Delta Air Lines' (NYSE:DAL) answer to low-cost air flight, Song, has come up with what is quite possibly the weirdest promotion I've ever heard of: It will offer free tickets to passengers who are... nice.

It's a clear attempt to differentiate itself in a market where one low-cost carrier changed all the rules -- namely, JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU). The airline shook up the industry by offering leather seats, television entertainment, and XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) in addition to low fares. Its ability to differentiate itself in a struggling industry through innovation is one reason why it's among the stocks picked for Motley Fool Stock Advisor.

It's a strange time for Song's odd promotion, since airlines probably aren't feeling all that nice right now. Delta itself is in the midst of a reorganization, while rival Continental (NYSE:CAL) warned that it will post losses for 2004 and beyond.

Meanwhile, yesterday's news was fraught with headlines about the high price of fuel driving carriers to hike fares. Delta, Continental, UAL's United, Northwest (NASDAQ:NWAC), and AMR's (NYSE:AMR) American Airlines are all on board with the idea, with varying degrees of selectivity concerning what kinds of fares will be hiked. The consensus seems to be a $10 or $20 increase.

Delta said it will raise the price of your ticket, and discounter Southwest (NYSE:LUV) said it will consider such an increase. JetBlue, on the other hand, said it's holding firm to its current fare rates.

Song's interesting promotion will occur in June, and involves 5,000 tickets to be given away for the September through November period. CNN reports that each Song flight attendant will award four tickets to whomever's not naughty but nice.

While interesting (and bringing up lots of fascinating ideas, like the definition of the word "nice" on an airplane -- let's hope it doesn't mean who's the best-looking passenger), it seems unlikely that the promotion will do much more than generate some buzz. That may be needed, judging by JetBlue's mettle in attracting a boatload of customers, nice or not. Some contend that despite Song's attempts to follow JetBlue's footsteps, it's still the same old song and dance, unable to break away from Delta's more traditional roots.

Flying the friendly skies could have a whole new ring now. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of those cabins.

Are you planning a trip? We have a Travel Center for lots of tips on traveling cheap -- and lots of very nice people to chat with about flying on a budget on our Cheap Air Fares discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any companies mentioned. She has a roommate who likes to travel and is exceedingly nice -- who knows, she could be on to something here.