United has been trying very hard lately to disenfranchise it’s Mileageplus members. First, it mirrored Delta by adding PQDs in addition to PQMs or PQSs to achieve status with them (although some can still achieve status without PQDs). Then, it devalued it’s redemption rates on partner carriers.

 

I guess they figured in addition to insult and injury, they want to kick our dog too! They’ve teamed with Orbitz to sue the website Skiplagged, through which you could potentially achieve lower airfares by way of hidden city ticketing. For example, I’ve flown from San Diego to LA cheaper by booking SAN – LAS with a stopover in LAX, then getting off in LAX; it’s much cheaper that way than just booking SAN – LAX.

 

There is nothing inherently illegal about getting off at a layover city; however, according to the LA Times, “United and Orbitz accuse the site’s founder, Aktarer Zaman of New York, of “intentionally and maliciously” interfering with their operations and promoting “prohibited forms of travel,” according to the suit.”

 

Mr. Zaman took to Reddit today to do an AMA, explaining his site and his position, and to drum up popular support for his position. Good for him! Skiplagged benefits the consumer with lower prices, and performs nothing illegal. United has consistently, and especially over the last year, demonstrated that they care nothing about the loyalty of the average consumer. I will certainly be taking my business elsewhere.

 

Posted by glenn | 8 Comments

8 responses to “Another consumer-unfriendly move from United”

  1. Ed C says:

    Not sure if they already won though — I don’t see any UA listings. 🙁

  2. Charles says:

    To be fair, if you read the Contract of Carriage, for United as well EVERY other carrier, hidden-city ticketing is explicitly prohibited. Whether or not the airlines live up to their end is one thing, but as service members should we be actively trying to break a contract we agree to by purchasing a ticket?

  3. Andy says:

    @Charles – I see what you’re saying; however the airlines break their contract with passengers ALL the time, by overbooking planes, by downgrading seats, by delays due to maintainance, crews timing out, etc. Hidden city ticketing may be against their contract of carriage, but it is not explicitly ILLEGAL, and only prohibited by them because they’d be losing money, not because it is unsafe or other logical reason.

  4. Charles says:

    Sir, I do see you side of things. Truly I do. When an airline breaks its contracted service with me, I call them on it and more often than not they provide some sort of compensation (usually miles or a discount certificate), though I know that compensation does not satisfy all customers.

    That being said, where then is the penalty if we as the customer break the contract? I know airlines are “big, bad, faceless” corporations and not people, but personally it doesn’t sit right with my personal moral compass to knowingly try to break a contract (promise/agreement) that I enter into. And unfortunately, I have read the CoCs and know what I am agreeing to.

    I am not calling others out or calling them immoral, and I am by no means perfect, but I personally cannot look my Soldiers in the face and ask them to live up to the Army Value of Integrity (in essence, do what’s right, whether others will know or not) if I knowingly try to break agreements I make, no matter how flimsy the contract, faceless the other party, or faithless I perceive them to be on their end of the agreement.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be preachy, it’s just a personal weirdness that I have. I absolutely am not trying to call anyone out.

  5. Kevin says:

    @Charles,

    Regarding “hidden city” ticketing, I’m paying for a service and I expect the vendor to deliver.

    If I choose to discontinue my travel half way though (stopping in LAX, instead of continuing on to LAS), the vendor may not like it, but I can’t be forced to continue… just like McDonald’s can’t force me to eat the fries I threw out from the value meal I bought because it was cheaper than buying the separate Big Mac and Coke I wanted.

    As for the penalty for the consumer? Obviously there wouldn’t be any miles/points collected on these type of trips. In my opinion, there is no worse penalty than having to fly United in the first place… 😉

  6. Charles says:

    Sir, in my mind the difference is that when purchasing food you do not agree to a contract stating that you will eat all the food. McDonald’s doesn’t care if you eat it all or not, their business and pricing structure isn’t really affected by how much of your purchase you eat.

    Airlines price their fares to compete with other airlines’ fares based on start point and end point of the fare you are purchasing, regardless of connection point. The business model doesn’t work when including connection point in the fare calculation because they all have different hubs. The only way to make apples-to-apples fare comparisons otherwise would be to only price fares based on non-stops, and that in many cases would make it even more expensive for consumers if each takeoff-to-landing was priced separately. In some cases, due to fare structure, it is cheaper AAA-CCC via BBB than AAA-BBB because the competition is stiffer AAA-CCC, and the airlines competing for that AAA-CCC fare don’t all fly AAA-BBB. Do you want the cheaper fare if you are flying AAA-CCC, or do you want the higher fare of AAA-BBB + BBB-CCC? You can’t have it both ways.

    Despite the fact that I took the time for this long post, my experience in these types of discussions is that each side is convinced of their position, and VERY rarely does one convince the other to change their point of view. In the end, we’ll have to agree to disagree and you will make your business decisions based on your beliefs.

    That being said, you state that you won’t use United anymore because of their opposition to hidden-city ticketing. Since all other major airlines also explicitly prohibit it, and others are considering joining the suit against Skiplagged, do you plan to boycott all of them?

  7. Kevin says:

    @Charles,

    Of course we can agree to disagree on hidden city ticketing – debate is one of the great things about living in the US.

    Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not boycotting United because of their suit against Skiplagged and I do realize that all the airlines prohibit and or frown on the practice – The reason I won’t fly United is because they suck as an airline. 🙂

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