Letters for free flights called fake
American Airways and US Airlines are hitting consumers' mailboxes in Pittsburgh and many parts of the country with limited-time offers for free flights anywhere in the continental United States.
Trouble is, such airlines do not exist. The solicitations appear to be an attempt to exploit any public confusion surrounding the pending merger of American Airlines and US Airways.
“It may well be somebody is trying to be opportunistic” over the pending merger of US Airways and American Airlines, said American spokesman Matt Miller.
“We're US Airways, not US Airlines,” said Liz Landua, a spokesman for the airline based in Tempe, Ariz., which offers the most daily flights at Pittsburgh International Airport with 41.
The merger deal announced on Feb. 14 would revive American Airlines out of bankruptcy and make the world's largest carrier. The US Airways name would go away if the combination is approved this summer, as the two partners expect.
Letters under the fake airline banners have circulated since about the time rumors of an American-US Airways tie-up began circulating about a year ago, Landua said.
A typical letter says the recipient will receive two flight vouchers if they call a toll-free number given in the letter. But people manning those phones ask for personal information, such as one's income. They also press callers into joining a “travel network” for a fee, as a condition for receiving the flight vouchers.
“Then, the two round-trip airline tickets have strict requirements that make them difficult to claim,” said Caitlin Vancas, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania. It has fielded several complaints from Pittsburgh-area consumers since last summer, she said, but has been unable to get a response from the company or group behind the solicitations.
Dennis Fisher, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General, declined to say whether the office was investigating or whether it had gotten complaints. But he urged consumers to be cautious.
“Anyone who gets something in the mail and there's no return address needs to start asking questions,” Fisher said. “That's a red flag.”
Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- How to avoid Amazon and still get deals
- Strengthening U.S. growth reflects help from Federal Reserve
- Sweet tooth will cost you more next year
- Profit falls at vitamin retailer GNC Holdings in third quarter
- Radiation detection of drilling waste nearly set at W.Va. landfills
- Mylan’s 3Q profit triples on strong U.S. sales
- Roundup: WesBanco to acquire ESB Financial for $324M; PNC to replace credit cards used during Home Depot breach; more
- Bayer profit edges higher, raises forecasts
- CCAC, Energy Innovation Center respond to energy industry’s growing demand
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’
- Natural gas industry tries to find uses for abundance of product from shale drilling