American Spokesperson Blasts BoardingArea Blogger, Throws Partner Airline Under Bus

Etihad’s big announcement about the most luxurious travel product in commercial aviation has been all the rage. I’d love to fly it, but the truth is I’m not going to. It’s way too pricey for me and at this point there’s no reasonable way to access it with miles.

I’m not going to tell you ‘get this and that credit card and you’ll be 3% of the way there.’

No, it’s just out of reach of most of us. Sure you could manufacture $1 million of spend on a 2% cash back card.. but even then there are things most of us would do with that $20,000 other than fly a single 7 hour flight from London to Abu Dhabi.

But Lucky who writes the One Mile at a Time blog wants to make a play for it.

He posted a Kickstarter project to fund him to travel on the new Etihad 3-room First Class Residence onboard their A380.

Lucky flies all over the world, sampling airline products, and writing about them. His blog is successful enough that it – combined with booking awards (he’s my competition) – has become his career. Nonetheless, he doesn’t have a corporate parent to fund his trips and he’s not going to shell out the $20,000 one-way to try out the Residence.

So he asked his readers, if they’d like him to fly and review a product that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see up front, could they chip in to cover the cost?

Frankly it’s worth $5 or even $25 to me to read his take on the product, so I should probably be willing to support the effort. He won’t do it unless the people who value it will help cover the cost, and I respect that. The way kickstarter works, supporters are only charged for their pledge if the goal for funding is reached. If it’s not, there’s no payment due.

Not everyone thinks so, however. An American spokesperson, Leslie Scott, kind of lost it over Ben’s effort.

Edited to add these additional tweets criticizing everyone who contributed:

Bear in mind that buying tickets on Etihad is something that American is supposed to be promoting since American and Etihad are partners, after all.

So…

  • Is it now American Airlines’ policy to publicly condemn their Executive Platinum flyers on social media?
  • Is it now American Airlines’ policy to denigrate the importance of purchasing tickets on their partner airlines?

Of course up until about a month ago this American spokesperson had been with Delta for 6 years. So that’s probably just how they do it over there.

Perhaps more importantly: what do you think of this effort? Is it spectacularly awesome, or spectacularly wasteful? (Or both?)

(HT: @jeanne23)

Update: it appears that Ms. Scott has apologized, and her boss tweeted “Tweets from our personal accounts are our own. #heartintherightplace”


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I have a great idea. Let Barack Obama have a “personal” twitter accout that says “Prsonal Account of President of United States.”

    Then he can say whatever he wants to say and nobody should blame him because it’s just his personal account right?

  2. I like Lucky Ben. He’s a lucky guy because he’s loving life and that’s very likable.

    Other people like Ben too. They even give him stuff like a free Lear Jet ride and offers of their miles and points because when he writes he has an obvious zest for life and aviation and we readers remember when we were younger and shared those passions.

    His writing puts a smile on our faces and some few willingly pay a little for that smile.

    I like Gary Leff too. His writing doesn’t make me smile the same way but I enjoy it as much.

    So when anyone like Leslie says “don’t publicize this idiot” she has slighted me and my virtual friend.

    Poor Leslie. She’s not a really dumb bimbo idiot broad. No, she just hasn’t read much of Ben’s blog. If she had she would never have called him an idiot. She would have smiled at his audacity and thought “Good Luck, Lucky!”

    Eventually Ben will burn out. He’ll be like the guy in Up in the Air. He’ll have the golden card but want the real stuff of life, not the fluff, and he’ll want to take a wife and settle down and have kids.

    When that time comes hopefully he’ll find a sweet girl. Not a witch like Leslie.

    Wait, I’m sorry I said that. Actually, Leslie is probably OK too. I just haven’t read her blog.

  3. i am always amused about how bloggers “circle the wagons” for one another…

    the good ol’ boys network

  4. I don’t see any problem with Leslie airing her personal opinion.
    I wouldn’t give money to him either.

  5. Really puzzled by all this outrage. Donate or not, it’s everyone’s choice. But if I publicly dissed my employer or our clients my ass would be fired.

  6. This is my first (and possibly last) post on your blog, which I have followed with some interest for the past three years.

    The headline to this article, “Throws partner airline under the bus” is completely misleading and inaccurate, and your point as to whether it is now American Airlines’ policy to “publicly condemn their Executive Platinum flyers on social media” and “denigrate the importance of purchasing tickets on their partner airlines” is similarly misleading and an astonishing display of an over-inflated sense of ego and self-importance that some system gaming bloggers like yourself have.

    Absolutely no class.

  7. How is this much different from me paying for a subscription to the NY Times, and then the Times paying Sam Sifton to go eat at a $500/head restaurant? Really, it’s not.

  8. Leslie Scott just called me gross. Am I offended? Yes, of course. I GAVE money to Lucky because I am confident he will give 110% to writing an honest review of the new product offering. I did not donate money to him and yes every year I donate 5% of my annual salary to charities and this money did not come from that budget!
    ***By the way, she apologized to Ben for her “harsh words”, but not to the people who gave money to Ben’s kickstarter project (she called us gross, after all.)

