[UPDATE 10/15/2013, 9:02 a.m. EST: A United Airlines spokesperson sent the following statement via Twitter to IBTimes. "This is an int. manipulation of our website. Res won’t be ticketed or honored unless the required miles are available."]
The United Airlines site was experiencing some turbulence on Monday and into Tuesday due to a glitch on its website that enabled customers to buy tickets for free or at virtually no cost.
Mashable broke the news that travelers could simply set up a “MileagePlus” account, a service that handles frequent flyer miles for passengers, and the site would offer tickets reflecting frequent flyer miles. The blog said it booked a roundtrip ticket from Newark, N.J., to Dublin for just $49.40, which included taxes and fees, but stopped short of actually booking the flight.
International Business Times tested the glitch after signing up for United Airlines MileagePlus and was able to book a round-trip flight – though we did not go through with the final purchase step -- from Newark to London’s Heathrow airport for only $230.80, the tax charge (below).
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Buzzfeed.com detailed the steps after a user sent in directions on how to manipulate the glitch:
“Go on to on united.com, enter your frequent flyer information, choose a miles flight, select both flights you want to book, then open a new window but leave the old one open as well. Select the same flights, booking with dollars this time. Refresh the first window, then refresh the second window. The second window should show that you have enough points to book the flight. Then you enter in your credit card info and just pay the tax/fee. You should get a confirmation email. If you don’t have a united frequent flyer number, you can create one.”
The Buzzfeed user claimed to have booked a flight from Phoenix to Harrisburg, Pa., for just $10.
However, those who booked a flight by manipulating United Airlines’ website glitch will not get to fly on the cheap. United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told Mashable: “We’ve identified an issue where customers are intentionally manipulating our website. We will not honor these reservations.”
United did not confirm how many individuals have taken advantage of the ticket-purchase glitch.
Worst of all, this is the second time in recent months that United Airlines has suffered a ticketing glitch. CNET reported the website experienced a problem in September lasting one hour where most tickets cost $0 because of human error. A rep told Mashable that tickets from the September glitch were honored because they resulted from human error rather than manipulation of the website.