Concierge Key from American Airlines is the highest level of the American Airlines loyalty program. Concierge Key does not have any published requirements, but American Airlines generally only grants Concierge Key to the most loyal members of the program.

In general, the Concierge Key program is granted to certain flyers based on the amount of money they spend with the airline. If you recognize the picture above you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Filmmaker Casey Neistat’s concierge key was canceled and he was told he does not spend enough money with the airline to qualify. I understand Casey’s complaint, but when I dove into the requirements for Concierge Key and the benefits of the program I found his complaints unjustified. Given the number of miles he flew the prior year, he would still earn AA’s Executive Platinum status and the added benefits of Concierge Key are negligible, except for the bragging rights!

If you do some research on the topic the general consensus is that flyers who spend around $50,000 on mostly First/Business class airfare with the airline will be invited to the Concierge Key program. Also, its been noted that if an individual is responsible for a medium or large company’s travel program, they may be granted Concierge Key. When my company recently introduced a new travel policy (favoring AA as the company’s preferred airline) the company was granted one invitation to the Concierge Key program.

Now that we know how to get invited to be a Concierge Key member, its time to look at the benefits, or lack there of.

  1. When someone is invited to join Concierge Key they are instantly granted AA’s Executive Platinum status. This is a tremendous benefit for a traveler that otherwise would not have status, but most big spenders would earn the elite status based on Elite Qualifying Points fairly easily if they spend $50,000 a year.
  2. Access to Flagship Check-In: At certain AA hubs, there is a super secret check-in counter for AA elites. Concierge Key members, Five Star Service Customers, People traveling in First Class on a 3-class flight, and people traveling in First Class on international OneWorld flights get access.
  3. Access to First Class Lounges (Same benefit as Executive Platinum members)
  4. Admirals Club Membership
  5. A personal escort through the airport (maybe not as often these days)
  6. Higher upgrade priority
  7. Multiple Rebooking Options on Flight Delays / Cancelations

When you review the list, I really do not see a TON of value in being a Concierge Key member over earning traditional Executive Platinum status. In fact, many Concierge Key members complain about the added attention at the airport. Flagship Check-In gets you through security faster, but with TSA PreCheck this benefit is also not worth much. Chances are if you travel enough to earn Concierge Key you’ve looked into TSA Pre. The one true benefit that I see in being a Concierge Key member is the complimentary Admirals Club Membership. Again, Admirals Club Membership can be had for just $450/year. Also, a savvy traveler could sign-up for the Citi Prestige credit card and get Admirals Club access and Priority Pass membership for the same $450 annual fee.

Maybe I’m being hard on Concierge Key, but I really do not see why being part of this program is so coveted, except for the bragging rights! At the end of the day, I think earning Executive Platinum status is a large enough incentive to stick to one airline’s loyalty program. American Airlines is not the only airline to offer an invitation only program to its top customers, but majority of the programs offer only a few benefits that would make top tier travelers jealous.

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