Is this yet another “benefit” of the American Airlines – US Airways merger?


Here we go again.

A few years ago, I reported on the US Airlines scam, and it seems that shining a little light on the problem made it go away — at least temporarily.

Maybe the light is fading with the ill-conceived merger between American and US Airways — that’s Airways, not Airlines. And maybe that’s what prompted the latest wave of solicitations from this scammy-looking operation.

Jeff Painter sent me a note after receiving one. It was addressed to his wife, Susana.

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“My wife’s name is Susan,” he notes, “not Susana.”

Of course, there’s no mention of how “Susana” qualified for this “award,” but I guess in this day and age when legions of obedient loyalty program members believe they can fly for “free,” anything is possible. Certainly, it’s those people “Coreen Hayes” and her ilk hope will fall for this.

Painter isn’t among them. He forwarded this ridiculous letter from a fake airline to me and asked me to expose it. I’m happy to oblige.

He’s hardly alone. The folks at “US Airlines” (wow, I’m using a lot of quotes today) have been busy little bees, according to commenter Ken, whose father received an identical offer a few days before Painter.

[There was] no return address, no date on postmark, the “stamp” is dated 2007 and is actually OVER the postmark which is 73125 (Oklahoma).

Hard to believe the post office would even deliver.

Same B.S. for 2 roundtrip tickets up to $1,450.00. The vice president’s name is Coreen Hayes, phone #1-844-334-4980.

SOOO many red flags! SCAM!

Hmm, did he say 2007? I believe he did. All of which raises a big question about the timing of the resurgent “US Airlines” scam. Why now?

Here’s my theory: When the US Airways name is finally retired and disappears from the last tail, maybe later this year, it will be much more difficult to pull this ruse. I would guess that the scammers realized the jig is up, and started sending everything out, including envelopes from 2007.

How clever.

If that’s true, then we have US Airways to thank for another “benefit” of the merger: The comeback of the US Airlines scam.

Nice going, guys. I knew I should have supported the merger.

Which is worse for consumers:

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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.

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    I get the “free cruise” letters and phone calls regularly but not the US Airlines letter. And I get those calls all the time calling about problems with my Windows computer. I put on my most horrified voice and tell the caller that I have no computer, that they are the work of the devil. I get a good laugh but they still call….

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I do get the monthly mailings from them letting me know about “important benefits”, usually a pitch for insurance.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Be careful – my bank sends me my credit card in one of those unmarked envelopes. I have to feel the envelope to make sure it’s not a renewal credit card and even then, I have to make sure it’s not another AARP membership card.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Try adding a little-old-lady quaver to the voice and asking them to speak up several times before you tell them to call your son or daughter, since they handle all of that stuff for you. Regale them with a story about how you’re waiting for your doctor’s office to call back with the results of a test. Very entertaining. They don’t call back.

  • MarkKelling

    I got those for several years but they seem to have slowed recently. Maybe they got the message that I wasn’t going to reply. ;-)

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I always enjoy these just because it’s fun looking for the tell-tale signs that it is a scam. People’s best defense is always that crooks tend to be pretty dumb.

    Would any vice president sign a letter in that way? No department or area they’re vice president of, no company name following the title? And the VP asking you to contact her personally?

    Or that they’d make multiple attempts trying to contact you to give away free tickets? Because truly free airline tickets would be so hard to give away that one person not responding would necessitate multiple efforts to reach them?

  • Travelnut

    The signature doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination even look like it could be “Coreen Hayes”. Note the crossed “t” in Coreen and the letter that looks like a “t” where they “y” should be in Hayes.

  • Dick Jordan

    About three years ago I received a variant on that letter in postcard form bearing a plane and logo implying that the offer came from Southwest Airlines. (It did; I confirmed that with the airline.)

    After getting a second one, I published an online story about it that to-date has been seen over 35,000 times, mainly by readers who found it through a Google search.

    The offer of free room/airfare requires attendance at a meeting where one will be “encouraged” to join spend a few to several thousands of dollars to join a “travel club” supposedly entitling club members to discounts on travel.

