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 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