UnitedAirlines Touts Comfort With Contest

United Airlines has launched an online sweepstakes to better acquaint U.S. flyers with its new premium seating options.

The “Click. Stretch. Win.” game, administered by ePrize, lets consumers sign up online for a chance to win pairs of roundtrip tickets to United Airlines U.S. destinations, bonus miles, or United’s Red Carpet Club memberships.

Once registered, visitors will see a picture of a man in a knotted position, which United uses to symbolize what it’s like to sit in a competitor’s seat. The man then fully reclines, demonstrating the added legroom of United’s “Economy Plus” seating. Users are instantly notified if they’ve won any game prizes. Players can return to try again once per day until the contest ends on September 9.

“Customers who play for these fun travel prizes at United.com have an interactive opportunity to learn more about the comforts of Economy Plus seating, and the benefits of our new Economy Plus Access program,” said Dennis Cary, United’s SVP of marketing.

United currently upgrades loyalty program customers who purchase economy seats to the premium seats when they’re available. The company recently initiated this access program to begin charging non-members a $300 annual fee for access to the same seats.

For Canadian consumers, United is running a separate online promotion to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Canadian Web site. Users can enter to win a pair of tickets to any U.S. destination, or one of several Apple iPods.

Competition in the online travel space is heating up. The majority of travelers surveyed in a recent Claria survey say they’ll purchase or plan to purchase travel online.

A recent Jupiter Research report showed online travelers visit an average of 3.2 airline and agency sites to research a flight. And the majority of users who went to multiple sites to research their flight tended to purchase that flight online. The report also showed that while price is overwhelmingly the top factor in a purchase decision, the next-most important is participation in a loyalty program.

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