American Tests Shorter Booking Window for Fare Sales

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Embattled American Airlines experimented with an online promotion that offered a shorter window for booking flights.


The new College Football Fares on the Fort Worth, TX-based airline's site at www.aa.com/football let passengers book flights as late as Aug. 18 for the following weekend without the usual higher cost associated with flights booked less than 14 days in advance of travel.


"Generally, walk-up fares are higher than advance purchase, so this is a shorter-term fare sale, which gives the customer the opportunity to say, 'Hey, I'd like to go to the football game this weekend and go to the fare sale,'" said Tim Wagner, spokesman for American.


The first games targeted were California at Kansas State in Kansas City, MO, and Grambling State at San Jose State in San Jose, CA.


Flights departed at 7 p.m. or later Aug. 22 or anytime Aug. 23 for a return by Aug. 24. A maximum one-night stay was permitted for the round-trip coach-class travel.


Fares ranged from $99 to $269, excluding taxes and airport charges. For example, a flight from Atlanta to Kansas City was $159, Atlanta to San Jose $269, Dallas-Fort Worth to San Francisco $189, and New Orleans to San Jose $209. The tickets had to be bought within one day of the reservation.


"This is the first sale of its kind [for American]," Wagner said. "It's another marketing opportunity. Fall and winter are traditionally the slowest travel seasons. But it's also the time when people go out and see football games. So we think we can combine the two. It's a chance to win new customers."


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