For better or for worse the largest airline passenger customer advocacy group in the United States is FlyerRights.org. The group has claimed responsibility for a variety of legislative changes and DoT actions, ranging from the "3-hour rule" to the most recent changes regarding mistake fares. The value of these changes is debatable, but certainly they make a lot of noise for the organization. With the recent American Airlines operational issues FlyersRights is at it again. But this time they’ve completely missed the boat.
In a press release issued a few days ago the organization called for passengers to avoid the carrier, similar to Scott McCartney’s call in the WSJ a few days prior:
"Given the number of flight cancellations, coupled with AA’s bankruptcy proceedings and other critical issues, FlyersRights.org is recommending you book your flights on other air carriers, said Kate Hanni, Executive Director FlyersRights.org.
The second half of the quote, however, is particularly strange for anyone who actually understands how the companies work:
However, if you have stacked up frequent flyer miles, we recommend you immediately book your trip on AA or a code-share partner to avoid risk of losing those miles in the event AA shuts its doors.
This is simply bad advice all around. Just awful. American Airlines isn’t closing its doors anytime soon – even with the current operational issues – and the frequent flier program is not going to be liquidated. Just not going to happen.
Providing bad information is bad enough. Begging money from people in the process is, in my mind, even worse. Here’s what the quote looked like in the email blast sent out by the group:
As you can see, there are two hyperlinks in this part of the message. The first goes to a version of the press release hosted on Yahoo purporting to be an actual news report. Awkward, but not awful. The second link would, one assumes, go to the home page of the organization where more information about this recommendation and other activities of the group can be found. Instead, it it is a link to their donation request page. It is a cash grab. That’s just wrong.
Turns out that the press release is not anywhere I can find on their site. You’d think an organization releasing things in an effort to inform and educate the public would make those releases readily available. Apparently that’s not the way FlyersRights operates.
It is also worth noting that the claim in the press release that passengers were only able to cancel and refund their tickets if delayed was accurate at the time it was issued but that AA relaxed that policy to formally allow rebooking on other carriers as part of the deal.
Providing bad advice and trying to get paid to do so while claiming to be acting in the public interest is ludicrous. Given that the organization is basically the baby of a single person acting in her own interests it seems unlikely that approach is going to change. And it is a shame the information is so bad as she’s managed to make herself quite well heard.
- American’s response to the "operational issues"
- Can technology deliver better customer service?
- Is the American Airlines operation really "in shambles?"
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