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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Airlines offer mileage in exchange for gift cards

United Continental Holdings Inc., the holding company for United Airlines and Continental Airlines, initiated the MileagePlus Gift Card Exchange program, which enables MileagePlus members to convert the balances on closed-loop, retailer-specific gift cards into flight miles. Over 60 major retailers, including Best Buy Co., Crate&Barrel, JCPenney, Peet's Coffee & Tea and Wal-Mart Stories Inc., are participating in the program.

After logging into MileagePlus accounts online, customers select retailers and enter corresponding gift card information. Once transactions are verified, United converts the gift card balances to award miles and deposits the miles into members' accounts. United said gift cards must have a $25 minimum balance remaining on cards and a maximum balance limit may be imposed. Gift card exchange operator Plastic Jungle is handling customer service on the program and is therefore likely powering the new service as well.

The launch of the gift card exchange follows United's January 2012 roll-out of MileagePlus Headliners, an auction program that enables MileagePlus members to use their accumulated miles to bid for various offers, including trips and tickets for theater and sporting events. United said MileagePlus members may also use social networks Facebook and Foursquare to receive special offers from restaurants and merchants. end of article

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