Last night, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got himself and his team all kinds of good press by giving away round-trip plane tickets to all fans on Fan Appreciation Day. And, let there be no doubt, it was a magnanimous move, the type of headline-grabbing, everybody-wins move that we've come to expect from Cuban.
It's still instructive to read the fine print, regardless. First off, the flights have to be booked by April 30 and taken by November 12. That's not such a big deal though. The real kicker is that they must be from Love Field from American Airlines, which only flies to four cities: Austin, San Antonio, Kansas City or St. Louis. So it's a flight, but not really. Though we suppose if they had announced, "For Fan Appreciation Night, we're send you all to Kansas City!" it wouldn't quite have had the same oomph.
Of course, the real story is that American Airlines agree to the promotion because it's in the midst of a fierce battle with Southwest Airlines to make sure limited numbers of flights continue to go out of Love Field, which, ultimately, hurts the consumer. (It's called the Wright Amendment; you can read all about how it's escalating prices and hurting travel at that link.) We don't blame Cuban for this, who, after all, is just making his fan base happy, which is his job. But so you know: This was not some kind-hearted deal from American Airlines; it's a way to make you hopefully forget how they're screwing you over.
(UPDATE: For perhaps a less biased but still informative look at the Wright Amendment, as always, we direct you to Wikipedia.)