an airplane flying in the sky

Have you ever been awarded frequent flyer miles for an airline inconvenience? Perhaps your seat didn’t work properly, they ran out of your meal choice – or your pilot went crazy and they had to cancel your flight? Well, American Airlines not only remembers – they’re keeping score too. The airline has embarrassingly admitted they’re on the hunt for compensation seekers, even if the airline was in the wrong.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Onto You

The Points Guy caught wind of an interesting podcast intended for American Airlines employees. In the episode, American’s VP of Flight Service boasts of new systems which tracks customers. The new tracking systems monitors customers who complain frequently, right or wrong and looks for compensation seekers. The complaints can be seen by social media staff, call centers and cabin crew in a customer dashboard. Whoop, whoop it’s the sound of the (voucher) police.

The great part about this system is it feeds into a central database that is what’s used by reservations, by social media and by the customer relations team, so if we ultimately have a customer who seems to be taking advantage of this, we’re going to know.

Wrong Message

This seems like the wrong message to send to customers. Rather than looking at improving the airlines performance, working seats, entertainment and meal selection, a VP is more excited about rooting out customers who have been awarded compensation of some form, due to airline faults. If the airline lacked customer service issues – there would be no need to hand out miles or vouchers.

Cheat Sheet

In addition to this gem or (disgrace) of information, The Forward Cabin also managed to wrangle an internal memo concerning what the airline is on the hook for, if things do go wrong. In short, most passengers will receive 5,000 miles for standard mishaps, while those with elite flyer status can gain up to 15,000. Just don’t have things go wrong too often – otherwise American Airlines may send the voucher and miles police.

The virtual eye roll is fully intended.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Last year flight attendants on my airline of choice gave me more than 100K miles because they enjoyed having me on their flights. Of course in order to do so they had to make up reasons for which miles could be awarded as compensation. Many of them complained that there was no system in place to award passengers who go out of their way to be nice.
    I had wondered if the airline tracked those miles. I guess now we’re all in trouble.

    1. Obviously those flight attendants know basic behavioural psychology. Airlines should be keeping track of the GOOD passengers and, perhaps, rewarding them annually or biannually.

  2. Anyone who understands human behaviour under stands that if you reward a behaviour it will increase. So rewarding complaining (unless it’s justified) will just make that person complain more and lead those who see them being rewarded to do the same. Better to reward the pleasant passenger and do so in a manner that allows that many more people to see it. It’s simple psychology.

  3. No problem with this. It prevents overgreasing a squeeky wheel. This has little bearing on 99% of us. We do however, all pay for entitlement one way or another. No problem if it is deserved. Not okay if it is abused.

  4. It seems that Santa isn’t the only one who is keeping a list of who has been naughty or nice.  I agree with you, AA should be focusing on reducing the need to complain not tracking the people who are calling them out on their mistakes.

  5. Hey This is very informative blog thanks for sharing. We are also provide American airlines phone number for customer issues.

  6. AA asked me to apply for a refund as I’m from the UK and was going on a trip of a lifetime, but due to COVID-19, I cannot go. They seemed OK about me getting a refund, but when I did, they refused it and by that time, I’d cancelled the flight, as that was the only way I could apply for a refund. I asked if I could complain and they answered that I was already speaking to the department for complaints, so nothing more can by done by them. What am I supposed to do?

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