July 4, 1985 |
Once a month, sportswear executive Elliot M. Lavigne balances his checking account. Next, he reconciles his Pan American WorldPass statement. After all, a mistake on his Pan Am frequent flier account could cost him more than a bank error. Lavigne, like a lot of executives whose business requires frequent travel, has become a free mileage junkie, accruing "bonus" miles toward flights each time he flies, rents a car or stays in a hotel.
October 16, 1988 |
When Eric Fuller was a student at UC Berkeley in 1982, he helped make ends meet by buying and selling airline frequent-flier mileage awards. The business became so good, in fact, that after he finished law school in San Diego and passed the California bar exam, he went into it full time. At the peak of his success in 1986, his La Jolla-based Coupon Bank employed 100 people and grossed $2 million a month. But all that has changed.