Is this a scam? “US Airlines” is offering me two roundtrip airline tickets

Is this a scam? “US Airlines” is offering me two roundtrip airline tickets

The offer looked legit to Richard Clarke — well, almost.

There was the company — “US Airlines” — and the familiar logo. The offer appeared to be pretty realistic, too. It informed him he’d won “2 roundtrip tickets” worth $1,298.

It was postmarked in Phoenix, Ariz., which is where an airline with a similar name is based.

But he’s skeptical. “Is this a scam?” he asked me.

If you look closely you’ll spot a few red flags flapping in the wind.

• There is no airline called US Airlines. There is a US Airways based in the Phoenix area.

• The logo is nowhere close to US Airways’ logo, but it looks like an airline logo.

• The sales verbiage is scammy. Here’s the full offer.

NOTE: You must respond no later than April 18th, 2012.

I am pleased to inform you that you have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets. Congratulations. These tickets are valid for travel anywhere in the Continental U.S. The retail value of this award is up to $1,298.00. Certain restrictions apply.

We have attempted contacting you several times without success. This is our last attempt. If we do not hear from you soon, we may need to issue the ticket vouchers to the alternate.

Please call me today at 1-866-765-5334.

Forcing you to respond quickly can be a bad sign. Also “certain restrictions” is a code word for “many restrictions” and the final paragraph, which applies even more pressure — that’s an even worse sign.

I ought to know. They sent one of these letters to me on Friday.

In fact, the only thing awaiting you when you call appears to be a high-pressure sales presentation for a travel club that offers travel “discounts” after you sign up for an expensive membership.

I have yet to find a travel club that is legitimate.

Here’s a blogger who took “US Airlines” up on its offer. Forward to the 2:00 marker for the call.

This pitch is not new. It rears its head every few years.

Here’s a first-person account of someone who actually attended the sales presentation. And here’s another blogger who traced this offer to a company called Membership Travel Services.

Has anyone ever received a “free” ticket? It’s difficult to say. If they did, it’s a safe bet they sat through a long presentation, endured a high-pressure sales pitch, and ended up paying a steep price for the vouchers.

Update (3/2/13): From a reader —

I’m sure you’re already aware of this, but I just got an updated scam letter in the mail. Apparently they have updated themselves, preparing for US Air to go away after the merger. Their new scam airlines is “United Airways” with a generic airline-like logo next to it.

AND, the envelopes are hand written and the letter inside is hand signed (can feel the pen marks through the paper).

Thanks for the warning. So noted.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Google Plus

  • Louis A. Iparraguirre

    Just received one. The award price is not $1398.00 value. Wow! inflation made it go up $100.00. I called US Airways, and the customer svce operator told me to trash it!!!! No such a promotion!

  • Louis A. Iparraguirre

    Just received one. The award price is NOW $1398.00 ……….

  • kgutah

    I just got the same letter from VP Shellie Mead. HAHA this company has a lot of VP’s or a very high turn over.

  • Sue Walker

    Just received my letter today and I almost fell for the scam. I live in the northeast and the temp is 32 degrees so when I open the envelope and saw two free tickets I was like Miami here I come! I knew US Airlines was not part of US Air but I called anyway hoping they would tell me how they got my name. The lady asked me if I was married, I told her no. And she said I was not eligible. Thank God. I’m in the habit of now checking on line to verify everything and that’s when I found the blog. The letter is signed by Jane Lyn 1-866-955-9082 and the amount is $ 1,298.00

  • mcarVA

    Yeah, I just got one. They say $1,398.00 with a number that starts with 855, not 866.

  • H Guthrie

    I got a letter on Friday, postmarked Tampa, Florida, giving a D Kline as VP. It read almost the same. I must respond by January 27th, it is worth $1398 for two roundtrip airline tickets in the continental US from any major airport and I did not enter anything either.

  • steph

    The one my husband received today was from Dana Kline. 17 days after the previous poster, and already a new VP! :O

  • Imabeliever

    Got one today from Dana Kline, 1-855-879-8217

  • berto

    Julie Lee on mine. All ladies I’ve noticed.

  • tim

    me too, Dana Kline.

  • Tiera

    I just received mine today postmarked Dana Kline, postmarked Tampa, FL!

  • Tiera

    From Dana Kline, sorry.

  • Scamalot

    Juli Lee again… what lucky lady will be the next VP??

  • Lu

    Just wanted everyone to know “Diana Kline, V.P.” still has her job as of February 1, 2013! Still scamming!

  • Marty

    US Airlines don’t even exist
    there used to be American Airlines and US Airways but now they are both joined together

  • Marty

    I received the voucher today 2/4/2013 for $1298 but I will try to have fun with those people too. I will try to scam them myself and try to call them to offer them a presentation and a voucher for $500 lol

  • P. Schwartz, WI

    I just received the same scam letter dated 1/28/13 from American Airways, the letter is word for word as the above letter, with a different phone number signed by Shea Steil, what a name that is, more like ‘she’s a steel’. You should know it’s a joke by the envelope, no return address, and a regular postage stamp, not a business rate postage mark on a company envelope.

