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Should I status match / challenge with American Air and “put my money where my mouth is”?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


should i status match with american air

You know there is just so much a frequent flyer can take. Being deceived, bamboozled and treated with utter disrespect only gets you so far in the business world and over the past year my beloved Delta has done all of those in spades.

Now this post is more of a personal reflection and I can tell you upfront I know very little about American’s elite program or the day-in day-out bits of flying them. Over the past year I have flown them once. It was fine. I have had access to their clubs before and they are fine but nothing “that” special over Delta (before the latest Skyclub changes they did have better house wines).

I do know that, much like Delta, around 1JULY each year is a good time to get MAX value out of a status match / challenge (there are no straight up matches so it really is a challenge, but I will use the word match in this post for simplicity). With Delta, if you match after 1JULY, your status is good the rest of the current year and the following one. It seems, according to my fellow blogger Ben, after 16JUNE each year is the best call with AA, but really I could do it any time I wanted.

Some of you may be considering a match over to Alaska as my fellow blogger MJ is and he highlights the best time to do that for MAX perks is to wait until October of any given year. That is interesting as well. For me, Alaska is just not the best choice, but that may not be you.

Here is my personal situation. I have a bunch of flights booked with Delta the rest of this year. I will end the year with enough MQMs to rollover Diamond medallion status (almost) and once I spend $30,000 next year in January on my Delta AMEX Reserve card I will be Diamond until February 1st 2018. I will be doing that as I still have SkyMiles to burn and I like the perks of being a Diamond and the choice benefits are nothing to sneeze at. But a January match could work out very nice.

aa membership levels

Now I would ONLY do this if AA allowed me to match to Executive Platinum from Delta. There have been on this FlyerTalk thread reports of some success doing this even as a Delta top elite and since I have and will have flown well over 200 segments with Delta in the past two years and spent a bunch of cash I think they would offer this. We will see.

map of my choices

Again, if I do this, it will be a personal choice and if you are considering this you should look at all your options as well, but you can maybe use my thoughts as a guide. Notice for me the map above. South Bend (SBN) has been my “home town” airport forever. It is closest to my home and under a 45 minute drive from my front door to be at the gate waiting to board. That is very nice. However, AA and US Air both pulled out of SBN a while back. Of the majors I have Delta or United (shudder) to pick from. I may one day collect UA points again, but I am not about to fly them (no one should be that desperate). So my options, per the map with AA are:

  • AZO. 1hour-ish away is the plus of this airport. Cheap parking too. No tolls but I am always connecting via Chicago. That is less than a great choice of connections.
  • FWA. Under 2 hours from home. Not the best drive to the airport but no tolls. There ARE direct flights to DFW but I will be stuck on 50 seat regional jets. This would be a next to last choice for me.
  • GRR. Spot on 2 hours from home. I like GRR. They do have direct DFW flights and on CRJ7/9s so that is nice and thus avoid Chicago and get a business class seat. No tolls and drive is not bad at all. I like this choice other than the longish drive.
  • ORD. From 2-3 hour drive from home. Lots of tolls. Parking is ridiculous. I can take a bus from SBN, but I might as well go to AZO then. The plus side is Admirals and other clubs at ORD. I just really hate ORD due to weather and constant other possible delays.

Now it is good for me to have choices. If you live in Atlanta you are clearly going to ATL to fly and that is not bad. You do have an AA club there as well as THE CLUB at ATL as choices (again if you have access). Also, I just LOVE the idea of connecting more out of DFW for more Centurion lounge time as that is #Winning to me!

There will be some issues if I go for this. Again, I know just enough about AA to be dangerous but that is fun to me. I do have a ridiculous wealth of knowledge with my fellow BA bloggers and a bunch of them call AA home. I would like to learn and become an expert AA flyer and blog source so many have asked for and be able to fire off the right answer to any question. Also many have asked about matching with AA and how it goes and it would be fun to show my journey step by step. Really this would be a blast to do. And there is award points and space.

sbn to lax biz space aug

I want you to take a look at the Delta.com’s amazing outstanding enhanced broken award calendar for a one-way award in business class from SBN to LAX for the month of August. Keep in mind per the hidden Delta award charts the LEVEL 1 space for this should be 25,000 $kyRubles but I would have to pay about double that. Now, notice the same search from AZO to LAX on AA in business class award space:

aa award business class space for aug

I think I make my point(s). That is a refreshing award calendar. Oh, and AA does not hide their award page btw nor do they pull so many of the deceptive practices Delta does with their award program. Also do notice that in this post award space was not the 1st and most important issue but how I will fly on paid tickets. That is very important but award space does matter as well and is a part of the “who to fly” choice.

