American Airlines is suing The Points Guy over its app that tracks account balances, scraping data from the AA.com website. I first broke that news when TPG parent Red Ventures proactively sued first for declaratory relief.
- The Points Guy says they’re just trying to help consumers. They do offer a free service to consumers, but their goal is to monetize that traffic (pitching users on credit cards).
- American says they’re trying to protect consumers, that they don’t allow this sort of access for security reasons. Only they did allow this access with Award Wallet for 8 years under a security and revenue agreement that allowed AwardWallet.com to access accounts via an API, and American shut that down in December. It isn’t about security.
Instead American Airlines wants its members on its website for monetization purposes, just like TPG wants people using its app for monetization purposes.
The two parties told the judge in the American Airlines suit that they have failed to settle, and a trial is set for September 2023 (American Airlines Inc. v. Red Ventures LLC, 22-cv-44, US District Court, Northern District of Texas).
TPG isn’t on the side of angels here, they’re both fighting over consumer eyeballs, but the service that others like TPG are providing can be a net positive. And unquestionably companies have taken enforcement of computer access laws way too far. Ultimately American is a bit short—sighted. Members who check their account balances in an easy fashion each day via app (including Award Wallet’s) are,
- Better for security since they notice all account balance changes right away, not weeks or months later when they check their account. E.g. they’ll usually notice unauthorized withdrawals before any travel booked with their miles is consumed.
- Better for monetization they see every balance update and it drives them to the airline site more frequently than if they’re in the blind.
- Better for engagementwhen members keep their account numbers handy in the most convenient manner for them, it’s easier for them to interact with the program.
I have to give both American Airlines and The Points Guy credit, TPG rolled out a systematic overvaluation of AAdvantage miles even after being sued, and American’s communications shop still pitches early access to stories to their team. They’ve managed to keep the lawsuit separate from the rest of their relationship.