Bob Crandall is on LoadFactor

Bob Crandall explains the original purpose of AAdvantage

No matter what your opinion might be of him, describing former American Airlines front man Bob Crandall as an industry legend is more than appropriate.

Bob Crandall, American AirlinesYears before Bob Crandall  (Robert Lloyd “Bob” Crandall) became President and Chairman of American Airlines, he had already influenced the airline industry in a major way with the development of the Global Distribution System and yield management strategies. Later as President, Crandall crafted the first hub and spoke systems and discounted fare structures that have become a core part of the airline business today.

World’s First Frequent Flyer Program

It’s still not clear just how much he had to do with creating the world’s first (currency-based) frequent flyer program, AAdvantage. As far as the kernel of the idea, perhaps we can attribute that to Bill Bernbach, CEO of American’s ad agency proposed that the airline do something special for its best customers. Subsequently the concept of the FFP was developed early on by AA’s marketers including Nick Babounakis, Rolfe Shellenberger, Tom Plaskett and hired gun (consultant) Hal Brierley. During the interview I say he “inspired” the AAdvantage program, and he did not seem to argue with that frame of reference.

Bob Crandall was involved in the process extensively, however, and it was my understanding that his motivation was to offer something to the carrier’s business travelers to make them feel special amongst the onslaught of VFR travelers taking advantage of SuperSaver fares. Well, apparently I was wrong!, and as you will see in the TV interview, Crandall has a different view of what happened back in ’81.

Who am I to say anything, he was actually there, and so the legend continues…

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