I have to tell you I am excited about this idea. Now sure, before the flood of comments begin, that AA will do the exact same thing that Delta has done to their award program, I can confidently say that is not going to happen. I am NOT saying it will not change, but I doubt they will utterly destroy and decimate the program like Delta has. Even United has not gone THAT far (yet).

Anyway, there would be lots of other bits to consider like making sure I am in a fare class, during my challenge, that earns full elite points and so on. I would have to look at getting a card like the Citi Prestige® World EliteTM MasterCard® that gets me AA club access (not membership) when flying AA (oh my wife gets in free too so no $29 Delta +1 upcharge here)! Yeah, the list will be long but again, I think this could be a blast!

What do you think? Should I go for an AA match? Are you considering a match to another airline after all the nasty changes Delta has inflicted upon us this year? – René

 

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

41 Comments

  1. John Clements Reply

    The easiest solution in view of your unhappiness with what Delta have done to their various programs would seem to be – switch to American and rename the blog American Points.

    Perhaps I’m just confused that despite your apparent disappointment with what Delta have done to reduce the privileges and benefits previously offered, you still fly with them.

    • @John – I still have a boatload of $kyRubles to burn and have flights already booked and paid for (on Delta) plus making a switch takes planning. And as you can see from this post, I am clearly thinking about doing just that. But yes you seem confused. 🙂

  2. Well, from my (purely selfish) viewpoint I think it would be cool for you to try. I would be interested to read about how the transition goes, status match etc. I’ve been planning less flights next year on Delta and with the merger AA is jumping over Delta to become the 2nd largest carrier at my home airport.

  3. The only reason I haven’t moved away from Delta yet is that I’m closing in on million miler status. Once I hit that I feel I will be doing a similar consternation about what to do.

    Though as a BOS flyer, I have a lot more flexibility, so that is a good thing for me.

    • @Jason – I am in the same boat that is will end the year well over .9MM and will finish my 1MM with Delta no matter what to lock in the those perks (until they make them go away that is).

  4. Your bitter and I don’t blame you. You also aren’t well located for airport hubs much like myself.
    I’m seeing more and more Delta elites on AA flights lately. I wonder why.
    my suggestion is to status challenge over to AA. Also status match over to Alaska, they won’t likely require a challenge (especially from a Delta elite). You could even status match over to Air Berlin if you do much Europe flying out of ORD.
    Oh and I like AA a lot but I feel that they are overdue for a devaluation once the merger is further along, sadly. If they can just stay still with no changes for a year or more they might be able to steal many elites from other carriers I think.

  5. I changed last year, I now have both AA Evp and Delta diamond. I put 80% of my flights on AA and 20% on Delta. I have used tons of Delta miles over the last 12 months ( more than I did over past 5 years) so any further changes on Delta don’t hurt me as much. AA will devalue but in my opinion they will still be better than Delta and UA

  6. After a YEAR of research, I settled on giving American Airlines a shot. A few fellow travel hackers I follow on Twitter said that this is their go-to airline. So, because I’m a very loyal customer, I’m flying AA tomorrow internationally for the first time in 18+ years. This is going to be a test run to see if AA can live up to the quality standards that Delta has set for me.

    I flew Delta two weeks ago and remember why I love the airline…the people–as you’ve mentioned–are phenomenal. The flights and baggage are on time, and the aircraft is clean and safe. The only thing that makes me want to switch is the disappointing changes to SkyMiles. As I’ve already stated, I’m a very loyal person, and Delta is not rewarding me for my loyalty. Loyalty, to me, is a two-way street.

    Plus, it’s going to be hard to get rid of my Delta Amex…this card has treated me so well. It’s stupid to say–especially for a credit card–but it’s one of the few things I can think of where I feel passionate about a brand. It’s just too bad that the SkyMiles I earn with the card are useless nowadays.

    I doubt you’d be interested in hearing about my first AA experience (operated by United, ugh), but if it would help you make up your mind, I’d gladly share. It’s nice to know that you and I are thinking alike though, Rene!

    • @Richard K – I am always open to fun Sunday reader guest posts. Take a few shots of seats etc and a few notes and what would really be good is DL to AA comparisons in your mind. Let me know and shoot me an email if interested! Rene @ DeltaPoints.com (remove blank spaces)

  7. Yes, this definitely needs a response. The only way Delta stops devaluing is if it hurts them financially. It’s the only language they speak.

