Skift Take

United may deserve consumers' wrath for many reasons. But as much as it pains us to say it, it didn't deserve this.

The United States Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings has determined that passengers who faked their location in Denmark to capitalize on mistake fares due to an error in currency conversion to Danish Kroner should not expect United airlines to honor those tickets.

The Department was overrun by so many appeals for enforcement of its “fare advertisements and disclosure of baggage fees” rule that it opted to publish its finding as a single statement on the U.S. DOT website, rather than respond to complainants individually.

The Department found that the use of a fake location to game the system marked these as transactions made in “bad faith.”

Highlights from the Department’s announcement:

  • “The mistaken fares appeared on a website that was not marketed to consumers in the United States. In order to purchase a ticket, individuals had to go to United’s Denmark website which had fares listed in Danish Krone throughout the purchasing process. In addition, only people who identified “Denmark” as their location/country where billing statements are received when entering billing information at the completion of the purchase process were able to complete their purchase at the mistaken fare levels.”
  • “[T]o obtain the fare, some purchasers had to manipulate the search process on the website in order to force the conversion error to Danish Krone by misrepresenting their billing address country as Denmark when, in fact, Denmark was not their billing address country. This evidence of bad faith by the large majority of purchasers contributed to the Enforcement Office’s decision.”

By pretending to be in Denmark these much-too-crafty-by-far folks effectively forfeited any rights they would have had under US regulatory ticket-pricing protections.

Complainants shouldn’t expect letters from United either. The U.S. DOT said the airline can also issue a website statement in place of personal reply.


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Tags: united airlines

Photo credit: Friendly skies it may not be, but fake fares still aren't welcome. United Airlines

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