Airlines Jump on

Airlines Jump on

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, United must be feeling like the belle of the ball.

Just one week after United announced its “Fly 3, Get 1 Free” summer promotion targeting business travelers, every major North American airline has come out with its own, remarkably similar, promotion. And who can blame them? The promotion would almost certainly have attracted business travelers to United this summer, and away from the other carriers. Given this scenario, United’s competitors were stuck with the option of imitating the promotion or quickly developing a competitive alternative-hence the current situation.

Basically, no matter which of the majors you might be flying this summer, three mid-week flights will earn you one free ticket, and six flights will earn you two free tickets. But beware, each promotion carries its own unique restrictions.

To make these promotions a little simpler to follow, we’ve put together the following chart outlining the various rules and regulations for each.

Airline Qualification Travel Dates Registration Deadline Qualifying Flight Restrictions Award Travel Dates Award Travel Flight Restrictions
Continental 6/10/03-10/7/03 Prior to travel All fare classes qualify except Q, S, T and L. Economy class travel must not include a Saturday night. 9/2/03-12/31/04 14 day advance booking required, must include Saturday night, not upgradeable. Valid for travel within the 48 contiguous United States.
Delta 6/10/03-10/7/03 Prior to travel, no later than 9/30/03 All fare classes qualify except L, U and T. 11/1/03-12/31/04 14 day advance booking required, must include Saturday night. Valid for travel within the 48 contiguous United States or between the 48 contiguous United States and Canada.
US Airways 6/10/03-9/30/03 Prior to travel First class, Envoy class and Y, B, M, U, H or Q coach classes qualify. 9/2/03-12/31/04 Standard Dividend Miles award travel booking rules apply. Travel must include a Saturday night. Valid for travel within the U.S. and Canada.
Alaska Airlines 6/9/03-9/30/03 Prior to travel F, Y, S, B and M fare classes qualify. Anytime Rather than free tickets, Alaska Airlines is offering 20,000 and 40,000 bonus Mileage Plan miles for three and six flights, respectively. Standard Mileage Plan rules apply to bonus miles earned.
United 6/5/03-9/30/03 By 9/30/03 All fare classes qualify. Economy class travel must not include a Saturday night. 9/2/03-12/31/04 14 day advance booking required, must include Saturday night, not upgradeable. Valid for travel within the 48 contiguous United States.
American 6/5/03-9/30/03 By 9/30/03 All fare classes qualify except E, G, O, S, T, U, W and Z. Economy class travel must not include a Saturday night. 9/2/03-12/31/04 14 day advance booking required, must include Saturday night, not upgradeable. Valid within 48 contiguous United States.
Northwest 6/6/03-10/7/03 Prior to travel, no later than 9/30/03 All fare classes qualify except V, L, T or K. 9/2/03-12/31/04 14 day advance booking required, must include Saturday night, not upgradeable. Valid for travel within the 48 contiguous United States or between the 48 contiguous United States and Canada.
Air Canada 6/18/03-10/10/03 No registration required Flights between Canada and the U.S. or international destinations on a scheduled flight operated by: Air Canada or Air Canada Jazz in J, C, Y, M, B, H or V; an Air Canada four-digit flight operated by Air Georgian Limited or Central Mountain Air in J, C, Y, M, B, H or V; Mexicana between Toronto and Mexico City in C, D, Y, B, M or H; Lufthansa between Canada and Germany in F, A, C, D, Z, Y, B, M, H or Q. Anytime Rather than free tickets, Air Canada is offering 25,000 and 50,000 bonus miles for three and six flights, respectively. Standard Aeroplan rules apply to bonus miles earned.

Of course, not all North American airlines are jumping on the bandwagon.

“The recent Fly Three, Fly Free promotions offered by several other full-service airlines require customers to purchase three expensive fares to qualify for a fourth ticket for free,” says Scott Kirby, executive vice president, sales and marketing, America West Airlines. “Customers could purchase three tickets on America West Airlines for the same amount they would spend for one ticket with another airline.”

Perhaps the most intriguing of all the current promotions is that offered by Alaska Airlines. Rather than being awarded a free ticket for three flights, customers will actually earn a 20,000-mile bonus — enough for one free ticket. The miles, however, do not have to be redeemed for a free domestic ticket, and will be added to the member’s Mileage Plan account for use toward any award.

Registration for each of these promotions is free but do it before you next fly. Details about each promotion and registration forms can be found on each program’s Web site.

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