American Airlines’ Non-Family-Friendly Stance with Award Wallet

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Like many others, I went on the OneWorld MegaDO and left with a pretty favorable opinion of American Airlines (well, other than their seemingly common mechanical delays).  However, their worsening position with Award Wallet is without a doubt a very non-family friendly decision.  To catch you up, Award Wallet is a website that allows a person to track miles and points balances in one central place.  It saves so much time over logging into each account individually. You get a great overview of all of your rewards programs at once.  You also get alerts if some miles or points are going to be expiring soon.

What makes Award Wallet virtually essential for families is that you can track all family members’ miles and points accounts in one central Award Wallet account.  So, instead of logging into the US Airways Dividend Miles accounts separately for my husband, my daughter, and myself to see if various miles have posted, I can just look at Award Wallet and see all of that information at once.  The larger your family is, the more essential a tool like Award Wallet becomes.

However, a few months ago American Airlines made the decision to not allow Award Wallet to display AAdvantage account information for their users.  I’ve heard many theories about why this is (account security, AA wants the miles to expire, they want more traffic to AA.com, etc…), but frankly I don’t care what the reason is.  I don’t care, because all of those concerns could potentially have a solution.  Heck, Award Wallet had been running with a potential solution that worked via a browser extension.  Your AAdvantage password was simply stored on your local computer, and then when you checked your miles and points balances with Award Wallet it would open your AAdvantage account for you via AA’s website.  I actually never used this feature, but at least it was a sensible sounding solution.

Today a reader forwarded me an email they received from Award Wallet that says:

We regret to inform you that we will be discontinuing support for the AwardWallet browser extension on February 25, 2012. This means that you will no longer be able to track your American Airlines related information (balance, status, etc.) on AwardWallet.com.

 We have been forced to take this action by American Airlines’ stance toward AwardWallet. We created the browser extension in order to address American Airlines’ concern that AwardWallet was collecting customers’ mileage data. We believe the extension addressed this concern because it simply collected your mileage data and stored it locally on your computer. American Airlines, however, objects to the extension. It’s position appears to be that AwardWallet is prohibited from providing any software tool that facilitates the ability to track the customer’s American Airlines’ mileage information. We think this is unfortunate.

If you have any questions about this matter please do not reply to this email, instead lets have a discussion in the forum:

http://awardwallet.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1940

Please make a note of your AAdvantage number and password as you will not be able to see it on AwardWallet.com after we make this change.

Thank you for your continued support of Awardwallet.com!
Thank you,
AwardWallet team.

So, here is a letter of my own.

American AAdvantage program,

Now is not the time to be making enemies.  Don’t make keeping track of AAdvantage miles any harder for families than it needs to be.  Families are inherently very busy, and need all the tools they can get to keep track of every family members’ miles.  It doesn’t take very many instances of losing track of miles, or having them expire, to sour a family on earning miles in the first place.  Make families trust and believe that AAdvantage miles are valuable, easy to track, and easy to use.  There is no reason to make this harder than it needs to be.  Please reconsider your stance with Award Wallet.

Sincerely,

A Very Busy Miles Loving Mommy

If you are unhappy with this decision from American, I recommend that you Tweet them at @AmericanAir.  You will find me tweeting them as well.

If you are not a Twitter user, you can send them a message them directly on their website.

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Comments

  1. I am not totally against AA on this one. They don’t want a third party to get data on their most loyal customers, and I don’t blame them.

  2. And they’ve got a perfect solution for that Ketan: get rid of all those loyal customers! 🙂 Seriously, while I don’t disagree with your point in theory, AwardWallet collects very little data. The majority of it’s customer use it because they are NOT loyal customers, and they have dozens of accounts. I’m a small time player and have 42 accounts tracked on AW. Our tots are slackers who only have 5 accounts between them (not including AA.)

    To sum it up in kid-friendly terms:
    AwardWallet rules,
    American Airlines drools!

  3. Frankly, American Airlines’ customers have a lot more to worry about than this spat with Award Wallet. The company is bankrupt, and despite what happened to all the other airlines previously, could shut down for good. Even in a merger or acquisition, there is no guarantee that the successor company would honor any outstanding AA miles. Don’t believe it couldn’t happen. Nobody thought that Uncle Sam would let Lehman Brothers fail either!

  4. @Ketan: However the customers are voluntarily providing the 3rd party permission to access their information- for the customer’s own benefit. AA is out nothing except the AA.com ads that they want to funnel customers towards. Many of us already give a 3rd party access – i.e., I track my wife’s and daughter’s accounts directly, at their behest.

    Very poor move by AA

  5. I submitted my tweet: “@AmericanAir Pls reconsider your stance with Award Wallet. I find it difficult to believe other’s security requirements are less stringent” Are they saying their security is tighter than the other 40 or so companies I track on Award Wallet? I think not.

  6. I complained on facebook. Here is the response I received:
    We appreciate your input, Carol. When making decisions around the sharing of our customer’s data with third-party websites, security is chief among our points of consideration. We simply cannot permit websites which have not satisfied our security requirements the access needed to track your balance or any other function that is otherwise secured behind your AA.com login credentials. In this light, we hope you will agree with us that it is best to protect the value of the AAdvantage program to you and the privacy of our members. Consistent with these principles, you may be interested to know that Points.com, an AAdvantage participant, allows many of the same types of services as other mileage tracker websites — but has fully satisfied our rigorous security requirements. If you are interested in an alternative to tracking your balance at AA.com, we hope you will consider giving http://www.points.com/ a try. We are also in the process of qualifying a number of other mileage tracker websites, and we hope to share these new choices with members in the near future.”

    This is totally a bogus reason. Having the password stored locally eliminates the concerns over data security.

  7. Just when I thought the TSA had monopolized the term security theatre…

    I tweeted too, but I’ve been around the block enough times to realize these execs are too stubborn to change their minds. I can only hope they’re preparing a triple miles promo to win back all the loyal customers they just arbitrarily inconvenienced.

  8. They really have nerve trying to suggest points.com ( a really lousy site) American Airlines lets me down again 🙁
    Shame on American Airlines

  9. “We appreciate your input, Carol. When making decisions around the sharing of our customer’s data with third-party websites, security is chief among our points of consideration. We simply cannot permit websites which have not satisfied our security requirements the access needed to track your balance or any other function that is otherwise secured behind your AA.com login credentials.”

    We (AwardWallet) are not accessing their website, with the browser extension the users access aa.com website via their own browser. Moreover, when users do that they do not give their credentials or any of their data to AwardWallet, so the security argument makes no sense.

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