  9. If only there were a way to take money away from Lucky’s kickstarter fund. I would pay money to prevent Lucky from reaching his goal.

  10. Leslie Scott’s personal blog post was totally on point and appropriate. It even calls out that posts are her own opinion. That said she probably should not have listed her employer in the profile.

    Gary’s inflammatory post is just the latest in a trend of sensationalist headlines that drive towards a not-so-veiled agenda that protects AA, bloggers, credit cards etc.

    And of course he had to include a cheap shot at Delta for no reason.

  11. I have to agree – disappointed with you Gary – too much dramatization in your post. 🙁

  12. Wow, based on the comments regarding Leslie there certainly seem to be a lot of misogynists reading this blog. They all seem to be supporting Lucky also.

  13. In for $10 also. Ms Scott is a/the public face of AA no matter what disclaimers she may put and to expect to hide behind this as a defense is complete rubbish.
    To repeatedly tweet about this also just shows what an old vindictive cow she is.

  14. I gladly gave $10 to support him having the balls to live his dream. Everyone needs to lighten up. If you don’t like it or support it, don’t fund it. This has nothing to do with charity.

  15. Taryn,

    It is charity! Come on! If Ben wants $20,000 to fly people to help in some poor part of this world….he might have a leg to stand. But this kickstarter thing for a $20,000 airline ticket? Sorry, Ben, hit up your parents or other blogger comrades, but asking your readers or whomever to support your “hobby” just rubs me wrong. I hate when my employer tells me to donate to certain charities, especially when the founder is a multi-billionaire, who is cheap with pay and benefits. Did you ever think that you might be able to get Ethihad to do some kind of sponsorship thing?

  16. It continues to blow my mind that commenters keep referring to these as “personal” tweets, as if there is a distinction and somebody’s privacy was violated. They’re publicly searchable, publicly indexed, historically available.

    Gary didn’t pull the quote using some account that gave him special unfair access to Leslie’s private thoughts. Tweets are not personal, tweets by definition are the exact opposite. By tweeting you are creating a digital public record of your sentiment for the entire world, which means you should be proud of it from every angle – personal, professional, social – or just stay off Twitter. Leslie knows that, and that’s why she should be in (some) trouble for being bad at her job, not a bad person.

    Most folks here should try Twitter once or twice before they comment on it’s “personal nature” and make other pronouncements about it. It’s not a private social network, it’s a public micro-blogging platform. Saying stupid or unnecessary things in public (like talking about one of your company’s partners in a way that negatively impacts their business) costs lots of people their jobs. This won’t be the first or last time it happens via Twitter.

  17. Wow, where do people get off thinking they should tell others what to do with their money. Sounds like sour grapes to me. I like Lucky’s posts, he’s original and not constantly trying to flog credit cards with shoddy premises used as filler around links like a used car salesman. We all know that if you really want to rack up the miles/points in this game you should start pimping links. As for the AA rep, don’t pop a blood vessel sweetheart.

  18. There’s a very basic bottom line here: there’s absolutely no reason for this product to be reviewed. It has no competition so there is no option to which it can be compared. It stands to reason that it will be a fabulous experience so doesn’t the review write itself in our own heads? Who among us wouldn’t jump at the chance to try this. But there’s the other rub: how many people who read Lucky or fund this project will ever be in a position to afford it anyway, with money or miles? An exceptional few so it makes no sense to spend money on a question for which we already have an answer. I agree with Ms. Scott.

  19. This is the most ridiculous reply thus far.

    By this logic we shouldn’t waste US taxpayer money on NASA. Most of us will never get to the moon. We will never be in a position to afford it. We were there in the 60’s and we already have an answer as to what it’s like, having the black-and-white grainy photos as evidence.

    Dolt.

    Or, maybe gbtrotter is not a dolt but just a shill?
    In which case he’s a shill AND a dolt.

  20. @ John T,

    I’m sorry, please tell me you didn’t just compare a “fundraiser” for a totally self-indulgent, decadent, serve-me-butler flight to the city he doesn’t even need or want to be in, with a space exploration program, which is, might I remind you, has not only scientific but also very practical applications?

    You don’t need NASA, you say? May I suggest googling “NASA Practical Applications” and telling us how it compares with Lucky’s endeavor?

    Gee, even I could come up with a dozen better excuses why Lucky has a reason to be on that flight!

  21. “Plus now it looks like he’s trying to somehow raffle off a free companion ticket, so it would be akin to a raffle or something, so in addition to contributing to a once in a lifetime opportunity for Lucky, someone else who kicks in a few bucks might get lucky as well!”

    Sure, a once in a lifetime opportunity no doubt if you won the raffle to fly on such a unique product. But just remember you are with Lucky which means you better sleep with one eye open if you catch my drift.

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