4 Mile Island Saga Continues…

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Update, 7:15pm: After greater than 100 hours after ticketing, United has just unilaterally cancelled most people’s upcoming itineraries, violating their own promise to contact all passengers before cancelling any tickets.

Related:
-File a DoT complaint.
-United Refuses To Honor 4 Mile (Hong Kong) Island Awards; At Least 1 DansDeals Forum Member Already Has Flown!
-Award Tickets To Hong Kong For 4 United Miles?

United is in full meltdown mode right now. Here’s a few of my thoughts:

1. By now you’ve probably read about the Hong Kong price mistake it every major news outlet. DDF user “Mordy788” was even quoted in the Wall Street Journal, though the author neglected to point out that he (along with so many others) learned about the deal on DansDeals. Oh well.
The DoT has came out and said that their new rule that airlines must honor mistake fares does apply to award tickets, but their investigation is still ongoing based on the complaints they have received so far.

2. United has done little up until now to inform people of their decision. They said they would be calling people up but that hasn’t happened as of yet. In fact since the DoT announced that their mistake fare regulation does apply to award tickets we’ve heard nary a word from United. That’s a long time to keep confirmed and ticketed passengers in the dark. Nearly everyone have been able to use the tickets to fly to Hong Kong in first class for just 4 miles so far.

My guess is that United doesn’t want to cancel everyone’s tickets yet lest they be slapped with a $25,000 per ticket fine, so they’ll going to bide their time until the DoT issues a ruling. That’s great news for anyone with a ticket for the near future!

3. DDF user “nd” called United to add an infant to his reservation for his flight today and likely because of that his reservation was cancelled by an agent. They cancelled his ticket unilaterally sometime after he called to add the infant without ever calling him to discuss options as they promised they would. Should’ve taken my lead and booked your infant a ticket for 4 miles as I posted on Sunday!
Rule #1: Don’t call United!

4. DDF user “E” traveled the very same day as the mistake and has returned back home. He has uploaded some pictures from his trip and typed a trip report. Gotta love that Lufthansa 747 First class seat with the full bed next to the seat, such an awesome concept!

The bottom line for him was he booked tickets that would normally cost 440,000 miles for just 8 miles from an account with just 800 miles in them. Nobody ever said a word to him about flying on the 4 mile ticket nor did United ever charge him a single mile.

Are you booked to travel soon? Hit the comments and keep us updated!


Courtesy of DDF user “E”

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60 Comments On "4 Mile Island Saga Continues…"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Will

about 2 weeks… keeping fingers crossed!

HoKo

@Dan I have a flight departing this Monday and am starting to get antsy since I haven’t heard from UA. I booked the ticket from an account that has 260K miles (the price would’ve been around 320k since it was a standard award). I am worried that they may zero out my account retroactively after I’ve already flown. What do you think, should I fly on it if I haven’t heard anything by Mon?

Shalom

I see they put back the cigars in the LH FS lounge in FRA
Last summer, it was removed and when i asked why, they said it was being abused.

Dan

@Will:
Good luck!

@HoKo:
Definitely fly on it.
You have a receipt and confirmed ticket for 4 miles. If United doesn’t tell you otherwise they can’t just take away your miles after the trip, that would be highly illegal and a case the DoT would be happy to take on.

Ben

What sort of time frame do you think we have before the DoT issues a ruling?

E

@Shalom: ya there was a key to the humidor, you had to ask for it to be opened.

ceejay

@Shalom its under lock and key now

Al

Just wondering what Jewish law says about cases of an obvious mistake in business

Dan

@Al:
Let’s keep the ethical discussions in this post please: http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/22891

The DoT regulation (American law) is very clear. If an airline makes a pricing mistake and sends you a confirmed ticket they cannot renege on it.

Yaks

Any chance we can get some bonus miles from them by canceling it?

frymel

wondering the same thing…

SARA

I’m confused about my status. I booked tickets on Sunday,for 5 tickets + 1 lap baby(I dont know why I didnt just book him a ticket, just a habit I guess :)) and received an e-mail saying ticket issuance delay. The reservation and confirmation # are still in my onepass a/c, but have not been ticketed yet. What are the chances of my actually getting ticketed with only a confirmation? My tickets are for January.

Dan

@SARA:
I’m sure the lap child is what held it up…rookie mistake!

You probably have to call and when you do call they will likely cancel you, but YMMV. Keep us posted!

Ch'er

Anyone booked for after Chanuka , it would be boring to go alone?

josh

Assuming United will honor the tix, will I be able to make a date change?

J

Hey. I’m supposed to be going in two weeks. I hope they still honor it! Friends of mine were supposed to come along but they CALLED for info and they looked at their ticket after and it said it was canceled!! Mine still works.. You think I’m gonna go !?! Also should they call for compensation?!… This is getting interesting!

Dan

@josh:
Highly doubtful.

@J:
Why would they call? What kind of info were they looking for? If it was canceled without their knowledge they should definitely file a DoT complaint ASAP!

אפי

I don’t understand, I thought the miles were never debited from the account(even the 4 miles), so there was never any sale. The top line listed the actual price, so when they go back and charge you they could charge that price. The 4 miles are irrelevant because nobody was actually debited those miles. The issuance of the ticket was a pure mistake because they gave it to you for free (not counting taxes).

Dan

@אפי:
On the eticket receipt they sent out it said 4 miles with a ticket number.
Of course it’s a mistake, but the DoT says that mistake fares must be honored, so we’ll see how it plays out.

The DoT forced Korean to uncancel people’s mistake fare tickets earlier this year, though that wasn’t a mileage mistake like this one.

alda

let’s keep our fingers crossed. i heard of friends who made changes to their tickets immediately after booking the fare without any issues, but since then i don’t think anyone should call.

Yehuda

I don’t see why they should care if you make changes as long as you pay the change fees. The question is also will allow you to add stopovers and open jaws.

Ch'er

I charged it on my Amex. They should cover me if united does something. Dan ur opinion. ?

myairplane

@Dan
What makes you think UA is in “full meltdown mode”?? For a company that does 32Billion/year, this, altough costly, should not make a bid dent.(I havent seen numbers published how many tickets were processed under the glitch).

mm4

just out of curiosity, which credit card is the best for airline tickets (and deals like these)?

Dan

@Ch’er:
Of course not.

@myairplane:
The numbers from this deal won’t make a dent, but they’ve gone through nightmare after nightmare since the 03/03/12 systems merger and they don’t seem to know how to get a handle on any of it. Travelers and employees alike are very frustrated.

I’d be surprised if Smisek is still CEO in a year from now.

myairplane

@Dan Agreed. The delay is killing them. I was fully expecting and waiting for them to cancel and I would’ve fully understood. But now I’m beginning to feel as if those who travelled had their tickets honored, why not us?

They should’ve turned this into some goodwill and most certainly should’ve responded sooner and via some forum posting.

sruly

got cancled

myairplane

@sruly: mine just got cancelled. Oh too bad.

Spoketoborders

Dan,
We’re your tickets cancelled?

bb

Mine was canceled!

Tt

Gone

Jerry

Official UA reponse on FlyerTalk
——————-
Hi Everyone, I want to provide you with a further update on our Hong Kong award programming error from this past weekend. Specifically here’s how we are proceeding with these reservations:

•For those customers who had sufficient mileage in their account for the correct award amount, the correct amount of miles were deducted at the time of redemption. Any customers who do not intend to use the published number of miles for their ticket may cancel their reservation without paying a fee and we will refund all miles, taxes and fees.

•For those customers who did not have sufficient mileage in their account for the correct award amount, the correct amount of miles could not be deducted at the time of redemption. These tickets have been canceled for non-payment and all taxes and fees have been refunded.

•For those customers who have already begun travel, or are ticketed to begin travel on or before July 21, we will not cancel these tickets and will allow travel to be completed in full. This is intended as an accommodation to those customers whose travel is already underway or the departure date to begin travel is imminent.
We hope you’ll agree this was a unique circumstance. Unlike other widely reported “mistake fares,” the number of miles required for these awards – the correct purchase price – was clearly disclosed to customers throughout the MileagePlus award redemption process and is also available on our MileagePlus travel award chart.

