. FLYING GETS MORE REWARDING | Meetings & Conventions


Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio July 2003 Current Issue

On Travel

By Bruce Myint


Take three business trips to earn a free ticket...Trade miles for merchandise on eBay

They want you back. At the beginning of June, six airlines launched programs aimed at luring business travelers back into the fold.

United Airlines was first, announcing that its Mileage Plus members can earn a free eCertificate for a roundtrip flight by completing three paid, qualifying roundtrips by Sept. 30. Those traveling business or first class have no stay requirements; economy-class trips cannot include a Saturday night stay.

The free ticket is for travel within the contiguous 48 United States; residents of Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can earn a free roundtrip within the contiguous 48 states. Those who fly more often are eligible to earn two free tickets. Sign up by Sept. 30 at www.ual.com.

American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and US Airways quickly followed with similar promotions. American’s terms also require AAdvantage club members to travel on three business trips, to be completed by Sept. 30, in order to earn a free roundtrip flight within the contiguous 48 states. A maximum of two tickets can be earned, and the offer is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More information is available at www.aa.com/offers.

Continental’s OnePass members (www.continental.com/onepass) and Delta’s Skymiles frequent flyers (www.delta.com/skymiles) earn the free ticket on flights taken through Oct. 7.

Travel by members of WorldPerks on Northwest flights can be completed by Oct. 7, but they must register before they take their first flight. More information is available at www.nwa.com.

US Airways’ Dividend Miles members also must register (usairways.com/dm/3258) before taking the first qualifying flight.

Free tickets for the above programs apply to trips taken between Sept. 2, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2004, except on Delta, whose reward tickets are valid only on flights from Nov. 1, 2003, through Dec. 31, 2004. Restrictions and blackout dates might apply. At press time, Alaska Airlines announced a similar free-ticket program.

Bidding with miles. Members of American and Midwest airlines’ frequent-flyer programs and Hilton’s frequent-guest program can use their miles or points to buy merchandise on eBay (Sprint also is a participating partner). Members convert their earnings into eBay Anything Points, which are deposited into their eBay PayPal accounts. For each 10,000 Anything Points, the dollar value is $100.

Take note: Not all conversions are created equal; 20,000 AAdvantage miles or 20,202 Midwest Miles convert to 10,000 Anything Points. Points can be traded back to the vendors, but at a reduced value. The conversion rates are determined by the vendor partners. “Since it’s such a new program, we think we’ll see some fluctuation in the conversion rates,” says an eBay spokesperson.

For more information, start at the Anything Points Web site (anythingpoints.ebay.com).

In other eBay news, those who pick up a used Swiss Army knife or a pair of nail scissors on the auction Web site might be buying an item confiscated from a passenger at a California airport’s security checkpoint. The program was started in November at Oakland International and Sacramento International airports and has since expanded to Los Angeles International, John Wayne in Orange County and nearby Ontario International.

The California Department of General Services is auctioning scissors, knives, box cutters and other potentially dangerous carry-on items, and proceeds are split between the state and the federal government. One of the oddest items taken from a passenger’s bag and then sold on the auction Web site was a circular saw.

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