United Continental fails to end frequent flier lawsuit

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Infinite1K, Jan 31, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Infinite1K
    • Original Member

    Infinite1K Silver Member

  2. RestlessLocationSyndrome
    • Original Member

    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

    It will be interesting to hear what they determine in this case as it could have ramifications across all the rewards programs that provide lifetime status.... including hotels.
  3. OnTehWings
    • Original Member

    OnTehWings Gold Member

    • Original Member

    LETTERBOY Gold Member

    One of which will likely be no program offering lifetime status.
    autolycus and Misplaced Texan like this.
  5. js787

    js787 Silver Member

    Not really--if you already have the status:)

    I read the court ruling and what they said is the suit can go forward as it appears (plaintiff must offer proof going forward) that though UA cites their T&C of the MP program it appears that they had a separate contract for "lifetime" member. Basically as I read it the court says UA's MP T&C never mention the 1mm lifetime benefits under MP T&C and thus there appears to be a separate contract established between UA and those who it bestowed "lifetime status."

    I'm presuming this separate contract is the numerous web site postings, emails etc... specifically outlining the pmUA 1mm benefits.

    My guess is UA is going to have to settle with and make whole the pmUA MM's. Citing their right to change the program by referencing the original MP T&C will no longer work.

    What this will do will tighten up language in all these programs so that there are no loopholes if they change the programs going forward.
    Gargoyle likes this.
  6. Captain Oveur
    • Original Member

    Captain Oveur Gold Member

    In this age of cutting perks, we're likely on-track to having that become a reality.
  7. sobore
    • Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    I'm sure the attorneys will for UA will fix the lifetime status issue by making it available to all. The loophole in fine print will read "benefits not available on United operated flights"
    goalie and Gargoyle like this.
  8. Tivoboy
    • Original Member

    Tivoboy Milepoint Guide

    I just bought my first ticket of the year (am 1MM), I love the fact that my credit card receipt says "continental holdings"

    Explains a lot
    goalie, Gargoyle and OnTehWings like this.
  9. Gargoyle
    • Original Member

    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

    [quote="Tivoboy, post: 1845508, member: 1228" I love the fact that my credit card receipt says "continental holdings"[/quote]You gotta know when to holdings, know when to foldings, know when to walk away, know when to fly...
  10. HeathrowGuy
    • Original Member

    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

    That, or just eliminate the formal MM programs and go back to the days when all such benefits were unpublished.
  11. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

    I think it would be hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Even though they may have a legal right to do so, the tracking of lifetime miles as a dangling carrot would certainly leave those of us with hope of making that goal feeling quite betrayed. That feeling would not be one bit unjustified, either.
    8MiHi and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  12. HeathrowGuy
    • Original Member

    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

    If a BS lawsuit like the one at issue in this thread results in a finding that the Million Miler/lifetime status published benefits are tantamount to a binding "contract" for which an airline is liable for breach, then the days of a published MM/lifetime program are finished, and the current bottle of toothpaste is thrown away.
  13. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

    Oh I so hope you're wrong. Although I must say that our society has become far too accustomed to filing lawsuits as a resolution to every little problem (not to discount this one). OTOH, UA really didn't respond to the barrage of complaints they received regarding this change devaluation of earned benefits, so it appears that they may have made the very bed in which they must now lay.

    If you are right, then the rest of us will be paying not for those who sued, but for UA's failure to adequately protect themselves and prepare their customers in the event they found it necessary to change the rules. Again... This was a bad PR move that just seems to keep getting worse. No company should ever end up fighting with their customers. Especially with customers who have proven themselves to be of significant value over an extended period of time.

    Shame... Shame... Shame on you, d.r.s.l.
  14. MSY-MSP
    • Original Member

    MSY-MSP Silver Member

    Ok reading through the ruling and looking at the filings in the case here is my understanding of what the court is really saying in this case.

    United wanted the whole thing thrown out of court. They tried to use the T&C's of the MP prgoram to get it thrown out. What they were saying is in essence for the motion is -- Take everything that the Plantiff is saying as true (which they aren't admitting to, its a procedural thing here) and even if everything he alleges is true, that there is no reasonable interpretation of our T&C's possible that will allow him to win or even give him a cause of action. As such there is no need to move forward and you can just dismiss now and save us all the time.

    The Court came back and said we aren't sure the T&C's of the MP program are the contract at issue here. At this stage of the game it is a question of fact that we will need to figure out. It now is the Plantiffs job to prove to the tryier of fact that there is some other contract out there that is the basis of the claim. The fact that the T&C's on the MP program do not cover the Million Miler program lends crediance the possibility that their may be other contractual documents out there. The court actually went to some decent lengths to discuss that the Plantiff here has an actual injury as opposed to the 1994 case regarding the use of the miles in the account. Interesting side note that may give some idea of what the court actually thinks of the merits of this case.

