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Originally published Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 3:45 PM

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Free airline tickets? Read the fine print

Be aware of email and mail fraud from company purporting to be USAirways.

Detroit Free Press

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Q: My husband got a check in the mail to pay for two free airline tickets. It seems to be an official award from US Airways, but I think it may be a scam. Is it?

A: Yes. If you look closer, it’s not even from US Airways but something called US Airlines, which does not exist.

And it’s not a real voucher for $1,229 toward free airline tickets.

This scam has been around for more than a year to lure the naive into paying to join a sham travel discount club.

US Airways has issued a warning about both email and mail fraud from entities purporting to be US Airways (or in this case, tricking the eye into thinking it is).

Suspect a scam, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns, if you are told you won a free vacation once you pay a few fees, or the prize company wants your credit card number, or if you’re pressured to sign up for a travel club. If you think you’re being scammed, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Q: Would you consider it risky at all to book an American Airlines flight to the Caribbean now for next April considering the potential failed merger and current Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

They have the best fare and time I want for a flight, but I do not want to end up being stranded if they were to go out of business.

A: This type of question has got to be giving American Airlines executives ulcers as they worry how to hang on to jittery travelers.

I have has no crystal ball, but it is highly likely AA still will be operating normally next spring, so go ahead and book. While it has trimmed some of its Caribbean service in the last two years, it still is a major player.

A couple of caveats. Book directly through AA’s website, not a third-party booking website (like Orbitz or Expedia). That way, if anything changes, AA is dealing directly with you.

If possible, book AA flights for the whole trip, not just the Caribbean segment. If departure times change on one segment, AA will adjust the whole itinerary.

Third, get travel insurance for the entire trip. Buy from an independent supplier, not AA. Choose a middle-priced policy like Travelguard Silver; compare policies at insuremytrip.com.

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