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Inseparable from the American Airlines customer experience for many of our customers is the AAdvantage program, American’s premier travel-rewards program. For years, many of you have participated in our AAdvantage program and enjoyed earning miles that you’ve redeemed for a variety of travel awards, services and products around the world. When American Airlines launched the AAdvantage program in 1981, it was the first travel-awards program of its kind, with just under 300,000 members. This year, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the AAdvantage program, and I’m proud to say that we’re now more than 66 million members strong and that the AAdvantage program is one of the world’s largest. In fact, in 2009 alone, AAdvantage members redeemed more than 150 billion miles.

In August of last year, Maya Leibman, an American Airlines employee since 1994, became president of the AAdvantage program, and I think you’re going to enjoy the renewed focus that Maya will bring to what you, our customer, need from the AAdvantage program. We’re continually evaluating the program with you in mind, identifying opportunities for changes and improvements.

One of the first programs to launch with Maya at the helm included expanded options for using the miles you earn. AAdvantage members can now redeem miles for car rentals and hotel stays at more than 10,000 locations in over 320 destinations worldwide. This new booking tool also provides the flexibility to use your miles or a combination of cash plus as few as 1,000 miles to pay for car rentals and hotel stays. AAdvantage members benefit from competitive redemption rates, and elite-status members enjoy exclusive introductory discounts. I encourage you to check out this feature of the AAdvantage program by going to www.aa.com/carandhotelawards.

As we grow our presence in the online space, so grows our AAdvantage Milestones travel guide, www.aa.com/milestones. When you visit Milestones, you’ll see that it’s a place to explore your travel dreams and plan your next travel milestone. From destinations such as Beijing, San Francisco, Miami, Buenos Aires or Rome, we’ve included inspiring videos and articles, suggested itineraries and insider tips for some of American’s most popular worldwide destinations.

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The best part about the Milestones site is its social component, which encourages travelers like you to provide your own travel insights and photos. Heading to New York? Check out our interactive map and travel guide, then download a printable itinerary of must-see sites for your travels that were suggested by other AAdvantage members. The music-minded traveler may want to visit a location recommended by one site member who describes an indie record shop, Bleecker Bob’s, as a must-see spot in New York City. Located on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village between a parking garage and a pizzeria, the store carries an extensive collection of hard-to-find vinyl records ranging from AC/DC to Frank Zappa. These stories remind me why customers are so passionate about their experiences on American Airlines.

We remain very proud of the program enhancements our customers are most excited about, such as One-Way Flex Awards, which allow customers the ability to combine MileSAAver and AAnytime awards or to combine coach-class and first- or business-class awards — all for greater flexibility when booking travel. Also, this winter, we will be launching a redesign of the AAdvantage section of AA.com in addition to specific AAdvantage components of the iPhone, iPad and Droid applications. I’m excited about the year ahead and what we have in store. We’re fortunate to have customers who are truly passionate about American Airlines, their travel experience and our award-winning AAdvantage program. As always, I enjoy hearing feedback from you about your travel experiences on American Airlines. Please write to us at www.aa.com/customerrelations.

Craig S. Kreeger
Senior Vice President – Customer Experience
American Airlines
Editors Note: Not already a member of the AAdvantage program? It’s free and easy to enroll. Just visit www.aa.com/enroll.