American AAdvantage prevents Award Wallet from displaying accounts

Award Wallet is probably the most useful website out there for tracking miles and points, and I check it religiously. It’s fantastic to be able to track all of my mileage balances in one place, instead of checking each website individually. But for a while a couple of airlines have been trying to prevent Award Wallet and similar mileage tracking websites from displaying account information, due to concerns over “account security.” Of course that’s total BS, and the real reason is that Award Wallet actually helps the consumer by telling them when their miles expire, something American probably doesn’t want. And it seems American has really taken action, because starting Sunday, Award Wallet will no longer be displaying AAdvantage account information, per the email sent to members:

American Airlines has contacted us and stated that we may not access its website on your behalf and that we may not store any of your American Airlines account data on our servers. As a result, in the coming weeks we will release a browser extension which will enable you to check your balance and still display that balance along with the rest of your loyalty account balances; however, the data, such as your username, password, balance and any other attributes will only be stored in your browser so we will never have access to it. Also, this browser extension will be accessing American Airlines website from your computer and not from our servers. Since we do not have this extension ready yet, please save all of your American Airlines accounts and password in a secure place so that you can enter that data when we release the extension.

It’s so beyond disappointing that American has chosen to go this route. You’d think a loyalty program’s dream would be when someone is so obsessed with their miles that they join a website to track them all. That’s the sign of a true mileage junkie, which is exactly the kind of customer American is trying to create with a loyalty program — a customer that not only wants to earn miles through flying, but also shops, dines, and stays at hotels to earn miles.

I really hope American reconsiders. AAdvantage has always been one of the top loyalty programs, in my opinion. So you’d think they could do better than the cheap shot of just trying to make sure peoples’ miles expire.

(Tip of the hat to Gary)

Comments

  1. I am seriously bummed about this well. However, AA’s concern is about user data. AA has a responsibility to it’s users to keep their data secure, and with a third party accessing it, it opens up a myriad of potential breaches. I promise I don’t work for AA, but I do work for one of the largest online websites in the world and we take user data security very seriously. There are recent privacy/user data laws within the last two years that have forced internet companies to buckle down on user data security. I suspect this is the true reason why AA is forcing awardwallet to cease accessing user data.
    I am with you though that this is really disappointing that we will no longer see AA in awardwallet (until a workaround is in place).

  2. We should all send twitter hate @ AA regarding this policy. Also does Maya Leibman have a twitter account that we could hit up?

  3. I don’t think they only or even key driver is expiration of miles, as much as a desire to control user experience and drive people to their website in order to upsell/derive ancillary revenue.

    But it’s totally anti-consumer, and anti-most loyal consumers who are obsessive about their engagement and activity with the program and want an easy way to check all of their balances.

    The security issue is a canard, American partners with points.com which holds your account usernames/passwords. Of course American will say that points.com ‘meets their security standards’ which is silly, and it’s not as though they publish a set of standards which third party sites can work to comply with. Points.com is sadly not usable, their points tracking feature is trash compared to AwardWallet.

    Kudos to the folks at AwardWallet who plan to roll out a browser plug-in to continue to allow members to check their miles while not running afoul of the lawyers at American.

  4. I have been following my accounts through my on line banking site with B of A for years now. As of today it is not being blocked

  5. Thanks for bringing attention to this. I can hardly say I’ll never fly AA again, but all else being equal, I see no reason to give business to an organization that goes out of its way to piss off its most loyal customers.

  6. @Gary, I am considered a newbie to the points and miles game (July 2011), so I almost feel intimidated by disagreeing with you, but data security is something which I know a tremendous amount. I work for a company that rhymes with Wahoo 😉 and we force third parties to adhere to strict security standards. Those security standards are, of course, not published to the public but are provided to third parties wishing to utilize Wahoo’s API. I am not privy to what AA’s security standards are and why points.com is allowed but awardwallet is not, but I can make an educated guess that perhaps awardwallet has not gone through AA’s security qualification process. Just my humble opinion and hopefully no one burns me at the stake for me 🙂

  7. @carwag25 well put. I think what you says is a valid argument and all we can do is speculate about the reasoning behind this move.

    Is AA the only airline that has pulled themselves off of awardwallet?

  8. @carwag25 Points.com has a lucrative financial relationship with AA. AA does not provide security standards to AwardWallet or other aggregators. While I don’t dismiss the importance of security, in this case it happens to be a canard.

  9. @The Travel Abstract – Southwest wasn’t on Award Wallet to begin with, but they object to third party sites accessing theirs as well and have done so for a long time (eg shutting down websites that helped you checkin exactly 24 hours out for an “A” boarding pass).

  10. @Gary… all very good points. Just trying to help folks understand all points to the issue, but didn’t realize that points.com had a financial relationship. I would still be highly surprised that AA doesn’t provide security standards to third parties.

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