American AAdvantage President Leaving The Airline

American Airlines is shrinking with a goal of at least 30% fewer management and support staff. That runs throughout the airline, including Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents.

Over the past two days rumors have been swirling about which members of top leadership will depart, as the airline offers buy out packages. (At this level buy outs are richer than what’s been publicly reported for management staff.)

Very soon we’ll know which members of top management are leaving. I’ve heard whispers of top names all day.

In the meantime Bridget Blaise-Shamai told the AAdvantage team today that she’s stepping down. No announcement has been made yet of who will lead the loyalty program.

Bridget Blaise-Shamai at the Freddie Awards, C.R. Smith Museum, April 2019

Bridget has been with American for 25 years, most of the time working in marketing and loyalty. She took over the program from Suzanne Rubin in August 2016.

For all of my frequent complaints about changes that have been made to the AAdvantage program – dating back to April 2014, not merely under her leadership – those were driven largely from the top by Tempe management. Bridget represented both her bosses and her members well.

I certainly wish her and the rest of the AAdvantage team well. They’ve driven the bulk of the airline’s profits in good times, so it seems talent there would be among the top priorities to retain even as the airline works towards an average attrition across departments of 30%.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Advantage driving profits is an idiotic statement. What allocation of fixed costs are assigned to that division? As a stand-alone business would they be able to compete against American? Why did Aeroplan sell itself back to AirCan so cheaply and quickly is selling miles is such a great business?

    It’s like saying the sales department of a tech firm is the most profitable group in the company since they don’t spend on r&d, servers……

    Profits – I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  2. @ABC – Hopefully you caught her on camera if she stole all your points. If American revoked your miles, you might want to mention why. Your points seem facile and contrived.

  3. After presiding over the years of demise of the program, she’s now stepping down. Hah!

  4. I’d like to be optimistic about change with her departure, but IMHO, AAdvantage continues to circle the drain and it’s unfortunate. I had a great mutual relationship with AA for decades … until the US takeover. Since dumping the program with the rolling devaluations and service decline, I haven’t looked back.

    Will be interesting to see if loyalty will even matter in a post-covid world. Interesting times.

  5. AAdvantage was gong downhill since 2014, before Bridget came onboard. The common link? US Airways management, especially the CEO.

  6. She is being replaced by an automated devaluation tool that will increase redemption thresholds by 10% each month.

    Parker is an operational genius.

  7. Parker should be the one to step down so American can return to the great airline it once was.

  8. @Soflo Ed – You’re offering a straw man argument, I’m not suggesting that the AAdvantage program would earn its profits without being attached to the airline. First of all, one of its two credit card partners almost exclusively acquires new customers inflight. And second the attachment to the airline doesn’t just provide the mechanism for most redemptions it also is necessary to provide access to saver-style airline partner awards as well.

    However there’s no disputing – and American itself doesn’t dispute – that the loyalty program is the most profitable asset they own. They represent its value between $18 billion and $30 billion ( while the airline as whole has a $5 billion market cap and $35 billion enterprise value.

  9. Corporate Security Office should remove all her AA miles then shut her account down!

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