Sun Country Gets Travelers Through Groupon

A media representative of the local airline told the Star Tribune that its promotion via deal-of-the-day Web site Groupon "will allow us to reach new travelers who might not have tried Sun Country in the past."

Sun Country Airlines teamed with Groupon Wednesday to offer cheap flights through the popular discount Web site-and the deal was snatched up quickly.

Specifically, Groupon and Mendota Heights-based Sun Country served up coupons for $180 domestic flights and $320 flights to Mexico.

By the end of Wednesday, the domestic flight deals had been sold out. Buyers chose the month of travel when purchasing the deal, and different numbers of flight deals were available for each month between June and November. (Specific travel days can be chosen later on when flights are booked.)

The fewest number of tickets (405) was available for July, and the highest number (850) was up for grabs in September.

As of Thursday morning, deals for the Mexico flights-which could be taken to either Cancun or Cozumel-were still available. Between seven and 38 tickets were sold for each month through November.

The promotion did come with some restrictions, as most Groupon deals do-only one deal could be purchased per person, deals are only valid for travel through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, flights can't be booked until June 6, and there can be no travel on Fridays or Sundays. Also, taxes and fees still apply.

Vice President for Marketing and Sales Wendy Williams Blackshaw told the Star Tribune that she considers the Groupon deal a success.

“We believe doing this promotion will allow us to reach new travelers who might not have tried Sun Country in the past,” she told the Minneapolis newspaper.

Terms of the agreement between Sun Country and Groupon haven't been reported, but many media outlets have indicated that Groupon keeps half of the money collected from deal buyers.

Still, Blackshaw told the Star Tribune that Sun Country expects to make money with the Groupon offering.

Sun Country, which is profitable, has been looking for a buyer for more than a year. Its previous owner, Tom Petters, is now serving a 50-year sentence for running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of an estimated $3.65 billion-and his estate is being liquidated. Court documents filed in early March indicated that Sun Country was close to a sale. But the following week, the trustee representing Petters' bankruptcy estate said that oil prices and the resulting spike in jet fuel have presented a challenge in the sale.