MARKETING: Going Real Far for a Fur

Going Real Far for a Fur

American Airlines, which introduced frequent-flyer bonuses in 1981, created a mixed blessing for the airline industry. Customers have collected so many miles -- an estimated 70 billion in American's case -- that carriers have huge future obligations to give out free-ticket awards. In part to whittle down that liability, American Airlines has launched AAdvantage Extra, a system that allows passengers to exchange their unused mileage credits for discounts on everything from diamond jewelry to inflatable catamarans. Passengers who have flown at least 20,000 miles receive a catalog listing available rebates when they buy such items as a Toyota Tercel ($400 off...

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