Airline elite status comes with numerous perks, mostly tangible and visible, such as priority everything, chances of the upgrade, etc. Often, there are hidden perks that are not disclosed but existed as company’s internal policy, such as Air Canada’s airport luxury car services, “surprise and delight,” or being recognized on board as a Star Alliance gold member on some member airlines. I am sure there are much more “unpublished” benefits.

The purpose of this post is to talk about some benefit I have learned from an airline that is considered “worse” than the majority in North America, American Airline (AA). I hope this article will give you an idea, so you know you are adequately treated, and if things go wrong, you know what to talk about in your email to the customer relations department.

I have long heard from my hotel industry friends (mostly Marriott in China), that they would treat every single guest equally despite the elite status. They would just follow the rules to give those published benefits, but nothing more. In short, they just do not care about Platinum/Gold/Silver members. Maybe the Marriott Platinum Premier members can get slightly more attention, but still, not a big deal. I think this mentality only represents a small number of Chinese Marriott employees, but you will recognize them when you met them.

Today, I had a conversation with one of AA FA friend and asked the same question to my hotel industry friends. How do you view and treat the elite members of your loyalty program? I was expecting an answer somewhere close to the hotel people. To my surprise, AA has the internal policy for FAs to introduce themselves to their elite members on board, and they are REQUIRED to treat these elite flyers nicely. While as an AC elite member, I always being recognized in Business class flight by the service director and then getting pissed off faces from other FAs who do not care about any passengers.

So I continued my question. How about those elite members who sit in economy class? Do they receive the same treatment as those in the premium cabin? To my surprise again, “we would have an appointed cabin crew to do the same. WOW, was my first response. To my experiences, I have seldom got any greetings or anything when I fly Air Canada Economy class. I also believe not every AA cabin crew will tell you the same answer, which depending on a lot of factors. For example, those third-party contractor airlines would not have the same level of service quality as mainline AA, and the mass public may not aware they are not really on an AA flight; Or the cabin crew did not have a good day or was not well trained or was not fit for the job? The list can go on and on.

My main point is, if it is an internal policy, and people have to earn their status, regardless what channel, you need to know your rights when you did not receive the services quality you are entitled. So hope this post can help you with your writing for your next complaint letter to the airline. Also, our high expectations can help the airlines to improve their services.

Are you satisfied with your elite status with your airline?