Will United Honor “Free” Tickets?

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Human Error Leads to Ticket Bonanza

United Airlines was forced to shut down its entire booking system Thursday afternoon after a filing error offered customers a deal that may prove too good to be true: free flights.

United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm confirmed that an error in the system appeared to offer customers $0.0 fares for many domestic flights, though they paid upwards of $10 in taxes.

“One of our filings today contained an error which resulted in certain fares displaying as zero,” Dohm said. “We have corrected this error.”

The airline has not said whether it will honor the unusually low prices. United has not yet released how many tickets it sold at the unusually low fares.

News of the incredibly cheap airfares spread quickly on social media sites like Twitter and popular forum FlyerTalk, which is often the first place to pick up on any airline booking engine errors.
A thread on FlyerTalk, which began around 11:30 a.m. EST, likely kickstarted the frenzy, with a poster describing how they booked several round-trip flights from San Jose to Boston for a grand total of $10 each. Other posters in the forum — roughly 100 in just an hour’s time — described booking long-haul flights like Washington, D.C. to Honolulu, Hawaii, also for a measly $10 in taxes.

Several hours after the booking spree began, United Airlines’ reservation system slammed to a halt with the message: “United.com is currently undergoing maintenance. Flight search and booking are unavailable for all flights, including MileagePlus award travel. We are working to restore these as quickly as possible.”

Though the website went live again at around 3:45 p.m. EST, questions remained Thursday night as to whether United Airlines would honor the morning’s gratis fares. Dohm told IBTimes that the airline was “in the process of evaluating” the issue. “As always, we will do what is appropriate,” she added. United Airlines has not yet released just how many tickets it sold at the unusually low fares.

Word of a mistake can spread like wildfire in the age of social media, and while human error in fare filling has happened before, the record of United Airlines honoring such tickets is a mixed bag. Read More on this from IBTimes

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