United Airlines Sued for Downgrading Flier Benefits After Merger With Continental
A member of United Airlines’ frequent-flier program brought a federal class action lawsuit against the company for downgrading his frequent flier benefits after its merger with Continental Airlines in 2010. Plaintiff George Lagen, who claims to fly approximately a quarter of a million miles per year and achieved “Million Miler” status under UA’s MileagePlus program, brought suit in an Illinois federal court near United Airlines’s international headquarters in Chicago.
In the lawsuit, Lagen alleges that before United Airlines’ merger with Continental, United Airlines promised him lifetime benefits of three system-wide upgrades, two yearly regional upgrades, a 100% bonus on annual miles in addition to Premier Executive status, which gave him priority access to booking, pre-boarding, upgrades and seating. Lagen alleges that United Airlines reduced the bonus miles by 50% and eliminated the system-wide and regional upgrades.
Lagen alleges he entered into a contract with United Airlines, which United Airlines later reneged following its merger with Continental. Lagen claims he purchased flights amounting to at least one million actual miles on United Airlines flights only; United Airlines prohibited the accumulation of miles or benefits via methods other than the purchase of tickets on its planes, such as via partners or credit card offers. In exchange, United Airlines provided him with a number of lifetime benefits. Lagen essentially alleges that his loyalty to United Airlines, demonstrated by purchasing only United Airlines flights, created a contract by which the company owed Lagen ongoing frequent-flier benefits.
Lagen alleges that United Airlines breached its contractual obligations by downgrading and removing earned lifetime benefits after the Continental merger.
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