A few weeks ago, I posted about American Airlines shutting down frequent flyer loyalty accounts due to perceived credit card “rewards abuse.”
If you’re unaware of the situation this is recap (and my understanding)…
The shutdowns have been taking place over the course of the past few weeks.
Airlines have corporate security departments that, among other things, monitor frequent flyer programs. They essentially make sure everything is on the ‘up and up’ and everyone is playing by the rules. Additionally, they have the ability to lock or shutdown your account for questionable activity.
Credit card issuers have rules regarding who they’ll approve and how often you can obtain a card and/or the welcome bonus. The airlines have done the math and have implemented these rules for a reason.
Well, there are some techniques people have been using to circumvent these rules.
For example, Citibank sends out emails and mailers (through postal mail) to new AAdvantage members offering them miles for signing up for a Citi credit card.
Typically, these emails/mailers have a unique code displayed on them and you’re supposed to use these codes when you apply.
Interestingly, individuals created fake accounts with their pet names, Instagram crush names, names of distant cousins and ‘em, received the mailers (because they are “new accounts”), and then applied for a credit card using their real name and real AA account number but also using the mailer code. Thus, their real account would receive the bonus.
Given the “ingenuity” of these individuals, I’ve read reports of people “earning” millions of miles.
Corporate security has quite a problem on their hands but we’re in a time (for better or worse) where they can track everything including: households where there are dozens of “new” AAdvantage members, people have used a code not intended for them, and how often you’ve received the bonus.
The example above is just one example of how people have gone above and beyond.
There are also rules against selling or bartering your miles which can also be lumped into the ‘fraud abuse’ and ‘misrepresentation’ categories.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE with a locked or shutdown account has participated in these type of scams. Unfortunately, some people have found their accounts locked as AA investigates despite “not doing anything wrong.”
When the shutdowns began it was uncertain what would happen to existing reservations. Unfortunately, it appears it’s all bad news with with reservations (booked via miles). They are being cancelled for people with shut down accounts. Even more unfortunate is that this includes people mid-itinerary!
I have no idea how many people were affected but according to a few travel buddies it’s NOT an insignificant number.
AM I SHUT DOWN?
If you’re aware of and/or participated in these “loopholes,” your account may be on the chopping block.
The easiest way to check if your account is locked is by trying to book a ticket. If your reservation is ticketed (and not just pending) then you’re not shut down. You can cancel your reservation for free within 24 hours of booking.
If you’re unaware of what I am talking about, you’re safe.
Fortunately, I do not (and will not) cover “loopholes” on this blog so 1TP subscribers shouldn’t have to worry about this catastrophe and drama.
I think this should go without saying, but don’t use the mailers as a “loophole” to bypass the rules any longer. It appears American is cracking down on everyone, including closing AAdvantage accounts AND canceling tickets issued with them. It will lead to a shut down!
Again, this has been going on for a couple of weeks now and there are people involved on all kinds levels.
I’ve been playing the points game for more than a few years now and have learned that you’re always better off just playing by the rules. You may get away with stuff in the short term, but in the long term, what’s done in the dark….well, you know the rest.
Have you been shutdown? Have you received an account shutdown notice? What do you make of this whole situation?