United Sells “0.00” Fare Tickets – What Are Your Thoughts On Mistake Fares?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Earlier today a TPG reader emailed me that he had been able to book a ticket on United for $0 in airfare and $5 in taxes from Kansas City to Washington DC.
For a little while this afternoon, this FlyerTalk thread was also buzzing about the mistake fares that United’s booking engine was generating. Curious, I started investigating, and although by the time I started looking at United.com, the site’s reservations page had been shut down temporarily, it looks like a lot of people were able to get in on these mistake fares – someone even reported getting a ticket from Washington DC and Houston to Hawaii for just $10 roundtrip!
Clearly this was a system error, and other news outlets are reporting that United shut down its entire booking page for both paid and award tickets – though it looks like it’s back up and running now and pricing out normally.
For those of you that did manage to snag those free fares quickly, I hope that you took screenshots of your reservations since the airline has yet to issue a response and might say that it will not honor these tickets – although in the case of some travelers, they booked flights for today so they might just be able to squeeze onto them before the airline decides to clamp down.
One lucky traveler who managed to book one of the mistake fares even tweeted to United about them – and though the airline did not offer an official response, it did reserve the right to “do what is appropriate,” which sounds rather ominous.
Based on past fare mistakes like this one, I suspect United is going to do everything possible to wiggle its way out of honoring tickets bought during the system glitch, just as the airline did last summer when its award system allowed bookings from the US to China for just 4 miles; or earlier this year when Alitalia canceled many mistake tickets booked under a promo it was running in Japan.
If your flight is today or tomorrow and there’s still no response from United, you could still try to chance it and fly out and then try arguing your way back onto a return flight since your travel has already commenced, but the rest of the folks who booked tickets in advance might find themselves out of luck.
Did you book one of these fares? Tell us about it – and let us know what happens when United finally starts responding. In the meantime, what do you think?
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.