Trial Date Set In American Airlines Vs. The Points Guy

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,

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

(HT: @crucker)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Geez!! AA is such a loser airline! Going after a travel blogging site like TPG. They certainly have no shame!!

  2. Excellent. Let’s go AA.

    Bloggers like TPG, (and yes, VFTW) are a direct causal factor in the steady devaluation of frequent flyer programs. Good to see airlines stand for the integrity of the programs, even if they do so sporadically.

  3. @Gravely Point Guy – first of all TPG is owned by a much larger company so not some little independent blog. Even if not was companies have a legal right, and I would argue an obligation, to protect their data. You can make arguments about how allowing more access to this data could be beneficial but the fact is that it is AA’s property and they have every right to restrict access or use it as they see fit. BTW AA is far from the only one that restricts access to what they deem to be proprietary data.

    Your comment shows you have no understanding of either the legal or business points involved and just want to bash AA for doing something fully within their rights

  4. My my “AC” , that was way too fast. No doubt AA has its minions and apologists running around like crazy, while making the rounds. You’re certainly living proof. First of all, AA is just greedy, they just want the clicks. Second of all , the more the merrier!! Haven’t you heard of that before. Oh,and btw, don’t you dare tell me what I do or don’t understand, you are pathetic sir!!

  5. @AC, if banks that manage my actual wealth can securely provide API access to 3rd parties that help me manage my money, surely airlines can do the same with point balances (and have done so before). This isn’t about security.

  6. To say that third party access to any account is ‘better for security’ is a joke. Don’t use common passphrases that are contained in hacking libraries, or reuse passwords, or use outdated & unpatched OSes.

    Public figures that invite focused scrutiny might benefit from this kind of ‘security’ but most of the world doesn’t publicly hawk credit card referrals for a living.

  7. With AA losing market share as a result of high prices and poor service one would think they would be delighted to get free promotion to TPG’s viewers.

  8. I hope/wish/pray AA loses. That would hopefully set precedent and pave the way for account balances across airlines to be tracked back on Awardwallet.

  9. Hard to decide who to root for. One is a soulless credit card pushing greedy company and the other an airline.

  10. People still read TPG? when every review was by a person who had never flown before stating the spirit big front seat was the best or that emirates has the best business class. They lost any and all credibility

  11. @Darrin – not saying it can’t be securely done (ai spent 40 years in IT including at CTO and CIO of national companies). Agree the security argument is not relevant but the fact is AA owns the data and has every right, whether people (especially the troll that posted first and replied to my initial post) likes it our not. AA is on firm legal standing.

  12. I NEVER read TPG anymore. On the other hand, VFTW has a lot of useless pop-up ads that I completely ignore.

  13. As long as you spell the word ‘security’ as C O N T R O L, we all understand each other. American should have better things to do than sue TPG. Well, they do have better things to do, but obviously customer service is at the bottom of their priorities.

  14. While I agree with the commenter that TPG and others like it are the reason for so much devaluation (partly) I must admit that the reason I’ve become a points & miles enthusiast is BECAUSE of TPG! Just about 12 years ago I think, I ran across the page and was hooked when I realized all my business spending could translate into TAX FREE VACATIONS that I didn’t have to report to the IRS as income. From there I joined multiple blogs & groups over the years and still think it is a lot of work to redeem it is worth the effort. Award Wallet is a godsend for keeping up with all the various cc/air/hotel/shopping programs and would be lost without it.

  15. While I defend a company wanting to protect its data, I don’t support loser companies with ceos who don’t understand IT security and too cheap to put money into security vs bigger bonuses for execs for losing money quarter after quarter. If your company cannot secure its own data from badic data scraping you’re telling those of us who understand tech that your company have no IT security in place that is worth a lick. Meaning you are probably exposing your customers data left and right.

  16. While cleaning out my email this morning I found a relevant one from Lifelock regarding AA. Apparently on 09/20/22 AA suffered a Data Breach whereby sensitive customer data, including passport, drivers licenses, names & medical information was leaked for an undisclosed number of customers. So that whole security argument pretty much is bogus…

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