  • fishpond

    I’m feeling shorted…my voucher was only worth $1298.

  • GP

    It is a scam based on the power of suggestion. First they use a logo that suggests that you are dealing with an actual airline company, for reassurance purposes. Then they tell you on the phone when you make your appointment that you will have to pay taxes and fees for the tickets, which sounds fair and is common practice for award tickets, but it’s the power of suggestion at work. When you ask for the free tickets at the end of the meeting, you get a mail-in form with an “application fee”. Some people, falling prey to the power of suggestion, may connect that fee with the taxes and fees they were told about earlier on. But that fee is going in their pocket and has nothing to do with taxes and regulatory fees. And before that you will have had countless opportunities to empty your pockets for joining their “travel club”.

  • Bill

    I realized it was a scam, but I felt obliged to call and waste as much of the representatives time as possible before hanging up. Everyone should do the same – switch off your caller ID beforehand though. ;)

  • chris smith

    I just got my letter and as of February 20th, the VP is still Dana Kline. This is definitely a scam! Their main goal is to get you to send $50 per ticket via certified mail, then they tell you that the mail they received from you was not certified, then they consistently tell you that the dates you picked are not vaild. Basically they are stringing you along until the time comes that the whole deal is “expired”. I had a friend who got taken for $100 and that just sucks. EVERYONE who gets something like this should check the internet first and then they will immediately find that US Airlines DOES NOT EXIST.

  • chris smith

    After reading all of the comments below, I can’t wait until they contact me by phone so I can have some fun. I think that it would be extremely fun to waste their time by asking stupid questions and then telling them that I am willing, after much careful thought and consideration, to plunk down $8,000 for their package and then to give them a debit/credit card number that does not exist. I really hope that they do contact me so I can have some fun!! Everybody who gets contacted by these people should do the same.

  • Anil

    thank you. I just got the same ‘award’ letter from “United Airways” from a Lea Kale, Vice President. ‘Please call me today at 1-866-816-4833′. Anyone want to have fun with them?

  • Larry

    Larry Lancaster
    Milwaukie Oregon

    Just received this scam in the mail. Since I have a recording machine it is almost impossible not to reach me. Exactly as described above with a slightly different phone # 1-866-723-6417 Signed by Vice President Joy Hill with some odd numbers at the bottom of the page W W – 83081

    Thanks for the posting!

  • Nobody

    For Pete’s sake! The logo on the letter I got was photocopied and in Black and White. Misspelled my name and said I must respond by 2 days ago! Also no return address or company logo on the outside of the letter. I don’t know how to look up a corporation in Arizona, but if somebody does, could they do it and find out if there is even a corporation with that name in Arizona? …or anywhere? Would love it if somebody who had the time/ money to pursue this to stick it to them where it really counts-in their wallets!

  • Naples, FL

    I just got mine today, 3/7/13, but dated 2/26/13, from same name & logo above, post marked Phoenix, AZ, with same $$, number to call: 866-349-0854.
    Signature looked like: Ian Cane.

  • MericR

    I love Google!!! Thanks for the update too, my fiance wanted me to call since we are getting married in a few weeks.. free honeymoon flight she said… scam I said.. sometimes she just needs to listen to the man!! ~_~

  • blah2

    what a douche the caller in that video is. The company might be disingenious in its sales practices – but it sounded to me like the company was fairly upfront what he’d have to do, and that he’d be responsible for taxes/fees and have to watch a presentation. I didn’t catch the company trying to put anything over on him. It is a scam well not really its more of a high pressure sales technique much like they use at resorts for timeshares.

  • Margaret

    It’s funny despite of so much information out there how many people fall for it. You are probable calling some place in Africa where USA don’t have any jurisdiction, all they need a an English fluent speaker to make you fall for it. Please to all of you reading, always google things first even if it looks coming from your mother. Stay safe and out of trouble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.h.davis.3 Cynthia Honey Badger Davis

    A letter closely matching this description (the “U S Air Promotions” is most assuredly nowhere near professional quality letterhead, but rather simply larger font type than that of the text within the body of the letter) has just arrived in today’s mail delivery. Given the voluminous amount of similar scam mail in my Father’s mailbox, I fear this is the first of many more to come directed toward their “gullible old person” list, to which I’ve now evidently been afforded the unique privilege to have been included.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.h.davis.3 Cynthia Honey Badger Davis

    My Vice President is “Sue Dali.” My hunch is these are the actual names of the stay-at-home Moms who believed the “GUARANTEED! Work At Home & Get Paid up to $1872.00 EVERY Week, Just Like Me!!!” advertisement thumbtacked to the laundromat bulletin board and are likely not even receiving enough money from stuffing envelopes to recoup the $46 they’ve paid for each roll of 100 postage stamps. On the off-chance they get a mark, perhaps the phone bank boiler room slave will ask the victim to identify the “Vice President’s” name to confirm the validity of their letter so they can direct the $25 commission to the correct stay-at-home Mom.

