Daniel Banakus from California has filed a class action lawsuit claiming that United breached contracts with United MileagePlus members when it combined the frequent flyer programs of United and Continental in March 2012 and changed some of the rules of United MileagePlus in the process. Specifically, the loss of being able to secure Economy Plus seats when booking flights–members now must wait 24 hours before departure to see if any Economy Plus seats are available–and Silver Premier members no longer can check-in two bags for free, only one. The suit contends that the Premier benefits were not “merely gratuities that United could change or modify at any time based on its whims” but rather a unilateral contract. “Thus, while United may have reserved the right to change the terms of its Premier program going forward, that did not give United the right to withhold contractual benefits that had already been earned.” Members earned the 25,000 miles in 2011 and were promised the benefits through the following year.
The plaintiff is demanding a trial by jury and requests that the court decrees that United breached a contract and that the Plaintiff and each of the members of the Class be awarded damages for United’s breach of contract and recover their costs of suit, including reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses as provided by law, among other requests.
The attorney for this suit, Joseph J. Siprut, has experience going against airlines. He was the attorney for Adam J. Levitt, who sued Southwest Airlines when that airline put an end-date on their free drink coupons and he was left holding about 45 of them.