American Airlines Gives Free Tickets To Mavericks Crowd

DALLAS (AP) _ American Airlines took a page out of Oprah Winfrey's playbook tonight -- and gave vouchers for free flights to everyone at the Dallas Mavericks' final game of the regular season. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and American executive Dan Garton announced the giveaway to an estimated 19,000 fans, who jumped to their feet and cheered. A TV contest also gave home viewers the chance to win an additional 1,000 vouchers. Garton didn't say how much the promotion will cost the airline. Its parent company reported today that it lost $92 million dollars in the first three months of the year. If every fan redeems the vouchers, they could have a face value of more than $3 million dollars, based on the average $79 one-way fare on American's Love Field service. But Garton says the cost will be much less, partly because not everyone will use the vouchers. He also says some people with vouchers will bring along a paying companion. The gesture came on "Fan Appreciation Night" at the American Airlines Center -- but it had more to do with American's fight with Southwest Airlines Co. for supremacy in local air travel.  Either way, the promotion helped fans forget the fact the Mavericks lost the game to the Los Angeles Clippers 85-71.