New Way To Earn American Airlines ConciergeKey Status Besides Flying

I woke up this morning to ConciergeKey status on American Airlines, and several readers did as well. Based on all of these data points it appears to be the result of earning substantial AAdvantage miles from activity other than flying which is new.

Historically top ‘secret, unpublished’ ConciergeKey status has been for the highest value spending customers. For 8 years I’ve estimated between 10,000 to 15,000 ConciergeKey members and in 2019 American ordered 11,300 chocolates as ConciergeKey gifts.

However the AAdvantage program has shifted from looking at flight activity to determine value, to a more holistic understanding of the customer. Selling miles to partners is much higher yield to American than customers buying tickets. Now it seems that this is a path not just to earn Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum status – but also, potentially, ConciergeKey.

What Is ConciergeKey Status?

Concierge Key is the status that American Airlines gives to its top spending customers and top corporate travel influencers. It became legendary when George Clooney was portrayed as a Concierge Key member on a quest to earn 10 million miles in Up In The Air. The benefits of this status include top priority for upgrades (and no cash copay when spending miles for upgrades); airport escorts and even occasional vehicle transfers on the tarmac; access to Flagship business class lounges (and regular invites to First Class Dining); and a next flight guarantee to ensure they get to their destination.

How Is ConciergeKey Usually Earned?

There have been two primary ways to earn ConciergeKey status: spending a lot of money on airline tickets, and being an important customer who influences a lot of travel (for instance, an executive with a big corporate customer). Corporate contracts may come with a certain number of ConciergeKey memberships.

You cannot qualify for ConciergeKey with a specific amount of flying or a published amount of spending. Over $50,000 has historically been enough – at least buying a $50,000 ‘AAirpass’ of prepaid travel would come with the status. Spending alone isn’t the only driver. Margins matter more. For instance spending $50,000 and flying 300,000 miles isn’t likely to earn ConciergeKey, while there are members spending $45,000 to fly no more than 100,000 miles who will make it.

American has run ‘challenges’ for Concierge Key membership. A targeted fast track has included four spend levels for American Airlines flights that had to be met during a 90 day period. Different members received different amounts, $10,000; $12,000; $14,000 EQDs; $16,000. (Those are annual run rates between $40,000 and $64,000.)

Concierge Key is also given out to decision-makers of big corporate contracts. There are also more than one tier of Concierge Key. There are a handful of members (perhaps a dozen) that are tagged ‘Do Not Miss’ because of their commercial importance to the airline.

Non-Flying Activity Now Seems To Count Towards ConciergeKey

Last year I earned 7 million miles with the year-end SimplyMiles holiday bonus offer and Conservation International. That’s the only way to explain why I now have ConciergeKey status in my account, unless it is a mistake.

I’ve heard from readers with several data points on this in addition to my own:

  • 8 million miles earned via SimplyMiles = ConciergeKey
  • 6 million miles earned via SimplyMiles = ConciergeKey
  • 3.6 million miles earned via SimplyMiles = Not ConciergeKey

In each case there’s no other plausible explanation for ‘earning’ the status. The 6 million mile earner has had zero flight activity with American this year. The 8 million miler is on track to generate enough Loyalty Points to become an Executive Platinum later this year, and has flown one business class trip.

It’s interesting that 6 million miles did it while 4 million did not. My guess is that $50,000 or $60,000 in non-flight revenue to AAdvantage is what it’s taking to generate ConciergeKey status.

  • We know that American Airlines and Mastercard were running the year-end promo ‘jointly’ which seems to me means that American was charging less for the promo miles (as they do with signup bonus miles from a credit card).  It seems reasonable to assume American was paid a penny apiece for the miles.

  • That would mean 4 million miles = $40,000 revenue; 5 million = $50,000, and so on.

  • And historically ConciergeKey has taken ~ $50,000 to $60,000 to the airline to qualify for, apart from status given by sales to influential customers and other edge ways in. [Margin on ticket purchases matters, but non-flight mileage sales are high margin with the AAdvantage program overall reporting a 52% margin.

How Long Will New ConciergeKey Status Last?

Status that’s just been awarded and reported by those earning from significant redeemable miles accumulation all expires at the end of March, 2023.

There’s no way that – absent another SimplyMiles bonanza, and I view that as highly unlikely (presumably they’ve learned their lesson) – I’ll never ‘earn’ ConciergeKey again. I have no reasonable way to put $5 million in spending on American Airlines co-brand credit cards, for instance.

So will I only have this status through March 31? Unclear. I imagine American will do a lookback on non-flight miles generation again in the fall for next year’s status. Maybe it’ll be a trailing 12 months of revenue for non-flight activity.

  • Historically ConciergeKey renewals have been shared in November, if I recall correctly
  • But the AAdvantage program year has shifted out by two months (regular status qualification year is now March – February instead of January – December)
  • So perhaps notifications go in January, which means looking at non-flight revenue generation through… December
  • And SimplyMiles miles posted in December.

As a result maybe we could get ConciergeKey extended through the start of 2024? I am not counting on it. I never in my entire life expected to be a ConciergeKey member to begin with. But it would sure be nice. Once I lose it there’s no way I’ll ever gain it again, sadly.

I’m grateful for the 2 confirmed upgrade certificates that have already posted to my account as a ConciergeKey member.

SimplyMiles, for me, is the gift that just keeps giving.

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