In either a strategic masterstroke or an incredible coincidence, American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels reciprocal status challenge is perfectly timed, and even better for me personally.
Perfect Timing To Bring Back Shared Status Challenges
I wrote in another blog post published today detailing the changes at Delta. The same week that those changes were received widely with shock and horror, American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts brought back their reciprocal status match/challenge for current elites.
This could be a case of strategic timing and perhaps kismet, but I don’t think so, and here is why.
First, the timing is obviously amazing, suspiciously good. Second, American Airlines had this promotion in its back pocket on both sides of the process. What I mean by that is that American and Hyatt have run this exact promotion before, so it would have taken very little to get it put back out there using the same materials they have used in the past. But this isn’t a traditional status match. American moved to “instant status” earlier this year for a four-month period with ever-increasing requirements to maintain that status in three periods throughout the year to maintain it. That, too, is off-the-shelf and not really a custom marketing product.
That suggests to me that this is repackaged and specifically launched because of the Delta news is the run period. The instant status runs for four months, but this run expires on January 31st, 2024 which should start on October 1st, 2023. But it doesn’t. It starts right away. That suggests that perhaps the promotion was planned for later, but was pushed up to time it with the Delta news.
And it’s, of course, the perfect time to bring this promotion back to grab some of those who might have had enough and are ready to try something new.
Like A Dog, Returning To Its Sick
I left American Airlines after 16 years with the carrier over a meal. The evidence of the “gnocchi” is below. Adding insult to injury, this was the replacement for the first meal which I asked to have replaced. I had seen enough.
I’d had it with the endless cuts once US Airways management took over. The thought that IFE equipment would be removed, service I had received from some long haul FAs was uninspiring, and equipment had become unreliable too. But it really was this terrible meal I received on a long-haul flight after flying Qatar from the same airport a few weeks prior and realizing that it was emblematic of American’s willingness to care. They didn’t care enough to use better caterers, staff didn’t care enough to even make the meal look appetizing, and then argued with me about it.
I matched to United 1K and enjoyed my experience there for some time.
However, following the pandemic, I wasn’t able to maintain my status levels. While others got theirs extended I wasn’t as fortunate. That gave me the opportunity to look around the market and consider a few factors:
- Value of the benefits of flying
- Ease of using the airline and benefits
- Value of miles/points
For domestic flying, all flag carriers are pretty much aligned. Spirit actually adds more at the 50,000-mile level except for the upgrades to first which are unlikely to happen anyway. The value of the benefits there really didn’t distinguish enough to pick one over the other and that includes a brief period wherein I was Delta Diamond as well.
My complaint with American was about service, and there’s no question that Polaris is a better soft product than American flagship business class or first. With American, I would avoid Admirals Clubs and instead use the American Express Centurion lounge, whereas I was scheduling a longer connection just to be able to enjoy the Polaris lounges.
PlusPoints made it easier to upgrade from Premium economy to Business class without using an entire SWU, but because of this, I almost never cleared using the points unless the upgrade was available at booking. Every flight was “waitlist” and I’d rather be able to confirm it with American even if they were a poorer use of the upgrade. However, it was so hard to get them to clear for significant upgrades that I ended up giving them away. Readers with similar issues joined me and we upgraded as many as we could before expiry – both accounts ended with at least 40% of the balance unspent because they did not clear.
United charges more for redemptions than American in my experience but it’s less than 20% more – Delta is sometimes 3x as expensive. I routinely find saver space with American but that becomes harder when I try to avoid British Airways flights with onerous taxes and fees.
I had a similar balance with both American and United when I went free agent last year. But after spending out of both accounts, I am still left with a higher balance that will go farther with American and United was far from perfect.
Further, with the ease of earning Loyalty Points through purchases, achieving 25,000 Loyalty Points during my trial period makes it something worth considering. It doesn’t hurt that I happen to have a trip scheduled on American this week for which I am now eligible for an upgrade.
So like a dog, returning to its sick, I find myself back at American and looking for opportunities to maintain and grow my status with the carrier. Unlike when I left, my eyes are wide open and I have a clear idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the program and to the extent for which I should pursue status.
American Airlines and Hyatt’s collaboration appears to be timed and targeted following the Delta changes but I’ll take it. I find it to be less coincidental and more targeted but I doubt American would ever admit that. Fair play to them if they were targeting it, and I bet they have a ton of Delta flyers that match. That said, I am grateful for the challenge and this timing as it happens to work for me personally rather well.
I guess, at least in my case, the status challenge worked in getting me interested in American again.
What do you think? Intentional or coincidental?