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American Airlines is exploring new ways to compensate passengers

June 21, 2020
4 min read
American Airlines is exploring new ways to compensate passengers
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There are so many moving parts in the aviation industry that even on the best airlines things are bound to go wrong from time to time, from bags going missing to seats being broken or even a flight attendant accidentally spilling a drink on you during meal service. It's important to have a positive attitude and not let minor slip-ups ruin your trip, so long as the airline takes reasonable steps to address the issue and provide compensation where necessary.

About two years ago American Airlines introduced the "iSolve" tool, which let flight attendants offer onboard compensation (primarily in the form of bonus AAdvantage miles) from their tablets. View From The Wing reported earlier this month that American suspended the iSolve tool, and now appears to be surveying customers on alternate forms of compensation it can offer. Some of the possible options include:

What's interesting to note is that the new options being surveyed generally don't cost the airline much and appear to reflect a desire not to add more liabilities to the balance sheet just a few months after receiving a $5.8 billion government bailout. Adding one incremental visitor to an Admirals Club likely costs the airline a negligible amount, as does an in-flight Wi-Fi pass. Priority boarding is an interesting benefit to offer right now, especially as airlines around the world are rethinking the way they board planes to promote social distancing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

We asked readers in the TPG Lounge which of these options they'd prefer, or what other forms of compensation they'd like to see, and the results were pretty unanimous. Nechama K. pointed out that if you already have benefits like Admirals Club access and priority boarding due to your elite status, these benefits wouldn't be very helpful. In fact it seems like AAdvantage elite members -- the very customers the airline wants to keep happiest -- would get the least value out of any of these forms of compensation. Andy R. voiced a pretty common opinion, saying "1,000 AAdvantage miles is better than any of those options. I know they don’t want to do that, but that still costs the airline nearly nothing."

A number of readers were also excited about the idea of receiving Admirals Club day passes. These lounges are generally only accessible to paying members, top-tier elites and certain credit card holders. While the quality varies heavily from location to location, making up for a service failure with an upgraded airport experience sounds like a good idea.

Reader Kyle L. suggested a sliding scale based on the severity of the incident, which raises an important point. While these options might be suitable compensation for something like a broken seat or running out of food on a shorter flight, they wouldn't come close for a business class passenger with an inoperable IFE screen on a 15-hour long-haul flight. That's one of the beauties of using bonus miles as compensation: it's much easier to adjust the amount given to match the specific issue.

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Bottom line

Just weeks after removing its "iSolve" system for in-flight compensation, American Airlines has begun surveying passengers looking for alternate ways to make up for service issues. Based on the limited choices included in the survey and the initial response from a number of TPG readers, it's clear that AA needs to revaluate as most people would simply prefer miles. Many of the benefits listed here are redundant for frequent travelers with elite status, the very customers AA needs to be keeping the happiest.

Featured image by (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023