Flyer Alleges United Under-Awarded Miles

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by sobore, Mar 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/...s-united-under-awarded-miles.html?id=14376144

    What is the distance between two points?

    Or, in the case of air travel, what is the distance between two airports?

    In the 21st century, such mundane matters are widely assumed to be settled. With modern satellites and GPS systems, highly accurate measurements are easily made.

    But a suit brought by a Chicago-based frequent flyer, Hangbo Han, alleges that United has routinely awarded him fewer miles than he actually flew, claiming that United's method of measuring flight distances consistently erred in the airline's favor.

    Han's suit cites several specific examples. For instance, he earned 6,920 miles for a United flight between Beijing and Washington, D.C., but claims the "actual flown distance" was 7,276 miles.
    It would appear that the dispute hinges on differing definitions of "flight miles."

    The distances cited by Han come from the website Flightaware and "other public sources." Flightaware is capable of tracking the actually flown distance for any given flight, including any deviations from the mathematically ideal flight path to avoid inclement weather or circle an airport while waiting for permission to land. Such measurements would meet the strict definition of "flown miles."

    United refused to reveal the basis or source for the airport-to-airport distances it uses in awarding miles, citing the pending litigation. But the airline appears to be relying on the idealized and unvarying distance between airports: as the crow flies. That's entirely sensible, given the need to simplify and standardize. But the distances thus measured would more accurately referred to as "computed distance" rather than "flown distance."

    Read More: http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/...s-united-under-awarded-miles.html?id=14376144
     
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  2. FortFun
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    FortFun Gold Member

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    Thank you for providing me an incentive to learn how to do :rolleyes:

    :D
     
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  3. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    This just in... United boots this jackass from MileagePlus. (j/k).

    Some people take this stuff a bit too seriously.
     
  4. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    What is most surprising to me is that the guy chose to pursue this line of reasoning rather than the slightly more plausible line that United is shorting people even on the point-to-point distance. IAD-PEK credits at 6920 but it is actually 6921. EWR-HKG credits at 8060 but it is actually 8065. Those are discrepancies where it seems to me the claimant would be much more likely to succeed.

    Also, the selective quoting of a random USA Today syndicated contribution as being authoritative about how points are earnt is pretty funny.

    If anyone wants to read the actual filing I've got the PDF here.
     
  5. ducster
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    ducster Gold Member

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    Oh good grief.
     
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  6. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    This gentleman seems to be going to a lot of trouble for the general benefit of traveling public. With only a few hundred miles at stake in his particular case, I don't think there's much strictly selfish incentive for himself. If I'm getting the unselfish motives correctly, we can certainly appreciate the sentiment behind his actions (and refrain from name calling).
     
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  7. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    From reading the filing, I'm pretty sure this "altruistic" fella isn't just seeking his 356 missing miles...
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    There are two specific flights listed. But he is a "Premier" so he's actually flown thousands of miles in the past. And, as the lead part in the class action he's in line for a nice little chunk of change should the case settle with a cash payment, over and above what all the other members of the class get.And that's before we get in to discussing whether the claim is rational or based in fact.

    It is also not entirely clear to be that winning the case would be in to the general benefit of the traveling public.
     
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  9. MX

    MX Gold Member

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    Gotcha, thanks! They'll prob settle then by paying off the lawyers, and nothing for the class.
     
  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The lawyers get paid separately from the class. They get a decent cut generally, but it is not in place of the class members.
     
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  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    It depends...On a flat 2D surface, the shortest distance will be a straight line. On a sphere or a globe, which the earth is, it would be a curved line...;). The shortest distance between JFK and PEK is through the Earth's core (seen "The China Syndrome"?). So, Mr. Han might have a case...:D
     
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  12. Black Cloud
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    Black Cloud Gold Member

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    If my 500 mile mins go away because of this I'm going to blow a chip.
     
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  13. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    Fo sho
     
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  14. bmg42000
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    bmg42000 Gold Member

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    If the use of miles goes away ...
     
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  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    FWIW, the same lawyers also found lead plaintiffs such that they are going after US and DL as well. Cases are nearly identical.
     
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  16. mht_flyer
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    mht_flyer Gold Member

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    What a waste of a lawsuit.. Any chance it will be thrown out?

    I for one am sick of our sue-happy society.
     
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  17. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    Let's just remember we're talking about a company's loyalty program. I'm pretty sure it wasn't created in the Bill of Rights.
     
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  18. kwai
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    kwai Gold Member

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    While I think this suit is fatuous, UA has been doing quite a bit in the last year plus to do away with loyalty.
     
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  19. Steve GadFly
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    Steve GadFly Gold Member

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    :rolleyes:
     
  20. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    As have DL and US, right? After all, they were all served with nearly identical suits last week.
     
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  21. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    The method of computing miles is a bit flakey. For example, miles from any of 3 New York CIty area airports generally are computed identically, yet they are miles apart.

    The lawsuit on the other hand seems just plain dumb to me.
     
  22. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    I seem to recall hearing that flight miles were calculated using nautical miles (about 6,076 feet) rather than standard miles ( 5,280 feet).
     
  23. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    Yes, there's a rather dizzying formula for the distance between two points on a globe... the great circle formula or something, which when expressed in miles is typically nautical miles. Doesn't really make sense any other way. Of course they can be converted to anything you want, but if you're going to report miles it's to the airline's advantage to use nautical miles.
     
  24. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    There is a static conversion ratio between nautical miles and statute miles. The great circle calculation can be done in either unit (or any other unit of measure) and the number used by the airlines for crediting to accounts is the statute miles number.
     
  25. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    Wikipedia gives the calculation here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great-circle_distance
    As an example they use BNA-LAX and get 1794 statute miles. Airline mileage for that route is around 1790, so statute miles they are.
    Of course you can convert to any unit you want. It's just that the definition of nautical miles lines up degrees of latitude so that's the usual way air mileage is calculated. Clearly though, as you point out, FF miles credited are not nautical.
     

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