By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff | April 4, 2005
Airlines are stepping up scrutiny of Internet auction sites where
savvy consumers and frequent business travelers are selling and
bartering free vouchers, miles, and other airline awards.
In recent months, hundreds of deals for airline vouchers have appeared
on eBay and on Craigslist sites across the country, including
Boston. Now, these tickets are being offered at even lower prices as
some of the bigger promotions with American Airlines and United
Airlines that promised free flights across the country or around the
world are set to expire.
"I travel a lot for work, have zillions of miles and vouchers, and I
could never use them in my lifetime," said Tony Lito, a Worcester
marketer who received two World Series tickets last fall from a
couple who wanted the airline vouchers to honeymoon in Bali. "This
is a perk you've earned. Why should you not benefit somehow?"
The airlines don't agree. American Airlines and other carriers say
they are increasingly monitoring Internet sites and handing out
punishments for the sales of rewards that are explicitly prohibited.
Facing stiff competition and high oil prices, financially struggling
airlines say they cannot afford to have their own customers undermine
award programs and profits.
Although airlines often allow awards to be transferred for free to
family members and friends, selling the tickets for cash or bartering
them for other products, such as tickets to a U2 concert, is strictly