US Airways Enters E-tailing With Rewards Program

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US Airways took its first step into e-retailing with yesterday's launch of an online shopping rewards program labeled Dividend Miles Online Rewards for its frequent flier customers.


"The online-shopping population has grown considerably in the past few years. US Airways' frequent flier customers, of which a large part are business travelers, are Internet-savvy," said Randal Munger, chairman of Advantex, Toronto, the company managing the rewards program.


US Airways' frequent flier membership base consists of economically higher-end business and leisure travelers primarily in the northeastern United States, Munger said.


"We selected higher-end online merchants that will be of interest to this membership base," he said. US Airways has about 20 million frequent flier members.


"The use of e-commerce is more apparent than ever before, and our members have been asking for additional ways to earn miles," said David Castelveter, spokesman for US Airways, Arlington, VA. "We have found that our travelers use the Internet while they are flying as well as at home." US Airways' frequent flier base includes college students and a range of business travelers from new members of the job market to 40-year veteran employees, he said.


"Twenty million people is a fairly broad-based group," Munger said. "The program features across-the-board upscale merchants that offer products to cover the entire shopping spectrum."


Rewards program members will earn one frequent flier mile for every dollar spent at the roughly 70 participating e-tailers, which include Allpets.com, BabyUniverse.com, The Sharper Image's online store, TheORIGINS.com and eBags.com. The "Dividend Miles Shopping Mall," which provides members with links to e-tailer sites and provides special offers, is divided into 10 categories including apparel and accessories, computers and electronics, department stores and entertainment. Members must make an initial purchase of at least $50 when registering.


The rewards program also offers a "Bonus Bar," a browser-based Microsoft Explorer bar that alerts users when they are on a site that earns miles and serves up links to users to sites that earn miles when they are on a similar e-tail site that does not earn miles. The bar also keeps tabs on how many miles have been accrued, Munger said.


US Airways is marketing the rewards program through monthly account statement e-mails to its 20 million frequent fliers and weekly opt-in fare-saving e-mails sent to roughly 2 million subscribers. The e-mails provide links to www.dividendmilesshopping.com, where travelers can register for the program. The program also is being advertised in Attach, US Airways' on-board magazine. "Up to 175,000 people board our planes each day and can read the magazine," Castelveter said.


US Airways previously has provided its frequent fliers with offers from traditional bricks-and-mortar travel-related companies such as other airlines, hotels and car rental agencies.


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