United Airlines has finally stepped up in the ever escalating battle over the San Francisco/Los Angeles–Chicago market, adding a targeted double EQM promotion for locals flying between those cities. The new promotion, however, has sufficient fine print that it isn’t nearly as good a deal as it could have been or that American Airlines is offering. The promotion is valid through the end of August 2011.
Like usual, United is only offering the bonus to itineraries ticketed after the bonus was announced (19 May 2011). This is unfortunate but given the goal of driving new revenue it is somewhat understandable. And the offer is targeted at Mileage Plus members living in California and Illinois only. Also restrictive but most promotions are more targeted than not these days so not particularly surprising. The other significant clause, however, is much more limiting:
Offer valid on nonstop flights between Chicago O’Hare (ORD) airport and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), on roundtrip itineraries for travel solely between Chicago O’Hare and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) and not on any connecting or additional city on the ticket.
That last bit is pretty severe. Historically this sort of promotion has been available so long as the passenger is flying between the cities mentioned, even if they continue onwards at one end or the other. By setting up the rules this way United is effectively increasing the costs of participating in the promotion. Hard to blame them for trying to be as specific as possible in rewarding targeted behavior, though it does mean that the promo is not nearly as useful for many folks.
Registration is required: http://united.com/offer/mpd771.
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