Filed by plaintiff Scott Coulier, the lawsuit claims that if a customer attempts to purchase several tickets at the same time, but only a few seats are available at a relatively low price, United.com will offer all the tickets at a higher price instead of letting users buy the outstanding cheaper tickets and as many higher priced tickets as necessary.
According to the lawsuit, there is no disclosure by United that its ticketing system sells multiple tickets at the same time only if they have the same price. Further, the lawsuit claims the airline deletes the lower priced tickets it skips overs. According to the complaint, the deletion is key, as United' guarantee will only refund customers if the airline' employees can find the lower priced fares after the transaction.
"The result of this systematic policy is the lower fare class tickets which actually exist at the time of purchase are not disclosed to the consumer and are systematically bypassed at the point of purchase in favor of higher fare class ticket,"the lawsuit states.
United' guarantee states that if customers can find lower fares for the same flight, itinerary and cabin after they purchase a ticket through United.com, the airline will refund the difference and hand out a $100 credit if the difference is $10 or more. However, according to the complaint, the terms do not properly define "itinerary"and are impossible to satisfy because United does not allow customers to use screenshots taken before their purchase to prove there were less expensive options.
In the lawsuit, Coulier claims he bought three tickets on United, from Peoria, Illinois, to Orlando Florida, for his family for $182 per seat. However, he believes he could have paid less if he bought the tickets individually. He alleged United' policies artificially restrict low class fares when bought together.
"Defendant engages in this deceptive and unfair practice as a way to profiteer from unsuspecting consumers, such that plaintiff and the putative class paid more than the lowest available price for the same tickets,"the lawsuit states. "Such conduct is a bait-and-switch sales practice."
Coulier is represented by Jeffrey S. Edwards, Scott Medlock and Sean Flammer of The Edwards Law Firm, Christopher P. Ridout and Caleb Marker of Ridout Lyton + Ottoson LLP and Hart L. Robinovitch of Zimmerman Reed PLLP.
The case is Scott Coulier v. United Airlines Inc., case number 4:15-cv-00190, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.