American Airlines and The Points Guy are set to face each other in a full-blown court battle after mediation failed to resolve a dispute between the two sides over an app developed by the travel website that helps readers manage their points and miles from various companies.
The app was launched to much fanfare last September by Points Guy founder Brian Kelly who said the app would allow readers to easily see the big picture of all their different points and miles accumulated across different credit cards and airlines.
Two years in the making, the in-house app developers reportedly approached American Airlines to officially partner with it but the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier declined the offer.
Lawyers acting on behalf of AA, however, say The Points Guy went ahead and used the airline’s intellectual property in exactly the same way it had declined to allow.
To pull data from someone’s AAdvantage frequent flyer account, the TPG app takes their AAdvantage log-in details and accesses their account on their behalf. It then pulls the data from AAdvantage and renders it in the TPG app alongside American Airlines logos.
American Airlines claims this method of obtaining customer data, even with the consent of the customer, is in “clear violation” of its terms and conditions and that The Points Guy is encouraging its customers to the rules.
In a lawsuit filed in Dallas in January, lawyers claim The Points Guy is “essentially free-riding on decades of investment” by the airline, and it is “using American’s own intellectual property, brand, and goodwill to supplant American’s customer relationships”.
“In the long run, American’s customers will suffer harm,” the lawsuit continues.
But that’s not how Kelly sees the situation. In a series of Instagram posts, the ‘original points guy’ said the website was going to fight back because it’s in the “consumer’s best interest” to be able to see their points and miles in third-party apps like the TPG app.
Started in 2010 by Kelly, The Points Guy has since been sold to Red Ventures, a media company that owns popular online sites including CNet and Lonely Planet.
On Wednesday, the two sides informed the court that an attempt at mediation with a court-appointed independent mediator in September had failed without a settlement. The case is now due to go to trial next September.
Late last year, American Airlines successfully managed to get its AAdvantage data pulled from a rival app created by Nerd Wallet.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.