Big Money to Be Made Off United’s IT Glitch

United’s computer malfunction last week was an inconvenience to huge numbers of travelers. I even think it’s endemic of the broader problems at the airline.

I’m not sure, though, that it justifies a class action lawsuit. Not everyone agrees with me, however. Especially plaintiffs lawyers.

As frustrated as customers may have been with July 8, I’m guessing this doesn’t make matters better (although proving management’s negligence merely in selecting SHARES over the existing United reservation system because it was cheaper for the airline to do so shouldn’t be difficult, and that poor technology choices led directly to major customer inconvenience).

Instead, no doubt that if a settlement were to arise from such a venture — likely long after current management and many passengers are gone — it will involve a discount coupon usable only on full fare tickets (the application of which makes a ticket non-refundable).

Has the class action lawsuit against British Airways over fuel surcharges eliminated extortionate mileage redemption fees?

Do you want to spend the rest of your life wondering, maybe I should have sued?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Let’s make a rule that the attorneys get paid their fees the same way consumers do. Would love to see them apply $2M of ticket vouchers.

  2. This is the 2nd time I’ve seen you bring up the ‘your settlement will be a discount voucher on a full-fare ticket’ thought on a class action suit. I take it you are being facetious and that has never actually happened?

  3. Although I think the lawsuit is dumb, the one positive side-effect is we might actually find out what really happened to cause this outage during the discovery process.

  4. @Ben yes that is facetious but an approximating what these sorts of settlements often yield (though big fees not in the form of vouchers for attorneys — I know of only one lawyer that accepts payment in miles)

  5. Compensation is not the only reason we encourage class actions, they also serve to deter future bad actors in similar cases where consumers are not otherwise incentivized (because the stakes are too small on an individual basis).

  6. @Stannis – I’d love to see a class action settled for nothing but Smisek and his top leadership stepping down. Good luck with that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.