Since March 3rd, it's been pretty obvious that the intergration between United & Continental didn't go as smoothly as we were led to believe. The switch over to Continental's antiquated Passenger Service System, SHARES, forced thousands of customers to contact reservations to deal with issues ranging from loss of seats, the inbability to upgrade, as well as some ticketed and confirmed reservations disappearing.
Wait times to reach a reservations agent quickly grew into several hours, including for elite fliers!, and the lines at the airport reached peak levels. My home airport, MCI/Kansas City, quickly started to see lines that had never appeared prior to March 3rd. Although much of this was to be expected, I felt bad for the agents that had to deal with learning a new system, while also trying to get passengers onto their flights.
MCI Check-In at 6:00am - Lines were out the door
Although some of the issues that we've all faced since March 3rd have been fixed, COdbaUA is not yet close to regaining much of the functionality that we (Pre-Merger United fliers) lost with the merger. Some larger items include the inability to upgrade a flight within T-24 hours, elite members not being placed onto the waitlist for an upgrade to First class, and mileage not properly posting to accounts. In fact, many members have reported their accounts showing negative balances!
With all of the issues that United continues to face, many fliers are starting to look elsewhere. Although I received my AA status through the oneworld MegaDO, I've been directing more of my flying to American, in hopes that I can avoid the shenanigans occuring on United. I know I am not alone on this, as many other elites I've interacted with have mentioned that they've started to book away from United, despite several years of loyalty to the Mileage Plus program.
American used to only offer status challenges for their Gold & Platinum tier, which require you to fly 5,000 (Gold) or 10,000 (Platinum) Elite Qualifying points, and pay a fee upwards of $200. When I first heard about the challenge, I figured that it would be easy to accomplish, and then I realized that it was based on EQP (Elite Qualifying Points), not EQM (Elite Qualifying Miles). Some fares only earn .5 EQP per mile, while others (paid F/C) earn 1.5 EQP per mile. If you're a business traveler or somebody that often purchases full-fare tickets, it would be quite easy to meet these requirements. If not, you'd definitely face a challenge (no pun intended) to get the necessary points.
As of this afternoon, American is now willing to match MileagePlus members all the way up to Executive Platinum! Check out this recent post on FlyerTalk:
Thanks for speaking with me about a special opportunity to obtain American Airlines AAdvantage® elite status without meeting the standard qualification requirements. In order to proceed, please provide us with documentation reflecting the Premier level that you hold with United Airlines.
Please send us the following documentation. Simply "Reply" to this message, and for prompt service, do not change the subject line:
• A copy of your dated elite membership card reflecting your name and Premier status level for the 2012 Membership Year (.pdf, .tif, .jpeg, .bmp formats, not to exceed 1MB)
Once your documentation is accepted, you will receive an email within10 days confirming your new AAdvantage elite status, which will be valid through February 28, 2013. Your credentials will follow in 3-5 weeks. Please note the following status equivalents:
AAdvantage Gold® membership for Premier Silver
AAdvantage Platinum® membership for Premier Gold or Premier Platinum
AAdvantage Executive Platinum® membership for Premier 1K
We look forward to welcoming you aboard your next American Airlines flight and await your reply.
AAdvantage Customer Service
There you have it, folks! If you're interested in matching your United status to American, you can contact AAdvantage Customer Service by calling them at 1-800-882-8880.