You may be in the presence of greatness right now and not even realize it. If you are reading this aboard an American Airlines flight, then the 2005 Vantage Point Person of the Year is probably close by; he or she may even be sitting in your seat! Okay, before you hit your call button, I admit that the VPPOY is not a real award (not yet, anyway), but if it were, it would be shared by the members of our AAdvantage program, who in 2005 opened their hearts and their AAdvantage accounts to help their fellow man.

Case in point: On Independence Day weekend, AA launched a campaign dubbed the Spirit of 1776. Our goal was to generate donations of at least 17.76 million ­AAdvantage miles for Operation Hero Miles, a program supporting U.S. troops who were injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. By the time the campaign was over, AAdvantage­ members had donated­ well over 100 million miles, and, as a result, hundreds of injured troops are spending more time with their families.

Even when the generosity of our customers exceeds our expectations, we’re really not surprised. For instance, when we offered, in the days following Hurricane Katrina, 500 bonus AAdvantage miles to those donating $50 or more to the American Red Cross, nearly 13,000 AAdvantage members took us up on that offer. Also, through a program called Miles to Move Forward, we gave members a chance to donate miles to an account, managed by the United Way, that assists hurricane victims with relocation, reconnecting with families, or returning home. As of this writing, more than 100 million miles have been donated, and we will continue to accept mileage donations for this initiative through December.

While the generosity of our AAdvantage members reached new heights this year, it is hardly a new phenomenon. For many years, through our Miles for Kids in Need program, members have been donating miles to provide transportation to children in need of medical care (as well as to their families). Donations are coordinated with the efforts of several charities, and for every three miles donated by AAdvantage members, AA donates an additional mile to the program. AAdvantage members also help children in need by donating unused miles to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the world’s largest wish-granting organization. Every hour of every day, somewhere in the world, the Make-a-Wish Foundation is making a wish come true for a child in need.

We are proud of the ability the AAdvantage­ program gives us to help our customers make a difference in the world. And we recognize that this ability ultimately­ rests on the fact that people love to travel and continue to honor us with their business year after year. The loyal support of our customers is something we will never take for granted, and it is among the blessings I am most thankful for this holiday season.

The programs described above are a small subset of the many ways AAdvantage members converted miles into good work in 2005. If you would like to learn more, please visit us at In the meantime, on behalf of our entire company, I want to thank you for flying with us, and I wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons and the best of everything in 2006.

We’d love to hear what you think about our airline and our employees. Please write to us at

Picture of Gerard Arpey

Chairman & CEO
American Airlines