As I’m sure all of you know by now, on Thursday American announced some huge changes to their AAdvantage program. As far as I’m concerned, the biggest offense on their part was the lack of advance notice and the
poor horrible way they communicated the changes.
Anyway, reader Tom emailed customer relations the following to voice his displeasure about the changes:
Over the years, I have been disappointed in the way various airlines have devalued their frequent flyer programs, but today’s changes to AAdvantage — especially the elimination of the Explorer awards — are unacceptable. They are in a phrase, simply bait-and-switch.
You’ve lured us into giving you our loyalty with an expectation that we will be able to have a certain kind of experience and reward for that loyalty, and now you’ve taken the reward away. It is dishonest, it is cynical, and I’m guessing that if any business treated you this way, you would feel as angry and cheated as I do, now. The fine print may say that you can make changes whenever you want, but the advertising, the emails, the award charts the promotions, have all created a very different expectation. I don’t do business with dishonest people or dishonest companies.
There were those of us who went to bat for you as you tried to compete with other carriers, who wrote to congress on your behalf when you wanted to create the relationship with British Airways across the Atlantic, and this is how you repay us. How dare you?
Here’s the response he received from customer relations:
Dear Mr. [Name]:
We understand that your AAdvantage® Gold privileges are important, and we acknowledge your comments about the changes to your free bag allowance. Our intention is not to detract from the importance of any of our elite levels, but to provide recognition to all elite members appropriate to their status level.
Of course, as an AAdvantage® Gold member, you will continue to be able to check your first bag free of charge. You will also continue to enjoy many benefits not offered to non-elite customers, such as priority boarding and expanded upgrade opportunities, just to name a couple.
Mr. [Name], we appreciate your business very much, and we hope to have the opportunity to welcome you aboard again soon.
Ouch! I can appreciate that American is clearly trying to respond to the “feedback” they’re getting as promptly as possible, but with that kind of quality…