A $350,000 Airline Pass Purchase Goes Awry

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A $350,000 Airline Purchase Goes Awry - as part of the travel series by GeoBeats.

How much would you pay if you could fly first-class for the rest of your life and unlimited number of times. And oh by the way, you could bring a companion as well. That's exactly what some individuals purchased for over $350,000.

In the 1980s, American Airlines needed immediate liquidity and they launched a program to offer such passes. Around 65 passengers bought them.

However, American Airlines miscalculated how much those participants were going to travel.

According to ABC News, one such frequent flier, Rothstein estimates he flew from his home in Chicago to New York a thousand times, Los Angeles and San Francisco 500 times, Paris and Sydney 80 times, he thought nothing of flying strangers with him or picking up a friend in Los Angeles and heading to Paris for a quick visit to the Louvre.

Mike Joyce, who also bought the pass, tell Los Angeles Times that he once traveled 16 times to London within 25 days.

After noticing such heavy usage of the program and discovering it was losing millions of dollars, American Airlines launched an internal audit into travel patterns and details pertaining to the members.

Consequently, the airline revoked passes of several passengers including Rothstein's, citing improper use and violations of rules. Rothstein is now using legal means to get his pass reinstated.