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7/30/2010
06:04 PM
Bob Evans
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American Airlines Goes iPhone But Flunks Alphabet

American Airlines has rolled out a new iPhone app that promises to offer everything (except on-time arrivals) from E-check-ins to seat assignments to monitoring upgrades but the, uh, fly in the ointment seems to be that it won't let you log in unless your American Advantage membership number contains at least one letter. The problem is, many don't.

American Airlines has rolled out a new iPhone app that promises to offer everything (except on-time arrivals) from E-check-ins to seat assignments to monitoring upgrades but the, uh, fly in the ointment seems to be that it won't let you log in unless your American Advantage membership number contains at least one letter. The problem is, many don't.It all started out happily enough: "Swipe And Tap Your Way Through Our New App For The iPhone," said the headline on the American email announcement. And then it offered this description:

Introducing the travel app that understands who you are and where you're going. From where you're departing and from what gate. Where you'll sit and even where you are on the standby list. Use it to change seats, access your mobile boarding pass, check your AAdvantage® miles, set a parking reminder and much more. It's perfect for flying through airports.

Sounds good, I thought. So then I clicked on the related Apps Store link and looked at a couple of screen shots and thought that maybe the airline industry had some hope of finding its way into the 21st century after all.

But-then I saw the reader comments and American's flight of iPhone fancy was promptly grounded:

Particularly grating for the airline was this comment from long-time customer "threemillionmiles," a self-proclaimed 20-year American Advantage member and absolutely the very last type of customer AA wanted to disappoint. To make sure his point was unmistakable, he put this headline over his comment: "Application Does Not Work."

I tried to use this application, but as a 20+ year Advantage member I was unable to get the app to allow me to log in. My Advantage number is all numbers and I get an error that says "Error: aadvantageNumber - AAvantage Number should contain both alphabets and numbers". Looks like AA did a lot of regression testing on this application before releasing it.

Then "Barkley2" chimed in with a similar observation:

The current version will not accept an aadvantage number that only contains numbers. It wants an advantage number that includes both numbers and a letter, but the earliest aadvantage numbers only contain numbers. So if you have one of those early numbers you cannot log on and use the app. Needs to be fixed.

Yes indeed, it needs to be fixed.

However, commenter "NStorm" could not have been more chipper in his/her assessment of the app, even including in his headline that the app "has a Suduko game!":

Used it this morning on my flight to Austin. Checked in, used the electronic boarding pass and even took a photo of where I parked my car.

Note to self: never, ever, EVER release an app without testing it extensively among your best customers!

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