American Airlines Communicates With More Suspended Accounts – New Round of Shutdowns

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American Airlines Suspended Accounts Finally Get Shutdown Emails

American Airlines Communicates With More Suspended Accounts – New Round of Shutdowns

The day is finally upon us. The day that Shawn said should have come weeks ago. It is the day where American Airlines suspended accounts finally get shutdown emails.  No more wondering or being left in limbo.  No more worrying about your upcoming flights.  Many people who were in limbo for months finally know their fate and they have been terminated.  This is something American Airlines has been dragging out for months shutting down accounts slowly after initially freezing accounts.

Email Details

The title of the email says AAdvantage account suspension and it is from aadvantage.corporate.security@aa.com.

Here is what the email says:

A recent investigation has determined your involvement in multiple violations of the General AAdvantage Program Conditions. These violations are related to the accrual of ineligible miles and benefits; through fraud, misrepresentation and/or abuse of the AAdvantage Program. Additionally, any award tickets obtained through an “Exploitive Practice” are in violation  of the AA Conditions of Carriage and are not valid for travel. Per the AAdvantage program governing terms:

  • Fraud, misrepresentation, abuse or violation of applicable rules (including, but not limited to, American or American Eagle® conditions of carriage, tariffs and AAdvantage® program rules) is subject to administrative and/or legal action by appropriate governmental authorities and American Airlines. Such action may include, without limitation, the forfeiture of all award tickets and any accrued mileage in a member’s account, as well as termination of the account and the member’s future participation in the AAdvantage® program. If your account is terminated due to inappropriate conduct or while under investigation, you may not open a new AAdvantage® account or participate in the AAdvantage® Program in any capacity without obtaining the express written permission of American Airlines. In addition, American Airlines reserves the right to take appropriate legal action to recover damages, including its attorneys’ fees incurred in prosecuting any lawsuit.

From the conditions of carriage:

Your ticket(s) are not valid when:

  • We find that the ticket(s) were bought using an exploitative practice

As such, we must now exercise our right to terminate AAdvantage account #…….All membership benefits associated with this account, including all remaining miles and issued award tickets, are forfeited, effective February 13, 2020. Award tickets obtained through fraud, misrepresentation, or violations of the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions and or Conditions of Carriage are not valid for travel. Any tickets issued from these accounts have been cancelled and you will need to make alternate arrangements for any upcoming travel plans.

Because it is clear from our investigation that you have been engaged in one or more violations of the General AAdvantage Program Conditions, any additional accounts in your name or that you control must also be terminated. All membership benefits associated with these accounts, including all remaining miles and unused tickets, are forfeited, effective February 13, 2020.  You are no longer eligible to participate in the AAdvantage Program.

*** To request a refund for any taxes or refundable fees related to awards, you may contact reservations directly at 1-800-882-8880.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think most people are upset with the shutdown.  Although some will say the terms in the mailers allowed them to be transferable etc. and even people who used mailers addressed to them where caught up in this.  Having said that I feel like a majority of people understand why it happened.

What they didn’t like is that the accounts were held in limbo for months on end.  Should they rebook upcoming travel, would anyone be released from the account holds? That was not made clear to anyone.  And here we are 3 months later and people are finally still getting answers.  That is a long time to be left in limbo by American Airlines.

It also appears that people who signed up for more than 3 credit card offers in a year, there are 4 offered from two different banks, were wrapped up in this.  Even though they violated no terms.  Hopefully they are able to get their accounts reinstated.

HT: Multiple Readers

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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39 COMMENTS

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39 COMMENTS

  1. AA sells these miles at an excess of 2 cents per mile. This is clearly a deceptive practice, or else they would hardcode ALL mailers to not be transferrable, however, Citi only allowed some mailers to be non-transferrable, and others to be transferrable. Very minimal restrictions would have to be in place to prevent duplication of a bonus, but they did not do that.

    If they want to close an account, so be it, but we get taxed on credit card rewards, so if the IRS treats it as cash, so will I. The bigger the pile of complaints to the DOT, the more inclined they will be to take action. AA is full of short sighted execs who just want to shine. They thought they looked good along with Citi with all the sign ups for having “active members” and now they wanna look good by “wiping liability”.

