American Airlines filed a lawsuit against travel website The Points Guy over alleged abuses of American’s AAdvantage rewards program.
At the center of the controversy is The Points Guy app that allows users to track points and miles from airline and hotel loyalty programs by sharing their login credentials.
Attorneys for the airline accuse the travel site’s app of accessing AAdvantage members accounts through its mobile app and, as a result, violating American’s terms and conditions.
The suit also alleges that “The Points Guy app displays American’s trademarks and copyrights without permission or licensing.”
What American Airlines Wants
In addition to pursuing statutory damages for any “‘ill-gotten revenues and benefits” from the use of its trademark and copyright, American is also seeking to block The Points Guy from retrieving the airline’s AAdvantage customer data, according to court documents.
The suit claims that The Points Guy and its parent company, Red Ventures, prompted app users to violate American’s terms by providing their account details to a third party.
“In the past six months, defendants have deployed an unlawful scheme to expropriate for free American’s brand, goodwill, and intellectual property to gain access to all the proprietary information and data contained on the AA.com portal,” claims the plaintiff.
The lawsuit also argues that The Points Guy developed a workaround to harvest AAdvantage customer data after American declined a request to allow the travel site access.
The Points Guy Seeks Declaratory Relief
American’s lawsuit follows a preemptive suit filed earlier by The Points Guy after it received a cease-and-desist order from the airline.
“We are choosing to fight back against American Airlines on behalf of travelers to protect their rights to access their points and miles so they can travel smarter,” stated Points Guy founder, Brain Kelly, in a press release.
“We’ll continue to advocate because we believe the consumer has the right to choose whether you share your loyalty balances with a third party app that will make your life easier,” Kelly added.
The Points Guy took to social media ahead of American Airlines’ imminent lawsuit to plead its case in the court of public opinion. It contends that the matter at hand is a consumer rights issue, rather than a failure to secure licensing, as American’s attorneys claim.
Originally started as a travel credit card blog, The Points Guy has grown into a major player in the rewards travel space after being acquired by Red Ventures in 2017. It now belongs in a portfolio of online media companies alongside sites like Creditcards.com, Bankrate, C|Net, and Healthline among others.
Who Actually Owns Your Points and Miles?
The lawsuits raise questions about not only who owns customer data, such as usernames and passwords, but also who truly owns the points and miles earned from travel purchases and spending with co-branded rewards credit cards.
The dispute will likely come down to whether or not a third-party app can access user data from another company without the consent of all parties involved.