  8. Perhaps you should let me tag along and carry your bags? or I can be the “points caddy” …

    • @Scooter – Happy to have company on my adventure in AA land. PS – There may be BBQ along the way!

  9. I agree I think you should do the status challenge with AA. I doubt they’ll match you to exec plat but they do have platinum challenge and if you really like them, there are probably ways to mileage run and earn over 100k EQM or 100k EQP by the end of the year.
    It would be interesting to hear if the transition is worth it. Of the 3 major carriers, AA is the only one that has not had a devaluation (yet) so beware! Good luck! I’m a free agent this year so I’ve flown on all 3 domestic carriers and JetBlue thus far.

  10. Don’t switch. You’re flying mostly for business right? And DL still serves SBN. For the ease and convenience for your business trips, stay with DL as you know them well and the crew and phone reps are mostly great. High on time departure/arrival rate and reliable baggage service. If you start writing about AA, you’d be just like everyone else on Boarding Area. The market is already saturated and everyone just copies and pastes the same info. It’s #boring and like reading second hand news (Hint, TPG copying Lucky Ben and you.)

    • @Ben – Lots of folks have status with more than one airline. I will be flying DL for a few more years if nothing else to burn up my $kyRubles. Yes I fly for business and personal travel. Yes SBN is great but Delta decimating the frequent flyer program and the never ending cuts to the elite program have pushed me to at least consider AA.
      .
      I do think many would enjoy seeing how it is to match and fly AA from DL. If you don’t want to read those posts just read the DL ones 😉
      .
      Thanks for supporting the blog!

  11. Aaron Nelson Reply

    Go for it and let us know how you like AA. It’s too tough to find value in doing business with Delta these days.

  12. Please status/challenge match to AA. I did this earlier this year and have not regretted it. As a DL 2mm who has been DM for years, it truly is a challenge learning a new airline and ff program. But it has been fun, too. I think you would enjoy it. In spite of all of the horror stories, I have yet to experience a single significant flight delay or cancellation on AA.

    Not everything is better in AAdvantage, and it is certainly possible that changes may come to this program as well. Nevertheless, my eyes have endured too many encounters with sharp sticks from DL enhancements to put up with it any longer.

    If you switched to AA, I know I (and many others) would greatly appreciate your advice on AAdvantage. If you don’t switch, I’ll still read your blog since I have a ton of skymiles to use on DL, or rather DL partners. Plus as long as rollover miles count and credit-card spend gets around the MQD requirement, I’ll have DM status on DL for the next few years.

    I hope to see you on an AA flight or in an Admiral’s Club in the near future. What do you have to lose?

  13. Rene when I travel the last thing I want is to drive 2 hours to catch a flight when south Bend is less then 45 minutes – here is another option – still fly delta but credit the miles to alaska and fly american when ever you can and also credit to alaska — American may go Thur the same devaluation that both delta and united have done – bob Dylan had a song – the times they are a changing
    good luck with your choice

  14. My only issue is that of obtaining status on AA. I fly enough to make Diamond as long as I have the bonus MQM’s from my Amex cards. With no ways to obtain status-earning miles other BIS on AA, it’s a non-starter. Sadly.

  15. PS. I think it would still be worth it to switch even if you must complete a Platinum challenge and fly your way to Exec Plat. You can also get 10,000 EQMs with the Citi executive mastercard to make it easier. Being less than top tier for a while would provide useful and interesting experiences to share.

  16. Rene, you need to go for it and write all about it. I’m going to do the same thing at the end of August. My feeling with Delta right now is, “I’ve been loyal to you and this is how you treat me back?”
    Would I shop at a Department Store that I hate?…would you buy a car from a dishonest dealership? of course not, and it comes down to that. I have principles, (some anyway), and I can’t give my money anymore to a company that I complain about. So I’ll take my 15K spend a year, (I know, Delta will really miss me), and move on. I’ll sleep much better and with the World Elite Mastercard, my wife can even come into the Admirals club for free!

  17. I have just completed exhausting our sky miles with planned trips. I will not fly Delta once these trips are completed. I live in Mpls so this will be a challenge, but I believe in follow through and it is clear Delta does not care about its programs. I will focus on AA for international and Southwest for US. I will also close out my Delta Amex card as it has no further value. We have already replaced with Amex Gold card for my husband and Citi Thank You for myself.

