American Airlines to AAdvantage Business Customers: Talk To The Hand

American Airlines has moved to exclude mileage-earning on tickets issued by many travel agencies. The list of eligible agencies for mileage-earning will change every 6 months.

One way around this restriction is by being a member of the airline’s AAdvantage Business program. That’s the program that replaced Business ExtrAA in December with a roughly 75% devaluation.

  • Business ExtrAA simply offered too much value, redemption rates had been adjusted over the years but not that much and it was a great way to gift status, lounge memberships, and award travel – even last seat availability on some airline partners.

  • In fact you used to be able to earn last seat availability awards more easily under Business ExtrAA than highly restrictive saver awards under AAdvantage Business.

If AAdvantage Business were just a devaluation that would be one thing. But it’s a massive headache.

  • Under the new program you can only add an AAdvantage Business number at the time of booking, and only when booking direct with American Airlines.

  • You have to select that you are on a business trip to earn in the program. But selecting that only allows you to travel with one passenger on the reservation.

Have issues with opening an account, as many have had? Try getting any customer service. American is even telling reservations agents not to help with AAdvantage Business problems.

With a major transition like this, you’d expect customer service to have extra resources to manage hiccups that come up.

Instead customers who call in are to be sent to the American Airlines website. There they need to use the chatbot and have that automated system screen the request before being connected to an agent.

Here’s the internal memo:

If it appears that the AAdvantage Business program has too many bugs to be useful, I’d posit that these are, in fact, features from the airline’s point of view.

American doesn’t believe they need to incentivize business transactions anymore. They’ve fired most of their sales staff and sales support, ended their sales incentive program Business ExtrAA, and believe that people will fly them based on schedule and price so why offer more discounts and rebates? That’s a fair bet. But this new program clearly flows from that model – rather than one of rewarding customers.

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. Yep, this program has been a PITA!!!!! I opened a business account and then applied for a business credit card. Doing that opened another account. Try getting the 2 accounts merged….no go, no help, email goes into an abyss. At that point, just dont have a business program. Booking multiple people on the same flight each with a separate locator number…what a headache. This program is probably not worth using.

  2. So once again, an “enhancement” turns out to be anything but. First, they fired the sales teams because “we feel business customers know how to book using our web tools”. Then they killed the 30 year old AAirPass program (which many considered the best part of AA) because “it failed to reach our profitability threshold”. Then Business ExtrAA gets dumped because it’s too lucrative, even though it worked. Did it ever dawn on them to just keep everything that’s working but simply adjust the pricing or ROI?
    Advantage Business is a joke. The so-called “chat” feature sends you nowhere, and is nothing but automated FAQ. I’ve not found anyone that’s been able to speak to a human. Want to reconcile your trips with your (anemic) mileage balance? Not possible…although the FAQs refer you to a “report guide”. (None exists.) To make matters worse, there’s a rumor circulating that the Executive Liaisons at head office are going away as well at the beginning of April. That would be a shame. Let’s home they’re not replaced by the AI chatbots.

  3. Quit whining. AA can just cut it out (as they should). Don’t see other airlines trying to run a similar program. You get points w Aadvantage and that is enough.

  4. Absolutely…call the help desk and it’s “oh you booked it as Business travel” we don’t handle that, we can’t make changes or help with flight changes or anything. Go online only.

  5. I am a registered Travel Agent for a small company with AA Business. I agree with all of the comments. A BIG headache for me is the inability to book a multi-city trip. I have to book multiple separate trips with a cost penalty. There is NO ONE I can talk to about AA Business. Also, while “theoretically” you can book two travelers on the same reservation, I have been unable to accomplish this on the website. I can only book one person at a time, so if I have two or more persons making the same trip, I have to book multiple reservations. Again, there is NO LIVE PERSON that I have been able to talk to. I am Ex. Plat and when I call the E.Pl # I am told they can’t help me with ANY AA Business question. The rollout of this new program has been a failure IMHO.

  6. I’m finding it similarly frustrating. I am a sole proprietor and I’ve had a the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard for a few years. I’ve received multiple emails from American Airlines and CitiBank about the new AAdvantage Business account that I was automatically enrolled in and I can’t get any straight answers. The AAdvantage Business account says a minimum requirement of 5 registered, active travelers and $5,000 in travel spend to initiate redemption. What happens if you’re a sole proprietor? Am I even eligible to have an AAdvantage Business account? Citibank’s offshore agents say everything is the same but AA’s website says otherwise. This is a horrible rollout of this new program where you can’t get any answers. If 5 registered, active travelers are a firm requirements, the CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum becomes entirely worthless for me.

  7. Totally crap program, and I knew it from using it on the day it started, and posted this comment:

    As a 20-year EXP and BusinessExtra small-business owner, I will not use this program, as explained below, and this gives me a further push away from AA.

