American Airlines Airport Agents Will Soon Be Pitching Credit Cards

Some passengers really dislike the inflight credit card pitch. According to columnist Kevin Williamson,

The awfulness of this is multifaceted. For one thing, there is the Clockwork Orange sensation of being literally strapped into a seat while someone screams corporate banalities at you on a loudspeaker fifteen inches from your head. That is beyond bad manners — it is positively abusive…

It is a “limited-time” offer in the sense that the sun eventually will run out of gas and become a dying star, first engulfing the Earth in fire and then leaving the wreck of the solar system a sterile plane of interstellar cold and utter silence, which will be interrupted only by some addled flight attendant screeching about the limited-time Barclays card offer.

Flight Attendant’s Makeshift Inflight Card Presentation

The announcement shouldn’t be used as a wake up call at 6 a.m after a redeye flight. Of course, according to American Airlines, only 14% of passengers on a given flight have an AAdvantage credit card. That’s a huge opportunity to grow the card portfolio. The people most likely to be interested in the American Airlines credit card are those already flying American Airlines. They make these offers because they work.

Gradually you should now begin to see not just flight attendants pitch credit card offers, but airports agents, too. They’re being onboarded into the program where they’re paid fees for card approvals. And they’re even being paid a bonus for joining the program.

Here’s the detail:

I actually see this as a positive step for customers, who can now leverage interest in American’s cobrand cards for all sorts of waivers – agents ‘not noticing’ overweight bags or oversized carry ons. Just express interest in the card and agents aren’t going to want to ruin your American Airlines experience by demanding you check a rollaboard or pay extra for a suit case.

    Oversized carry on? Boy I’m tempted by those bonus miles. Where do I put your employee number on the application as the referral code again?

Although with fewer airport agents working flights I do wonder whether this will have a measurable impact on on-time departures.

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. Thank goodness. I’m sick and tired of having to wait until I’m on board in order to be subjected to a timeshare level hard sell of a credit card that I already have.

  2. I wonder if I’ve actually paid attention to AA developments. I thought this was the airline that has decided that only one agent is necessary at a gate to get a flight out on time. Now that solitary person is supposed to deal with all the issues two people have dealt with to get a flight out on time including answering all the questions that passengers ask (Am I at the right gate? When will be board? Where’s my upgrade? Will we leave on time? etc.) and periodically pitch a credit card to the suffering souls who just want to get on the plane and to their destination.

  3. Do we know definitively what the compensation is per application procured for an FA? I had been told that it was less tangible than cash but I don’t recall the details.

    I’ve gotten to the point where I find myself audible laughing when they say that 60K miles is enough for 14 roundtrips to Hawaii or three roundtrips on SpaceX.

  4. @Jerry It sounds as if it’s ticket agents, not gate agents. So the one long-suffering gate agent will still have to deal with the passenger questions, but won’t be incentivized to shill for the credit card.

  5. Probably goes something like this in the halls of AA headquarters…

    [Thoughts of Spirit and Frontier] We still have our own employees at the gate and not just onboard


    …Hold my Beer

  6. I’d have to sign up, but only if the flight attendant’s “makeshift” in flight card was printed in Comic Sans.

  7. American is understaffed and slow at checking in priority passengers
    This can only make things much worse in airports especially where I live on the West Coast
    It’s pathetic and just another reason not to fly them

  8. Flew last week from SFO to PHX. Going the AA credit card spiel seemed to last from Bakersfield to Mojave, but coming back lasted only from Madera to Merced. I do like the idea of leveraging interest in the offer to the flyer’s advantae.

  9. I suppose this should come as no surprise given that it is regularly quoted that American Airlines makes more money from their credit card business than they do from actually flying passengers from Point A to Point B. So if that is the primary bread and butter, then it’s logical to promote it incessantly even to the point of irritating the flying public….after all, their ticket revenue doesn’t cover all the financial needs of the shareholders.

    It’s similar to going to an opera or ballet and having the theatrical personnel remind you that the ticket revenue is insufficient to recoup all the operational costs, so please make a generous donation.

    Why not simply make this announcement at the gate:
    Flying passengers – the money you paid for your seat isn’t sufficient for us to run our airline, so please consider using our co-branded credit card so we can generate a profit to satisfy our executives, the board, and our shareholders.

  10. “We’ll be boarding group 5 in a just a minute, but first 5 reasons why I like the American Airlines Pewter Card”

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, we need 7 volunteers on this flight to apply for the American Airlines AAdvantage credit card. . .”

    “Because of a full flight, any passengers in group 2 or higher without a completed credit card application will need to bring their bag to the podium to be checked to a different city”.

    “Passenger Wilson and passenger Smith to podium please. Passenger Wilson and passenger Smith to the podium for a credit card application please.”

    “In just a minute we’ll be pre-boarding active duty military and credit card applicants”.

  11. I’m with @D. Ticketing agents slowing down on the duties to sell you something? What could possibly go wrong?

  12. It’s been said before but here it is again – America West, d.b.a American Airlines, is a credit card company that also runs (or try’s to) an airline!

  13. Gary stop spreading false information these aren’t the gate agents their kiosk agents in the airport !!!

  14. You are wrong again, @Gary… This is only a select group of agents doing this. NOT ALL. It is also as time warrants.

    Plus that image you share is not of current. we don’t have that interior anymore.

    Get your facts right and learn how to report actual data.

  15. I’m with BC- I don’t know how they can make the unqualified statement that 60K miles is “good for two round-trip tickets” when mileage redemption prices don’t actually support that. False advertising much?

  16. @ LarryinNYC – It’s funny because it’s true! Also agree that if you’re going to do the announcement, 2 minutes is enough. It drones on and on and on…..

  17. Just great, more airport noise pollution. Terrible on the plane so now a double dose.

  18. We all love to be haters, but… Everyone is looking for that extra few bucks, likely you included. Why hold it against someone when they try to capture some added personal revenue by pitching the cards? (Reportedly up to $100 for every application. Tell me you wouldn’t want some of that cash.) Does it really impact you at all? How about you just don’t fly? Problem solved for you, and gives the rest of us a few less grumpy people to deal with at the airport.

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