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. 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.
Featured image courtesy of Chicago Tribune via Getty Images.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards