American Airlines Shutdowns
About three weeks ago we covered the news that American Airlines was locking and shutting down some accounts for what they deemed a violation of the AAdvantage program terms. We believe the reason people were targeted for American Airlines shutdowns was the use of mailers which bypassed some of Citi’s anti-churning rules.
No Bonus Restricting Language
Specifically, certain targeted mailers from American Airlines had no language limiting people from getting the bonus over and over again. It was apparently even possible to get these mailers by signing up for new AAdvantage accounts in fake names and waiting a bit for a mailer to show up. Mailers weren’t tied to a specific name so this worked and people even bought/sold codes as well.
The result of this is that a group of people ended up signing up for many many Citi American Airlines credit cards by using legitimate codes that were meant for someone else. While Citi had no issue approving the accounts apparently, at some point American Airlines took notice and decided that using codes meant for someone else was a big no no. Hence the shutdowns and confiscation of miles.
What is an American Airlines AAdvantage Shutdown?
So what exactly does one of these shutdowns entail? Well, that is sort of the issue. American locked the accounts of tons of people they suspected of violating these rules over 3 weeks ago. I’m not here to argue whether they are right or wrong in that, but one thing I want to point out is that it is absolutely wrong for American to leave people in limbo for this long.
When they lock someone’s account they make it so they can’t use any of their miles, but the account is still there. Award tickets remain intact as well, but they will be cancelled if/when American gets around to banning them. But here is the issue. American has locked these people’s account without notice. No email has been sent. No communication. Perhaps that is alright at first, but to make people wait 3+ weeks is ridiculous, especially considering their now intact travel plans will be cancelled.
Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right
If American wants to ban people who were legitimately approved for credit cards because of the fact they used mailers intended for someone else that is one thing. For them to make those people wait weeks (and time is still ticking) makes American a very bad actor in this scenario in my opinion. Two wrongs don’t make a right if that is indeed their point of view.
Now, I know their account security specialists have to review an account and contact the person, etc. but if you are going to lock accounts by the boat load, then have enough people to process those accounts. If not, then wait until you can communicate with the person about the shutdown before locking them out. In other words, I am in no way defending what people did with the mailers, but I am calling American Airlines out for how they are handling their end. It is incredibly shortsighted.
American Airlines Shutdowns – This Could Happen to You
I personally know a few people right now who have had their accounts in limbo for several weeks without any communication from American Airlines. While I am not surprised by this given my experience with their customer service, we should be talking about it. Remember, American legally feels they have the right to do this and that means it could happen to you.
Even if you didn’t knowingly violate program terms or sign-up for any mailers, maybe you are doing something else that American sees as fine today but will ban you for years from now. The point is they should be swift, transparent and respectful to their customers, even if they feel they broke the rules and deserve account termination.
Maybe you’ll argue that these mailer people are all terrible and they took advantage of a system. I’m not defending the practice, but on the base level let’s remember that these people all opened legitimate credit card accounts in the United States under their own name, social security number and AAdvantage number.
Citi could have stopped this at any time and denied the accounts but they didn’t. American could easily see people getting bonuses again and again, but they didn’t stop it either. Again, I am not arguing against the closure (that is beyond the scope of this post), but simply argue as one time customers and potential future customers (even if they can’t earn miles), they deserve the respect of not being in limbo for 3 weeks, a month or potentially even more.
Right now I sit here with gifted top tier AAdvantage status that I plan to use and enjoy. At the same time I have routinely found American Airlines to be among the most customer unfriendly airlines every single time I fly. Their flight attendants are hit or miss and their gate agents seem to have made an art form out of being passive aggressive. Of course there are tons of great AA employees, just not the ones who decided it was okay to make people wait a month in limbo. That is not right. Shut them down now and let them move on or let these people use their miles. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
What do you think of these American Airlines shutdowns? Are you one of those people in limbo? Do rule breakers deserve any respect? Share your thoughts in the comments, but keep it clean and respectful.