Last week I wrote about how I was contacted by American Airlines to inform me that I needed to create a new AAdvantage account, after corporate security reportedly discovered unauthorized access to my account. In this post I want to give an update on this situation.
No, this is not a scam…
Many OMAAT readers who commented felt strongly that this was a scam, and that American Airlines was not contacting me. I’m not sure why anyone would think that. I called the number in the email again. They simply asked me to verify my social security number, and took my computer for a moment to verify my identity. My account was then restored, so it’s clearly not a scam.
Just kidding of course. 😉 In all honesty, however, it is in fact American contacting me. Instead of calling the email number, I just called the standard AAdvantage customer service phone number, and they transferred me to the correct department. So if you find yourself in a similar situation to me, it’s probably legit, but it always makes sense to call the number you’re familiar with, just for peace of mind.
My phone call to American Airlines
Although American does not allow you to speak directly with corporate security, they do have dedicated agents for these types of things. I asked the person I spoke with if it was really necessary to create a new account, or if I could just change my password and other information on file (which you think should be enough).
I was told that it is highly recommended that I create a new account, and that if I don’t, I will be held responsible for any fraud on my account. I have a large balance of AAdvantage miles, so that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.
From that point it took about 15 minutes on the phone for the agent to create a new account for me. A few things to keep in mind:
- I had to provide a new email address, and also had to have a new username in place for my new AAdvantage account
- At that point, I was sent an email with my new AAdvantage number, and I was immediately able to log into my new account
- I was told it would take three to five business days to fully transfer my account, and until that was complete, I could continue to use my old AAdvantage number for any urgent travel; I can reset the password for my old account at this point
- As explained to me, this transfer includes transferring my miles, status, wallet funds, and also changing the AAdvantage number associated with my Admirals Club membership and co-branded credit cards
How did my AAdvantage account transfer go?
Six days after my phone call where I created a new account, I received an email from AAdvantage confirming that my accounts had been merged. So, how well do they combine?
- All my miles, Loyalty Points, and systemwide upgrades transferred correctly
- My travel credits are not transferring, and this is becoming a huge pain, because I know I have them, but I don’t know how much they are worth, and AAdvantage customer service is not doing much to help.
- None of my flight itineraries updated their AAdvantage numbers, so I had to call American and spend 20 minutes on the phone to get them to update the AAdvantage number on each reservation (because it’s not possible online)
- Although I was told this should have been done, only time will tell if my AAdvantage number is correctly updated for my co-branded credit cards, Bask Bank, Admirals Club membership, and Wi-Fi subscription
- I also earn AAdvantage miles through American’s partnership with Hyatt, and an OMAAT reader reported no luck getting the AAdvantage number updated in World of Hyatt; My Hyatt Concierge insisted the number was updated, so I guess we’ll see
It will take me a while to remember my new AAdvantage number, given how long it took me to get used to my old one.
Some thoughts on this process
I appreciate that fraud is a major issue for airline loyalty programs, so it is important for them to monitor accounts and take action to combat it. That said, a couple of thoughts…
First of all, it seems to me that the American is doing this process in a way that doesn’t exactly instill confidence in people. If you inform someone about account fraud, you can send them an email asking them to contact AAdvantage’s general customer service number, so the member can be sure it’s legitimate.
In fact, calling someone out of the blue and telling them there’s fraud on their account, and then asking them to immediately create a new account with you while on the phone, doesn’t seem like a best practice. Many readers understand that this is a scam, because the process seems vague.
Second of all, I’m still not sure I understand why a new AAdvantage account needs to be created, instead of just needing a password change:
- It’s easy to find out someone’s AAdvantage number; the full number can be seen on boarding passes, when you get an itinerary on aa.com (without logging into your account), etc.
- If someone hacks your account online, they will need your password, so it seems that changing your password should prevent any issues online
- If someone tries to claim your miles over the phone, they should be asked to verify personal details beyond an AAdvantage number
Anyway, that’s just my two cents…
I just went through the process of transferring to a new AAdvantage account, after American corporate security allegedly discovered unauthorized access to my account. The process is not the end of the world, although it is certainly a bit annoying. I will certainly know how annoying this is when I see if my AAdvantage information is transferred correctly to the credit card partners, Bask Bank, Hyatt, etc.
It seems I’m not alone in going through this process, so I hope this is a helpful guide for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.
What do you do with this AAdvantage account transfer process?