Skip to content

Fact-Checking American Airlines Flight Attendant Claims to Sell You a Credit Card

Feb. 19, 2018
6 min read
Fact-Checking American Airlines Flight Attendant Claims to Sell You a Credit Card
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.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

If you've flown on an American Airlines flight in the last few months, you've no doubt heard the credit card pitch. While sometimes this pitch is made shortly after takeoff, many passengers are either woken up or have their in-flight entertainment paused for the announcement mid-flight. And, if your flights have been anything like mine, the announcement will go on for two or three minutes.

The card that they are selling is the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard. No doubt, it's a great card. However, the flight attendant pitches almost always reference outdated, incorrect or flat-out wrong benefits.

While we don't begrudge the flight attendants trying to make their commissions on these sign-ups — AA won't say how much, but some sources are reporting $60 a pop — it pains us to no end to hear incorrect information being used to sell a credit card. Especially when the flight attendants are using this incorrect information to hard-sell you to fill out the application right away.

So, let's fact-check some of the claims that we've heard so far in 2018.

The card gets you Priority Boarding ("All cardmembers get priority boarding giving you plenty of time to store your bags"; "You'll receive priority boarding for the primary cardholder and up to four traveling companions"; and "With your card, show it at the gate, you're moved up to the second boarding which is Group 2")

This one makes it into most the pitches. "Priority boarding" is close, but incorrect. The card does offer Preferred Boarding in Group 5, but that's not Priority Boarding — which is defined as Groups 1 through 4. And, you certainly don't get Group 2 boarding from having this card, as the flight attendant on my January 16 flight claimed.

Double miles on foreign transactions ("And while you're traveling with your card throughout the world, you will receive double miles on purchases and you'll have no foreign transaction fees")

False. While the card doesn't have any foreign transaction fees, it earns 2x miles only on eligible American Airlines purchases — not all foreign transactions.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

This card gets you first class check-in ("With your card, you can check-in at first class check-in. Just show your ticket, even if you're on a coach ticket, and they will let you check in there")

False. Priority check-in isn't a benefit of this card.

Free checked bags for up to four companions ("They will let you check your bag for free and four other people traveling with you, their bags are checked for free too")

Mostly true, but with important limitations. The four people traveling with you must be on the same reservation and on a domestic itinerary:

...marketed and operated by American Airlines or on American Eagle domestic itineraries marketed by American Airlines and operated by Air Wisconsin Airlines Corporation, Compass Airlines, LLC, Envoy Air Inc., ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., Mesa Airlines, Inc., Piedmont Airlines, Inc., PSA Airlines, Inc., Republic Airline Inc., SkyWest Airlines, Inc., or Trans States Airlines, LLC

The benefit isn't available on "codeshare flights booked with an American Airlines flight number but operated by another airline."

Credit card miles are transferable ("It's important to note that these miles are transferable; you can transfer them to friends of family if you so choose.")

The flight attendant on my Phoenix (PHX) to Honolulu (HNL) flight threw this one in for good measure at the end of the pitch. And, it's true that American Airlines miles are indeed transferable, but it's usually a terrible idea to do so.

American Airlines charges $12.50 per 1,000 miles transferred plus another $15 fee for transferring. To transfer all 50,000 sign-up bonus miles to one person, you'd have to pay $640 to transfer them. And TPG's valuation of those miles is only $700.

"MONEY Magazine in October picked this card as the best card for American Airlines miles and that was with 30,000 miles. Now, you get 50,000 miles."

This was a new one I heard just this week and certainly piqued my interest. First of all, the Aviator Red MasterCard had a 60,000 mile bonus since August, so the 30,000 part is clearly wrong. But, what about the other part? Well, MONEY Magazine did release a list in October choosingthe "Best Airline Mileage Card", but it wasn't the Aviator Red MasterCard:

In fact, the list doesn't mention a single Barclaycard Aviator credit card anywhere. So, this flight attendant claim earns a false rating.

This card offers unique benefits ("There is no credit card in the industry at this time doing these items on our program")

Mostly false. Yes, this card is unique in that you can earn the sign-up bonus after just one purchase and paying the $95 annual fee. Besides that, the only unique benefit is that you can earn 3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) by spending $25,000 on this card in a calendar year. But, I've never heard this benefit included in the on-board pitch.

All of the benefits listed by the flight attendants generally are also found on the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: 2x miles on AA purchases, free checked bag for up to four companions on the same domestic itinerary, reduced mileage awards, 10% rebate of redeemed miles, no foreign transaction fees and Group 5 "preferred boarding." The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Response from American Airlines

We reached out to American Airlines to ask about the inaccuracies in the pitches by cabin crew. An American Airlines spokesperson responded that flight attendants are provided with a script to use onboard. The examples we shared with AA of deviations from this script are being taken very seriously and will be "shared with the right teams for review and action."

Bottom Line

If you're curious about signing up the next time you hear an American Airlines flight attendant pitch the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, feel free to do so. But, don't base your decision off the pitch itself, as almost all of the ones we've heard contained inaccurate statements. In fact, during my nine flights so far in 2018 on AA, only the flight attendant on my Miami to LaGuardia flight got all of the details right.

Featured photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Featured image by Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for American Airlines lounge access
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 4X miles
4XFor a limited time, earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases.
1X1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 miles
Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$450

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

 includes a complimentary membership to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge. Users can also add up to 10 authorized users (for no additional cost), and they get their own access — including two traveling companions. The primary cardmember also enjoys priority check in, screening and boarding for themselves and up to eight travel companions. Other perks include a free checked bag for domestic travel, 25% off eligible inflight purchases and $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Pros

  • Offers Admirals Club lounge access.
  • Help earning up to 10,000 EQMs that go toward elite status.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, boarding and a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions.
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit.

Cons

  • No travel protection benefits.
  • Miles redemption limited to American Airlines and its Oneworld partners.
  • 25% inflight credit doesn't include Wi-Fi.
  • Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • For a limited time, earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
Best for American Airlines lounge access
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XFor a limited time, earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases.
1X1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    80,000 miles
  • Annual Fee

    $450
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

 includes a complimentary membership to the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge. Users can also add up to 10 authorized users (for no additional cost), and they get their own access — including two traveling companions. The primary cardmember also enjoys priority check in, screening and boarding for themselves and up to eight travel companions. Other perks include a free checked bag for domestic travel, 25% off eligible inflight purchases and $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

Pros

  • Offers Admirals Club lounge access.
  • Help earning up to 10,000 EQMs that go toward elite status.
  • Priority check-in, airport screening, boarding and a free checked bag for you and up to 8 travel companions.
  • 25% discount on inflight food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Fee Statement Credit.

Cons

  • No travel protection benefits.
  • Miles redemption limited to American Airlines and its Oneworld partners.
  • 25% inflight credit doesn't include Wi-Fi.
  • Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • For a limited time, earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation