Back in the day, American Airlines thought it was a pretty good idea to sell unlimited first-class travel for a lifetime. For a few hundred thousand dollars, travelers could hop on a jet any time, and for an additional fee, so could a companion of their choice. Turns out that costs American a lot of money, and they’re trying to shut the whole thing down as a result.
The L.A. Times details the very interesting personal stories of a few men who bought tickets that enabled them to go anywhere in the world, basically anytime they wanted to, with the greatest of ease. Some flew for fun, some for business, and some even handed out upgrades to strangers using their companion passes. Each paid more than $350,000 for those privileges.
One man has logged almost 40 million miles, another, 30 million. There are 64 other unlimited AAirpass holders, and all together, they’ve racked up way more miles than American would like. Financial struggles at the company led to it investigating some of its AAirpass holders.
A special” revenue integrity unit” was assigned to see if any pass holders had broken the rules of the program. These customers used to enjoy special treatment due to the AAirpass, and then they were investigated.
“We thought originally it would be something that firms would buy for top employees,” said Bob Crandall, American’s chairman and chief executive from 1985 to 1998. “It soon became apparent that the public was smarter than we were.”
In September 2007, American assigned an employee to root out any AAirpass holders who were violating rules. She calculated that some of those passengers were costing American $1 million a year. After investigating certain AAirpass holders, American revoked their lifetime passes, citing fraudulent behavior. Some fliers were sued by American, and often, they sued back.
American spokeswoman Mary Sanderson said the canceled passes are “very isolated and represent an extremely small percentage of our overall AAirpass accounts.”
“We actively analyze all of our ticketing and program policies for any improper activity,” she said. “If we determine that any activity has violated our policies or is fraudulent in nature, we take the actions we deem appropriate.”
For the entire, somewhat fascinating tale, check out the source link below.
*Thanks to Alex and Thom for the tips!
The frequent fliers who flew too much [L.A. Times]