  • Bill

    You people are all mistaken. These are promotions and not contests. If you read the letter or listen to the retard in the video its says “you have qualified to receive two round trip airline tickets” That letter doesn’t say “free” or “won” or “contest” anywhere. If you go to the promotion you receive the vouchers, its pretty simple. They are another from of a rebate, you pay a processing fee and your taxes and you get the face value of the ticket covered.

    Think about it. Why would a company spend money to mail you something, pay for someone to field your call, give you the address to where they are located and then schedule a time for you to meet them if it was a scam? So you can show up and argue with them? Anyone who hasn’t gone to one of these promotions needs to consider the fact that marketing promotions are real. Companies pay thousands of dollars to purchase incentive and pay marketing companies to get you through their door so they can earn your business.

    When you get something like this in the mail just ask the person on the phone two things. Will this cost me any money and am i guaranteed to receive my gift if I participate? If the answer is yes it should be a pleasant experience. If for any reason they tell you its a drawing, a contest or you need to give them payment information then its a scam.

    Don’t knock it till you try it, I’ve gotten airline tickets, cruises, and travel gift cards before simply for attending a promotion. Everything comes at a price (processing fees, just like a rebate) but you will get a deal in the end.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CarverFarrow Carver Clark Farrow

    ROTFLMAO

  • Idiots

    No where on that letter does it say you “won” anything.

  • Giveitachance

    The fact you idiots get off calling people and wasting time at their jobs is pathetic. Get a life or a real job. These promotional offers work and there is no reason to make someones job harder because you believe all the shit you read on the internet.

    Read the letter carefully. No where on there does it say “won”, “free” or “contest”.

    Before you talk shit and jump on the bandwagon you should give it a chance.

  • Kay

    Yep, got my letter today from “United Airways”. I knew it was junk because of the way they spelled my name. They must buy mailing lists from other companies. My name was misspelled through a Comast Cable account and was never corrected, so obviously the cable companies sell your addresses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donnanz Donna Nickerson-Ziegler

    Just got this in the mail today. Thanks for putting this info out there. Knew it couldn’t be true.

  • Molekricket

    I just got my US Airlines scam offer the other day! I am pretty concerned who was it that sold my info to them to begin with! …or where did they get it from in the first place?!

  • bill

    I just got one. It had a new number 1-866-324-4880. I have till May 1St. The two tickets are supposedly worth $1,350.00.

    Red flags: no return address other then post mark of Phoenix ,AZ. They have the vice president of US airlines signature. I looked up the name of the VP of us airlines and they got it wrong.

  • LadyBug

    My mailing is a fold over letter open along the perferation….no ‘real signature’ to feel….. There is a sucker born every minute.

  • CartierBesson

    he sounds like an indian

  • $27197450

    There’s more to this. This is a front by debt collection agencies to try to collect more information.

  • mzglorybe

    The same offer is coming this month of May 2013, from a company now called USA Airlines. They actually send you what looks like a check with a logo that says “fly the US skies.” and the bank they use for their check is our of Port Orange FL

    I did not call the toll free number. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

  • Tammy

    This is a total scam! All it is a travel agency trying to sell airline tickets to a destination where you want to go on vacation. After doing much investigation on what the FREE TICKETS are they are not free tickets but they are really just trying to see if they can give you the best deal they can for whatever destination you want to go on vacation. After speaking to them and asking certain trick questions I came up with what their sales technique is they try to get you the cheapest way to travel via airlines that is why they ask you if you have a credit card because of course you have to pay taxes, etc. so there are no FREE TICKETS anywhere and the supposedly “US Airlines” logo is no longer in business and had no idea that this company called “Featured Travel” was using a logo similar to their old name. So buyer BE AWARE!!! there are no free tickets awaiting you and they have not tried to call you to give you these tickets as there are no tickets just a long 90 minute sales pitch awaiting you to listen to their sales pitch. I almost feel for It to but I always do a little investigation before I go somewhere I know nothing about and give up my time when the little bells and whistles go off in my head saying something is just not right with this and my bells and whistles were right. DON’T GO! I hope I save someone from a wasted afternoon of BS.

  • Elizabeth Licitra

    We received a letter today; hand addressed and signed. We had to do a double take and I even wet my finger and smeared it across the pen to see if it would blur. If you have to go through such means to sell your service, tells me there is something seriously wrong with your product. And, no, they never tried to contact us. Why would i want to waste a moment of my time with such dishonest/deceptive individuals?

  • anne shirley

    Ok, so thinking we could give free tickets to a missionary to use, I called the number. Feel like an idiot now after reading all this. The only info I gave was one of our email addresses. Do you think that the awful travel sales pitch is the worst that they will do or am I going to have my identity stolen through the email?

  • rdiioia

    I just received the same letter. I find it hard to believe the amount of money some people will spend trying to trick people.

  • archtype

    There is a US Airways based in the Phoenix area, which is a legitimate major airline, in the process of merger with American Airlines, and not the subject of this scam

  • robh

    Still Going, Keli Cole on mine.

  • robh

    Hand written will get a lot of people to open it vs. laser printed. Learned that in sales class 101.