Air War at Love Getting Hotter

North Texans flying to St. Louis and Kansas City will be able to multiply their frequent-flier awards in coming months as American Airlines and Southwest Airlines battle over flights to Missouri.

American announced a promotion Tuesday that lets travelers earn up to 60,000 frequent-flier miles for trips to St. Louis or Kansas City from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport or Dallas Love Field. The deal is tied to American's new service at Love, set to begin in March.

The American promotion is also good for flights to San Antonio and Austin, which also will be part of the airline's Love Field service.

"We wanted to get the message out that we're really serious about being competitive on these flights," said American spokesman AJ Dennis. "We want to make it extremely attractive to fly on American Airlines."

Southwest, meanwhile, is already tripling awards on its frequent-flier program for travelers flying from Love to Missouri.

The frequent-flier bonanza comes on the heels of a plunge in ticket prices from the Metroplex to the two cities of as much as 50 percent after Southwest began its service. Although he wouldn't disclose specific figures, Southwest spokesman Ed Stewart said demand for the new flights has been brisk.

"Consumers are benefiting tremendously from this," Stewart said. "Competition is a wonderful thing."

The new service stems from a measure passed by Congress late last year that exempted Missouri from the Wright Amendment, a federal law that bars commercial flights from Love except to Texas, adjacent states, Mississippi, Alabama and Kansas.

Shortly after the law passed, Dallas-based Southwest began nonstop flights to St. Louis and Kansas City from Love, and American announced that it will start flying at Love again.

The airline last flew there in 2000 and 2001 to compete with upstart Legend Airlines.

Southwest has been advertising the new flights with TV ads that show the St. Louis Gateway Arch and the Kansas City skyline. The commercials end with the phrase, "One down, 41 to go," referring to the airline's work to lift the Wright restrictions for other states.

American's promotion awards customers 30,000 extra frequent-flier miles for flying three round-trip flights between either D/FW or Love and St. Louis, Kansas City, Austin or San Antonio. An additional 30,000 miles is awarded for three more trips.

A ticket to most domestic cities can be redeemed for 25,000 miles, tickets to Europe can be obtained for as few as 40,000, miles and Asian flights can be snared with 50,000 miles.

Southwest, meanwhile, has been awarding triple flight credits to customers who fly to St. Louis or Kansas City from Love Field.

Instead of distributing miles, Southwest gives one credit for each one-way flight and awards a free ticket for 16 credits.


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Fort Worth Star Telegram

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