In May I shared that Suzanne Rubin would be leaving as head of the American AAdvantage program. She led the program since December 2011 when Maya Leibman became the American’s Chief Information Officer and brought stability to a role that had seen several leaders in a short time.
American announced today that Bridget Blaise-Shamai has been promoted to Vice President – Loyalty and President of the AAdvantage program. Bridget’s role had been Managing Director, Customer Loyalty and Insights – the position Suzanne held before becoming AAdvantage Vice President. She was the the senior person on the team once Suzanne left and the manager in charge in the interim.
When I requalified for American’s Executive Platinum status in June, I received my 2017 elite package in the mail under her signature.
Bridget has been with American for over 20 years, with 10 of the past 12 years at AAdvantage. I believe she managed the last renegotiation with Citibank when US Airways and American merged.
Here’s Bridget (left) with Suzanne Rubin at the 2015 Freddie Awards in Atlanta.
Interestingly, she will report to Kurt Stache, who moves over from Senior Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships to become Senior Vice President of Marketing & Loyalty. So AAdvantage reports to Stache who will report to Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Nocella rather than reporting directly to Nocella.
Fern Fernandez, who used to lead US Airways Dividend Miles and became Vice President of Marketing, will also report up to Stache, a legacy American executive who most recently led American’s transatlantic and transpacific joint business ventures and who was himself President of AAdvantage 9 years ago.
With award chart changes made, new revenue-based mileage-earning underway and minimum spend for elite status set to go into effect next year, and a new credit card agreement with both Citibank and Barclaycard secured the next challenge ahead is removal of elite benefits for Basic Economy fares and what ‘domestic premium economy’ will mean for members.
Bridget may face the grumpiest members since the announcement of a $5 award redemption fee in 2008 that the airline ultimately backed away from. But she’s personally very well-liked by members, has a rich history understanding where the program has come from and what customers care about, and how to make it function well.