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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