Conversation with Leibman of AA - Discussion of the Event

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by schnitzel, May 4, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. schnitzel
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    schnitzel Gold Member

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    I thought I'd go ahead and start a thread for this. The online chat takes place tonight at 7:00 PM MDT (that's 9 PM Eastern and 6 PM in California) at this link:

    http://milepoint.coverpage.coveritl.../altcast_code=215719aed5/width=700/height=550

    Here's hoping for some enlightening info about how best to accumulate points, the future of lifetime status, and what we have to look forward to as loyal AA flyers.
     
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  2. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    Hopefully any good info gets posted here quickly. I made dinner plans well before this event was posted and cannot "attend". I sure can refresh this page every once in awhile while eating though! :)

     
  3. schnitzel
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    schnitzel Gold Member

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    Not too sure I can catch the whole thing, but if I catch valuable nuggets, I'll post.
     
  4. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I was more joking...:)

    I'm actually gonna try to access the event via Iphone. I'm pretty sure it won't work, but we will see....
     
  5. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    I have another scheduled chat from 8:00pm to 10:00 pm EDT, so for the 9:00 EDT hour I'm going to try to follow both simultaneously :eek:

    (to make it even more fun, the first chat also has a live audio component) :p
     
  6. Exiled in Express
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    Exiled in Express Gold Member

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    I am assuming at the top of the hour the link under "live now" will activate to attend, correct? I am more of a MeetingPlace kind of guy.
     
  7. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    I'm extremely hopeful that she'll tackle and answer some of the tougher questions and give us some real insight into how the program runs and any future changes.

    However, I think she'll stick to canned responses and give us more of the same... I hope I'm proven wrong though!
     
  8. MilePointInformed
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    MilePointInformed Silver Member

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    nothings happening when I click the link :(
    Am I too early here on the West Coast
    ahh i'm on yay
     
  9. Exiled in Express
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    Is live now, typewriter noise with each comment.
     
  10. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    First question was:

    Are there any plans to modify or cancel the million miles program? Will all lifetime miles earned (bonus, credit card, and miles flown) continue to be counted towards earning the million miles AA Gold for Life status?

    Answer:

    What I can say is that if we decide to make changes to the program, we commit to clearly communicate to our members and provide as much advance notice as possible.

     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Well, the MM program change answer was pretty much as expected. :-(
     
  12. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    I guess I'll post the questions here. Seems like no new information so far, with the lone exception being the fact that they are working on expanding the OW upgrade program with BA and IB.

    Q: What social media plans does AAdvantage have in the works? Currently, the Facebook and Twitter channels (as well as FlyerTalk presence) seem to be PR pushes. Any chance we'll see a truly interactive outreach?

    A: Hmmm, I guess what I’m doing what right now would serve as a good example, right? Social and digital media are very much a critical element for us. That’s one reason why I was excited to participate in this chat. It gives me a chance to talk directly with our members. We do appear on a number of channels, forums and sites. We correct misinformation, which a number of you are very good about doing yourselves (thanks for that, BTW). We also actively monitor the sites and are listening to what you have to say even if you don’t see us posting... Sounds like you're already familiar with our Facebook and Twitter channels. These are great places to learn more about the best ways to earn and redeem miles. We often have social-media only promotions.

    Q: Why is it so difficult to find seats at the lowest points level when they are almost always available at a higher level? Obviously there are too few seats available at the lower level.

    A: Ah, yes, the availability of seats. This continues to be one of the biggest misconceptions about loyalty programs. We work very hard to find the right balance between making AAdvantage awards available and meeting the revenue objectives of the company.

    I want to stress three points here:



    One: American has the greatest percentage of customers traveling on award tickets than any other major U.S. carrier. Last year, AAdvantage members redeemed more than 165 billion miles to claim almost 7.2 million awards.

    Two: Our MileSAAver Awards are great if you are flexible with your travel plans, but there are limitations on seating availability. If you think about that peak flight to Rome in July, would you want us to offer an unlimited amount of MileSAAver Awards? What would happen is that American would lose revenue, and maybe we’d be forced to cancel the Rome flight. It is a no-win situation for everyone.

    Three: AAnytime Awards offers our members the most flexibility, allowing you to book any unsold seat on any day. Members can redeem the very last available seat on a plane. I know not everyone wants to use this many miles but the fact is, with AAnytime Awards – you go when you want to.

    If the AAnytime Awards are not an option, then my best piece of advice about booking award seats: Flexibility is key.


    Q: With the recent announcement that Delta is doing away with award mile expiration, will American be following?

    A: I really applaud Delta for their efforts to invest in addressing what they said was their No. 1 customer complaint. However, this is not a top complaint we share. We make very strategic investments to ensure we are addressing our customers’ top concerns… Now that being said, it is very easy to keep your AAdvantage miles from expiring. All you have to do is either earn or redeem miles at least once every 18 months. We literally have thousands of ways you can do this – so there’s really no reason you can’t keep your account active. You could almost earn miles for breathing – and I am looking into this one!


    It’s like being in a long-term relationship, every once in a while we just ask that you show us a little love. Finally, I’m not certain that non-expiring miles really help those customers that are already showing us the love – doesn’t that mean more members going after award seats?

    Q: What are AA's goals regarding upgrade awards among OW partners? What would AA prefer the situation to be?

    A: In an ideal world, we’d love to offer upgrade opportunities among all oneworld and other partner airlines. As you might imagine, each airline has different objectives for their individual programs. Trying to marry together goals and objectives is often a challenge, but we are certainly up for it… One recent example is from last October. We rolled out the ability to use your miles to upgrade on British Airways or Iberia when you book directly with us. We do recognize that the need to have booked directly with us limits the applicability of this option, and we are working to expand this product. Stay tuned!
     
  13. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    Still no new information...

    Q: I am brand new to the world of frequent flyer miles. What's the best way to wrap my head around how I can take advantage of FF miles as a consumer?

    A: I have Randy Petersen’s personal phone number. That’s honestly the best place to start. Since I think Randy would have my hide if I gave that out, I would highly recommend joining the AAdvantage loyalty program. I hear it is the best! Go visit www.aa.com/aadvantage. You can’t go wrong.

    Q: When is AA going to do away with the hideous concept of "500 mile upgrades" and just offer them free like every other airline does for their elite members?

    A: Upgrades, as you well know, are a finite resource. If you want to talk about something hideous – imagine if all upgrades were free. OK, first stop cursing my name. Second, now really think about it; if all upgrades were free, it would be even harder for Gold and even many Platinum members to get upgraded.

    There is a huge demand for upgrades, and we really strive to provide a good balance. You pay, what I believe, is a pretty nominal fee for 500-Mile Upgrades, which in turn, allow you to take advantage of a terrific service that we are very happy to provide. Finally, one of the great reasons to become an Executive Platinum member is the ability to get free upgrades. This is one of the benefits that sets this tier level apart (how about a round of applause from my EPs?!).

    Q: I am a 4 million miles AAdvantage member and have recently noticed great difficulty in being upgraded 72 hours prior to a flight. Most of my upgrades are currently done at the airport. What is going on at American Airlines?

    A: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, upgrades are a finite resource. We have to find a balance between generating revenue from the seat and providing upgrades to our loyal customers. I know that waiting to hear if you will get an upgrade as your departure date gets closer causes angst…

    Trust me, I would much rather you receive your upgrade confirmation email sooner rather than later. But if we’re actually able to sell that seat then in a way you should be happy (that’s a longshot I know) as it means a stronger, revenue generating American Airlines more able to invest in the areas of the business that matter to you (like more and better first-class seats).

    Q: Is there anyway AA would consider a threshold for Lifetime Executive Platinum status? Something like 4MM or 5MM, because once you hit 2MM, there really is not a lot of incentive to go any further.

    A: Now, I would disagree with the last point. I think there is always incentive to go further! Like that around-the-world trip or using your miles to book your entire family for a family reunion in Cabo…

    In actuality, we require annual requalification at the Executive Platinum level, which enables us to provide more personalized service and exclusive benefits. We believe it's sensible to offer our highest elite level only to those members who earn their status with annual elite qualifying activity. Now, if you do book a family reunion to Cabo, can I get an invite?
     
  14. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    Q: Why the fuel surcharges on BA awards? They weren't there before the change in October.

    A: This is BA policy. If I talked too much about surcharges, I could go to jail! Joking aside, I would encourage you to visitaa.com. There is a great deal of information about BA’s policies.

    Q: What's with all the residency restrictions on recent DEQM promotions?

    A: First, there are a lot – and I mean A LOT – of restrictions when we offer U.S.-based sweepstakes and promotions. When you add international locations into the mix, things can get very hairy. This is why we normally only do promotions or sweepstakes based in the United States...

    Second, when we implement these promotions, we are trying to provide an incentive for a specific behavior. We have objectives for each program – some are very regional and others might be more global in nature...

    All that said, we do feel the pain of our international members and want you to be able to participate when it’s feasible. For example, with our current Deal 30 promotion, we worked to make as many deals as possible available to international residents (which wasn’t easy to do!).

    Q: When can we expect an AA app for the Blackberry?

    A: We currently have the Blackberry app in Beta test and we hope to launch this summer! As you probably know we already have an iPhone, iPad, Andriod, and NOOK Color app in market. Pretty cool, huh?

    Q: Would AAdvantage consider permitting EXPs to pay a fee to extend unused, about-to-expire eVIPS?

    A: These upgrades are quite valuable as I’m sure you already know (otherwise you wouldn’t be asking to extend them!)...

    As you know, the number of first-class seats is finite. We provide an entire year for our Executive Platinum members to use them (usually more than a year if someone qualifies for EP during the qualification year), and they can be transferred to anyone (like me, hint, hint). However, that’s not to say that we would never consider an idea like this.
     
  15. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    That's a generous donation by Randy on behalf of milepoint members.

    Q: "Any chance I could fly next to you or Gerald Arpey sometime. I could give you a great perspective about your carrier sitting in the middle seat in the tail of an MD-80 (while we guard the restroom)."

    A: I have flown a LOT in that middle seat - I know it well. We know not everything about travel is perfect - but we still value your business very much.

    Q: What is the possibility of going to a rolling 12 months for requalification for the elite status?

    A: That is an interesting question. There are pros and cons to our current system.
    For example, one of the pros is that if you’re able to qualify for elite status early in the year, you essentially hold that status for close to two years. That said, we know there are cons as well and your idea is something definitely worth exploring.

    Q: I heard that even though American has had a tough time financially lately it has been raising millions for Cystic Fibrosis and other charities. Is this true?

    A: YES! Cystic Fibrosis AND Komen AND Veterans AND American Red Cross AND Miles for Kids in Need. This is one of the things I really love about this company.


    Randy Petersen:
    Toward your answer Maya, you've been a wonderful first guest for this series of live chats on milepoint and on behalf of all the members of milepost we're making a $1,000 donation to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation in the name of both milepost and the AAdvantage program. This common interest and effort is the least we could do to thank you and your team for this evenings event.

    This is a wonderful gift! American Airlines is a long-time supporter – 26 years in fact -- of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We are also the official airline of Komen, and we have eight signature aircraft that display the Komen pink ribbon. Our planes represent the staggering statistic that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

    And for all you miles-hounds - I invite you to join us in our support of Komen through Miles for the Cure. Through the end of the year, you will earn 10 miles for every dollar you donate to Komen. Visit aa.com/joinus for more info.

    Q: Will we eventually have the ability to use our eVIPs/miles+copay online and to see waitlist or standby list status?

    A: We would love to be able to do this. Right now, we have to balance our other priorities and available resources. We are definitely listening!


     
  16. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    Finally something useful - booking award tickets on partner airlines on aa.com by the end of the year!

    Q: Delta Air Lines rolls miles over at the end of the year if we do't "make" a certain level so they can help with achieving that
    ranking the next year. Any consideration of having AA do so as well?

    A: This reminds me of a focus group I observed a few months ago. One of gentlemen said something like: “If I’m not going to make my elite status, then I want rollover miles. If I am going to make it on my own, I sure as heck don’t want anyone else to have rollover miles!”

    That closely mirrors the philosophy of our program. We are determined to protect the value of our tier levels for our members with annual requalification requirements.

    Q: Maya - You know that is not true!! You allow us to purchase a requalification, so why not rollover?

    A: Our repurchase is more restricted than rollover. You are only permitted to do it one time.

