American Airlines’ ConciergeKey Top Tier Status [Complete Guide]

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American Airlines’ ConciergeKey (often misspelled as “Concierge Key”) status is the coveted holy grail for any AA flyer. It is the top tier in their AAdvantage program, given only to those who truly spend more money than almost any consumer.

The perks are exclusive, the hype is real, and what’s known really isn’t published — so let’s do a deep dive into this exclusive club.

Trust me when I say there are a lot of folks who salivate over the benefits of this coveted tier, so the more you understand about what’s included, the better you’ll be able to see if it’s worth trying to earn ConciergeKey.

Here’s what we’re going to explore:

  • What is American Airlines’ ConciergeKey status?
  • What are the benefits?
  • How to better your chances to receive ConciergeKey
  • How ConciergeKey compares to other top-tier programs
  • How to leverage ConciergeKey for your benefit

What Is American Airlines ConciergeKey Status?

American has 4 published tiers: Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum. Each tier has a specific amount of dollars that need to be spent on the airline (EQDs) and a designated amount of miles (EQMs) or segments (EQSs) that need to be flown.

To be an Executive Platinum (the top public tier), for example, you’d need to fly 100,000 miles and spend $15,000 on airfare, not including taxes and fees. Anyone can earn this status with the right spending and mileage flown.

Above Executive Platinum is ConciergeKey, an invitation-only tier that is not open the general public. While Executive Platinum has published requirements, ConciergeKey does not. It is primarily meant for those who have primary decision-making ability for large corporate travel accounts, or influencers who American feels can sway travel toward the brand.

In addition, those who hit VERY high spending levels on travel may be offered ConciergeKey, but it’s worth noting that the amount spent with the airline varies.

American Airlines Flagship Business
Flagship First. Image Credit: AA

Who Can Get ConciergeKey?

Anyone can get ConciergeKey, but primarily you need to have a large sphere of influence over travel at major corporations.

If you’re trying to attain ConciergeKey as a single traveler, you’re likely looking to spend north of $50,000 a year and fly more than 200,000 miles. The more premium cabin travel you book, and the more you fly true American Airlines metal, the better shot you have.

In addition, American also ranks passengers within individual hubs — so you may be compared based on your spending and miles flown within the particular hub city you live in, such as Washington, D.C. or Dallas, for example.

Bottom Line: Want ConciergeKey? You shouldn’t even consider earning it until you spend at least $50,000 a year with American Airlines per year!

What Are the Benefits of ConciergeKey Status?

Membership Benefits Through Executive Platinum

  • Complimentary Executive Platinum status, which includes 4 yearly systemwide upgrades, upgrades on award tickets, and free re-deposits of AAdvantage miles, to name a few. Systemwide upgrades are valid on any class of service from Main Cabin or Premium Economy to Business.
  • Complimentary 500-mile upgrades. These include upgrades in and around the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. ConciergeKey members receive priority over all other lower elite status levels.
  • 120% mileage bonus on all tickets. Interestingly, ConciergeKey members do not receive any additional mileage bonus over Executive Platinum members.
  • Up to 3 complimentary checked bags. This is the same number of checked bags as an Executive Platinum.
  • Complimentary same-day standby is available, and ConciergeKey members receive priority.
  • Complimentary same-day flight changes are available, and ConciergeKey members receive priority.
  • Complimentary preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats. ConciergeKey members do not get any more preferences than this, and will be competing against Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum members for these seats.
  • Guaranteed availability to purchase tickets in the Main Cabin. Flights outside of 72 hours that are sold out are still open for booking, albeit at very premium prices.

Onboard Service

  • Complimentary food and beverage item when in the Main Cabin. This is the same benefit afforded to Executive Platinums and AAirpass members. It’s worth noting that the policy only dictates 1 free fresh food or dry food item plus 1 free alcoholic beverage, and that this is not valid for any companions. However, most flight attendants seem willing to oblige and offer something to companions — though this is not policy by any means.
American Express Premium Economy
Premium Economy. Image Credit: American Airlines

Bookings

  • Dedicated phone line for any bookings or questions, and an email address for any reservation inquiries. Generally, these lines are staffed with the more senior agents, and many ConciergeKey agents dual as Executive Platinum agents — so if you aren’t quite a ConciergeKey, you can still experience some of the same service.

