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TWA Offering an Incentive for Those Who Wait

Consumers: The troubled airline will award 1,000 miles to each frequent-flier member whose flight is not on time or is canceled in June.

May 29, 1997|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

ST. LOUIS — Trans World Airlines Inc. said it's guaranteeing on-time flights in June for its Frequent Flight Bonus program members and will award 1,000 miles to members whose flights are late.

The move is thought to be among the few times an airline has potentially backed up performance with a verified consumer benefit.

The offer is just part of an effort by the troubled airline to boost customer satisfaction, said Dean Headley of Wichita State University's Barton School of Business. TWA has about 1.2 million frequent-flier members and expects more people to join because of the offer, a TWA spokesman said.

Under Transportation Department standards, a flight is considered on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of schedule. The offer is good June 1-30.

Any member of the St. Louis-based airline's frequent-flier program whose flight arrives late or whose flight is canceled after boarding will automatically get the miles if the boarding pass identifies the person's membership number. It takes 20,000 bonus miles to get free U.S. domestic flights, TWA said.

"Many airlines pay lip service to on-time performance. TWA is going to guarantee it," Rod Brandt, TWA vice president for marketing and planning, said in a statement.

TWA said 89.6% of its U.S. domestic flights have been on time so far this month, higher than the 66.9% on-time rate for May 1996. About 500 fewer flights were canceled in May so far, compared with May 1996, with 99.2% of the scheduled flights actually operating.

The airline announced an incentive program last week, saying it's expanding the number of first-class seats by 60% in its fleet of narrow-body, small jets, to boost the number of business travelers seeking to upgrade to first class.

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