  18. I know this is a bit of a sidebar issue here, but everyone seems to like Delta staff. Have you flown to Australia recently? They must park their most battle-weary stewardesses on this long haul route. Grumpy in both economy and business, they are usually rough and ill-mannered with every one. And the breakfast is like cardboard. Contrast this with a recent transcontinental flight, and it was like flying a different airline. Great Delta staff, and edible food! Any idea why this is?

  19. Corbett Kroehler Reply

    Two weeks ago, I was treated worse than I would expect an F0 to tolerate. I even escalated the issue to the duty manager of the MSP mall SkyClub. He at least tried to help but feigned lack of authorization. I told him that I would take $15,000 in annual revenue which I spend on Delta over to American. He said he understood. I was fully resolved to make the move. Right before I logged onto aa.com in order to research status match, I decided to try the Diamond Line one more time. The reservation agent quickly found an issue resolver in Cincinnati, Whitney. Speaking with her was like a breath of fresh air. She resolved the matter to my satisfaction (paying for one night at a hotel of my choosing, I went with the MSP Marriott) and a $125 credit.

    Because I need reliable air transport and my upgrade percentage has returned to 95%+ over the past 3 months (I avoid ATL most of the time), I decided to forgo the switch, although I was deadly serious about jumping. If you feel as insulted by the mothership as you are justified in feeling, maintain your integrity and pursue the match. I told the SkyClub manager that my threat to move my business to American was not idle and it wasn’t. You have explained your displeasure with cold, hard facts. Act on them.

  20. René,
    I have also been pondering switching to AA. Here is the one problem that I have and it is the costs of using miles to purchase tickets. My son is marching Drum Corp this summer and my wife and I were thinking of going to San Antonio to watch 22 different Drum Corps compete.

    I have about 80,000 miles between what I had on AA and what moved over from US and could have booked RT tickets from MIA or FLL to SAT for 25,000 miles each plus an additional $93 each for fees.

    Since AA now uses the same reward that US had, I have to assume that this will be the model going forward. I tried to go to the UK 2 years ago and it was on sale for 65,000 miles but also almost $300 in cash.

    so buyer beware.

    Gregg

  21. @Rene, go for it! Many of us might follow in your footsteps once you’ve learned the ropes and blazed the trail for us. I reached my goal of 2MM a couple months ago and received my free luggage “thank you gift” from the mothership. I’ve been DM since inception of the level, but after getting screwed over by Sky Bone Us on a recent promotion, I’m itching to try AA.

    @Annie Flight Attendants get to pick their routes and schedules based on their seniority. With SYD/Australia being an awesome destination, and high pay for flown hours, Delta’s most senior FAs are going to fly US to SYD. So, yes, you are going to get their oldest, most senior, most grumpy people – many of the most senior FAs are former Northwest, and they are still sulking about their lost union. Fly for the destination, not the trip.

  22. I would LOVE to see you jump to AA and tell us about it, because I am REALLY on the fence about going myself. I have a couple of concerns; almost everyone says AA will not do an EP status match for DL flyers (apparently they will do it for UA flyers though?? Seems crazy). AA EQM or EQP seems harder to earn (or am I just imagining that?). And lastly I am an ATL hub captive… but honestly I would still go for AA if you find it to be a smooth transition. I hope you try it!

  23. I’ve never flown AA, and loathe UA, so I would love to see your comparisons and impressions of AA.

  24. Skippie687 Reply

    I already have 100K miles worth of flights booked on AA (mostly BA) for the rest of the year and will start a challenge at the end of August. I am also burning off my SkyMiles this year, will be silver again next year and roll over 120K MSMs, got to love Deltas rules. Hope you join me.

  25. Tom Vaughn Reply

    I’d like to learn more about AA as well and I think you would do a good job sharing info. Good luck if you move forward.

  26. Rene- I agree with Ben – you are one of the rare bloggers who write about Delta Air Lines. If you match I would set up a separate blog for those posts like you used to have about Mileage Runs… I live in Seattle so I am not changing since I do a lot of International flights and love GUs

  27. Rene, you say: “…and once I spend $30,000 next year in January on my Delta AMEX Reserve card I will be Diamond until February 1st 2018.” Be careful with those statements and plans, as nothing surprises us anymore with the things they can and will change on us last minute.

