AIRLINES: Throttling Back The Giveaways

Throttling Back The Giveaways

Perhaps the biggest headache for the airlines these days is a problem of their own making: frequent-flyer programs. Because of the carriers' competitive frenzy to hand out triple-mileage awards and other incentives, U.S. air travelers have racked up more than $300 million worth of free-travel credit. But now the No. 1 carrier, United, is leading what may become an industry-wide trend toward throttling back the giveaways. Last week the 4.5 million members of United's Mileage Plus program began receiving letters advising that the airline will launch a "new and improved" plan. In fact, the changes will impose much tighter restrictions on...

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