Fort Worth-based American Airlines is thwarting travel website The Points Guy and its parent company over an app that collects loyalty points between airlines and stores them in a central location.
The Points Guy, which American describes in its countersuit as a “powerful” lifestyle media brand, is taking the ire of one of the world’s largest airlines over its mobile phone app that collects loyalty point totals.
American says the app, which debuted in September, encourages members to give up their user information and passwords so The Points Guy can “invade American’s servers, gain access to user accounts and collect and expropriate proprietary data that AAdvantage has developed, maintained, stored and protected for many years.
The lawsuit raises the question of who owns user data, usernames and passwords and what a consumer can do with that information. And who owns frequent flyer points, which are lucrative for airlines and can sometimes be redeemed for thousands of dollars in travel?
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The Points Guy app allows users to track their loyalty status and points with hundreds of airline, hotel and travel programs by allowing them to enter their different program usernames and passwords.
“If the consumer wants to track their points, just like their finances, you should be able to track them in apps,” The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly said in an interview. “Loyalty is confusing, and people want to track their holdings in one place, and ultimately we help people spend their points.”
Competing airlines such as Delta, United and Dallas-based Southwest are also listed on the app, although The Points Guy did not mention any reaction from those companies.
The app was “created to empower consumers to travel smarter by helping them make the most of their well-earned points and miles,” TPG said in a statement.
“Launched in September 2021, the free app demystifies the complexities of reward travel by helping users learn more about points, miles and loyalty programs; maximize their earning potential; and find out how to effectively use those earned points and miles to see the world,” the statement from The Points Guy said.
But that’s not how American Airlines sees it.
The US AAdvantage program, which the company values at up to $10 billion and was even used in 2020 to secure federal government loans, is one of the company’s biggest moneymakers, using loyalty points to help secure credit card transactions.
American Airlines recently sent The Points Guy a cease and desist letter, prompting the travel website to sue the airline in Delaware State Superior Court. The American, in turn, filed a lawsuit in federal court in northern Texas.
“Red Ventures is accessing AA.com and AAdvantage customer account data in a manner that does not comply with our standards for the use of confidential information,” American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Koos said in a statement. “We have had discussions with Red Ventures, hoping to resolve the issues amicably, and we were surprised when Red Ventures filed its complaint last Tuesday. We take customer data and proprietary information very seriously, and want to make sure it’s protected and secure. »
In addition to The Points Guy, Charlotte, NC-based Red Ventures also operates financial, technology and travel sites such as Bankrate, C | Net, Creditcards.com, Healthline, Lonely Planet and TV Guide.
The conflict comes down to whether a third-party app is allowed to access another company’s information. American has allowed such access in the past to companies such as Awards Wallet, a similar points-tracking program, according to the Viewfromthewing.com blog.
Beginning in 2013, American entered into an agreement with Awards Wallet in which the airline “worked closely with AwardWallet to design an offering that meets our security requirements while providing our customers with a one-stop-shop to track all of their loyalty affiliations, including AAdvantage,” according to a 2013 statement from the two parties.
But as of December, that deal no longer stands, ViewfromtheWing.com reported, and American Airlines is now encouraging travelers to use its app to track frequent flyer loyalty points.
“American wants to control (and by extension, limit) what you can do with your rewards, and they try everything in their power to stop us from helping you, the consumer, including contradicting us,” Kelly wrote. in a letter on a web page dedicated to the battle against the Americans. “We believe you have worked hard to earn your points and miles and have the right to choose whether you share personal information with a third-party application that will make your life easier.”