We are in the process of communicating with affected customers at this time. Once again, we appreciate your understanding.

Shannon Kelly
Director, Customer Insights
United Airlines

Chris

Unilaterally canceling tickets purchased by flyers attempting to take advantage of a blatant computer glitch and trying to get something for nothing. United has quite the nerve. But seriously, this is one of those incidents that reveals the integrity, or lack thereof, of some of you flyers. But it is entertaining to see the twisted lengths some will go to justify such embarrassing behavior.

yossi

This whole thing is very sad. I can’t believe so many people are trying to essentially cheat a company. Yes, airlines are jerks and charge fees for the most ridiculous things . It doesn’t make it right. It’s one thing to try and get a good deal. I get that. It’s entirely different to take advantage of a mistake. I don’t care what DoT regulations are. Using that law as a justification is just a testament to one’s lack of honesty, integrity and decency. If United ends up paying dearly for an honest mistake, all airlines should get together and end their reward programs.

Irony

“The maximum penalty per violation is $27,500 but the government has wide discretion in what amount to actual fine.”

I’m thinking if the DoT set the fine at $4 per canceled ticket the karmic gods would be happy.

yoel

hi Dan I got a citi card that gives thankyou points do you have any idea when and/if they will be able to transfer to british miles. also I just opened a chase mariott card, is there a match for that card now. Thanks for all your help

We want Moshiach Now!

It’s interesting that this news is delivered at the start of the 9 days. This truly is a time when tragic events occur.

Moish

My ticket is also csncelled

Angry!!!

DAN. my three first class reservation were canceled, how can i file a complaint???

Anonymous

What do we all do now to get something at least???

Observation

I actually didn’t get in on the glitch, but I still think that United needs to man up and give at least something as a courtesy.

At the same time, United miles are the most valuable airline miles all across the board right now, and Dan has mentioned that many times over. I don’t think you want them to start degrading their miles as a result of this, so maybe just let this one go…

Jacob

@Chris. Why don’t you say what’s really on your mind. C’mon Chris spit it out. Say it. Say what you’re really thinking.

bb

how many people do you think got in on this?

levi

I just got this email 4 times:

“Update regarding award itinerary
that includes Hong Kong

Dear,

You recently requested the ticketing of MileagePlus award travel to, from or through Hong Kong (confirmation ). Because your account does not have enough miles to complete the purchase, we have canceled the ticket for non-payment and refunded all taxes and fees. The number of miles required for this award was provided during your transaction and is published on the MileagePlus travel award chart on our website.

If you have already canceled the ticket, please disregard this email.

We appreciate your understanding and look forward to serving you in the future.”

Chutzpah! my account had enough miles for the the tickets (16 miles total)

Joe

@ We Want Moshiach Now!
Best. Comment. Ever.

Josh

@Jacob:

Excuse me, but Chris is absolutely right. Nothing too wrong with trying to get in on a price mistake, but crying and making a federal case when it gets cancelled and justifying it by saying the airline deserves it is disgusting.

Here I come

Got mine cancelled!
DOT here I am !

Last year when i boooked a flight on the wrong month, i was charged $150 change fee after explaining that i made a human mistake , and it happens!
Now that the table is turned, do you think i am just going to stay quiet without charging you a “Cancellation fee”??????

milechazzer

Email from the DOT:

XXX XXXXXXXX:

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.

XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX
Aviation Industry Analyst
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Office of the General Counsel
US Department of Transportation

Ben

Is there any time frame that we need to file within?

milechazzer

Without getting into the merits of whether United “owes” us anything, or any moral questions as to whether booking the tickets was the right thing to do, I think what’s getting lost here is whether or not United’s actions are in violation of 14 CFR 399.88, and its seemingly intended purpose.

