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United gives away yet more free tickets accidentally

October 16, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59United Airlines, which last month made a serious blunder and gave away tickets free on its website, has just repeated the goof. On both occasions, a computer or programming glitch resulted in plane tickets being sold for little or no cost.

Social media and tech site Mashable says one of its readers pointed out the latest loophole, which can be exploited to let people buy tickets by paying just the taxes and fees. Mashable reports that exploiting the glitch involves setting up a ‘MileagePlus’ account “and essentially tricking the site into thinking you had enough frequent flier miles to cover the cost of a flight by setting up the purchase in two different tabs”. Cordato Partners-www.tourismlegal.com.au

The process, which Mashable doesn’t expand on, apparently takes less than 10 minutes.

The site said United had declined to comment on how many people had exploited the loophole.

United Airlines made a similar blunder last month, resulting in delighted passengers rushing to book tickets being sold by mistake for USD 5 or USD 10. Other passengers did rather better than that, booking tickets that cost nothing at all before the carrier shut down the booking section of its website.

According to TIME’s business and money section, United also closed its call centre on that occasion to prevent the sale of fares it had accidentally filed.

It seems some of the fares were being sold at a cost of zero dollars. The charges of between USD 5 or USD 10 that some passengers paid represented airport charges. The outage, or blunder, led to the airline accepting no reservations for a period.

Social media networks such as Twitter can make such mistakes known to hundreds of thousands of people within minutes, sometimes before the airline itself realises.

Last month, United announced it had reviewed the error and decided, “based on these specific circumstances, we will honour the tickets”.

That’s not the case this time, because user manipulation is required.

“We’ve identified an issue where customers are intentionally manipulating our website,” United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told Mashable in an email. “We will not honour these reservations.”

Written by : Peter Needham

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