In 2014 American Airlines won’t be providing any soft landings for the first time in as far back as I can remember. “Soft landings” generally describe when an airline drops an elite member down one status level if they don’t re-qualify for elite status in the coming year…instead of completely dropping them down to the sad “general member” category. It’s obviously meant to keep those customers loyal to the airline in the year ahead, even if the customer wasn’t able to hit their travel patterns of previous years. American was actually the last legacy US carrier still providing these. Delta hasn’t provided soft landings since 2010 prior to the introduction of rollover MQMs and United generally has never offered soft drops, especially when status was earned via a match.
Does anyone remember back in 2011 when Virgin Australia was offering status matches all the way up to their top tier Platinum level? I didn’t plan on traveling on Virgin, but I did the match in order to earn complimentary Hilton HHonors Diamond status. After not re-qualifying for status in 2012 (I had no flights at all), I was dropped to the Gold level for 2013. Surprisingly enough, the soft landings continue. Last week, I received this message from Virgin, informing me that my status would be dropped once again, this time to Sliver. Impressive…a double soft-landing, not that I plan on flying Virgin Australia much (besides maybe some DL redemptions), but interesting to see the concept is not gone completely from the airline world.