    I joined the new program today and held a new flight for myself under the program while waiting for my other travelers to register. Then called the EXP desk to get them to bump the fare class from Q to G before ticketing so I could use one of my many, now useless, BusinessExtra upgrade awards. I was informed that the EXP folks can no longer touch these reservations except for seat assignments, schedule changes and the like, and changes can be made only through a “virtual assistant”/chat. I went online to the chat, and wouldn’t you know it, there is no option for “AAdvantage Business” questions. You gotta be kidding me, I’m not even going to waste my time trying to go through chat hell.

    I hate to diss AAdvantage Business as it’s just getting started, but it surely seems designed to DISadvantage business, at least small ones.

    Oh, and for another tentative trip I tried, it won’t even let me book two business travelers on the same reservation! Duh.

  8. Gary, any idea when earlier business cardholders will be linked to the new program to waive the 5 person minimum?

  9. I actually will be cancelling all my AA business cards. The system is impossible, and it seems that the miles accrued in the system are going into a black hole.

  10. @ Retired Gambler — Seriously? DL and UA both have business rewards prgrams, and so do some other smaller and/or global airlines.

  11. @ docntx — I am guessing you are talking about the credit card miles not posting where you can see them. If so, when you’ve gotta couple hours to waste, you can go through a frustrating process to fix it. You must call AA Advantage customer service to begin the run-around.

  12. Same here – duplicate accounts and no one in customer service knows what to do -,they send you to a bot that is run by incompetents

    This program is a farce to begin with and as a result of this, I will make my explat (a lot of citi charges) and move elsewhere

    Fyi – to date I have 9,845mm mikes

  13. AA doesn’t give a crap about anything.

    Had 1.1 million miles stolen out of my account and they couldn’t care less about. Loyalty means nothing. Nobody returns a phone call, there effort was exactly one phone call 90 dasy after it happened. Bottom line is don’t get your miles stolen, they just don’t give a rip.

  14. So the one loophole around corporate bookings is to be an Advantage business memeber, but the number has to be added at booking? So my corporate travel agency would need the ability to do that? I doubt they would want to touch it if it’s an advantage business ticket.

  15. The one person per reservation record is the worst. In addition to the extra time it takes to make multiple reservations, passenger #2-4 don’t get the benefits of passenger #1’s elite benefits (seating, luggage, etc.)

  16. Just more proof that AA does NOT, in fact, care for people along life’s journey. There’s a special place reserved for Isom and his cronies….

  17. We switched our business purchases to the AA Citi card. Talk about nightmare customer service. Chat with a Citi agent? Hour of delayed responses only to be told to call. Call another our of frustrating cyclical avoidance of answering in a foreign accent.

  18. the problem is with AA not citi – and trust me, trying to get AA customer service is worse

    The problem is that they probably opened 2 accounts for you but they don’t know how to merge them

    i ripped my card up… not worth it nor is AA anymore

  19. @ To all above in the same boat — Yeah, managed to finally get the 84k+ miles from my new CitiBuiness card transferred into my personal account, and I will never use this card again. When the $99 AF comes due, it will be closed. Complete incompetence by AA. This really didn’t need to be hard. The moron IT team that implemented this system should be fired. I mean, you seriously can’t match my company name solely because of mismatched capitalization (that was introduced by Citi/AA, not my company)?

  20. @ Chuck — Go to you AA Business account and login (you’ll know you are on the correct login when you get to the one that requires only AA# and password, not your last name). Then in the bottom left-hand corner, you will see your name and a company name with three dots. Click the three dots and, if you are lucky, you can “switch between companies” (the correct one you set up and a duplicate one that they set up for you). If you see miles in one of these accounts, link your self as a traveler and you should be able to transfer the miles to your personal account. If none of this works, login into your AA Business account and then fill out and submit the following escalation form: Ask for your duplicate account to be attached to your AA Business profile and then you should be able move the miles around. You can then contact them again if you want one of the duplicates removed. I have just left well enough alone and have duplicates. As long as one functions properly, I guess all is well for now.

    Good luck!

  21. trying to book a multi city trip on AA metal

    NO option to add Business # to reservation so I will lose out on all Business benefits.

    Also, my very professional travel agent (20 year relationship) was advised by AA that he could not request an AAdvantage upgrade to Europe, I had to do it

    What a sad state of affairs at AA

    looks like AA is stepping over a dollar to save a penny

    Unfortunately, AA is too big to fail and will continue this nonsense

  22. @ Gary — I thought I posted an explanation of how to resolve the AA Buiness thingy? I do not see it. Did I post it to the wrong thread?

  23. @ chuck — Explanation is now showing (or maybe it was there already and I missed it?) –see 4 comments above this one. Good luck!

  24. Found it before – took me 2 minutes to swap accounts and rip up the card

    Miles in my account in an hour

    Thanks again

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