American Airlines Airport Agent Credit Card Slots
If you’ve flown with American Airlines, you’ve probably heard of the in-flight credit card sale for American’s Barclays co-branded credit card, usually marketed as an “exclusive limited-time flight offer.”
Flight attendants are paid for each approved request, so this is potentially a significant source of revenue for employees. Different flight attendants take this to different levels – some will only make a single announcement, while others will make multiple announcements, pretend apps are sold out, etc.
Well, credit card sales pitches are about to be taken to the next level at American Airlines, as airport agents are now also incentivized to push credit cards.
American Airlines Airport Agents Now Get Paid for Credit Card Approvals
As View from the Wing reported, American Airlines airport agents now have the ability to collect fees when passengers are approved for a Barclays AAdvantage Aviator card. As of May 2022, employees receive a $25 bonus just for qualifying for the program, which requires reading a course and then passing a 10-question quiz to assess program knowledge.
Once approved, employees can immediately participate in the program. The way it works, American Airlines employees can distribute applications that have a unique code tied to that employee, so when someone applies and is approved, that employee receives a commission.
While this will of course annoy some customers, the reality is that American makes more profit with AAdvantage than with actually flown planes. The biggest source of revenue with AAdvantage comes from co-branded credit cards, so it’s no surprise that increasing the share of passengers who have a credit card is a priority.
What form will these credit card slots take?
One thing I haven’t seen yet is what restrictions (if any) are placed on airport agents promoting credit cards. Presumably, agents at the check-in counter and at the gate will be able to promote credit cards, so it could take different forms.
Upon check-in, will each customer receive a personalized pitch on the benefits of the card? Could we see check-in agents turning a blind eye if your luggage is overweight but you want to apply for a co-branded credit card?
At the door, will there be credit card announcements? “Ladies and gentlemen, before we can begin boarding, we are looking for 10 volunteers to apply for the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard.”
In some ways, it can be worth taking an application even if you don’t plan to apply for the card. Many airline employees are apathetic, but they might be a little more customer-focused if they feel like you’re picking up an app that pays them a commission.
I think the biggest problem with this is that American Airlines ground agents are already overworked. Many check-in counters are understaffed, and American boards many flights with only one gate agent. I don’t know where the timing for a credit card pitch comes from (although I imagine for many employees this will be a priority).
At the end of the line
American Airlines credit card slots are now expanding at the airport, as they will no longer be restricted on board. Agents at US airports can now choose to promote Barclays credit cards and receive commission for endorsements. This will apply to agents both at check-in and at the gate, so I imagine it will become quite common soon.
If you’re flying US and get a credit card pitch from an airport agent, please share your experience!