Is AAdvantage Encouraging You to Earn Miles at the Expense of Your Employer?

Hans M. forwards along this email from Rewards Network which runs ‘AAdvantage Dining’ and most of the airline and hotel co-brand dining programs where you earn miles for restaurant meals.

It’s titled, Don’t Worry, We Won’t Tell Your Boss…

He writes,

I find this amusing how blunt they are about trying to bribe you into making purchasing decisions to reward yourself against the best interest of your company.

I don’t think it’s troubling at all, I don’t think it says you should reward yourself by acting against the interests of your company. It says go out to eat. Don’t eat at your desk. Like the old Keith Ferrazzi business book, Never Eat Alone (well, that would double your miles if you picked up the check).

This might be more troubling if the pitch was “spend more at lunch at these restaurants when it’s on the company dime” and yet that’s the underlying premise of frequent flyer programs themselves [that you’ll make decisions to fly a given airline regardless of price and bill the company].

Travel loyalty programs are all about conflicts of interest.

Might as well make it explicit. That’s more or less what the move to revenue-based accrual are doing in any case. More honest, in some sense. “Wait until the last minute to make your decision to fly, the tickets will cost your employer more and we’ll give you a bigger kickback.”

If anything it’s MileagePlus and SkyMiles that deserve the scorn here for their program changes which reward unethical behavior by employees, not this dining program.

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, 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. Wow so three things:

    1) The IDENTICAL ad came from United for their version of the program.

    2) The schedule is hilarious – and that it is basically real is sort of sad.

    3) The original “bribe” question? Huh? Does that guy even know what this is? It’s a reward of miles for eating at a restaurant. It encourages use of credit and eating out. This whole blog is about ways to spend money on credit cards to get rewards. This is different how? I get amex points when I use my corporate amex – I guess that encourages wasteful spending? Except I have to justify the dollars.

    Anyway, the program is fine – but it’s mostly random miles I get.

  2. revenue-based RDM already exactly drives this behavior … instead of booking expensive tickets and alarming corporate tools, just book very late in the process, because at that point nothing is cheap.

  3. let’s not overthink this one, it’s just a stupid email blast. i wrote hundreds of them for a certain UK airline when i was an entry-level ad employee. i’m sure no one thought once about the ethical implications. some 23 year old just needed a new idea to nag you a millionth time about dining at a participating restaurant.

    also, these blasts are identical for AA, UA, AS, etc. all produced by the same 3rd party marketing company.

  4. Is it really bribery when your employer waits until the last minute to tell you to go on a trip less than a week before you need to leave?

    And you waste all of your weekend flying for your employer?

  5. I find that the interesting part is that their lunch is from 11AM-3PM, as it is FOR NOBODY I KNOW.

  6. I’m not sure what “we won’t tell your boss” means unless you’re doing something he wouldn’t like.

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