Upgrades

  • Priority on all upgrade lists, priority lists, standby lists, and more. ConciergeKey members on a domestic itinerary using a complimentary upgrade will trump an Executive Platinum using a systemwide upgrade. ConciergeKey uses the “1” designator for all priority lists — so VIP1 for a ConciergeKey using a systemwide upgrade, or UPG1 for a ConciergeKey using a complimentary upgrade. Upgrades for ConciergeKey members clear up to 120 hours prior to departure.
  • 2 additional systemwide upgrades, for a total of 6. This is before they cross into any additional thresholds of 150,000 flown miles or 200,000 miles. However, it’s worth noting that previously Executive Platinum members received 8 at the start of the year, so no matter which way you look at it, this is down from previous years when AAdvantage was more generous.
  • Copays are waived on all upgrades. If a ConciergeKey chooses to use American Airline miles to upgrade a ticket, they won’t have to pay the usual cash component. This savings can be substantial on international tickets especially where mileage costs can be in the 25,000 range with $350 copays. Not having to pay that $350 is a terrific perk. Keep in mind that using a miles and cash copay or a systemwide will carry the same upgrade priority, and a ConciergeKey using a complimentary upgrade will always come before a lower elite using an instrument. This is an incredible perk that could save thousands of dollars per year.

At the Airport

  • Next flight guarantee protection. If a member’s original fight cancels, they can be protected on the next flight, even if that flight is sold out. If there is a delay or cancellation, ConciergeKey gets first dibs on the next chance out. American calculates this risk — they may be willing to involuntary deny boarding to someone from the general public in favor of keeping the business of an important, high-spending ConciergeKey.
  • Complimentary Admiral’s Club membership, allowing them to access American’s network of airport lounges before and after flights. This is a savings of at least $450 per year, since ConciergeKeys don’t need to purchase a separate membership. Members can bring in their 2 complimentary guests, as well.
  • Via Executive Platinum benefits, ConciergeKey members are considered as Oneworld Emerald, with all of the priority access perks, international first and business class perks, and reciprocal lounge and check-in access.
  • Can use Flagship check-in, regardless of class of service flown or route. There’s usually no line, and the check-in area dumps out into the head of the security line, giving anyone who has access to this area an expedited experience going through security. An attendant will check your credentials before proceeding; Flagship check-in is only available at major hubs such as New York, Los Angeles, and Miami.
  • Access to Flagship lounges (when available) on all itineraries. American Airlines Flagship Lounges are located in major hubs such as Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas. This is a huge benefit, as these clubs are more upscale than the traditional Admiral’s Club and include plentiful buffet food options, premium liquor, showers, and more personalized assistance. These same Flagship lounges can also be accessed by any American Airlines Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald on an international itinerary, or any other Oneworld airline Sapphire to Emerald, regardless of destination.
  • Personalized assistance during irregular operations. Often you’ll find airport agents calling or texting members directly, or meeting them on the ramp as they disembark flights. In times of severe weather, mechanical cancellations, or other periods of delay, this benefit can come in handy. Members can expect to be protected on other flights (even if oversold), moved to other airlines, or whatever is necessary to keep them happy and moving — after all, they represent a considerable sum of money for American.
  • Airport escorts, including tarmac transfers. If there’s a fight connection or terminal change, you may receive a Cadillac transfer from an airline representative who meets you at your flight. This is incredibly useful in case of a delayed or tight connection. If your inbound plane is late and there’s a risk of you missing your onward flight, the escort will pick you up and take you directly to your next gate, either airside or inside the terminal. This is only offered at major hubs.
  • Priority boarding on all flights, prior to group 1. ConciergeKeys can board the aircraft prior to everyone else so they can store bags in overhead bins and get settled even before first class passengers. This process is sometimes chaotic, as some ConciergeKeys get lost in the shuffle with group 1 getting called shortly thereafter.

Other Benefits

  • Select ConciergeKey members can gift Executive Platinum status to someone else (spouse, family member, friend, colleague, etc.) Keep in mind that if this designated Executive Platinum doesn’t spend as much as other Executive Platinum’s, they’ll always be behind them on any upgrade lists, priority lists, etc., since those are categorized by rolling Elite Qualifying Dollar spend.

Bottom Line: Probably the most valuable ConciergeKey perk is being at the top of the upgrade list every time, and being able to be confirmed on oversold flights.

