Hold everything – United 4 mile “MISTAKE” fare is not 100% dead yet!

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I am not happy with the way United has handled the sold, booked and ticketed MISTAKE fare to Hong Kong. And now, according to the never ending FlyerTalk post  (and others getting the same email me included)  about it, user “Chucksterace” has posted this from the DOT:


This is in regard to your complaint against United Airlines (UAL) about certain Mileage Plus Award tickets to, from, or via Hong Kong that could be acquired on UAL’s website between July 14 and July 15, 2012. Information that we have obtained to date from affected consumers and the airline, including screen shots taken from various steps in the booking process, reflects a discrepancy in the mileage amounts required to be paid for these tickets. More specifically, the mileage amounts, as they appeared on the website’s mileage award tables, itinerary selection page and at the top of the itinerary purchase page, were significantly higher (e.g., 320,000 miles plus taxes and fees for a roundtrip ticket) than the amount displayed as the “total price” on the itinerary purchase page (i.e., four miles plus taxes and fees). In short, it is unclear what full price was offered. We will continue to investigate this matter to determine the full price of these tickets, whether that full price was, in fact, paid by the consumers, whether the airline issued tickets upon full payment, and whether the carrier raised the price after full payment was made and the tickets were issued.

As you may be aware, the Department recently issued a regulation, 14 CFR 399.88, that is intended to prevent airlines from unfairly and deceptively raising the price of a ticket after a consumer has paid in full and purchased that ticket. As stated in the regulation, such conduct would constitute a prohibited unfair and deceptive practice under a statute enacted by Congress, 49 USC 41712. The goal of our investigation is to determine whether UAL has acted unfairly or deceptively to consumers who acquired Mileage Plus Awards tickets as described above. Please note that, regardless of the outcome of our investigation, consumers are free to pursue claims (e.g., a breach of contract claim) against the airline in an appropriate civil court for monetary damages and other remedies particular to their situation.

Alexander A. Taday III
Aviation Industry Analyst
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Office of the General Counsel
US Department of Transportation

No matter where you stand on this one, it will be good to get a final answer on this so if something like this happens again with any airline we will all know what the facts are! – Rene


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  1. I just got the same email, It looks like a form letter with the user name at the top…

  2. Looks like I should get the popcorn popping… This is going to be fun to watch from sidelines…. The more claims the more they will have to act on it

  3. These are the key words:
    The goal of our investigation is to determine whether UAL has acted unfairly or deceptively to consumers who acquired Mileage Plus Awards tickets as described above

    i don’t think anyone can make the argument that UA was deceptive, or acting in an unfair way when cancelling what everyone recognizes as a mistake.

    Now you could definately make the argument that UA is handling this poorly, buy not following what they said they would do in contacting people to see give customers the opportunity to book at the full rate or cancel.

    UA could use some PR help, as they are bungling pretty bad on this. They are going to have to do something now to appease people after cancelling without contacting people. Had they done that one thing they said they would this may have faded away more quietly.

  4. Yes. No cancellation letter here and it has been 18 hours past when the ticket was cancelled. I’m getting ready to login now to make sure my other itinerary -paid- is still in tact seeing that some of those are being cancelled as well.

  5. Mine was cancelled and I received the email at 1 AM today, but have not received the credit on my card yet.

  6. I don’t see why UA didn’t just downgrade everyone to Economy, when UA seats were available on routes, move people to UA flights and limit their exposure. How many people really would have been upset that they still get to fly for free, basically, but are now in Economy. Even by DOT rules, there is no difference in fare between F/C/Y because it was miles and you weren’t paying the actual correct mileage.

  7. “i don’t think anyone can make the argument that UA was deceptive, or acting in an unfair way when cancelling what everyone recognizes as a mistake.”

    I agree. Of course, the intent and the letter of thr ruling may differ.

    I really doubt that “get a final answer on this so…we will all know what the facts are”. When all is said and done, DOT is going to update the rule to account for this type of thing. I’d be surprised if they aren’t already passing around a revision for review.
    … and then we again won’t know exactly where the line is drawn. 🙂

  8. @Mikes – that is what I truly want, a final answer. Sure it would be fun to fly but a firm result would be helpful for all airlines going forward!

  9. I’m just surprised that a government official would respond this quickly. I don’t think I have ever seen them respond this quickly to anything ever before…and my husband used to be a government bureaucrat!

  10. @Jane – YES! I think it was due to the HUGE amount of emails all at once. Also, I am sure they had a response ready to go as after talking to United (a guess they did) the could see what was on the way.

  11. To everyone that’s filing a DOT claim: I just want to point out that during the RGN fiasco KE had not collected/charged me for the cancelled ticket up until rebooking the ticket. I know this for a fact and have daily screen shots of my cc account showing all pending charges. I booked through Travelgenio and was charged the ticketing fee a few days after my initial booking. KE had not charged my credit, which made me nervous that the DOT ruling would not apply here since I had not been charged the “full amount”. Arguments against the applicability of the recent DOT rulings due to nondeduction of the 4 miles is completely rubbish if one were to use the RGN scenario as a precedent. Hope this helps anyone in their letter to the DOT.

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