The airline mileage world was shaken last week when U.S. airline giant, American Airlines, sued The Points Guy reportedly over "unauthorized use" of its AAdvantage member account data. The Points Guy, founded and run by gay travel expert Brian Kelly, fought back and counter-sued American, claiming consumers have the right to input and manage their own personal mileage and reward points.
How did we get here?
Last year TPG launched the new The Points Guy app, a free app to help consumers manage earned points and miles in one spot by linking together different frequent flyer and credit card points accounts. TPG writes that the app “demystifies the complexities of award travel by helping users learn about points, miles and loyalty programs; maximize their earning potential; and discover how to efficiently use those earned points and miles to see the world.”
Up until now, The Points Guy app pulled data directly from member’s frequent flyer accounts. In the case of American Airlines, the TPG app would prompt the user to enter their AAdvantage number and password.
American Airlines alleges that the TPG app doesn’t have authorized access to American AAdvantage accounts and TPG doesn’t have the right to “invade American’s servers, access users’ accounts, and collect and expropriate the proprietary data.” Furthermore, the airline maintains that access and collection of data are all in violation of American’s terms and conditions.
After American sent a cease and desist to TPG, TPG countered with a lawsuit of their own, claiming that individuals have the right to their awarded travel points as well as the right to share that information with any third-party app that might offer additional services to them based on that information. TPG claims that American not wanting to share rewards information is shady, and that this is part of a bigger ruse to further control how AAdvantage members use the points and rewards that they’ve racked up, spending thousands of dollars with the airline.
Kelly posted on an Instagram story that “we are fighting back because we think it’s in the consumer’s best interest to be able to see their points and miles in apps like the TPG app.”
Loyal TPG followers have commented words of encouragement and sympathy, particularly on Instagram, stating they’ve had their own issues with the way the AAdvantage program works. Some even speculate that the timing of this lawsuit seems overly convenient as AAdvantage point balances, that were extended due to COVID-19, are now due to expire in April 2022, if there is no account activity.
Having access to the TPG app has helped many travelers get more value out of their rewards programs, and it seems this trend will continue as many have been aware of the app just as a result of this developing story.
If you support more transparency and the ability to access and spend your travel points more easily you may want to sign the, TPG -organized a petition - #YourMilesYourChoice