After four consecutive posts on AA, I promise this is the last for a while. And be warned, the screen shots below are around two months old. I had good reason for not publishing them for the first month, but no reason for the second month of delay! The good reason will become apparent soon, but where there is no excuse there can be no corresponding explanation!
First, take a look at this clever (some would use a very different word) way to induce upsell during the booking flow. Anyone in a hurry will immediately click the default button without realizing they have just added more to the cost of their ticket.
If you ever wondered why the US carriers have an advantage over their European rivals in the race to see who can get the most ancillary revenue, you just need to look at the relatively minor stuff that isn’t allowed in Europe and then compare it to the example above.
Now to the screen below – interesting use of the click for assistance panel on the right. Some people are predicting this will be a big trend on more airline websites in future, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. What I was really impressed with on this page was the way they try and get you to apply for their co-branded credit card. You may need to expand this screen shot to see it properly, and I’d love to see stats on card take up versus drop-out rate from this page, but without having the stats on hand (and that may change my opinion), I do like it.
But now let’s move to the strangest part of the flow, and the reason why I did not post this immediately. Look below and read the fine print. I was using a Spanish bank issued Visa card with my residential address on their records listing me as being in Madrid. So according to the fine print below I cannot buy on AA.com, at least if I use this credit card. So when I inserted the payment details and it asked for billing address, true to the fine print below, Spain was not one of the countries listed in the drop down box.
But I really wanted to put the tickets on this credit card, so I just used a fake UK address. I was expecting a rejection when the authorization was done as I know that address verification works in USA and UK (it is irrelevant in many other countries where Visa card are issued). Surprise, surprise, the auth went through and I could soon thereafter see via my online bank statement that the card in Spain had indeed been charged by American Airlines. The tickets were subsequently issued and I received my itinerary and confirmation via email.
Now you can see why I waited to recount this story. Even though it looked like everything had gone smoothly, it wasn’t until I had completed both legs of the trip and was sure that I was not going to end up with egg on my face by having boarding denied that I wanted to go public on this. In the end, the flights were taken without a hitch.
Why American Airlines would put such artificial limitations on the growth of their direct channel is beyond me. I know Nigerian issued Visa cards are not accepted by many merchants, but even a number of low fraud countries are excluded by AA. But then even more bizarre is that when you put up rules on acceptance they should at least be enforced; otherwise you are just turning away legitimate business in favor of the fraudulent or the creative – I’m putting myself in the latter of those two categories!