Photo: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times; Hans Kundnani / May 7, 2012

The Los Angeles Times has an article entitled The Frequent Fliers Who Flew Too Much about a small group of wealthy men (none of whom are connected) who bought American Airlines lifetime first-class tickets back in the day for $350,000. The tickets allowed them and a fellow companion to travel on any flight American Airlines flew to any destination for free. No booking fees, no additional baggage fees, no cancelation fees. They could book on the spot or as far in advance as they wanted and this golden ticket of sorts would take care of them.

After several years, American Airlines started seeing that these 64 people who had purchased these limited tickets were running the company dry by making insane trips — like flying out of state for a meal and then coming back that same day — and supplying random passengers with upgraded first-class seats.

The Los Angeles Times article goes into some detail about 2 of these travelers and how at least one of them made some money off of the tickets by selling seats at far lower prices than American could afford. After AA filed for Chapter 11 and the company was seeing that some of these ticket holders were costing the airline up to $1 million each year, investigators were called in and ultimately, the AA lifetime first-class tickets were revoked.

The story is interesting though because these people never intended to be fraudsters. They saw a great deal, bought into it, and then wanted to share the exuberant amount of wealth that came along with it.