American Airlines Flies From Points

Non-expiration promise expires

Airlines issue as many frequent flyer points as possible—then try to redeem as few as possible.  Climbing to new heights in this sort of consumer abuse, American Airlines no longer will give “non-expiration” frequent flyer points. Also it has retroactively cancelled its  “non-expiration” promises of the past two decades. If not an outright breach of contract, it is a breach of past promotional promises involving the value of points. American Airlines decided it can break promises when in its self-interest.

The airline industry sees points as sales incentives to sell tickets. But the industry also sees points held by consumers as deferred expenses against future earnings. Promising points is good for business. Canceling the promises is also good for business. The years of accumulated “non-expiration points became an inconvenience in need of being jettisoned.

American Airlines told consumers about the expiration of the non-expiration points, while remaining silent on questions like: What is American Airlines’ contingency plan if too many frequent flyers try to use all their points by the American Airlines’ deadline? (Only a few seats are ever “available.”) Has American Airlines increased the number of seats available for those non-expiration points holders? Will more flights be added for more popular routes? 

What about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)? Will it stay silent on American Airlines’ broken promise? Or intervene on behalf of American consumers? Both political parties claim to be the consumers’ best friend. So will we hear their ideas on what to do—if anything—about any airline breaking points promises? 


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