Congratulations to a New Vice President for American AAdvantage

In May I shared that Suzanne Rubin would be leaving as head of the American AAdvantage program. She led the program since December 2011 when Maya Leibman became the American’s Chief Information Officer and brought stability to a role that had seen several leaders in a short time.

American announced today that Bridget Blaise-Shamai has been promoted to Vice President – Loyalty and President of the AAdvantage program. Bridget’s role had been Managing Director, Customer Loyalty and Insights – the position Suzanne held before becoming AAdvantage Vice President. She was the the senior person on the team once Suzanne left and the manager in charge in the interim.

When I requalified for American’s Executive Platinum status in June, I received my 2017 elite package in the mail under her signature.

Bridget has been with American for over 20 years, with 10 of the past 12 years at AAdvantage. I believe she managed the last renegotiation with Citibank when US Airways and American merged.

Here’s Bridget (left) with Suzanne Rubin at the 2015 Freddie Awards in Atlanta.

Interestingly, she will report to Kurt Stache, who moves over from Senior Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships to become Senior Vice President of Marketing & Loyalty. So AAdvantage reports to Stache who will report to Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Nocella rather than reporting directly to Nocella.

Fern Fernandez, who used to lead US Airways Dividend Miles and became Vice President of Marketing, will also report up to Stache, a legacy American executive who most recently led American’s transatlantic and transpacific joint business ventures and who was himself President of AAdvantage 9 years ago.

With award chart changes made, new revenue-based mileage-earning underway and minimum spend for elite status set to go into effect next year, and a new credit card agreement with both Citibank and Barclaycard secured the next challenge ahead is removal of elite benefits for Basic Economy fares and what ‘domestic premium economy’ will mean for members.

Bridget may face the grumpiest members since the announcement of a $5 award redemption fee in 2008 that the airline ultimately backed away from. But she’s personally very well-liked by members, has a rich history understanding where the program has come from and what customers care about, and how to make it function well.

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. Layering loyalty – now a powerless role at HPdbaAA. Time to start shareholder action to uncover how many HFVs they are losing with these small ball moves.

  2. Anything to keep the Obama-ites out of my CX 1st class seat—-the main reason for these devaluations….I mean come on now, we know why there are 110K one way awards now.

  3. I’m just thankful we received such considerate advance notice of the March American devaluation so I could to take AAdvantage of an F award to beautiful Hong Kong on CX this year.

  4. Would it be too much to expect new blood to clean up (or even more unlikely, modernize) the redemption charts? I am sick of seeing ‘gone’ or maybe never there, redemption flights which still keep popping up day after day. OK, the cupboard may look bare if it was up to date, but phoney window dressing does not endear members to the program. Total time wasting.
    Or are these people more interested in just climbing the corporate ladder, with fat salaries and bonuses on the way up?

  5. Gary,
    Might I suggest you don’t quite grasp the org chart and leadership history at AMR/AA. Funny you come on here as a know all and talk like you are an all career employee or something, when you are really just a newly minted EP (a few years removed).

  6. @Josh G – Sorry, but you’re wrong. My history with AA goes farther back than the current leadership structure/org chart. And my understanding comes from executives pretty high up. There’s a new layer/person in between Nocera and both marketing and frequent flyer which is interesting. What do you think you understand here that I don’t? Why don’t you enlighten us? You frequently come to the comments and make silly claims that ‘I don’t know something’ but never say what, or share what you think you know.

  7. It has been my observation over a long period of time in business that a ‘new layer’ of bureaucracy put in place generally hampers the efficiency of any organization. There is no substitute for a minimum number of administrators who know what they are doing, and on top of their game. There should be no place for a slew of highly paid mediocrities.

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