American Airlines Airport Agents Now Pitching Credit Cards

American Airlines Airport Agents Now Pitching Credit Cards

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If you’ve flown American Airlines, you’ve probably heard the inflight credit card sales pitch for American’s co-branded Barclays credit card, typically marketed as an “exclusive limited time inflight offer.”

Flight attendants are paid for each approved application, so it’s potentially a significant revenue stream for employees. Different flight attendants take this to different levels — some just make one announcement, while others will do several announcements, pretend applications are running out, etc.

Well, credit card sales pitches are about to be taken to the next level at American Airlines, as airport agents are now also being incentivized to push credit cards.

American Airlines airport agents now paid for credit card approvals

As reported by View from the Wing, American Airlines airport agents are now being given the opportunity to be paid fees when passengers are approved for an AAdvantage Aviator Card from Barclays. As of May 2022, employees are being given a $25 bonus just for qualifying for the program, which requires reading through a course and then successfully completing a 10-question quiz to assess knowledge of the program.

Once approved, employees can immediately participate in the program. The way this works, American Airlines employees can give out applications that have a unique code tied to that employee, so when someone applies and is approved, that employee is paid a commission.

While this will of course annoy some customers, the reality is that American makes more profits from AAdvantage than from actually flying airplanes. The biggest source of revenue with AAdvantage is through co-branded credit cards, so it’s not surprising that expanding the share of passengers who have a credit card is a priority.

Expect airport agents to start promoting credit cards

In what form will these credit card pitches come?

One thing I haven’t yet seen is what restrictions (if any) are being placed on airport agents promoting credit cards. Presumably both agents at the check-in counter and the gate will be able to promote credit cards, so this could come in a few different forms.

At check-in, will each customer be given an individualized credit card pitch about the great benefits of the card? Could we see check-in agents turn a blind eye if your bag is overweight but you want to apply for a co-branded credit card?

At the gate, will there be credit card announcements? “Ladies and gentlemen, before we can start boarding, we’re looking for 10 volunteers to apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard.”

In some ways there might be value here in picking up an application even if you don’t actually plan on applying for the card. Many airline employees are apathetic, but maybe they’ll be a bit more customer-centric if they feel like you pick up an application that pays them a commission.

I think the biggest issue with this is that American Airlines’ ground agents are already overworked. Many check-in counters are understaffed, and American is boarding many flights with just one gate agent. I’m not sure where the time for a credit card pitch is supposed to come from (though I imagine for many employees it will be a priority).

You might hear credit card pitches at the gate

Bottom line

American Airlines credit card pitches are now expanding to the airport, as they’ll no longer be limited to onboard. American airport agents can now choose to promote Barclays credit cards, and be paid a commission for approvals. This will apply to agents both at check-in and at the gate, so I imagine this will soon become pretty common.

If you fly American and get a credit card pitch from an airport agent, please report back with your experience!

Conversations (43)
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  1. Kim Hebert Guest

    Yes I just flew with American Airlines and they were passing these out on the plane.

  2. MoJoe Diamond

    AA should have airport agents and flight attendants hawk travel accident and life insurance.

    "What if you don't make it safely to your destination today? Do you care about how your family would do without you? ... (yada yada) ... Boarding will begin shortly, thank you for flying American."

  3. Name withheld this company is vindictive Guest

    I'm surprised you didn't mention that flight crew receive 50 dollars per sign up and an even higher commission after a specific number of sign ups within a certain time. Airport agents, 25 dollars no matter what. Obviously this is to head off higher commissions since airport agents encounter passengers first. My enthusiasm for this program plummeted upon finding out.

  4. Seamus O'Connell Guest

    Leave the paying customers alone!!!!!

  5. William Shackleford Guest

    Need to concentrate on better service and not taking about a credit card

  6. Guest Guest

    You can thank Doug Parker for reducing AA to the level of Greyhound.

    1. Pablo Guest

      Parker retired. You are from Mars.

    2. CK Guest

      The guest is not from Mars. Parker did indeed take the AA brand and reduce it the level of Greyhound. They are now usAAir- They would be a better match for a Spirit merger than JetBlue.

  7. Murphys Traveler Guest

    Just last month, the top 10 AA Flight Attendant producers of CC applications were treated to a 3 day extravaganza-all paid the the Biltmore. Including a plus 1 with positive space to Asheville. These Top 10 pull in at least $100K in addition to the FA salary. That’s why you hear these incessant announcements. There is a strict script these FA’s are to follow, but rarely do they do so. And the cheating is rampant....

    Just last month, the top 10 AA Flight Attendant producers of CC applications were treated to a 3 day extravaganza-all paid the the Biltmore. Including a plus 1 with positive space to Asheville. These Top 10 pull in at least $100K in addition to the FA salary. That’s why you hear these incessant announcements. There is a strict script these FA’s are to follow, but rarely do they do so. And the cheating is rampant. It’s a con. 25,000 miles for a RT? Look it up. Any destination. Not happening.

  8. Reed Guest

    Just tell them to shut up.

  9. RJ Guest

    Drives me nuts how AA is the only credit card that doesn't give you a free checked bag.. they always lie and say you do get one but you don't.. that only applies to domestic only itinerary.. they even have the nerve to push the checked bag on the flights where every single person on the plane paid to check their bag. I've asked for a medical exemption a couple times when I have to...

    Drives me nuts how AA is the only credit card that doesn't give you a free checked bag.. they always lie and say you do get one but you don't.. that only applies to domestic only itinerary.. they even have the nerve to push the checked bag on the flights where every single person on the plane paid to check their bag. I've asked for a medical exemption a couple times when I have to bring medications to my family. Sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn't.. they don't care, it's just a money grab for people who have family overseas and have no choice but to check a bag

  10. Kathleen D Guest

    I prefer AA . Going to look into AA card

  11. Curtis Farris Guest

    If you fly American Airlines 70% of the time the lounge & credit card are worth it but if not it's a waste!

  12. Jim Guest

    I just flew American last week and the gate agent said the flight was oversold and due to limited overhead space, Basic Economy passengers would need to check their bags, UNLESS you have an AA Advantage credit card, which could be obtained and filled out here at the gate.

    A handful of people took them up on this opportunity. Whether it was truly necessary or not isn't clear.

    1. MC Guest

      I don’t think having an AA Advantage credit card would miraculously free up overhead bin space. Kind of a tacky ploy. No surprise

  13. Met Guest

    I flew American Airlines for the first time this month and the strangest part of the whole experience was the credit card pitch. They even did it mid-flight! Flying is stressful and expensive enough without someone trying to sell you a credit card too. I feel bad for the flight attendants, and now the gate staff too. I hope AA isn't also forcing them to meet a quota for applications, in this economy, with their...

    I flew American Airlines for the first time this month and the strangest part of the whole experience was the credit card pitch. They even did it mid-flight! Flying is stressful and expensive enough without someone trying to sell you a credit card too. I feel bad for the flight attendants, and now the gate staff too. I hope AA isn't also forcing them to meet a quota for applications, in this economy, with their staffing shortages. The lengths some companies go to squeeze extra profit out of their workers...

    1. Murphys Traveler Guest

      It’s strictly voluntary

  14. Jim Guest

    There's a line between a gate agent doing it on the intercom when I can tune them out, and a direct ask when checking my bags. The latter is just another turnoff in the entire AA bad experience.

  15. ThAAt one guy Guest

    Actually this program has been a thing since around November. I left AA February so I’m not sure if they do it, given the workload I doubt it

  16. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Virgin Atlantic did this a few years back approaching customers in the clubhouse and offering 50k miles sign up bonus if you applied there and then.

    1. Carol A. Guest

      In April 2021 I took one of these applications for the Barclay's card. Completed the application and sent it in. I later received a request for additional information and send the information certified, return receipt. Called the company to make sure they received the information and was told they only had part of what they requested. It had all gone in the same envelope. Resent requested information a second time, certified return receipt and never...

      In April 2021 I took one of these applications for the Barclay's card. Completed the application and sent it in. I later received a request for additional information and send the information certified, return receipt. Called the company to make sure they received the information and was told they only had part of what they requested. It had all gone in the same envelope. Resent requested information a second time, certified return receipt and never heard from them, nor did I get the card. I have run out of patience with AA and Barclay's. What a sham.

  17. Donna Diamond

    I’d hate to think they’d delay boarding for a card pitch over the PA but stranger things have happened.

  18. lovestotrAAvel Guest

    Actually it's only being done at the ticket counter, the card application comes in the form of a ticket jacket, where they place your boarding pass inside.

  19. T- Guest

    It is a HUGE MYTH that airlines (any Airline) makes more money off of credit cards than flying people. If so than American Airlines would be a bank not an airline. As the author of this post, you SHOULD have your facts correct.

    1. Rob S Guest

      It is not a myth at all. If you look at financial records when airlines file for bankruptcy, often the only part of their operation that is making money is selling frequent-flyer miles to banks and other third-parties. That’s why AA and other airlines are moving to programs that only measure spend and not actual miles flown. It is absolutely true.

    2. AA70 Member

      I suggest YOU should have your facts correct...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggUduBmvQ_4

  20. Icarus Guest

    Sounds like Ryanair. What next ? Scratch cards

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Now scratch cards could potentially be a good idea and money maker, knowing how to properly execute it. (and circumvent gambling laws)

      I don't mind spending a few bucks for a chance to get upgraded or a free drink.

  21. TravelinWilly Diamond

    AA really has become the garbage airline.

  22. RMB Guest

    The incessant credit card pitches was one of the reasons that I left AA after years of EXP status. Flight attendants seemed to be more interested in pitching the credit cards (often with false statements) than actually providing in-flight customer service. Somehow they didn't have time to offer beverages, but could always find time to make that credit card pitch and walk the aisle handing out applications.

  23. DCAWABN Guest

    I fly AA about once a week for work - and because it's the only intra-Covid non-stop from home to the office. I didn't think about it much at the time, but last week (I think), the gate agent was hocking the card when she was mentioning that our "regional jet" could only hold about 25 roll-aboards. She made some comment along the lines of

    If you're in Groups 7-9 and you'd like to avoid...

    I fly AA about once a week for work - and because it's the only intra-Covid non-stop from home to the office. I didn't think about it much at the time, but last week (I think), the gate agent was hocking the card when she was mentioning that our "regional jet" could only hold about 25 roll-aboards. She made some comment along the lines of

    If you're in Groups 7-9 and you'd like to avoid the hassle of gate checking your bag in the future, apply for the American Airlines Aviator(?) card and receive a complimentary checked bag every time you fly with us.

    I remember this specifically because I chuckled at the thought that while the gate agent is literally telling pax they can gate check their bag for free if they're in Groups 7-9, a CC would offer the same benefit with the added "bonus" of a (unnecessary) line of credit and a ding on your credit score. Like, unless you are super hard up for AAdvantage miles, this is such a terrible selling point.

    1. Mikey Guest

      It's also untrue. The checked bag benefit applies to domestic flights for the card holder and up to 4/8 in your reservation. Flying international? You'll pay for bags. Flying with others but they are in a separate reservation? They will pay for bags. If your multiple passenger reservation is divided into separate reservations for any reason? Only those in the card holder's reservation get free bags.

      If they are saying free bags on every flight, it's simply not true.

    2. DCAWABN Guest

      I’m paraphrasing a bit but that’s pretty close. And it’s been ages since I had an AA-branded card so I’m not super up to date in the specific schedule. Beyond that, though, I have a hard time believing the gate agents both know the specifics and care to give them out when they’re trying to earn that sweet, sweet commission. What’s a little lie between friends, right?

  24. Luke Guest

    I'd think the takeup on people actually signing up from these pitches would increase if the bonuses offered is higher than what is generally available online, such as a 60k or 65k bonus for signing up on the plane (versus 50k bonus generally available) with proof that the applicant actually flew on the day embedded into the application.

    Would work kind of like those chase sapphire offers in the past where intro bonuses are higher...

    I'd think the takeup on people actually signing up from these pitches would increase if the bonuses offered is higher than what is generally available online, such as a 60k or 65k bonus for signing up on the plane (versus 50k bonus generally available) with proof that the applicant actually flew on the day embedded into the application.

    Would work kind of like those chase sapphire offers in the past where intro bonuses are higher if applicant applies for the card in a physical Chase bank branch.

    1. Rama Guest

      The only benefit signing up via the airplane application is $99 fee waived for first year but as many times as I’ve heard the pitch in flight, they’ve never made that distinct difference.

  25. DLPTATL Guest

    This will likely negatively impact customer service as well as on-time-departure stats. It's human nature to prioritize activities that have potential upside. Focusing on selling someone a CC rather than focusing on an efficient boarding process only has the potential to benefit the gate agent. What's next, PA sales pitches in the lounges?

  26. Brian G. Member

    I'm curious how many gate agents are going to lie about the benefits of the CC like some FAs do now.

    1. Max Guest

      Do they intentionally lie though or has such a simple product as a payment card become so complicated that you need a Master of Laws in Credit Card and assorted benefits science to understand it nowadays?

      And if so, why has it not been regulated that only professionals are allowed to sell such a product, including documentation of the sales conversation?

  27. Former Bank Employee Guest

    I’m surprised it took this long. Flight attendants get anywhere from $50-$100 for every application they take and it is approved. Of course gate agents wanted to get in on what could be a lucrative bonus.

  28. AA70 Member

    Easy, everything is already delayed anyway so what's another few minutes to hear a once in a lifetime offer?

  29. Never In Doubt Guest

    Even more delays at check in!

    1. Eric Guest

      Im a fa, and I no longer sell it. Why would I make an announcement onboard. When passengers already have an application from a ground employee.

  30. George Romey Guest

    Not surprising. As usual marketing morons that think people actually like non stop selling. I can see it right now, couldn't come onboard to process that upgrade because I was too busy with the cc pitch.

    One day very soon with a cratering economy the credit card mill industry is going to go into the toilet and let's see how airlines will make a profit then.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Murphys Traveler Guest

Just last month, the top 10 AA Flight Attendant producers of CC applications were treated to a 3 day extravaganza-all paid the the Biltmore. Including a plus 1 with positive space to Asheville. These Top 10 pull in at least $100K in addition to the FA salary. That’s why you hear these incessant announcements. There is a strict script these FA’s are to follow, but rarely do they do so. And the cheating is rampant. It’s a con. 25,000 miles for a RT? Look it up. Any destination. Not happening.

1
TravelinWilly Diamond

AA really has become the garbage airline.

1
AA70 Member

Easy, everything is already delayed anyway so what's another few minutes to hear a once in a lifetime offer?

1
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