Should I help passengers with their United Airlines “zero” fares?

By | September 12th, 2013

Anatoliy Lukich /
Anatoliy Lukich /

At 2:47 p.m. today, I received the first email from reader Nancy O’Neill. She wanted to know if a “zero” fare she’d just found on the United Airlines website would be honored. I’m sure it won’t be the last one.

O’Neill already felt a little beat up by United’s incomprehensible fare rules. She was trying to make a change to a flight from Houston to Louisville, but the $200 change fee would eat most of the value of her ticket.

“I decided to look at canceling my entire trip and just booking one way return from Louisville to Houston,” she says.

That’s when United quoted her the zero fare, not including $2.50 in taxes. Wow.

“My question is: will United honor this ticket when I show up at the airport?” she asked.

Probably not.

United is reportedly considering it. I think it’s well within its rights to cancel all of the tickets.

But should I pressure United into honoring these fares? I mean, it offered them online. Shouldn’t it have to honor these prices?

We’ve had this debate a time or two. O’Neill is one of the honest ones, for which I’d certainly consider going to bat.

The ticket thieves who found out about this fare glitch on one of those bottom-feeding loyalty program blogs or discussion forums and took advantage of this? Less inclined to help them.

What do you think? Should I get involved if necessary?

Should I help passengers with their United Airlines "zero" fares?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.