“(a) It is an unfair and deceptive practice within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 41712 for any seller of scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, or of a tour (i.e., a combination of air transportation and ground or cruise accommodations), or tour component (e.g., a hotel stay) that includes scheduled air transportation within, to or from the United States, to increase the price of that air transportation, tour or tour component to a consumer, including but not limited to an increase in the price of the seat, an increase in the price for the carriage of passenger baggage, or an increase in an applicable fuel surcharge, after the air transportation has been purchased by the consumer, except in the case of an increase in a government-imposed tax or fee. A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.”

Based on the parameters of the regulation, this whole notion that there is a award mileage chart located somewhere on United’s website, which indicates higher mileage amounts than were “charged” seems completely irrelevant to the issues in question. It also seems irrelevant that they quoted two different “prices” during the course of the transaction, because the final price quoted was 4 miles, and if the airline ticketed the reservation at the final quoted price, then they seem to have clearly increased the price after the purchase. I would say the only question is whether the purchase should be deemed complete if they never actually deducted any miles from the purchaser’s account, since the regulation says that “A purchase is deemed to have occurred when the full amount agreed upon has been paid by the consumer.” That being said, they did charge the purchaser’s credit card in full for the taxes, and they did issue the ticket, so the fact that they did not deduct the miles from the purchaser’s account seems like a pretty weak argument.

Obviously, the DOT can do as the please with this, but I think it would set a pretty poor precedent and send the wrong signal to the industry about the enforcement of this regulation if they let United cancel without any consequences.

Will

United has cancelled my ticket. I have made a DOT Complaint. If United made a mistake, then at least offer me the option to “pay” for the flight accordingly. But to cancel my ticket without offering me the choice to buy it outright? What if I have already DETRIMENTALLY RELIED on the confirmed ticket and have booked hotel and car, etc? Shame on United.

Sam

@Yosef:

I understand what you’re saying and I agree – i don’t think we should be able to fly – nor did I think we would be allowed.
However, even though they shouldn’t be made to lose THAT much money (like your example of us losing 500 a person from our business), this WAS their mistake. Not having anything to do with who this company is or how large they are, when a company makes a mistake – people are compensated – Just because we were TOLD by dd about it….doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t follow normal protocol. I’m not saying we should be allowed to fly – i am not even saying I would be upset if we DIDN’T get compensated – but i AM saying that it is 100% ok for a person who booked and got cancelled to complain – and try for some sort of compensation
( yes, we did it just for the deal – but what if we didnt? what if there was a business meeting made during the dates booked completely based on this? would you say the same thing? That we shouldn’t even ask for compensation of SOME sort for our troubles?)

Truth is – i DON’T CARE IF I GO TO HONG KONG – but I do think you’re wrong about saying noone has the right – or its “disgusting” or wrong judiasm-wise.

ps – if you had a business, and there was a mistake on your part – you’re saying you wouldn’t compensate any of the customers hurt by ur ‘cancelling’ it?? I think that’s bad business.

Shlep per

The email I received from 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. T
Aviation Industry Analyst
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Office of the General Counsel
US Department of Transportation

Igor Ivanovich

@Shlep per: such conduct would constitute a prohibited unfair and deceptive practice

Sorry, it would seem far fetched to claim that UA has an unfair or deceptive practice, this was CLEARLY a MISTAKE, this was obviously not done on purpose to deceive ppl into buying cheap tickets and then up-ticking them, this was not a gazump.

Jack

Why are so many people missing the point. i.e. Igor Ivanovich, NO ONE is claiming this was not a mistake. But if the airlines can hit you hard when you make an honest mistake, and an opportunity arises to hit them back for an honest mistake- why let them get off for free? What do they do to deserve a free pass- do they give you a free pass when you make a mistake?

ww

anything new about this hong kong thing??

Park

The idea we should complain we didn’t get to go first class to HK for 4 points just blows my mind…regardless of any supposed sense of injured justice. Sad.

Yitz

@Yosef: unleas youre paying the thw fellas here $175 an hour no1s really interested. Take your talent elsewhere pal

pH

I never received notice of cancellation (although my account shows cancelled). Anyone else not get notified? Wonder what would happen if I just showed up at the airport?

wpDiscuz