  28. Rick Christman Reply

    Rene’, I recently moved from San Diego to the DFW area. I am giving very serious consideration to going to AA. Many years ago I was all-in for AAdvantage, but the companies I’ve worked for had agreements with NW and/or DL. Currently I am permitted to use whichever US carrier I want to use. I have over 1M miles with DL to burn and will be a Million Miler with them by December this year if all works per plan. Would be interested to see how your ‘conversion’ goes.

  29. OK word of caution on AA mileage redemptions:

    I just booked FLLATL RT for this weekend Friday the 24th returning Sunday the 26th. on delta 25K miles RT plus a fee of $11.20.

    on AA, they had MIA to ATL direct RT for 50,000 miles in business class and a fee of $88.20. by going Thursday and coming Back Monday on AA, I could also get 25,000 miles and match Delta on miles, but the carrier imposed taxes and fees are still $88.20 on AA.

    This to me makes trying to status match on AA a hard pill to swallow when trying to book award travel.

    Checking flights from MIA to LHR in august RT, it is 60,000 miles on AA for the cheapest award seats and a $202.50 fee while Delta was also 60,000 miles and a fee of $199.60. DL allowed for the direct flight of LHR to MIA on Virgin and change in ATL on the way out while AA changes in either ORD or CLT.

    The UK fee difference isn’t bad, but the US one is way too much.

    Gregg

  30. I just completed the AA status match as I’ve had to fly them for work quite frequently this year. I often struggle with choosing btw AA or DL (my family started me off on AA and my first cc was an AA card, but I’m nearly tied for Million Miler on both). I typically only use AA awards for JFK-STT at the holidays and have had success getting low awards, but the fact remains that even their “new” planes seem like junk next to DL. I sat next to a guy on Sunday who works for GoGo and he attributed a lot of the differences to the fact that both UA and AA went through mergers much later than DL which takes years to overcome. Makes sense. So although I am still taking a DL/KLM JFK-HEL flight next month and an SJO-BDL flight next week in an attempt to make DL PM for next year, at least I have AA status to fall back on.

  31. René, I guess I’m the target DL is after. I fly for business and on time is more important that points. FCM reduces my upgrades, but I’ve only spent 2 night stuck in ATL over 1.1 million because of mechanical issues.

    I love my MYR GAs and can’t imagine dealing with the USair people ever again. ATL is great while CLT is a dump.

    So, minus the issues with bonus travel, I get the basic product DL offers which is “A to B” better than everyone else. It’s hard to complain about that.

    I guess I’ll ride this one out while waiting at the gate for my UG to clear.

  32. Interesting comments here. I can see why some folks continue flying Delta. This blog provided the final push for me to make the break with Delta. I took the $200 US Airways challenge and as of this year I’m Exec Platinum with AA and couldn’t be happier. I’m used to flying Economy on long hauls (e.g. ORD-DFW-HKG). Now that I have 8 SWUs, I’ll see if they work for me; I’m on the wait list for upgrades on a few long-haul Asia flights.

    I already used US Airways SWUs on flights to Europe for a friend and me, and it was great. It was my first experience with lie-flat Business class. I hope I’m not spoiled now and start expecting this!

    I’ve been happy with AA customer service and staff. Admiral’s Club staff have cheerfully resolved some issues for me, including making a same-day change on a domestic flight (and I got my complimentary upgrade, to boot).

    And then there are the international lounges. I’ve enjoyed the Cathay Pacific business class lounges in HKG, and now that I’m EP I’ll visit the Cathay Pacific 1st class lounge in August. And next year I’ll fly on my first ever award redemption: 1st class on AA, QF and CX, and will get into the QF 1st class lounge in Melbourne and the BA 1st class lounge at LHR.

    I offered my 300,000 SkyPesos to a friend, and she got 2 Economy awards to Europe for 250,000 SkyPesos total. That’s ridiculous! Granted, she is a novice at this. But with no award chart to guide her, this was the best she could do.

    For me it’s about fun, and I’m having far more fun flying AA than DL. With AA I feel that I know where I stand, at least for this year. With DL, I’d be on guard constantly. I enjoyed DL for a time, but now I’m super happy with AA.

  33. Jack Campbell Reply

    Man, I am so over DL. After almost 2 million miles I have decided to take my business to AA. I love the AA reviews here. I racked up over 1 million miles on AA back in the 80’s mostly thru international trips but it’s been 20 years since I last set foot on an AA flight. Looking forward to the change. You knew that DL was headed to a bad place when they put a McKinsey guy over the Skymiles program. Not a good sign. If he had been from Disney or Ritz Carlton, I would have felt better. These guys are flying this company with spreadsheets. AA here I come!

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