American Airlines has a small business program, Business Extra, that gives points to businesses when their employees travel on the airline. This is separate from, and in addition to, the AAdvantage miles that travelers earn themselves.
The airline announced today that they are giving up to 1 million Business Extra points to minority-owned small businesses and also non-profits.
- They will award 500,000 points “divided evenly between minority-owned small businesses and the airline’s Our Social Good program, which supports organizations that seek to improve stability, health and care for global citizens in need.”
- And match an additional 500,000 points that may be donated by program member businesses
Business Extra points are more valuable than AAdvantage miles, since redemptions are generally lower-cost. A donation of 1 million points worth order of magnitude of about $100,000.
While donating points to others is a common feature of loyalty program, American says they’re the first to offer it in a small business program. Business Extra members can now gift points into a choice of (3) funds:
- The airline’s Our Social Good charitable donation program
- Small businesses “with special consideration given to women-owned, LGBTQ-owned and veteran-owned businesses”
- Minority-owned businesses
Small businesses that are members of the program (or join, this is also a program member acquisition drive…) can apply by July 31 to receive donated points which will be “awarded based on the amount of points requested, importance of travel to the business and the company’s plans for using any points received.”
CEO Doug Parker had a personal interaction with a Southwest Airlines flight attendant over race that went viral after he flew the airline and was carrying the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism which had been recommended by a board member months earlier, but that he’d put aside distracted by the coronavirus crisis.
Despite this great publicity, with the exit of Vice President for DFW Cedric Rockamore I was hard-pressed to think of a single African American in leadership at American Airlines aside from their Chief Diversity Officer. A spokesperson identifies two African American Vice Presidents in HR (Compensation and Benefits and Team Member Services), however, though no one in an airline role. They also point out that the airline recently announced more intentional recruiting and advancement.
I’m not suggesting that American Airlines is worse than other major U.S. airlines in this regard (the facts around the NAACP travel warning three years ago were suspect at best). In context, though, it doesn’t seem like donating points worth around $100,000 does much to signal in this area.
If you fly American Airlines and have a company you should sign up for the program they’ve been running a ‘take one flight, get a round trip’ offer for new program members.