I was genuinely sad to learn on Monday that Suzanne Rubin is planning to leave American Airlines in early summer. She shared with the AAdvantage team that it’s to care for immediate family, and my thoughts are with certainly with her.
She ran the largest loyalty program with over 100 million members, and took it through turbulent times (a bankruptcy and a merger) and successfully managed the integration of AAdvantage with the Dividend Miles program — with barely a hiccup.
American Airlines spokesperson Casey Norton says,
We’re sad to see Suzanne Rubin leave her role with American, but we are pleased she will remain a part of our extended family. Suzanne has accomplished a lot with the AAdvantage program, maintaining its position as one of the best loyalty programs in the airline industry, even while going through a complex integration. We wish her all the best as she takes time to focus on her family and spend more time with her daughter.
Suzanne with Her Team at the Freddie Awards, April 28th in Las Vegas
Suzanne was named President of AAdvantage in December 2011 when Maya Leibman became the airline’s Chief Information Officer. Suzanne brought stability to a role that had seen several leaders in a short time. Maya spent less than a year and a half in the role. Derek DeCross spent mere weeks in the role, replacing Rob Friedman (who moved up to Vice President of Marketing and is now at Amtrak), before moving to sales.
Her husband remains with American Airlines Cargo.
I first met Suzanne on the oneworld MegaDO charter trip in January 2012. I sat with her and still remember our mechanical delay out of Seattle. She was texting with Maya and came up with a plan to give everyone on the flight 10,000 redeemable and elite qualifying miles. She got up and announced she had been looking for a reason to award miles, and everyone suddenly was thrilled with our delay.
Suzanne Rubin Announcing Elite Qualifying and Redeemable Miles for Everyone!
I always found Suzanne to be one of the most genuine people in loyalty. There are a lot of pompous jerks in the space. Suzanne always seemed to have the members at the forefront of her thinking even as she balanced the needs of the business as her competitors made fundamental changes to their programs. For most of her tenure AAdvantage was the clear most valuable loyalty program offered by major US carriers.
She also genuinely listened. I didn’t agree with every move she made by a long shot, but when members expressed their strong frustration over changes that were made without notice in April 2014 — the elimination of distance-based oneworld awards that very few members used and were costly to train agents on — she clearly heard member unhappiness and ensured that even minor tweaks to the program were communicated with advance notice. A long-term dedicate employee at American, I only heard good things from former colleagues in revenue management as well.
On the Red Phone Dealing With a Frequent Flyer Emergency!
There’s no word yet on who will take over the role at AAdvantage, but there will be significant shoes to fill on behalf of 100 million members of the program.