    I can assure you, if there is enough noise, AA will have to re-open our accounts, or pay us out at a valuation close to what they sell their miles for.

  2. AA makes a significant source of income through their loyalty program selling miles that many people don’t even know how to use… I’m in the file DOT complaints camp. Let’s give AA something else to take 3 months to respond to… Screw their program… They wanted to enforce the rules by playing hard ball instead of just closing a loophole licking their wounds (which most programs would have done for a loophole as widespread as this was)? Why not give them hell for it? I know this is the minority opinion in the bigger picture of the world, but well, screw it… this is America, people have a million other things they complain about which sometimes seem meaningless, why not we go up to bat?

  3. Hi Mark. Thanks for the update. I keep hearing rumors that innocent people are being locked and/or shut down even if they haven’t used mailers, etc. For example, people who have gotten legitimate, publicly available SUB’s from Barclays and Citi. As of right now, it’s possible to get 2 Citi personal cards (if you count the MileUp), plus a CitiBusiness. It’s also possible to get Barclays personal and business. That’s at least 5 cards that can be obtained completely within the rules. Are there actual confirmed data points of people being locked or shut down if they’ve only gotten legitimate SUB’s? In my own case, I’ve gotten 2 SUB’s from Barlcays in the past 12 months, and will also have a CitiBusiness SUB to post in a couple of months. So far I have not been locked or shut down. In fact, I was able to book an award flight earlier this week, and it successfully “ticketed”. Am I at risk even though I haven’t broken any rules?

    • That is what people have reported online but I have no way to confirm it. I think it is based on calendar year too so you should be good since it would be two last year and one this year.

  4. My understanding is that AA doesn’t make money flying people and there profits comes from sale of miles. I believe this why they are on the prowl?

    I guess you can also consider the grAAvy as RIP?

    • Selling miles and their credit card partnerships is one of the bigger, if not biggest, profit centers for the airlines. Amex’s Delta cards are their most popular cards.

  5. I am also one of those who received communication from AA shutting down my account, but with a shocking twist. I have been accumulating miles for years but didn’t yet redeem much, I figured to donate some awards to an non profit organisation that helps terminally sick people acquire free travel across the United states to reach medical care. in my case the miles was donated for an ALS patient who wasn’t able to afford airfare to reach much needed medical care…
    Now I received the Shutoff notice, and Shockingly AA wasn’t embarrassed to specify and underline in the email that under their terms and conditions you are not suppose to redeem miles for “CHARITY”.
    No words can describe the cruelty of this airline.
    (That’s besides the fact that I couldn’t find in the terms and conditions prohibiting this type of redemption)

    • Did you sign up for multiple credit cards at all or anything else or is that the only thing that they were looking at? That is bizarre if it was the only thing. The fact that they highlighted it is weird enough.

      • I have this account for many years, never signed up for any new ones, neither ever abused or sold award point.
        They did not cancel the ticket however somehow they must have known that it was donated for a patient, otherwise they wouldn’t specifically note and underline about “Charity”.
        No clue why aren’t airlines regulated on freely doing shutdowns with legitimate accumulated awards, and changing award charts every day without prior notice e.t.c.

    • Terrible…I hope they didn’t cancel the ALS patient’s flight or strand them.

      Based on what they are doing to others it certainly seems possible depending on the timing of the shutdown and when their flight was occurring.

  6. “What happens when you play with fire – you get burnt” – Richard

    Nice analysis there boomer. Maybe keep the platitudes to yourself and leave the discussion to those more capable of nuanced thinking

  7. Indeed lawsuits will come whether small claims or big boys court. And while the DOT cannot enforce or force AA to do anything, it’s added ammo if DOT finds AA in violation of deceptive practice. This is just the start. Please fill out the DOT paperwork. There are tens of thousands of accounts affected. Close down my account because you are unhappy with the relationship but you can’t take my money that Citi deposited.

