Looking back at last night’s chat with AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin

An online chat was hosted last night on milepoint.com with members of the community and the President of American Airlines‘ AAdvantage program, Suzanne Rubin. Maybe I was overly optimistic for this event, expecting some sort of announcement about anything. After all, it was a reasonably decent PR opportunity. And the questions were mostly submitted prior to the event (though I have no idea if Rubin saw them in advance) so there was theoretically at least some opportunity to get answers lined up and to be able to actually answer a number of questions over the hour. Alas, it was not meant to be.

There was one tiny sliver of excitement when it was noted that Qantas redemptions will be the next partner included on the AA website. But nothing specific was offered as a timeline there, so it is hard to know just how exciting that is. At the same time a poll was running on the site and the members participating indicated they’d actually prefer Cathay Pacific redemptions over Qantas, so we’ll see where that gets.

When faced with real questions about the program, things like lifetime top-tier recognition or expanding the value of eVIPs to partners, the answers were much less forthcoming. I get that there’s nothing to announce until it is really there, but it had to be known that these were the types of questions which would be forthcoming. The lack of any useful information is more disappointing in many ways than not having the opportunity to ask.

Perhaps most pressing was the inquiry about how the company is balancing the influx of status-matched EXPs from United Airlines. Here’s how that played out:

Comment From Timothy
With an influx of new elites from other programs, how do you plan on keeping loyalty with your current elites so they don’t feel pressured [to] leave?

Suzanne Rubin: After reading the MilePoint threads and receiving numerous inquiries on this topic, I feel we should clear this up …

Suzanne Rubin: One of our primary objectives is to continue delivering value to all of our elite members.

Suzanne Rubin: We continue to get questions about lifetime EP status, but back to the previous question about preserving value for our elites, it’s a great illustration of what we have to balance …

That’s a horrible non-answer in my book. The worst part is that the seemed ready for the question and knew that it would be coming. And she still managed to not really have an answer for it.

Another 20+ minutes of the hour-long event was related to some other contests they have held over the past few months, very limited value to the larger population participating in the event (or at least to me).

I give them credit for holding the event and for taking the time to participate. I just wish there had actually been some real answers offered to the questions asked. Maybe next time.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Not really surprising to see non-answers. Never really saw the value in having or attending those chats. When I submitted an answer about resort fees for the Hyatt chat, it wasn’t picked… maybe because it would have been difficult to answer with a non-answer as I was asking very specifically about certain junk fees.

  2. I would say 99% of these online chats the airline does not provide any real, hard, tangible useful information, and also the audience often asks soft questions that you could find on the web site, or somehow those questions are “picked,” as the ones to ask.

  3. I was glad to have won 10k AA miles though. =)

    There weren’t any real substantive answers from her though.

  4. these chats are a waste of time. the moderator needs to either post tougher questions or demand better answers (though i’m not sure AA would have agreed to show up without the softballs)…

    I followed along for an hour and a half last night and i feel like i was watching a propaganda display or a bunch of “yuk yuks”. these could be a really great feature on MP, but as they are now, not so much

  5. I agree that tougher questions are needed for these chats to be of value.

    It is inexplicable that this one made it through:

    “Could you share with us other non-OW airlines on which we could book award travel?”

  6. why waste over an hour when the questions and answers are horrible?!?!? i participated in the hyatt one and that one was pretty bad too. it’s not a “chat” when the questions are handpicked by the moderators. i might as well chat with myself because none of my questions ever get answered.

  7. This isn’t Herb Kelleher we’re talking about here. Your typical corporate flack is more on-message and not deviating from predetermined talking points (and not making news) than your typical politician. No gaffes, and say nothing while talking a lot.

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