    These pitches have used the names and logos of various airlines, cruise lines, hotels, and third-party online “travel agencies” (such as Expedia). There is always a “fine print” disclaimer that the offer is sponsored by the travel provider named, although sometimes it is claimed to be a “supplier” (to the entity making the travel club pitch.)

    There have been some criminal prosecutions related to these offers, but that hasn’t stopped them from being made. Yesterday, 60 people read my story about the Southwest “Fly Away Escape” offer, and nearly 2,300 have done so in the last month alone.

    Those statistics tell me that my readers probably represent a relatively small number of those who have actually received these offers via letter or postcard, and probably not even the lion’s share of those who have taken the time to do an online search to see if the offers might be legitimate.

    Since they continue to be made, without any sign of abatement, perhaps it’s time for you to revisit “travel clubs,” Chris, and advise your readers how to sort out the bogus offers from ones (if any) that might be worth looking into.

  • Travelnut

    Re AAA: I belonged to AAA for decades. Their discounts were nice but I really used them for the roadside assistance. Last year I finally cancelled it. Their roadside assist, at least in my area, really declined in quality over the past several years. I live on the outskirts of the city (think “Alamo”), and technically in the county but the area is as populated as any other. For some reason they were sending cars from the small towns 40-50 miles west of my house. They’d give me an arrival time that was already about half an hour longer than I’d reasonably expect, and then be 45 minutes to an hour later than that. I’d call and I’d get lame excuses. My auto insurance offers roadside assist as a benefit, so there was really no compelling reason to keep AAA. I mainly miss the discount on my dry cleaning but I’ll live.

    Re AARP: If you send them an email, they will take you off their marketing list. I had stayed off for about three years, then I started getting mailings again and had to contact them again but mostly it’s worked quite well. I can’t imagine joining AARP until, well, I get old! :)

  • MarkKelling

    AAA still has benefit to me because of the travel savings mentioned elsewhere more than the road side assistance.

    But I do agree that the towing service especially has become nearly worthless. The version I have allows you to be towed to the AAA certified shop that the wrecker belongs to. If you want to go anywhere else they charge by the mile. I usually am driving a car that is still under warranty so I prefer it get towed to the dealership where my warranty will be honored.

    On the other hand, I have my mother on the same AAA plan as me and she has used them multiple times to change flats (lot of construction near where she lives, lots of nails on the roads) and the locksmith service twice (forgot keys when taking the trash out and locked herself out; second time was key broke in ignition on car), all of which was covered at no additional charge and all were resolved in a very reasonable time frame.. As long as those services remain part of the included assistance provided, I will stay a member.

  • Mark Carrara

    I almost enjoy time share presentations. Because we are already owners our gifts have gone up to a $100 gift card. A nice way to waste a couple of hours and get $100

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Did you get it by mail? If so, then that’s mail fraud. Contact the FBI.

  • Alan Gore

    I get these all the time, for different airlines. And they all look scammy enough that I have never opened one. None of them are believably from the actual carrier.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Yeah, it was snail mail. I’ll do that. HATE HATE HATE SCAMMERS.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I would rather stick needles in my eye than sit through a time share presentation. $100 for two hours of that torture? Not worth it.

  • BMG4ME

    This has nothing to do with the merger. This is like saying we should close all hotels because there are some nasty people that hang out in them.

  • sunshipballoons

    I feel like we’re on the motorcycle, about to launch into the air, looking ahead at the shark. But it’s not too late to jump off the bike!

    I like this site better when it deals with specific consumer problems, where it actually can produce results. I don’t find the pie-in-the-sky political critiques particularly helpful (even when I agree with them), and think they would be better suited for a personal blog, rather than what purports to be, and often is, a professional website.

  • AH

    did anyone else notice that “coreen’s” signature appears to have a “t” in the middle of it? it actually looks more like “Arthur” than “Coreen” to me.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Timeshare Bingo.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Actually, there are MANY government officials in Nigeria that are in on the scams.

  • innchfromnj

    Anyone who falls for this scam is an example of what PT Barnum was referring to when he coined the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute”