The Story of Mark Cuban and the American Airlines Air Pass

February 22, 2013 by andrew

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban polishes the championship trophy during an event held to celebrate their 2011 NBA championship in Dallas, Texas

The American Airlines Air Pass, or the AAirpass, is a pretty cool thing. Billionaire and business genius Mark Cuban snagged one of the originals, which says a lot if someone so savvy thinks to scoop one up.

Originally out in 1981, this pass granted the first holders first-class travel for life. Unlimited first-class status for life came at quite a hefty price, and pretty much everyone who bought one of these really took advantage of it. Over the years this program changed and evolved, and now it is a bit more accessible to regular folks who don’t have big bucks to shell out up front.

The benefits

The big benefit this pass offers now is that it allows those with the pass to get better rates on last minute trips. They also get two free checked bags on every flight. Not quite the VIP pass it used to be, the AAirpass still allows business travelers and those who live the jet set lifestyle to fly about the globe without blowing big bucks on inflated next-day or same-day ticket prices.

How to get one

You can’t just buy an American Airlines Air Pass anymore. You have to have a bit of VIP status with the airline already to get you hands on one. If you want a pass, start flying with American Airlines as much as possible. Once you manage to spend at least $10,000 annually on flights with American Airlines, you become eligible for this perk.

How to really score

aadvantageThis pass isn’t the high-flying, first-class ticket it used to be, but it still offers a great deal for folks who fly often. However, if you really want to maximize how enjoyable and comfortable your flight is, you may want to use a travel rewards credit card to maximize miles and get more free travel– traveling for free is an even better than a discounted fare. Using the American Airline’s credit card is probably the best way to bank big benefits and get closer to the original AAirpass experience.


Photos: Mark Cuban–Keith Allison, AAdvantage Card–CitiBank