AA CEO Explains Why Move to a Revenue-Based Program Was Overdue

May 22, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Unaccompanied Flyer sat down with American Airlines CEO Doug Parker earlier this month for an interview. In the third part of the interview series, they discussed the past, present and future of the AAdvantage program. And, the interviewer didn’t pull any punches, giving us a look into the CEO’s thinking.

He started out asking: “Why did American decide to make the change to a revenue-based loyalty program?”

Answer: “I wish [former AA president] Robert Crandall would have just created the AAdvantage program as a revenue-based program from the beginning… It’s not about matching the competition, but it’s the correct way of doing things. We should be rewarding the flyers that spend the most money and put the most into this airline.”

The interviewer pushed back, asking Parker if someone who flies with the airline more should get rewarded more than a periodic first class business traveler.

Mr. Parker’s reply: “I’m going to be honest, and yeah, that guy who spends more money with us and flies in our premium cabins should be rewarded more. That college kid is spending $2,500 on coach tickets when that business person going to Europe is paying $15,000″

A final push from TUF got perhaps the most unscripted answer from the CEO: “Look, it’s not fair to the people who buy full-fare tickets all year round when some guy finds a cheap fare from some US city in first class, flies to Beijing round-trip and earns Platinum status for the year. We want to reward the people who do the most business with us.”

From this answer, it seems that the CEO of the world’s largest airline is still bitter about those travelers who jumped on the American Airlines business class deal from Washington DC (IAD) to Beijing (PEK) back in March 2015. This deal has been behind the DOT changing its rules for error fares, AA changing its terms to eliminate mileage earning on “misfiled fares” and — eventually — a “slap on the wrist” from the DOT.

This brings up an obvious follow-up question — that unfortunately TUF didn’t ask — Why call it a “Frequent Flyer program” and not a “Frequent Spender program”?

I guess we’ll have to wait to interview Doug Parker ourselves to get that answer.

Click here to read the full interview write-up — including discussions of Concierge Key and the retirement of the 757.

Featured image courtesy of Chicago Tribune via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.