Back in December, American Airlines forced Award Wallet to stop checking AAdvantage accounts, claiming that their servers contacting American’s were a violation of American’s website terms and conditions, and that storing member passwords and account information was as well.
The battle began to heat up in October or at least that’s when the Wall Street Journal reported on it.
Oddly enough, American lets Points.com do precisely those things. Of course American has a business relationship with Points.com. American would say that they ‘trust’ Points.com, though they don’t apparently have a formal program or certification standards. Further, Award Wallet is actually a partner of Points.com. That doesn’t seem to create concern for American in their trusting of Points.com, yet they still don’t want Award Wallet accessing their site. It’s suggestive that something else entirely is going on here.
American clearly wants to control the user experience. But American ain’t Apple. They’re creating roadblocks to their members to stay engaged in their program. Members will check their balances less and think about AAdvantage less if they can’t use the tools most convenient to them to do so. American seems to think bringing more members to their website will let them advertise and sell better to those members.
Fortunately, Award Wallet has developed a workaround. I’ve been using it for a few weeks, but realize that I’ve been negligent in failing to mention to folks that it’s out there and working. It’s a browser plug-in and it works when you access Award Wallet via either Google Chrome or Firefox (not yet Internet Explorer, I believe). The idea is that your password and account data will be stored on your own computer and it’s your broser and not Award Wallet’s servers that will access American AAdvantage, in order to comply with American’s legal threats. But the end user experience is virtually the same, you still see your American balance alongside all of the others and you still can get one-click login to your account.
The only difference I’ve noticed is that when your account balance changes, you don’t see that notification. Award Wallet doesn’t seem to know what your balance was different than the last time that it checked. A small item, but something I do miss.
Still, kudos to the Award Wallet folks for an ingenious solution to help members continue to get the most out of their miles and stay engaged in the AAdvantage program.
I’ve been using Award Wallet for over two years now and couldn’t be happier. Back in November I called it one of the eleven most useful travel sites. So anything that gets in the way of members making the most of it is certainly something I’m against.