Fasten Your Seat Belts for The Fare War

American's new prices offer simpler, often cheaper choices. But rivals must now join the battle . . . or die.

AS AMERICAN AIRLINES LAUNCHED its new streamlined U.S. fare system last week, the traveling public responded with a round of applause and a ring of the reservation phone line. The reforms jettisoned a maddening maze of rates and restrictions and replaced them with just four new fares that provided savings of up to 50% for first-class and nearly 40% for business flyers. Competitors jetted to join the cut-and-simplify frenzy, with United's top executives holding late-night sessions to get their own new fares into ads right on American's heels. "This is good for the traveler and good for the company," says Edmund...

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