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The DOT regulation should take care of it, but if United or other airlines decide to go to court its decision may be tricky to uphold.

The Department of Transportation is investigating United Airlines after the carrier sold tickets Sunday to and from Hong Kong for only four frequent-flier miles plus taxes, then announced it wouldn’t honor those reservations. It may be the first major test of a new pro-consumer, ticket-buying regulation.

In January, the DOT prohibited airlines from increasing the price of air transportation after a purchase was made, and also included airline “mistake fares”: once a confirmation is issued, “the seller of the air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a “mistake.”

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Tags: dot, united airlines

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