DALLAS -- American Airlines took a page out of Oprah
Winfrey's playbook Wednesday night, giving vouchers for free
flights to everyone at the Dallas Mavericks' final game of the
Fans jumped to their feet and cheered when Mavericks owner Mark
Cuban and American executive Dan Garton announced the giveaway to
an estimated 19,000 fans between the first and second quarters.
Garton, American's executive vice president of marketing,
declined to say how much the promotion will cost the airline.
American's parent company reported Wednesday that it lost $92
million in the first three months of the year.
If every fan at the game, plus 1,000 watching at home redeem
their vouchers, they could have a face value of more than $3
million, based on the average $79 one-way fare on American's Love
Garton, however, said the cost would be much less, partly
because not everyone will use the vouchers. He also said some
people with vouchers will bring along a paying companion.
"It's a big promotion for us," Garton said. "It's worth a lot
if we get 20,000 people to fly on those flights."
Cuban was asked how the giveaway by American, a unit of AMR
Corp., compared to Winfrey's gift of automobiles to the studio
audience at one of her shows.
"How many did she give away?" he asked. "This is 20,000
There was a catch to the free flight
vouchers: They're only good out of Love Field and flights from
there go to only Austin, San Antonio, St. Louis and Kansas City.