UA Million miler sues airline for reduction of perks

Discussion in 'Air Canada | Aeroplan' started by guinnessxyz, May 30, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. CHICAGO - A Chicago frequent flier is suing United Airlines for taking away some of his lifetime perks as a so-called Million Miler, someone who has flown 1 million miles with the airline.
    George Lagen of Chicago claims United breached a contract with him when the airline combined its frequent-flier program with that of Continental Airlines after the airlines merged, according to a suit filed this week in U.S. District Court.
    Lagen claims he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in becoming a Million Miler, which reaped such benefits as seating upgrades, early boarding privileges and bonus miles credited to his frequent-flier account.
    Million Milers had lifetime “premier executive” flying status, the second-highest level. Under the new MileagePlus program, Million Milers belong to the third tier, called Premier Gold.
    “The result is a severe cut in benefits including fewer bonus miles for flights, a reduced chance of upgrades and lower priorities in boarding and seating assignments,” the suit alleges.
    For example, Million Milers now receive a 50 percent bonus on the miles they fly with United, instead of 100 percent, the suit says.
    The suit notes a recent comment by John Rainey, United’s new chief financial officer during an investor conference this month. Rainey said some members of the frequent-flier program were “over-entitled,” a comment that drew customer ire on frequent-flier message boards.
    United Airlines said in a statement, “We greatly value our Million Milers and are continuing to deliver valuable and highly competitive benefits with our lifetime program. One Million Milers receive benefits at the 50,000-mile premier status level — the same as before. We believe this suit is without merit.”
     
  2. I guess people should be happy they didn't listened to "why fly" about how much better UA's program is and why we should have all abandoned Aeroplan
     
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  3. 2MM_Guy
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    2MM_Guy Gold Member

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    Interesting article. Need to keep an eye on AC as the tiers change next year.
     
  4. tcook052
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    tcook052 Silver Member

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  5. tomh009
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    tomh009 Gold Member

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    ... and no guarantee what "Elite" will mean in the future!

    Me, at least I don't need to worry about the 2MM/3MM levels, I expect that I'll hang up my hat before I hit those totals.
     
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  6. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I disagree with the UA executive's comment that the lawsuit is without merit. To fly with the same airline and reach 1,000,000 miles is the ultimate expression of loyalty, not to mention that one must spend either a lot of money traveling in premium cabins or a lot time & money in Y to achieve the MM distinction. It is equivalent to qualifying for 1K for 10 years. I believe that such a person's loyalty deserves to be recognized at the Premier Platinum level, with 100% bonus RDM for all eligible flights.

    Being near the 0.7MM mark, I am rooting for Mr. Lagen. Go get'em, tiger!:D
     
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  7. Gtitan
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    Gtitan Gold Member

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    My legal opinion suggests that one is on the border of frivolous case, and if not, "promissory estoppel" arguments in courts of "equity" over a true "first world" problem such as this is almost certainly a recipe for a loss. YMMV
     
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  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    The court of law will ultimately decide this, but as a frequent flyer/guest, I think that what the verdict of the court of public opinion would be represents a fascinating angle, I think, but YMMV.
     
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  9. Gtitan
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    Gtitan Gold Member

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    Yeah, cannot speak to that. It depends on who the "public" is. If we are talking about the average, non-traveling person that wouldn't know the difference between NWA and TWA, all of this would probably be much to do about nothing. Clearly, I will grant there are some folks worked up about this; having said that, I cannot see this dissuading someone from either staying with or leaving the airline as the primary carrier standing on its own.

    The United folks do their research. I am sure that they considered that there would be push-back in their research/focus groups, and were comfortable that such push-back was "manageable". Again, I freely grant reasonable people can disagree.:)
     
  10. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I definitely agree with you that for the "public" out there, this would be boring stuff. However, for the folks at MP, who invest so much time chasing miles, points and status, this should be of great interest. It is to me: Within the next 2-3 years, I should reach the MM milestone, and putting myself in the shoes of those who have seen this achievement devalued by 50%, I think that I would be greatly disappointed (read: pissed). On the other hand, I do not think that UA has much to lose by granting the MMs this request for 100% elite bonus. There simply aren't that many of them to make a huge difference, and it would truly be a great gesture to say to them: "Thank you for 'Flying the friendly skies' long before it had even occurred to us to say 'Let's fly together'." :cool:

    L'union fait la force, meaning "United we are stronger", so if UA thought that the "push back" would be "manageable", then the model they were presented with must have included only current MMs. What if the model includes all who have been loyal to UA for years and are close the MM milestone? Would that yield a forceful enough "push back" to re-institute the 100% elite bonus for MMs? There have been times when UA has come back and said, we made this or that change but you have spoken against it and we have heard you. Therefore, we should not underestimate what we can accomplish as a large bunch of geeky mile/point chasers!
     

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