with a confusing new award-search tool that no longer distinguishes between a “saver” and “standard” award. I also note that your pricing, at least in terms of “AAnytime” standard awards is already fairly dynamic.
But you have upper limits on awards. You also have clearly-defined pricing for partners that takes out the mystery of how much a flight will cost. Although we will still be at the mercy of that partner making space available, at least we will not be at the mercy of wondering if we will have enough miles for the trip.
I’ve focused on the redemption side, but on the loyalty side, you also have an opportunity to save the program. While I’m resigned to the fact that distance-based earning (versus $-based earning) is a relic of the past, meaningfully rewarding loyalty through unparalleled customer service is within your grasp. Why? Because I remember how wonderful the Executive Platinum call center once was. It no longer is. Quite the contrary, agents often have no grasp of even handling simple matters. This much change. But it’s possible because you’ve done it before.
You lose money flying but report profit due to the AAdvantage program. Please do not overestimate the elasticity of customer demand when the value is continually diminished from your program. Please understand that you make money, via selling more miles, when you offer a program that is worth being loyal to. It’s not too late!