In addition to many of these benefits, members also receive some “surprise and delight” gifts such as events with company executives, gifts mailed each year, and even complimentary status to designate out to a family or friend.

Just this past year, members received a package of high-end chocolates symbolizing locations around the world, as well as luggage tags made out of metal from retired MD-80 jets (which used to be the workhorse of the American fleet).

American Express First
First class. Image Credit: American Airlines

How Can You Improve Your Chances of Getting ConciergeKey?

As mentioned above, securing ConciergeKey is mostly a private affair — one that you’ll need a lot of money or some major connections to obtain.

The first “relatively easy” way to get ConciergeKey is to purchase an AAirpass at prices hovering in the $50,000 range. AAirpass allows travelers to pre-purchase travel and fly on last-minute flights at essentially fixed or secured pricing.

It’s only useful for folks who can drop a large sum of money at once. But general consensus is that purchasing a high enough package upfront can mean ConciergeKey is included as one of the benefits.

As of this writing, a $30,000 package is required for Executive Platinum, so you’d need to spend an extra $20,000 to make the jump to the first level where ConciergeKey might be offered.

Bottom Line: AirPass is a prepaid travel program that allows you to pay all of your travel on American upfront instead of as you go.

The second way is to become a travel manager of a large corporate account that has agreements with American Airlines. Depending on the size of the account, how many corporate travelers there are, and the prospective or signed spending, ConciergeKey may be assigned to the travel manager (or several may be offered for designation).

Think top companies with millions of dollars to spend here — places like IBM, Apple, Deloitte, etc. The more control you have to suggest that your company move their business to American (or the more business you can truly bring to American), the more likely it is that you’ll be awarded ConciergeKey.

Bottom Line: Travel managers who have a lot of pull to have their employees fly American have a good shot at becoming ConciergeKey.

The third way is the hardest — and will have the most financial impact on the single person. Individuals may increase their odds of being nominated to ConciergeKey by doing the following:

  • Spend north of $50,000 with American Airlines
  • Fly a large number of miles (above Executive Platinum requirements)
  • Fly a large amount of full-fare, premium cabin products on American (not partners)

Again, this is by no means a sure deal. And the risk is that you spend and fly so much only still not be nominated…thus possibly wasting that time and effort. By no means is this an exact science, so I wouldn’t recommend shifting money immediately toward American in an attempt to earn this.

American Airlines 787-9 Flagship Business Class rear cabin view
American Airlines 787-9 Flagship Business Class rear cabin view. Image Credit: Stephen Au

The fourth way is probably the “easiest,” but also one that greatly depends on luck. If you’re an influencer with a large audience, you may be nominated for ConciergeKey depending on how many people you can theoretically convince to fly with American.

For example, YouTube star Casey Neistat — who has millions and millions of views on YouTube — had ConciergeKey from American that was taken away not too long ago.

I’d categorize this as luck, to be honest — there’s really no way to control this, aside from probably being very positive toward American and truly shifting a large readership or viewership to actually fly with them (and having the measurable results to prove it).

Most readers probably won’t start a YouTube channel dedicated to this effort, so consider this point purely informational. Even if you were to earn ConciergeKey this way, some of the top influencers have had their status taken away — so again, this definitely isn’t a sure-fire bet.

Bottom Line: While you can fast track to airline status with the right credit cards, ConciergeKey can’t be earned with just a credit card.

Is ConciergeKey Worth It?

I honestly don’t believe that spending an additional $35,000+ to receive priority wait list access, transfers, and next flight guarantees is worth it — if you’re outright trying to pay for it on your own.

However, if you’re getting it through a corporate agreement or other freebie, I’d most certainly accept — but spending a large amount of money to still receive many of the same perks as public elite status in most cases does not make sense.

While ConciergeKey is certainly a flashy program — and I wouldn’t turn it down for a second if offered — the spending jump to get between the public and private tiers does seem sort of insane.

And while most of us will never become ConciergeKey, I think you’ll find many of the perks aspirational, which may encourage you to fly just a bit more than you’re doing now.

American Airlines Planes at the gate
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com.

How Does ConciergeKey Compare to Other Airlines’ Invitation-Only Status?

Both Delta and United have their own invitation-only status programs, too: Delta’s program is known as Delta 360, and United’s is known as Global Services.

