Award Wallet discontinues American AAdvantage browser extension

Award Wallet is my favorite website for tracking miles and points. Instead of obsessively checking all of my mileage balance individually, I can obsessively check all my balances in one place. 😉

Back in December I wrote about American demanding that Award Wallet stop tracking AAdvantage accounts. They claimed it was due to security concerns over Award Wallet storing passwords to mileage accounts, though I suspect it had a lot more to do with American wanting customers to visit aa.com so they can hopefully extract some revenue out of them, as opposed to going to Award Wallet instead.

Award Wallet had a creative solution to this problem by creating a browser extension whereby you could store your password on your computer, and then when you check your account balances with Award Wallet it would open up your AAdvantage homepage for you, which displays your balance. It was a creative solution on the part of Award Wallet, and you would have thought all parties would be pleased with the solution — Award Wallet was no longer storing AAdvantage numbers and passwords, while consumers still had an easier way to check their account balances.

Well, I just got an email from Award Wallet, which reads as follows:

Dear Ben,

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.

Now this is really disappointing on the part of American. Thumbs up to Award Wallet for trying to come up with a creative solution, though thumbs down to American for wanting to make it more difficult to track our miles. I do wonder what their justification for this is? Surely not privacy concerns, since with the browser extension AAdvantage members are storing their passwords on their computers and not with Award Wallet.

As much as I love American, I’d certainly suggest sharing your displeasure about the change with them, either via Twitter or customer service.

Update: An American Airlines spokesman sends along the following explanation:

·         Upholding its long-held stance on how third-party websites access proprietary AAdvantage member details is just one of the ways American protects the benefits afforded through the AAdvantage program.

·         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.

·         Security is chief among our points of consideration when we make decisions regarding the sharing of our customers’ data with third-party websites

·         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.

·         Consistent with these principles, it is worth noting 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.

·         We are also in the process of qualifying a number of other mileage tracker websites.

Comments

  1. Definitely disappointing. However, AW might be better served spending less time worrying about browser extensions and more maintaining a product that doesn’t hang every time I try to ‘update all’ Seems to be happening a LOT lately.

  2. Definitely thumbs down. Sent message via CS, Twitter and Facebook to complain. Especially unfair when other sites (points.com, pointhub.com) are allowed to track AA miles.

  3. Award Wallet users are not the types that would let their miles expired anyway, not sure if it makes that much of a different to AA bottom line (expired miles) in making it difficult for AW users.

  4. I think it’s more of a method to “force” the users to use points.com, after all points.com it’s an AA partner even published in the AAdvantage program as a way to “earn” miles…

  5. I think AA’s motivation is not to let more miles expire, but instead to increase traffic to AA.com. If you have to look up your mileage balance manually, you also have to look at all of their fare “sales”, etc.

    I wish AwardWallet would provide a place to manually enter your AA balance, since my total won’t be nearly as pretty (7 digits instead of 8) without the AA miles. It would also be nice if they would provide the same manual entry for credit card programs, since there is no way in hell I am giving AwardWallet access to my credit card accounts. Does anybody give them access to their Ultimate Rewards balances?

  6. You provided the reason in the beginning: ” It had a lot more to do with American wanting customers to visit aa.com so they can hopefully extract some revenue out of them, as opposed to going to Award Wallet instead.” I don’t understand why you are displeased with the willingness of American to make money. Maybe Award Wallet is not paying them enough. For the right price i’m sure AA would not object.

  7. The opposite side to that coin is that when I see a balance increase I immediately log into the airline account to see what it was for! I’m guessing AA has lost traffic based on their decision to not let AW display.

  8. @ Julian — Then they should say that. It’s not okay to lie to consumers and say it’s for “security” reasons when it’s really for “revenue enhancement” reasons.

  9. I also noticed that pointhub.com gives the balances from AAdvantage account and even Southwest RR account.

  10. This reminds me a bit of AA’s dispute with Orbitz and others a year or so ago over ticket sales through distributors. Seems that their policies in this area can be somewhat anti-consumer.

  11. The worst part about this is that AA doesn’t let you log in with a user name or your email, so in addition to not letting you use AW anymore, you now have to now remember a stupid random combination of letter and numbers that make up your AA number. AA is really worthless.

  12. @lucky. I agree. But that’s a different issue. My point is that you should be probably equally upset at Award Wallet for not willing to do enough to secure AA’s approval rather than free ride and make money off AA.

  13. also sent them a message – in sum for me it’s out of sight- out of mind. I guess I’ll just click through on their competitors. I also mentioned that awardwallet reinforces our loyalty every time we sign in and see the companies we track, so its stupid not to want to be in the line up.

  14. Just sent this to AA customer service.

    I am extremely disappointed I will no longer be able to track my miles on award wallet. I often click through to aa.com from award wallet, especially when there is a change in my miles. You are being very consumer unfriendly by doing this and perhaps I will need to put my efforts into other mileage programs that are more responsive to their customer’s needs.

    Will post again when I hear back

  15. Not the smartest move on AA’s part. However, one must choose one’s battles. My browsers can remember my AA login info, so I can manage. I’ll send one email to AA and move on.

  16. Ian
    (moderation preview) 2 hrs, 40 mins ago
    It is great AA is reaching out to “our” community with at least some sort of, albeit scripted, response as to their decision regarding Award Wallet. Is this really a secuirity concern though? Maybe, maybe not.
    I have both law enforcement experience as well as some IT security sales experience and it’s not quite clear to me. I think AA should go a little further in explaining what the security issue is (doesn’t need to be in great deal).

    Surely AA should know customers raising concerns about this being disallowed are a very valuable demographic, listening to their feedback is important. I don’t know what Award Wallet’s security architecture looks like but most likely addressing AA’s concerns shouldn’t be over complicated.

    Although the Star Alliance tends to be my choice, if American is listening/reading and hops on this quickly I might go out of my way to choose them in the future

  17. Um I think this has more to do with Apple and the way Apps wer by passing the security that Apple has on the iphone and if you want to be able to us the istore to sell apps you have to abide by their new secuirty guidelines just goggle Apple security Apps. If they meet their security guidelines then no problems. It’s been in the news abit. Some apps have been on selling the information the get from your Iphone

  18. This really does seem like another Orbitz style revenue fight than anything to do with demonstrably inferior security.

  19. How is this for a personalized no answer reponse from AA customer service?

    February 27, 2012

    Dear Puck:

    Thank you for contacting American Airlines Customer Relations.

    Thanks for taking the time to send us your ideas about how we could improve our service. You are a good customer and what you think about the way we do business is important.

    It’s always very helpful for us to see our product through our customers’ eyes. We try to be responsive and look for trends based on your reactions to different areas of service. This helps us to identify the different marketing features that are most appealing and improve those that aren’t so popular.

    It’s our goal to suit the needs and wishes of the largest group of our customers. As we look to make changes, you can be sure we’ll keep your concerns in mind. Thanks for giving us the benefit of your invaluable observations.

    Puck, thank you for contacting American Airlines.

    Sincerely,

    Mark Hicks

    Customer Relations

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