There is no free ride on American Airlines, and the carrier is vowing to go to court to prove it.
American on Wednesday sued several companies, including a Tampa firm, that use its logo on mailers that offer consumers 'free' airline tickets.
"The lawsuit seeks to stop these individuals and entities from illegally misappropriating American's well-known and valuable trademarks, liveries, and logos," American said in a statement.
Logos of several carriers, including American, Southwest, Delta, United, and U.S. Airways are used in the mailers. Some offers combine the carriers' names, such as "United Airways" or "U.S. Airlines."
Following a tangled web that crisscrossed the country, we discovered that the 'free' ticket offers are merely enticements to get couples to attend a sales presentation for a travel club, and that the major carriers have nothing to do with the solicitation.
Several telephone operators revealed that the 'free' airline tickets are only provided after attending a 90-minute demonstration. So, we asked to attend one of the sales presentations. But when we revealed we were with a television station we were told our offer was no longer valid.
A spokesman assured us that attendees do, in fact, receive airline tickets. Asked about the travel club, he said they cost several thousand dollars to join, but could not provide specifics about club benefits.
The American Airlines complaint accuses several companies in several states, including Prestige Travel Systems in Tampa, of operating a "complex network of travel club schemes." The suit says the defendants freely use American's name and logo, but "intentionally omit" their own name from the ‘free' ticket flyers.
Additionally, American's suit claims those who attend the sales presentations do not receive airline tickets. Instead, they are given a voucher which must be redeemed through a third party vendor, and that the voucher is "nearly impossible" to redeem.
The Better Business Bureau, which has logged hundreds of complaints about the letters, warned the flyers could be a phishing scam.
American is asking a Texas court for an immediate restraining order and a permanent injunction against the companies. The carrier has requested a jury trial.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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