  8. Huh? These shutdown emails have been coming out almost daily since I think December – once locked accounts become terminated. What is still not happening is any communication to those whose accounts are only locked.

    Yes some people are upset because some terminated folks did not set up any fake accounts, buy mailers, or anything of the sort. AA seems to have determined that >2 CC SUBs in a year is fraudulent, even though there are perfectly valid, public methods for obtaining 3 or more in a year’s time…and some terminated accounts only used such valid methods.

    • Are they really setting the threshold that low ( >2 SUB’s per year)? So there are a lot of data points of people with three cards in one year that were shut down? But no data points of people with two cards in a year getting shut down?

    • Updated to new round of shutdown emails sent out. Was thinking of just locked accounts…I now some of the people in this round have been frozen since November.

      Yeah when you have two banks offering 4 different cards it is easy to obtain 3 or more in a one year’s time if you time it right. They would be the people that have a very legitimate complaint about this.

  9. Mark, do you have specific sources that know things others don’t?

    Today is no different than yesterday, last week, last month….nothing has changed, it’s not over.

        • That is my bad – I updated the title to say a new wave went out. Seems like a big batch yesterday. Apologies for my mistake.

          • That could be true – I got a lot of comments and emails on it so assumed it was a bigger wave. Didn’t realize they were coming out on a daily basis which is my fault.

      • Shutdown emails have been coming daily since December. If this counts as a round, then there has been 60+ so far. What makes yesterday’s round more significant than the other 59?

  10. There are alot of people who think stealing is only when you walk into a store and take something. It is funny how they still consider themselves “Customers”. Lucky for them they cannot be prosecuted, they should be. Ruins promotions for everyone else.

  11. Come on now. The people who got caught up in this knew what they were doing and were playing with fire. What happens when you play with fire – you get burnt. So to say those who got caught up were hanging in limbo and didn’t know what to do or what would happen? Really? They, and you, knew their accounts were going to be terminated and tickets cancelled. I knew that the day I read everyone posting about the suspensions months ago.

    • As stated above there are people that only used mailers sent to their account address. They didn’t break any terms so for sure they were left wondering what was going on. With no communication how were they supposed to know what rules they broke etc.

      The people that got 5-6 cards etc. sure they knew what was coming but there were people caught up in this that shouldn’t have been and they were left wondering why.

    • AA’s program so their rules. Nothing illegal about them shutting down accounts for violating their own rules especially when their rules state so. I don’t see how the DOT can force AA, or any other airline for that matter, to reinstate someone’s miles, status and award tickets when the person violated the T&C’s of their program.

      • I am not so sure on that. Once banks etc. started sending out 1099’s for referrals etc. I think people may be able to argue that these are a currency. If the banks/programs own the miles how can we be taxed on their value etc. This could lead to some interesting developments. I think there needs to be more protections on loyalty accounts…especially if we are going to pay tax on them.

        • Mark – I would LOVE to know how many people actually got 1099 forms related to these accounts. Yes there are a few banks that have determined referral bonuses are taxable but that still isn’t the majority (and I don’t think that is even in effect yet for those that plan to do so). Also, most of these people didn’t use the referral bonuses, they simply signed up for multiple cards (some using their pets’ names) with offers received in the mail. I’m glad they got caught and frankly don’t see the DOT having any jurisdiction over a private program like this which American (like all others) states they can change at their sole discretion.

          • I am sure some of them did the Citi bank bonus which comes with a 1099 etc.

            Not saying DOT has jurisdiction but I do think lawsuits will come out of this, it is getting too much nationwide coverage not too. And I think it will be interesting to see if the courts change the way the view loyalty accounts with the way things have changed the last few years. That is more what I meant.

      • Go ahead and point out where AA T&Cs were violated?

        “Exploitative practices” is pretty ambiguous and that’s all they have got.

        I suppose those skip lagging, doing mileage runs, having a business card without a business etc are using exploitive practices as well.

        End of the day, if a company runs a promotion and doesn’t get the results they want…fix the promotion don’t blame those maximizing an opportunity you allow.

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