Wendy serves a meal to a pilot as AirTran Airways, The Coca-Cola Company and Wendy’s International, Inc., today conducted the world’s first fly-thru drive-thru with the airline’s Boeing 737 aircraft at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Credit: (www.sawfnews.com/Lifestyle/3805.aspx))
Back in late 2005, AirTran and Wendy’s fast food chain ran one of the greatest promotions that I have ever taken part in. You simply collected specially marked Wendy’s drink cups, and for each 64 coupons, you received a free roundtrip airfare ticket anywhere AirTran flies. Therefore, after collecting 128 cups, one could earn 2 free flights. The madness of the promotion caused people everywhere to dumpster dive and collect as many free cups as they could. One man’s trash is another man’s ticket to paradise.
As soon as I heard of the promotion, I carefully crafted a plan with my sister and brother-in-law to drive around to each of the Wendy’s locations around us and legitimately purchase cups. Some of the locations looked at us weird when we wanted to purchase hundreds of cups. Some even said they could not sell us just the cups and would have to fill each of them with a beverage. Luckily, we all put on our thinking caps and headed down to the lower income neighborhoods during the evening hours, where workers would be more lackadaisical.
All in, I think we spent maybe $75 each on our 64 cups/flight, resulting in hundreds of dollars in value of free flights. Those credits were later used for a Las Vegas trip and a flight to Florida for a cruise with my soon-to-be wife. Oh, the loveliness of travel and how it connects us all!
So now that I have told you the history of the AirTran/Wendy’s program, you want to know the details of the return of the program. Well actually, the new version of the program is changed a little bit. No longer will you need to cut out cup coupons. Instead, it all comes in the form of a piece of plastic.
The AirTran credit card, offered by Chase, is currently offering 32 free credits (enough for two free flights) after $2,000 in spend within 3 months. The $69 annual fee is not waived the first year, making this cheaper than buying the Wendy’s cups.
The AirTran offer is important for two reasons.
1) The typical offer for the AirTran credit card is only 16 credits (one flight), making this offer a significant improvement.
2) AirTran is in the process of being merged with Southwest Airlines. While there will significant work done to combine the brands in 2013, Southwest does not plan to be fully integrate with AirTran until 2014. However, this means that eventually, the AirTran products could go away. So it is up to you when will be the perfect time to pull the trigger on getting the AirTran branded cards.
So while the Wendy’s offer is not back in the traditional sense, the credit card is offering the same benefits as the cups. Which would you prefer, dumpster diving or smart credit management?
Southwest is also currently offering 50,000 Rapid Reward points (enough for two free flights, or over $800 in Wanna Get Away fares) after spending $2,000 in 3 months via the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card ($99 annual fee not waived the first year) and the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card ($69 annual fee not waived the first year). Add in a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card ($99 annual fee not waived the first year) or Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card ($69 annual fee not waived the first year). This means you can earn over 200,000 Rapid Reward points just from the Southwest credit cards.
TIP: Want your partner to fly with you for free all year? Then earn a total of 110,000 Rapid Reward points in a calendar year, and earn a free companion pass. The Companion Pass is valid from the date you earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points up to the end of the following calendar year. So if you earned the Companion Pass right now, it would be valid until the end of 2014.
Did you know you can now redeem your credits for flights on both AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines?
The combined benefit of using both AirTran credits and Southwest points towards travel is huge. When Continental was being combined with United, and we could freely move our miles back and forth, it became a big benefit at times during the merger.
However, there are some important conversion benefits to understand between the different programs.
Southwest Rewards, prior to March 1, 2011, used to issue Rapid Rewards in the form of credits, just like AirTran does currently. After the above date, the new program issued Rapid Rewards in the form of points. So it is possible that you could have both credits and/or points sitting in your account.
Now that Southwest and AirTran are merged, you can combine your accounts to link to each other, allowing easy moving back and forth of credits and points. So how does all of that convert between accounts?
- 1 Rapid Rewards credit = 1 A+ credit
- 1,200 Rapid Rewards points = 1 A+ credit
- 1 Southwest Standard Award (two one-ways) = 16 A+ credits
- 1 A+ credit converts = 1 Rapid Rewards credit
- 32 A+ credits or 32 Rapid Rewards credits = roundtrip ticket with either partner
This is where it pays to pay attention to how much tickets cost by purchasing them outright versus using points or credit. With some simple comparisons of using credits versus points, one can convert and actually come out ahead compared to buying the ticket outright.
We have no financial relationship with Chase. These are the best current offers we are aware of, and think they can greatly benefit families looking to stretch their travel dollars.
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