Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

What Kind of Sale Is American Airlines Really Having?

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

What Kind of Sale Is American Airlines Really Having?

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- The strike that didn't quite happen has led to the fare sale that isn't quite what it seems.

American Airlines is touting fare discounts of up to 50 percent to lure back customers scared off by its brief pilots strike. But some of the savings from the airline and its competitors for mainland U.S. routes aren't much lower than fares offered as recently as last week.

"This sale is an out and out joke," Terry Trippler, editor and publisher of the Airfare Report newsletter, said Tuesday. Not only are some of the discounts not all that special, but it is getting tougher to find a seat on flights to warm spots. The round-trip walk up fare from New York to Los Angeles was $388 under the sale announced by American. Last week, however, American had a walk-up fare of $398 round-trip. Trippler claims the airlines are misleading the public with their 50 percent off claim. "It's a vehicle to generate phone calls," he said. "How many people would pick up the phone if they said, `New York to Los Angeles, $10 off?'" He gives another example: The flight from Dallas to Chicago, for instance, costs $238 round-trip under the sale announced Saturday. That's the same price that was offered last week for a walk-up fare under a sale that ended at midnight Friday. But American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the sale is genuine. "Specials come and specials go, and we make is very clear that it is a discount off the regular 21-day fare," he said. Sale or not, the phones are ringing again at American Airlines after a week of spooked travelers taking their business elsewhere for fear of a strike. A call to the airline's toll-free number on Tuesday was met with a recording that said agents were busy and to call back later. Later tries got through within minutes. American took more than 2 million phone calls on Monday, about seven times the normal volume, Smith said. And of the people calling, the number of customers who bought tickets doubled. …

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