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American Airlines is Trying to Stop a Popular iPhone App That’s Become a ‘Must Have’ For its Flight Attendants

American Airlines is Trying to Stop a Popular iPhone App That’s Become a ‘Must Have’ For its Flight Attendants

a screen on the back of a seat

American Airlines is using sophisticated ‘bot detection’ software to stop the developer of an iPhone app that has become popular amongst the airline’s flight attendants from accessing vital data that is needed to keep the app working.

The ‘Sequence Decoder’ app has become a must-have tool for American Airlines flight attendants because it displays information required by crew members to manage their rosters and work lives in a single app.

The app is particularly popular among the large number of ‘reserve’ flight attendants at American Airlines because it gives them more control over their schedules, and the app has other features such as a calculator to make sure crew are working to legal limits.

American Airlines does not offer its own version of the app and has allegedly turned down requests from the app’s developer Jeff Reisberg to collaborate on the app. Instead, the Jeff’s self-developed app relies on bots to ‘scrape’ the data required to power it from AA’s computer systems.

In fact, rather than working with Jeff, American Airlines has started to protect its websites with bot detection software that makes it “nearly impossible” to collect data required to run Sequence Decoder.

“We’ve tried to get them to talk to us, find a way to peacefully coexist but they have refused all communications. At the end of the day, I don’t think they understand why this service is important, and they don’t care to know,” Jeff told app users in a recent email.

“We’ve found holes in the net and managed to survive, but the net is always getting better,” Jeff warned. Last week the net got us good again, I thought it could be the end.”

One flight attendant said of the current situation affecting Sequence Decoder that they had “never seen a company go out of their way to make life harder for their workers.”

Another said on Reddit that the app had made obtaining information that flight attendants require “so much more efficient and easily accessible”.

“It’s like these companies go out of their way to be adversarial,” the flight attendant continued.

In recent years, third-party iPhone and Android apps for airline staff have become increasingly popular. The majority allow staff to sync and keep track of their rosters, while others are authorized to pull data from multiple internal computer systems and display that data in a single place.

Sometimes, airlines allow these apps to exist because they see the benefit in what they do but lack the resources or motivation to create their own app. More recently, another major U.S. airline created its own version of this kind of app and then promptly locked down access to the third-party apps.

American Airlines has been contacted for comment.

The airline is currently pursuing a lawsuit against The Points Guy over the website’s own third-party app that scrapes data from customers’ AAdvantage accounts. American Airlines alleges The Points Guy is is breach of its terms and conditions and is luring thousands of customers to break its terms and conditions.

View Comments (7)
  • We have a company app for all of that (granted, it’s much less user friendly) except it doesn’t give you alerts for trips that match your criteria. You have to search for that yourself. One of the reasons it probably isn’t made accessible in-flight is because our FA personal electronic devise policy dictates that we can’t use our phones for personal reasons when passengers are onboard. That would include doing your schedule. We are only allowed to use our company iPhones for safety (inflight manual) and service (seat maps, connecting gate info, p.a.‘s, catering, sequence of service, reports, contacting dispatch, etc.) However I have heard that pilots can access their schedules inflight, so to me that makes no sense from a safety point of view.

  • I must agree to AAL. Security must be priority, and employees should not be allowed to share their personal info, specially login info, to a company that can be hacked. AAL should (and probably is) work on their own App to be distributed free of charge to all employees. They have a very good IT team that will ensure safety remains priority. Besides, this third party App is being used by those who wish to pay for it only, giving those employees an advantage over those who don’t want to pay for it.

  • I experienced this kind of culture on my first AA flight back in 2012. The crew must be so micromanaged. The crew on that flight was rude to a lot of people as i was just sitting there watching in disbelief how horrible they treated people. Now I can understand why they are like that with a company they won’t even let them manage their information the way they need and going out of the way to do it is just crazy! That flight back in 2012 i ended up writing a 2 page letter to AA about it and vowed never to fly with them again and never have or will.

  • New AA sucks! Before we used apps trip trade services a easier way to bid now this new crap comes in takes it all away makes it 5 times harder to do anything so ridiculous! They should be concentrating on how to run a company cause god knows they need it more then we do!!

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