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AirTran, Frontier Will Sever Frequent Flyer Ties

Yesterday, I posted a blog entry reviewing a new AirTran promotion designed to poach Midwest's best customers: Milwaukee-area frequent flyers. For context, I noted that AirTran had a frequent flyer program relationship with Frontier, with whom Midwest is in the process of merging.

Last night, Frontier issued a press release announcing it would sever its frequent flyer program relationship with AirTran, effective July 16.

The events—AirTran's promotion targeting Frontier's merger partner, and Frontier's subsequent rejection of AirTran—are almost certainly related, the former as cause, the latter as effect.

And even if the causal chain were less direct, this would be a case of Frontier's acting on the venerable principle that the enemy of my friend is my enemy.

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As always happens when two airlines part ways, there are action items for members of the AirTran and Frontier programs. One action item, really. If you're a member of AirTran's program planning to redeem credits for a free flight on Frontier, be sure to make the award booking before July 16. And members of Frontier's program eyeing a free flight on AirTran should do the same.

Oh, and the drama continued this morning, when AirTran issued a news release of its own, announcing the expansion of its flight schedule in ... ta-ta! ... Milwaukee.

Aside from the entertainment value of such a very public break-up of a menage-a-trois gone wrong, this is a textbook example of competition benefiting consumers, at least in a specific market.

Assuming that Republic, the parent company of Midwest and Frontier, decides to remain a major presence in the Milwaukee market, the battle between Midwest (to be merged with Frontier later this year) and AirTran should keep ticket prices in check, service levels high, and frequent flyer bonuses in play.

For Milwaukee travelers, the AirTran-Midwest battle means friendlier skies ahead.

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