    Looking at some of the other documents out there, I think that the Plantiff will have a difficult chance to win this case out right. My guess is that the fine print of the million miler program did say somewhere, though i haven't found it yet, something like "milion mile program is subject to the terms and conditions of the Mileage Plus program." Further the only reason this guy actually got this far to begin with in the case is that they decided to call the program MileagePlus and not some new program. If they had killed MileagePlus then he wouldn't have any potential cause of action, because the program was terminated. (well he might, but it wouldn't look like this case) United could simply respond that you can have your million mile benefits in a defunct program, we have a new program.

    The problem with the lifetime programs is that these are long term goals and targets that people work towards. When the goal posts move halfway there people get upset. Heck I was close to MM on the old UA system when the change occured and proposed that the new UA should have had two tracks for folks who were within x of MM on UA using the BIS model. But I digress.

    I think the likely result of this case, if it starts to look to UA like it may actually get to trial is some form of settlement. Most likely the settlement will be something along the lines of PMUA MM's will be given lifetime Plat (maintaining thier same relative position to the top that they had in the old system), some unknown amount of bonus miles, and some other token. Allowing this case to actually make it to judgement or through most of trail would be an absolute disaster for the whole loyalty industry. They simply cannot afford the court to rule against them in the end.

    I anticipate that UA as well as most of the other programs will be tightening up thier langauge in the T&C's regarding lifetime status to make sure that they can do what they want with them.
    8MiHi and LETTERBOY like this.
  15. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

    This will get settled.
    cmwood likes this.
  16. Fredd
    • Original Member

    Fredd Gold Member

    That would be nice for those of us who are PMUA Million Mile Flyers, depending of course on the settlement.
  17. Steve GadFly
    • Original Member

    Steve GadFly Gold Member

    I have a feeling that if there's a settlement, the two categories of MM benefits will be pre-merger and post-merger with no distinction between pmUA and pmCO.

    Just a hunch.
    8MiHi likes this.
  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    $5 million for the lawyers
    $50,000 and lifetime 1K for the plaintiff
    5 drink chits for each member of the class

    (based on other settlements I recall... but I hope for you that it's not the case here)
    8MiHi and genemk2 like this.
  19. Fredd
    • Original Member

    Fredd Gold Member

    Thanks. Could be. For me this has always been a small but important matter of principle. UA promised me a number of lifetime benefits if I flew 1 million miles on UA metal. I fulfilled my side of the contract, and UA has welched on its side.

    A lot of "experts" weighed in here and elsewhere to say that people like me were "whining," "over-entitled," (Oh, that was UA) or naive because airlines can change their T&Cs whenever they want, "lifetime" promises over and above the regular program notwithstanding.

    Apparently the judge overseeing this case has now agreed to the extent that there's a "plausible" case that UA breached a contract, because the promises it made to Million Mile Flyers were separate from the mileage program.The plaintiff in this case still has to prove this; the judge has simply left the door open.

    For me, it will be satisfying if it turns out that what's legal is congruent with what's moral.
  20. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member


    @Fredd - a settlement will likely contain no admission of guilt/liability by either party, so there won't be any conclusion/decision on what's "legal."

    That being said, Delta's lawsuit may now go to the US Supreme Court, which I would not have predicted.
  21. Seacarl
    • Original Member

    Seacarl Gold Member

    Won't this be the inevitable result?
    HeathrowGuy likes this.
  22. HeathrowGuy
    • Original Member

    HeathrowGuy Gold Member

    There is NO moral cause behind the suit.
  23. Fredd
    • Original Member

    Fredd Gold Member

    UA promised a number of specific lifetime benefits in return for flying 1 million miles on UA metal. In September 2011 they announced they were changing, removing and/or reducing the lifetime benefits they had previously promised to those who had already earned them.

    I would describe as fair or even generous UA's concurrent decisions regarding the other groups, e.g. the CO IEs, the PMCO MMs, the PMUA 2MMs. I conclude that UA's contrasting treatment of the PMUA 1 MMs was based on the "bottom line" rather than on "fairness," "equity," or even "looking after the customer."

    IMHO UA's decisions were not ethical. YMMV.
  24. colpuck
    • Original Member

    colpuck Gold Member

    Weren't you telling me this would get laughed out of court. ;p
  25. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

    At the Summary Judgement stage, i would imagine. If it survives a MSJ, then I think we'll get a settlement. My prediction.

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