Oops! United Airlines owns up to error, lets free tickets fly
United Airlines said passengers who bought tickets that were accidentally sold for free because of faulty reservations data will be able to use them for travel.
“United has reviewed the error that occurred yesterday and decided that, based on these specific circumstances, we will honor the tickets,” Mary Clark, a spokeswoman for the unit of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc., wrote Friday in an email. The company is not disclosing how many of the tickets were sold.
The $0 fares were only on the United.com website for “a couple hours” at midday Thursday and were not distributed via channels such as travel agencies, said Megan McCarthy, another spokeswoman. United's Shares reservation system did not cause the fault, McCarthy said without giving further details.
The carrier had to close the booking engine on its United.com website “so we could correct the error,” McCarthy said. The website was back to normal about 2:30 p.m. Chicago time Thursday, she said.
Many of the tickets cost $5 or $10 in total, suggesting that United was collecting only a mandatory 9/11 security fee, said Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com, a ticket research firm based in Dallas. Taxes and fees typically add up to $22 or more per ticket, he said.
Robert Stokas, 35, an attorney in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn, said he was on United's website when the erroneous data was loaded and bought six tickets for a trip to Los Angeles next June for $60 total.
“I assumed it was a promotion or something,” said Stokas. He said he is pleased that United will honor the tickets.
“They took the high road, said, ‘We made a mistake,' ” he said. “It may cost them some money on the front end, but it saves them potential litigation and bad press.”
A similar pricing mistake occurred in May 2002 when a fare sale accidentally appeared as a $5 round-trip ticket for about 45 minutes, the Chicago Tribune reported at the time.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Red Wings rally, shock Penguins in overtime
- For U.S. House, Pa.: Re-elect Rothfus, Shuster, Kelly & Barletta
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of costing residents thousands, viewing porn on the job
- Steelers’ Adams delivers in pinch against Texans
- Steelers notebook: Young players provide big challenge for special teams coach
- ‘Last Days’ offers hope amid despair
- Predators winger Neal caught ‘blindsided’ by trade from Penguins
- Ex-judge in Philadelphia charged with bribery, conspiracy in sting case
- Steelers free safety Mitchell is still settling into role on defense
- Rossi: Middling Steelers must make a statement
- Cal U hopes to avoid getting ‘trapped’