American Airlines Making Life Worse For Most Loyal Customers By Killing Useful Mile-Tracking Browser Plugin

from the lame dept

It's still really amazing to me how often we hear about companies making their own customers' lives worse off in an obsessive need for excess control. The latest such example comes via Rob Hyndman, who points us to the news that American Airlines has forced Award Wallet to stop providing a useful tool for American fliers trying to keep track of their frequent flyer mileage. American had cut off a bunch of web-based services in the past that would log into American's site for you and provide a different view and other useful tools. In that case, the airline argued -- perhaps reasonably -- that it was concerned about security of a third party logging into the site and having access to your account/password. There are ways that American could deal with those security concerns, but at least that argument made some sense. In response, however, Award Wallet built a browser plugin that never involved data going to any third party. Basically everything stayed local. All it did was give users a better way to view the information (and was apparently especially handy for families).

And American Airlines didn't like it.

It couldn't use the "security" argument this time, because everything was local. But, actually, it tried to use that same argument anyway, responding to a question from BoardingArea, saying that it shut down Award Wallet to maintain the company's...
...…long-held stance on how third-party websites access proprietary AAdvantage member details… Because travelers’ AAdvantage account numbers and passwords can be used to claim AAdvantage mileage awards out of their accounts and access personal details, American will always protect this information.

We simply cannot permit websites that have not satisfied our security requirements the access needed to track AAdvantage balances or any other function that is otherwise secured behind AA.com login credentials.
But that falsely assumes that the browser plugin is a "website." It's possible that American is just confused... but the more likely situation is that American Airlines is still just worried about controlling the customer, rather than making sure they have the best experience for them. What services like Award Wallet do is make American's frequent flyer program more valuable to consumers, but apparently American doesn't want that if it means having less control.

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  1. icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 6 Mar 2012 @ 3:19pm

    If Points and Rewards and Awards were a good deal for the consumer they wouldn't exist, which is why I avoid them whenever possible. Of course the cost for such things is baked into the price of what you're buying, so you'd want to try to collect them, but the time and aggravation are still not worth it.

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