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Thanks to error, United customers land free tickets

Updated: October 15, 2013 7:09AM



For about two hours Thursday afternoon, United offered customers the mother of all airfare deals: free tickets.

United staff keyed in the wrong fares on the airline’s reservation system, resulting in free fares, plus $5 to $10 in taxes for many domestic and intercontinental flights.

“One of our filings (in the reservation system) today contained an error which resulted in certain fares displaying as zero. We have corrected this error,” United spokeswoman Mary Clark said in a statement.

As customers scooped up deals, United’s reservation system went down: “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,” the site read.

But many took advantage of the error.

Some took to Twitter to thank United for the glitch: “So I just bought 2 round trip tickets to Vegas for $20 . . . bhaha thanks to the United website glitch,” a Chicago man tweeted.

“I just bought tickets to Cali from united airlines for 5 dollars! . . . get your plane tickets cheap today!” a Houston woman tweeted.

United has not disclosed the number of tickets sold during the glitch. The company is in the process of evaluating whether to honor the tickets.

The Department of Transportation passed a policy in January 2012 which addresses “mistake fares,” whether it be a computer problem or human error: “. . . If a customer purchases a fare and that customer receives confirmation of their purchase, then the seller of air transportation cannot increase the price of that air transportation to that consumer, even when the fare is a ‘mistake.’”



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