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American Airlines suing The Points Guy over app that syncs frequent flyer data

The airline claims the travel tips site is violating its terms of use and infringing its trademarks

American Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner In Greece
American Airlines is suing The Points Guy
Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

American Airlines has filed a lawsuit against travel tips site The Points Guy, claiming the site has violated the terms of use of its frequent flyer program by offering an app that lets users track airline miles from multiple airlines in one place. It’s seeking an order blocking The Points Guy from accessing or using American Airlines customer data and from allowing its users to access their own accounts through the TPG app or site. American is also seeking to block The Points Guy from displaying the American Airlines logo and other trademarks.

The TPG app, released in September 2021, purports to “help users learn about points, miles, and loyalty programs, while maximizing their earning potential, and discovering how to efficiently burn those earned points and miles to see the world.”

The app allows users to link together different frequent flyer accounts. In the case of American Airlines, the TPG app prompts you in-app to enter your AAdvantage number, your password, and your last name.

The lawsuit filed by American Airlines alleges that the TPG app encourages members of its AAdvantage program to breach its terms of use en masse by handing over their user logins to an unauthorized third party.

The airline says the logins allow The Points Guy to “invade American’s servers, access users’ accounts, and collect and expropriate the proprietary data” in violation of American’s terms and conditions. The complaint accuses The Points Guy of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an anti-hacking statute, by doing so. In addition, the suit trots out a litany of other offenses, such as breach of contract, trespass, trademark infringement, and copyright infringement (for displaying the American Airlines logo).

American Airlines representative Andrea Koos said in a statement emailed to The Verge that The Points Guy parent company Red Ventures “is accessing AA.com and AAdvantage customer account data in a way that does not comply with our standards for use of confidential information.” She added that American Airlines takes “customer data and proprietary information incredibly seriously, and want to make sure it is protected and secure.”

The Points Guy preemptively sued American Airlines in Delaware after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the airline, according to a press release, claiming the airline was “attempting to block the media platform from providing the cost and time-saving benefits of The Points Guy App to consumers.”

“Consumers are always in control of their own data on The Points Guy App — they decide which loyalty programs and credit cards are accessible for the purpose of making their points-and-miles journey easier,” The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly said in a statement emailed to The Verge. The site is “choosing to fight back against American Airlines on behalf of travelers to protect their rights to access their points and miles so they can travel smarter,” he added.

The Verge asked The Points Guy in an email whether the TPG app stores AAdvantage passwords. “As authorized by our users, The Points Guy stores the information needed to enable account syncing in a manner similar to any finance or travel app,” the company’s communications director Becca Manheimer said in a reply email. She added that The Points Guy had offered American the option to audit their security, and the company declined. American Airlines is asking the courts to enjoin The Points Guy from allowing users to log in to AAdvantage through the TPG app or website and also from storing AAdvantage passwords and other member information. It is also seeking to legally block The Points Guy from displaying American’s “copyrighted material” — that is to say, the American Airlines logo.

The lawsuit requests statutory damages for the trademark and copyright violations and additional unspecified damages to include any “‘ill-gotten revenues and benefits” that The Points Guy may have gained from American’s customers and their data.

Update January 22nd 11:43AM ET: Includes additional comment from The Points Guy