Faced with a possible bankruptcy this fall, United Airlines is reaching out to its “Mileage Plus” and “Mileage Plus VISA” cardholders with assurances that earned air miles are safe and secure. The company has also gone to great lengths to assure cardholders that award travel will continue to be available despite cutbacks. United reported this week that last year it processed nearly two million awards for free travel on its airline and nearly 400,000 awards for free travel on partner airlines. United also reported it processed 1,185,966 upgrade requests involving “Mileage Plus” points during 2001. Totally, the nation’s second largest airline, redeemed more than 3.5 million “Mileage Plus” awards. The redemptions in 2001 were involved in 8% of total passenger miles flown. United’s “Mileage Plus” program has more than 40 million enrolled members and about four million VISA cardholders. United also announced this week new “Mileage Plus” partnerships with Best Western and Choice Hotels. Best Western’s “Gold Crown Club International” members will now “Mileage Plus” miles for hotel stays and have the option of redeeming “Gold Crown Club” points for miles. The Choice Hotels deal offers guests at all Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion and MainStay Suites brand hotels in the U.S. and Caribbean the opportunity to earn 250 miles per eligible stay, and guests at all Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn brand hotels in the U.S. earn 150 miles per eligible stay. Bank One/First USA issues the “Mileage Plus VISA” for United. In June, the companies introduced a business card version of the program which enables business owners to accrue up to 150,000 air miles per year from all card purchases, including those made to employee cards. In November, First USA and United introduced a “VISA Signature” version of the “Mileage Plus VISA” card which offers a no pre-set spending limit above the credit line. For more information visit www.united.com.