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Friendly fares in the friendly skies

by Susie Vasquez

The friendly skies will be a little friendlier over Northern Nevada. In February, United Airlines will be offering more Reno flights and a new low-cost service it calls “Ted.”

“United is adding two flights from Reno to San Francisco,” said Heidi Berthold, affairs coordinator for the Washoe County Airport Authority. “The number of seats will increase by 238, in addition to the number of markets we’ll be able to directly serve.”

The new schedule allows same-plane service to both Atlanta and Boston, in addition to adding one-stop service to San Diego.

“For us, San Diego is an unserved market with one exception,” she said. “We have just one flight to San Diego a week, on Saturday.”

United’s core product will be the same, but Ted expands the company’s offering to include economy fares, the high-growth segment of today’s airline market. The effort is targeting leisure destinations, said United spokeswoman Jean Medina.

“We had a choice – try something new or lose the economy customers to low-cost carriers,” she said. “Ted will help us compete in the long run.

“We’re excited,” she said. “We’re providing an inexpensive, unique and compelling alternative to the current lineup of low-fare carriers and it’s going to help us compete in the market.”

The Ted fleet will feature four Airbus A320 aircraft based in Denver, the company’s second-largest hub. The number of planes in the Ted fleet is expected to increase over time, to as many as 45 by the end of 2004, Medina said.

Each A320 will have 18 more seats than United’s mainline A320s for a total of 156 seats. Ted passengers will be able to use United EasyCheck-In and United EasyUpdate and the planes feature an Economy Plus section with five extra inches of legroom, to reward loyal customers.

Ted is offering service to a host of other cities, including Las Vegas, Phoenix, New Orleans, Tampa, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale, and Ontario, Calif. Ted also flies between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco and San Francisco and Phoenix.

Customers can earn Mileage Plus frequent flier miles on all Ted flights. Seating is pre-assigned and can be pre-booked.

More destinations and hubs will be added in the future and Ted flights connect easily to all other United flights including United Mainline, United Express and Star Alliance partners, company officials said.

Tickets go on sale Nov. 18 on the Web at flyted.com and united.com, or by calling 1-800-United1.

United filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in December of 2002 but is expected to emerge during the first half of 2004, Medina said.

“We just posted an operating profit for the first time since second quarter of 2000,” she said. “We’re definitely back on track.”