When it comes to United, Global Services is truly a designated tier at the top of the ladder, with many distinctive perks. United MileagePlus members often report that Global Services members will fill the top several spots on an upgrade list between hubs, and that upgrades for Premier 1K members are nearly non-existent.

While ConciergeKey members still top the list at American, you’ll usually only find maybe 1 or 2 on any given flight — and upgrades are still available beyond this to Executive Platinums.

Global Services members also have access to special confirmed upgrade inventory, allowing them to confirm into a forward cabin well ahead of any other member. Want to use your miles as a Global Services elite? There’s increased award availability, too. If there are at least 2 premium seats available on the plane, a Global Services member can turn one of those seats into a mileage ticket at no cost.

United Global Services is the only top invitation level that can be earned…after a whopping 4 million “butt in seat” miles flown directly on United or United Express aircraft (no partners allowed!). If you fly that much on a United aircraft, I guess I have no qualms with them giving away such a coveted status. Of course, if you spend a large amount with them, or have a corporate account, you have a shot at Global Services, too.

Some basic Global Services benefits include:

  • Opening your own award inventory, so long as there is T and R inventory available
  • Access to a Global Services help desk (similar benefit among all legacy carriers)
  • Priority boarding (similar to other carriers)
  • Onboard meals for served first (along with Premier 1K members)
  • Upgrades ahead of other elites at 120 hours
  • Tarmac transfers when available at major hub cities such as Newark or Houston
  • Expanded upgraded inventory into PN fare class
  • “Surprise” upgrades into P inventory if PN fare class is not available
  • Companions can be upgraded if the Global Services member is on a purchased business class ticket
  • Access to remaining Global First Lounges on business class tickets

Bottom Line: One major area where Global Services is better than ConciergeKey is with upgrade inventory. Global Services members can open award inventory on flights without it.

Delta 360 is an interesting tier — while not an “official” Medallion tier, it’s an extra service tier that can be thought of just like the ConciergeKey and Global Services levels at American and United, respectively.

You’ll receive unexpected tarmac transfers in the case of delays, as well as premium handling on the ground and within the airport. I’d think of Delta 360 as more of a consistent American Airlines 5 Star program more than anything — but still valuable for sure. Delta 360 tends to go to very large corporate accounts.

Major perks of Delta 360 include:

  • Tarmac transfers in hub cities such as Detroit, Atlanta, or Los Angeles
  • A dedicated contact line (similar to most major legacy carriers for their invitation-only status holders)
  • Surprise gifts such as jewelry or champagne throughout the year

If you were going to choose an invitation status to go for, I’d definitely seek Global Services first, then ConciergeKey and then Delta 360, in that order.


Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of ConciergeKey?

ConciergeKey benefits include priority boarding, priority waitlisting for upgrades, protection on sold-out flights, Admiral’s Club membership, access to the Flagship Lounge, additional systemwide upgrades, and much more.

James Larounis

About James Larounis

Jamie first got his hook on miles and points during a high school choir trip to Europe, where he flew in Lufthansa First Class (thanks to his dad’s then US Airways miles) because economy was sold out.

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15 comments

  1. Eduardo Hernandez September 24, 2019

    Thank you for the great info. Just curious if you know..if my business spends $1M a year in credit card charges using an American Airlines business credit card, could that qualify me to a ConciergeKey?

    Reply

    • Hi Eduardo,

      We cannot say definitively, as we do not represent American Airlines. My assumption is that this would not qualify you for ConciergeKey as they usually require individuals to fly more than 200,000 miles with American Airlines, in addition to the spending requirement, in order to be eligible.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

  2. Thanks for the article. Concierge is by invitation only as you mentioned and I was invited a few years back.

    The only three perks that are really worth it are 1) the first to board, 2) private entrances at some airport and private check-in which now you can get with the VIP suite and 3) golf cart transfers between gates.

    But be assured that you will never get the invite if you fly coach. Most of your flights need to be in business or first class.

    I’ve only received the invite once and I am at 3 million miles so far.

    Best of luck to all travelers.

    Reply

  3. You mentioned 200,000 miles with American as a potential minimum for consideration. I assume this is actual miles flown, versus EQMs, as I’m pushing 300K EQMs but fly first, so my actual miles (Million Miler credited miles) flown is probably half of that.
    If that is true, you’re talking 40 round trips from Boston to LA in a year. I’m sure lots of consultants are thinking, “doable,” but even they have vacations and weeks they don’t travel. It’s pretty difficult to do.
    The $50K is just a couple of Europe and/or Asia trips in business and regular travel. Much more approachable in comparison.

    Reply

  4. Jarrod

    Great article!

    What are your thoughts on the chances with 170k EQM and $45k EQD (all biz class US – Europe) in the last 7 months of 2019? Assume the 200k miles and $50k is a minimum but didn’t know if AA notices when a flyers travel habits change.

    Since invitation only, probable very hard to predict.

    Regards

    Reply

    • Hi Traveler,

      As you’ve said, since Concierge Key invitation only, it is very hard to predict. But I would say if you keep up those travel habits, especially with that level of spend, you might stand a good chance of being invited.

      Reply

  5. Frequent flyer November 18, 2019

    Hi, I made CK last year and without doubt the best benefits are upgrade ranking – the rest of it, including flagship lounge access, is complete fluff. The Cadillac transfers at airports are nice on a tight transfer but very inconsistent at about 30% of flights receiving this service. It did make me fly more on AA this year even if AA were not the best choice. As I approach another year it will make me resentful if I don’t re-qualify, to the point that I will go out if my way not to fly them! So AA needs to be careful that it doesn’t become too elusive for their best customers or it will backfire on them.

    Reply

  6. AA Frequent Flyer December 16, 2019

    How long does it normally take AA to notify a customer that they’ve reached Concierge Key status? My colleague just got Concierge Key status with $46k EQD and 204k EQM. I’m sitting at $51k EQD and 256k EQM, but I haven’t received anything.

    Reply

    • Hi AA Frequent Flyer,

      There doesn’t appear to be any sort of set time frame. However, if your colleague was invited, then I think there is a strong chance that you should be invited as well.

      Reply

  7. I made CK last year (165k spend) and the biggest benefit are the backup bookings. For example I was flying from DFW to Jakarta and my flight from DFW to Hong Kong was delayed. I immediately got a call from AA and they had booked me on the next 4 Hong Kong to Jakarta flights in case I missed my connection.

    Also its an unwritten rule that they will keep the boarding door open for you if you are running late as long as you call and let them know. (max 5-10 minutes)

    P.S. the EASIEST way to earn CK is to utilize Airpass. If you pre-fund $100k (you or your company) you automatically get a CK account and 2 Exec platinum accounts. You also save around 30% on a lot of international flights and free cancellations up to 30 minutes before a flight.

    Reply

    • Hi JM,

      Thanks for sharing this data point! In that case, Airpass seems like a top option for those looking to earn CK as quickly as possible.

      Reply

  8. I’ve had CK for a couple of years in the last 6. In 2019, I flew more than any other year, with 60,400 EQD and 202,200 EQM the most ever, I didn’t receive an invite to CK. I believe AA changes the rules for qualifying for CK every year.

    Reply

  9. I’ve had CK status (and almost every other) on AA. My assessment is that it is not worth it given the wildly fluctuating level of service (or lack thereof). Even boarding first is a waste most of the time because Group 1 stacks up behind you before you even step foot on the plane 90% of the time. I won’t miss it and it is rarely acknowledged by AA staff at airports or on the plane (one exception was a wonderful FA yesterday). Anyway Ex Plats don’t worry – you are not missing out on much….

    Reply

  10. Bottom line. Who cares? Anyone who flies enough to get to this level is obviously not living a normal life.

    Reply

  11. In order to get ConciergeKey as a corporation, you generally have to pre-fund at least $100,000 into an Airpass account. Airpass is only really beneficial for flights into asia (about 30% cheaper and often instant upgrades to business when you book).This will get you a CK and two EP accounts. As you spend more you can negotiate for more CKs.

    I still can’t figure out the CK qualifications personally. One year I spent $250,000 in EQD and earned 1.8mm miles and didn’t get CK the next year until I called and asked. Other years I got it for 30% of that amount.

    The biggest benefit for the CK is international travel. There is always an agent waiting for you to help you whisk your way to your connection. Also the delay assistance is awesome. I was flying from DFW to Jakarta via Hong Kong last year and unfortunately my DFW-HK flight was delayed. ConciergeKey called me and booked me on the next 4 HK-JKT flights to ensure that I wasn’t stuck in hong kong upon my arrival. That alone makes it worth it.

    Reply

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