Non-Thoughts on the AA Devaluation Scare

Since every other travel blogger has posted multiple times about this, I might as well throw my hat in the ring as well, but I’m not going to talk/speculate about the devaluation itself so much as write about things tangential to the devaluation.

1. So many blogs posted about the supposed devaluation, which I guess is fair since it would be major news if it were true, but so few added actual new information or perspective. Lucky was the one to break the news, and I think Gary has the best write-up, and those are two blogs that any miles enthusiast should follow. But I didn’t really get anything of value from any of the other countless blogs that wrote about it. Is this symptomatic of every blogger wanting to be a one-stop destination for travel news? Or maybe that many bloggers just don’t have anything new to say?

2. I read a fair number of people writing things like, “I’m soooo glad that I chose not to pursue Executive Platinum status because of this devaluation”, which I’m not sure I understand. Obviously,¬†I am choosing to mileage run to get AA Executive Platinum, and I’ve already booked my flights, so I’m pretty committed. But even if the value of AA miles decreases, I think the primary value of status on an airline isn’t derived from the increased redeemable mileage earning rates. For one, Platinum status on American already gives a 100% mileage bonus, so you don’t get anything incremental by being Executive Platinum. But to me, the unlimited domestic upgrades, higher upgrade priority, systemwide upgrades, better customer service, international lounge access, and waived fees are much more valuable. So while the devaluation would certainly be unfortunate, I’m not sure why this would have that much of an effect on people’s choice to aim for top-tier status or not.

3. Before I started working, I used to think that companies were well-oiled machines where everything was vetted multiple times and people didn’t make mistakes. While that may be true of some companies, I don’t think it’s true for most places. Just like how I think it’s incredible that air travel even exists given all of the complexity and moving pieces to maintain thousands of flights a day, I’m surprised that we don’t see more mistakes like the one by AA today. Perhaps I’m just naive, but I think the simplest/likeliest answer for all of this is just that companies make mistakes, and this is an example of a mistake. Will frequent flyer programs be devalued in the future? Of course. But I don’t buy all of the cynicism and fear that other bloggers are selling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *