American AAdvantage Forces AwardWallet To Stop Tracking Miles

American AAdvantage Forces AwardWallet To Stop Tracking Miles

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This is frustrating, and quite a short-sighted and customer unfriendly move on the part of American AAdvantage.

AAdvantage cuts ties with AwardWallet

AwardWallet is a useful site for tracking your points balances with various airline, credit card, and hotel loyalty programs. The idea is that you can store your loyalty program account info, and then you can update your AwardWallet account to see how your points balances in all programs have changed.

AwardWallet can also remind you when your miles are due to expire, and it’s also a good way to stay on top of your accounts to make sure there’s no fraud. I have dozens of loyalty program accounts — I’d never update them all daily individually, but it’s super easy to do when I can do so in just one place.

Occasionally some loyalty programs have taken issue with AwardWallet tracking points balances, and the latest such program is American AAdvantage. Here’s part of the email that AwardWallet sent to users today:

We’re writing to let you know that American Airlines has forced us to stop tracking your American Airlines account on AwardWallet. We are extremely disappointed in this decision. AwardWallet believes that you own your loyalty and travel data and that you have the right to control and share that data as you see fit. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to fight this demand.

The email then goes on to list all of the AAdvantage accounts I was tracking (belonging to family members) that have been removed from AwardWallet.

AAdvantage miles can no longer be tracked with AwardWallet

What’s American AAdvantage’s motivation?

Generally speaking when a program forces AwardWallet to stop tracking account data, it comes down to two main factors:

  • Loyalty program want points to expire, and points are less likely to expire if they’re being tracked, and you’re reminded when the expiration date is coming up
  • Loyalty programs want members to log into their accounts as often as possible so they can monetize that visit (by getting you to apply for a credit card, book a flight, complete a transaction with a partner, etc.), rather than having that done through a third party

In theory I can at least see where a loyalty program would be coming from with this perspective, but even then the logic doesn’t add up, or at least doesn’t outweigh the biggest downsides:

  • I’m more likely to visit my American AAdvantage account after my mileage balance updates through AwardWallet, to see what changed; after all, AwardWallet made it easy for me to click one button and then be logged into my AAdvantage account
  • Unarguably something like AwardWallet enhances account security and reduces mileage theft if I can constantly refresh all the accounts that I manage to make sure there are no unauthorized transactions; in some cases I otherwise might not check the accounts of family members for a year at a time

This is a truly disappointing change, and it doesn’t show good faith towards members on the part of AAdvantage leadership. There’s a change.org petition for American to reverse course on this. It’s up to everyone individually whether they think that’s worth taking part in, but it’s at least worth mentioning.

This is an unfortunate change on American’s part

Bottom line

American Airlines has forced AwardWallet to stop tracking AAdvantage accounts. This is an unfortunate move, because AwardWallet is a site that makes it easier to engage with loyalty programs, and that also helps with making sure your accounts aren’t compromised.

It’s pretty clear that this is intended to increase the number of miles that expire, by making it harder to keep track of mileage expiration dates. While I imagine this is also about AAdvantage wanting more people to check their balances directly on aa.com, I’m not sure this accomplishes exactly what the airline is hoping.

What do you make of this AwardWallet change?

Conversations (25)
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  1. JB Frost Guest

    Shortsighted thinking. AA is least customer friendly legacy airline. Stupid!

  2. ConsumerRep Guest

    Why would anyone allow access to their accounts (which hold credit card information) by a third party?

  3. yoyo Guest

    It is also stupid for award wallet do this without giving any advanced notice. At least they could auto convert those to manul tracking. Now I have lost all 8 AA accounts I have been tracking.

  4. TProphet Guest

    The largest airline in the world can do whatever the hell it wants. And they do.

  5. Wil A Guest

    What’s wrong with being a loyal customer in a loyalty program and then trying to circumvent what the company you are loyal to is doing? I see a loyalty program has a benefit, not a requirement that the company is offering to you. Why can’t I log into my company’s loyalty account to my activity? That is what is designed for. I agree with AA and them limiting access to other companies to collect data.

  6. Another Lump Guest

    This is going to make it really difficult for me to track the 0 balance on my shutdown AA account.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      What did you do to get shutdown, donated too much money for miles?

  7. SSS Guest

    This is really interesting in the world of open data. More and more countries are enacting laws that recognize customer data belongs to the customer and they can deal with it however they want. This is happening with banking, utility and telco data.
    Airlines could get ahead of this and support the concept, but sadly they’ll just wait until forced to by the government.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      The question in this world of open data, how much awareness do you have?

      Your data, your choice? Sound good until you consider your body, your choice and decided to sell your kidney because someone on the internet says you're born with 2 kidneys and can live with only 1. So why not sell one and make easy money. Most people are aware enough not to do that, but of course your body your choice.

      ...

      The question in this world of open data, how much awareness do you have?

      Your data, your choice? Sound good until you consider your body, your choice and decided to sell your kidney because someone on the internet says you're born with 2 kidneys and can live with only 1. So why not sell one and make easy money. Most people are aware enough not to do that, but of course your body your choice.

      Handing out your personal data in exchange for little free stuff is as trivial as selling your kidney for few dollars. Maybe consider if someone offers you a billion dollar for your kidney.
      What's worse, a lot of these data you sold, you didn't even know they existed or what's it for. Like trading a big bag of candy with a 10 year old for one of their kidney.

      Heck, even USA can't even move things forward with my body my choice. Supported by political donations to fuel a hidden agenda. The whole twisted reality of this generation. Don't sell your data to easily.

    2. Tcarv Guest

      Privacy laws give customers some control over their personal data and the right to request deletion, which is not quite ownership.

  8. DenB Diamond

    Deeply disapppointing and frustrating. I depend on AwardWallet to manage many AAdvantage accounts (as well as other companies' accounts) for my flock. Being barred from its use, for AAdvantage only, will only piss me off daily, only against American. Stupid move on their part IMHO. They haven't really understood how annoying this is to the tiny minority of their members who use AW. They haven't thought it through.

  9. Juan Guest

    What's worse is that they made Award Wallet completely remove the miles. I know Delta and Southwest don't allow AW to log into your account and track your miles, but at least you could enter it manually or have it forward your emailed statements.

    American Airlines continues to be the worst airline in the US.

  10. TCarv Guest

    AwardWallet is hoping to monetize on various affinity programs' data. Ben never touched on the issue of fairness from the affinity program. How much is AwardWallet willing to pay companies that have affinity programs to aggregate their data?

  11. N515CR New Member

    RovInMoses - DL (and UA) still show up as accounts that you can manually track (and DL balances do trickle in if you link Amex). AA was the last of the US3/WN that had an API feed.

  12. Charles Guest

    What's unique about this is that while United doesn't allow automatic updates, one can still forward a monthly UA MP account statement email into AwardWallet. As it appears that AA may have forbidden even something as simple as that while forcing AwardWallet to pull AA as an program listing, it points towards something likely bigger.

  13. RovinMoses Guest

    Haven't been able to track Delta miles on Award Wallet for years. However, sad that AA has taken the same approach.

    1. Juan Guest

      At least Delta can still be on AwardWallet. American forced Award Wallet to pull it from their site entirely, not even allowing manual updates.

      Good thing I only had like 700 miles with them.

  14. David Diamond

    So American is now trying to be as customer unfriendly as possible, while United is trying to work off its way up by treating their customers better. What a time to be alive.

    1. brizone Guest

      AA continues their sprint to the bottom.

  15. Gary Leff Guest

    @John G - Award Wallet had a contract, their previous access was by written agreement with the airline.

    @Never in Doubt - Award Wallet was using an API, but they're certainly technically capable of screen scraping and they've said they will not do this so it has to be a legal issue.

  16. John G Guest

    @Ben,

    I would think you would know the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions like the back of of your hand...

    "You may not give access to your account to any third party on-line service, including, but not limited to any mileage management service, mileage tracking service, or mileage aggregation service; or otherwise act as any of the foregoing on behalf of any other AAdvantage® member. You must access your account information directly through the Services and...

    @Ben,

    I would think you would know the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions like the back of of your hand...

    "You may not give access to your account to any third party on-line service, including, but not limited to any mileage management service, mileage tracking service, or mileage aggregation service; or otherwise act as any of the foregoing on behalf of any other AAdvantage® member. You must access your account information directly through the Services and not through a third party website, including but not limited to any mileage management service, mileage tracking service, or mileage aggregation service."

  17. Asarious Guest

    This could potentially be without teeth, unless there’s a compelling business reason for AwardWallet to comply.

    I believe, somewhere out there, there’s been case law precedent suggesting that since the data surrounding your own mileage balances and AAdvantage accounts are made available to you, you have the right to use that information for personal use in a database.

    I suppose we don’t know the circumstances behind this, as I imagine AwardWallet may monetize the data...

    This could potentially be without teeth, unless there’s a compelling business reason for AwardWallet to comply.

    I believe, somewhere out there, there’s been case law precedent suggesting that since the data surrounding your own mileage balances and AAdvantage accounts are made available to you, you have the right to use that information for personal use in a database.

    I suppose we don’t know the circumstances behind this, as I imagine AwardWallet may monetize the data as well somehow… but in theory AAdvantage can’t dictate where and how I choose to store this information.

    I’m sure AAdvantage’s terms and conditions could simply be updated to forbid this, with threat of excommunication from the program… but at face value, this seems odd to me.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      I’m happy to be corrected by someone who knows the specifics, but it’s likely a technical roadblock that AA is using, not a legal or T&C “threat”.

      There’s got to be a way for Award Wallet to scrape your data given your login credentials for them to operate at all. AA is likely just closing whatever method (official or unofficial) they were using.

    2. Paul Heymont Guest

      It's worth remembering that Award Wallet was not just working on its own with American. They and AA had an agreement to cooperate on this, announced by both on 8/6/13 after a previous AA blocking. The agreement seemed to be one of the fruits of the USAir merger. Here's what AA said in 2013:

      "American Airlines is continually looking for new ways to enhance the experience for our most valued customers. We have worked...

      It's worth remembering that Award Wallet was not just working on its own with American. They and AA had an agreement to cooperate on this, announced by both on 8/6/13 after a previous AA blocking. The agreement seemed to be one of the fruits of the USAir merger. Here's what AA said in 2013:

      "American Airlines is continually looking for new ways to enhance the experience for our most valued customers. We have worked closely with AwardWallet to design an offering that meets our security requirements, while offering our customers a one-stop shop for tracking all of their loyalty affiliations, including AAdvantage."

      So far, I believe, no comment from AA on why they're returning to petulant tantrum status.

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brizone Guest

Yes, those are the new terms.

2
brizone Guest

AA continues their sprint to the bottom.

1
Gary Leff Guest

@John G - Award Wallet had a contract, their previous access was by written agreement with the airline. @Never in Doubt - Award Wallet was using an API, but they're certainly technically capable of screen scraping and they've said they will not do this so it has to be a legal issue.

1
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