    Q: Is there any plans to allow Aadvantage members to see/book partner awards online?

    A: I’m really glad we got this question. This is a priority for us and one that we’re working on now. I don’t want to get into “how the sausage is made,” but it is my hope to have this available by the end of the year.

    Q: As a 4.4M miler, it seems the distinct advantages (and privileges) tied to being an Advantage member have diminished over the years, particularly post-9/11. What plans does American have to keep the program meaningful to its most loyal members?

    A: Being an elite member has more advantages than ever. The world definitely has changed since we launched the AAdvantage program in 1981. Stricter security at the airport, higher fuel costs and increased capacity are just a few of the new realities we all now live with...

    As an elite member, you enjoy waived baggage fees, Priority AAccess and priority seating, among other benefits. As our most loyal customers, we want to do everything in our power to make sure you have a great travel experience.

    Q: "I once met a guy in the (lamented) FRA Admirals Club who claimed to have 31 million lifetime miles - is that the highest ever?" I have heard that that is no where near the highest ever …. But that is a lot of miles, right Maya?

    A: That's a lot of miles. And it's not near the highest ever!
     
  17. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    Final batch - key information here is that any miles you've earned towards Million Miler status will count even IF they make changes.

    Q: Maya, just to switch gears a little -- you appear to really love what you do and appear totally at ease with the level of your responsibilities you have. I sense members are really important to you. How long after being named President of AAdvantage did you get your first question from a member about AAdvantage? 30 seconds? And was it your mom or a family member? :)

    A: My mom's first question is "seriously? they made you a president of something?!"... I really love AA and this is a way cool job. I really love our members (even the ones that slam us in these blogs!) and we really are listening to you.

    Q: I hear that AA has an excellent record of promoting gay and lesbian rights and fully supports its gays and lesbians in the AA workplace.

    A: Yes we have a long history of promoting this and other diversity initiatives. We have received a perfect score of 100 from HRC for many years in a row.

    Q: Any clues about what the final 30th Anniversary celebration deal wiil be? I've been a member for almost that long.

    A: I would tell you but Stacey is still in the room telling me shut up. Please check back at aa.com/aadvantage30th. There are some great member videos to check out as well (including mine talking about my mother)

    Q: Through all your years of travelling, what one piece of travel advice were you given that had the biggest impact on how you travelled?

    A: Pack light. Not only is that the best travel advice I’ve ever received, it is also the single greatest advice of any kind I can offer. Packing light is the key to happiness. That and miles.

    Q: Randy Petersen: Members like to be in the know, like to know something that they hear first. Anything you might be willing to let us all wonder about or at least thing we got a scoop on something?

    A: Well, in order to protect Stacey's email address (and get my mom off your back): IF we did make any changes to Million Miler the miles you've earned so far will still count.
     
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  18. MilePointInformed
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    MilePointInformed Silver Member

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    Sounds like the million miler program may turn into butt in seat miles or higher thresholds to acheive.
    Off topic Maya Rocks I think she did a great job very personable and passionate is how she comes across to me...........
    I am proud to be a 4 million mile member of this program and glad Maya is on board at American
    Now about more saver award seats Maya (wink)
     
  19. miamigrad
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    miamigrad Silver Member

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    I was fortunate to have my question/comment included (2nd one, actually!). Interesting to know that AA monitors all the various forums and social media, even if they don't actively post. I suspected that was the case, but it sure would be nice to hear AA chime in on some of the tough questions that frequent flyers pose.
     
  20. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Milepost?! :eek:
     
  21. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    I copied and pasted it right from the chat...
     
  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    That's what I thought. Which is why it's so weird :)
     
  23. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I admit it: I was charmed and now I'm a fan. I thought the tone and selection of questions were excellent and I very much liked Maya's sense of humor. Her personality came through, which made it fun. OTOH, she skillfully deflected questions as expected, although Randy did a good job at the end of coaxing out the information that current MM miles will continue to count for MM status in the future, even if the program is changed.
     
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  24. skit53
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    skit53 Silver Member

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    Agreed - although I think we all knew current MM miles would count (imagine the uproar if it didn't). It was a fun event nonetheless.
     
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  25. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    It's good to have it documented in writing at this point from an authoritative source.
     

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