AirTran Offers Free Flights for Giving Away Rival's Frequent Flyer Miles

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There's a battle brewing over Milwaukee frequent flyers and it just turned ugly. AirTran is making a bold move to nab Midwest Airline customers through an unusual promotion that rewards two roundtrip AirTran tickets to anyone who donates their Midwest frequent-flyer miles to charity.

AirTran will give 32 frequent-flier credits to any Midwest customer that donates at least 50,000 Midwest Miles by June 14 to a charity of their choice, such as the American Heart Association and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. Those 32 credits are the equivalent of one business-class roundtrip AirTran ticket, or two roundtrip economy tickets. To kick-start the promotion, the first 100 people with donations of 100,000 Midwest Miles will also be invited to join Milwaukee Brewers all-star Ryan Braun at a VIP reception at his new restaurant in Milwaukee.

While the possibility of meeting an all-star baseball player certainly has its allure, the math of this promotion may not be attractive enough to draw detractors from Midwest's loyal base of flyers. 50,000 miles would also earn you two free roundtrip flights under Midwest's frequent frequent flyer program, so swapping Midwest miles for AirTran tickets is a fairly even trade, charitable donations aside.

AirTran and Midwest have been fierce rivals since AirTran's failed hostile takeover of Midwest in 2007, with Milwaukee as their central battleground. In April, AirTran, an Atlanta-based airline, moved directly into their rival's territory by opening its second flight hub at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport, where Midwest has been operating for more than 25 years.
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