American Airlines Faces Lawsuit for Stealing Reward Miles from Members

By: Lauren | Published: Feb 05, 2024

Two American Airlines customers proposed their class action lawsuit against the company last week for stealing their hard-earned frequent flyer miles.

According to the plaintiffs, American Airlines took over 1.1 million reward miles after wrongly accusing them of breaking the AAdvantage Program’s regulations. But they say they did nothing wrong. 

The Plaintiffs Suing American Airlines

Ari and Shanna Nachison from Los Gatos, California, each opened multiple AAdvantage accounts in order to take advantage of the airline’s reward program.

Woman holding three different credit cards

Source: Freepik

Their cards, which were issued by Citibank and Barclays, allowed them both to accumulate a significant number of miles. In fact, Ari had a total of 564,463 miles, and Shanna 550,664 miles.


Half a Million Miles Is 20 Times Around the Globe

Over half a million certainly looks like a large number, but it’s important to understand that with that many miles, both Ari and Shanna could fly around the entire world 20 times for free. 

Person booking flights on a laptop

Source: Freepik

Accumulating them clearly took a lot of time and money. And both Nachisons were likely looking forward to booking their next flights, and every other one for the rest of their lives, with those miles.

The Nachisons Don’t Have Their Miles Anymore

However, neither AAdvantage member has those half a million miles anymore. They allege American Airlines stole the miles away from the Nachisons, claiming that they broke the rules to get them.

American Airlines jets are parked at their gates at Laguardia

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

And now, Ari and Shanna have filed a class-action lawsuit against the giant aviation company to get their miles back.

Understanding American Airlines Advantage Program

In order to understand the case of Nachison et al. v American Airlines Inc., it’s first important to be aware of the regulations of the program and how it works.

Illustration of AAdvantage credit cards from


The AAdvantage Program allows customers to use their credit cards from either Barclays or Citi to receive loyalty points, which can be used for frequent flyer miles for themselves or anyone else.

AAdvantage Miles Can Be Used for More Than Just Flights

Additionally, AAdvantage subscribers can use their collected miles to upgrade their seat and skip the line when boarding, as well as enjoy discounted or even free hotel stays, rental cars, and vacation packages. 

Passengers check in for American Airlines flight 718 at Miami International Airport

Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

And one of the best features of the AAdvantage mileage program is that customers can use their miles for any flight, anywhere, any time. 


American Airlines Says the Nachisons Illegally Opened Several AAdvantage Credit Cards

According to American Airlines, there are rules within the AAdvantage Program that prohibits users from opening several credit cards to accumulate excessive miles. 

Promotional logo for partnership between American Airlines AAdvantage and Citi


The company specifically noted that Ari and Shanna Nachison had their miles confiscated because they broke that rule and had several accounts within Citi and Barclays to take advantage of the program. 


The Plaintiffs Say Their Applications Did Not Specify That Rule

While Ari and Shanna conceded that some of the credit card applications for the AAdvantage program do specify that multiple cards cannot be opened within a two-year period, theirs did not. 

Woman checking her email on a laptop

Source: Freepik

They also noted that the emails they received from American Airlines after signing up for the multiple cards said nothing about any violations of the program’s regulations. 


AA Argues the Miles Confiscated Are a Result of Fraud

Of course, American Airlines couldn’t disagree more. The company explained that the emails they sent to both Ari and Shanna explained that they violated the terms and conditions. 

An American Airlines jet flies over Nickerson Beach Park, New York

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The email read that the mileage violations “related to the accrual of ineligible miles and benefits; through fraud, misrepresentation and/or abuse of the AAdvantage Program” (via Reuters).


The Case Is on Its Way to Court

With both sides wholeheartedly believing that they are in the right, the case is heading to court in the Northern District of California.

Judge looks over paperwork in a courtroom

Source: Freepik

And American Airlines, the Nachisons, and now, the rest of the world, will just have to wait and see who the judge sides with.


American Airlines Plans on Making Changes to the AAdvantage Program

Though it seems the two announcements are unrelated, while the lawsuit drags on, American Airlines is simultaneously making some big changes to its AAdvantage Program. 

Passenger looking at a screen in an airport with the flight schedule

Source: Freepik

According to CNN, within the next few months, there will be a new Loyalty Choice Reward option, more options for mile redemption, and even improved cancellation policies, such as the option to cancel a nonrefundable ticket for credit.


Americans Want Airlines to Do Better

In recent years, the American population has been outwardly disappointed with most major airline carriers and their lack of transparency, hidden fees, and lack of customer service. 

A passenger checks in for an American Airlines flight at O'Hare International Airport

Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Airlines like American have focused much of their attention on improving its rewards programs to keep customers happy. However, as the Nachisons found out, the frequent flyer programs seem to be having issues too.