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United matches American's double-mile offer

Even when the news is good, airlines feel compelled to fudge the facts. No wonder their credibility with the traveling public has suffered. A perfect example of this is United's new double-miles offer. Here's United's spin: "United Airlines' Mileage Plus program continues to celebrate its 25th anniversary, this time by seeing double. The program is now thanking the loyal customers who made the years possible by offering double miles on all published-fare tickets booked on united.com between May 18 and May 31, 2006, and flown by Nov. 15, 2006."

Contrary to this claim, made in a United press release, it seems obvious to me that this double-mile offer has nothing at all to do with celebrating the 25th anniversary of Mileage Plus. Nothing. United is offering double miles because their arch-rival, American Airlines, is offering double miles. That's the truth. Why did United choose to misrepresent the facts?

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Such low-grade spinning seems harmless enough. But a company which tells small lies can't be trusted to be truthful on more important matters. United, you may recall, recently chose to announce increases to its award levels after business hours, on the Friday before a holiday weekend. A textbook case of burying the bad news.

When the airlines can't even announce good news without fudging the facts, it's no wonder that the industry has a credibility problem.

My mother was fond of the expression: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything." That's fine for social occasions. In the world of business, I'm more inclined to embrace a harsher rule: "If you can't tell the truth, shut up."

Fact: United has matched American's double-mile offer.

Analysis: a good opportunity for Mileage Plus members who can meet the booking deadline.

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