Airlines seek shutdown of online miles trackers

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by sobore, Oct 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/17/earlyshow/living/travel/main20121262.shtml

    Websites that help busy travelers keep track of their frequent flier miles and hotel points are growing in popularity. But now, two airlines -- American and Southwest -- are trying to put them out of business.

    Why?

    Personal finance expert and CBS News contributor Regina Lewis explained airlines have operated loyalty programs successfully for 30 years, and are now losing control, never imagining that people would hand over their passwords to third-party tracking websites.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the two carriers have sent "cease and desist" letters in the past year to several websites that track travelers' loyalty programs.

    The carriers argue that tracking sites, such as AwardWallet.com, Milewise.com and GoMiles.com, pose a security risk because passwords are spread to sites across the web. In addition, the airlines contend the outside sites tax the airlines' own websites.

    Read More:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/17/earlyshow/living/travel/main20121262.shtml
     
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  2. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    I know it's nice to have a one-stop shop, but I'd rather just go to the sites myself to check balances..."just in case" data were ever compromised...
     
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  3. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    I like the alert options on Award Wallet. They let you know of balance changes and expiring programs. Too bad the airlines don't offer these features.
     
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  4. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    Air Canada now warns you of miles expiring.
     
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  5. bjdriscoll

    bjdriscoll Silver Member

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    There was an article about this in the Wall Street Journal, too. If the airline sites provided the info the third party sites do, there wouldn't be a need for them. I really like how gomiles.com alerts me to deals and offer specific to me; I don't have to go hunting for them.
     
  6. Espan

    Espan Silver Member

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    I bet the bean counters are screaming bloody hell as less miles are expiring unused and more customers are getting better bang for their bucks on those used. It's probably real big bucks on the bottom line.
     
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  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I think that's only part of it though... I know myself only actively fly with 1 or 2 carriers, but I have accounts with a ton of them, and it's extremely useful to be able to see everything at a glance, regardless of expiration or deals or what-not.

    The other thing is that some sites allow you to track not only airline miles but also hotels, car rental programs and the like, something that no airline offers.
     
  8. NYCAdventurer

    NYCAdventurer Gold Member

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    Its nice to see all accounts in one place. As long as these sites are secure I don't see the issue with it. I vote to keep these sites alive!
     
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  9. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    True. There are all kinds of sites like Mint that track financial accounts, which I'd be much more worried about. If those sites can maintain security, then why can't the airlines? And if the airlines say they don't need bank-level security, they why the fuss?
     
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  10. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    I hate to say it, but this is going to take a lawsuit to resolve, and I hope the carriers lose. I, too, have multiple programs I'm a part of, and aggregation of that data is a benefit I enjoy (especially GoMiles). Frankly, it's MY username and password, and I'm giving them permission to access it for me, so why not?

    Worst case, someone will make an open source program that does this on your Mac/PC if the sites go dead, and the airline won't be able to argue since the access is coming from the person themselves.

    <sigh> When will the airlines learn?
     
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  11. mtlfire

    mtlfire Gold Member

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    I had to admit that I was worried about signing up for awardwallet and having my passwords in a central area. In the beginning I kept my passwords stored locally. But then you'd attempt to login from another computer... and next thing you know its a lot simpler to just have awardwallet store the passwords.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Isn't there already... or rather, hasn't there been a desktop app for a long time? I forget the name...

    How frequently do the aggregators typically fetch data from the airlines for each account they manage?
     
  13. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Depends on the site. Most of them do it on demand or every day.
     
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  14. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    GoMiles is on demand.
     
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  15. legalalien
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    legalalien Gold Member

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    There are several ways to allow a remote site access to your account without actually giving it access to your username or password. One commonly used method involves you 'authorizing' a remote site, and the remote site receiving a security token valid for a period of time, say 30 or 180 days. The token is invalidated if you change password, or if a remote site becomes compromised.

    Implementing these enhanced security features is fairly simple, but does require work on both sides...something that airlines might not be willing to do.
     
  16. Pete
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    Pete Silver Member

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    Perhaps, but I think the real reason is that the airlines are losing traffic to their websites. They want you to have to log into their site to buy stuff and view their ads.
     
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  17. sma_15

    sma_15 Silver Member

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    Yes there is (or was). USA Today offered it with their MileageTracker service. If you have the program you can still use it but it has not been updated in a long time and many of the programs do not update as a result of this.
     
  18. mtlfire

    mtlfire Gold Member

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    As some others mentioned, I doubt that its simply a security issue. People using the same web site on multiple web sites is likely much more of a risk to online security. Along with a host of other issues, such as length of passwords, their strength etc.
     
  19. Espan

    Espan Silver Member

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    but I do use my aggregate site to then log into the airline, hotel or car company site directly when I need to book or chek on something there... Hasn't really changed my habits about how much I book directly on a companies site.
     
  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    But if they look at a simple measure like "sales per session" or "clicks on ads per session" it probably goes down as there are now all these sessions that don't expose the any ads or cause an sales.

    That's the beauty of offering this product as a website (or cloud service in today's speak, I guess). The developers can respond to airline website changes that break the scraper very quickly without having to ship a new app to every customer.
     
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  21. sma_15

    sma_15 Silver Member

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    I completely agree, unfortunately, AA and WN disagree with this.
     

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