United’s Young Flyer Discount Challenged For Age Discrimination

On Tuesday, two travelers filed a law-suit against United Airlines in a California court, asking $5 million in damages. The reason? They felt discriminated against for not being able to participate in United’s “Young Flyer” discount campaign.

United Airlines, Hawaii, COVID-19 Tests
A class-act lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against United Airlines for age discrimination. Photo: Getty Images

We have heard of many strange and farfetched lawsuits in our days. However, the two United Airlines customers that are now asking for $5 million in damages for not being eligible for the carrier’s “Young Flyer” promotional discount might take the disproportionality cake.

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$5 million for a lost 10%

The class-action suit claims the two travelers were discriminated against because of their age, which is illegal according to Californian law. The suit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The passengers are both residents of California.

United’s “Young Flyer” campaign ran from September 10th, 2019, to June 30th, 2020. It allowed travelers between the ages of 18 and 22 to book flights before December 31st this year within the US, Canada, and Mexico with a discount of 10%. The promotion was to make travel more accessible for young people still in college or at the start of their careers.

The conditions stipulated that the booking had to be made via the airline’s app and that the customer had to be a MileagePlus member. Conditions that the lawsuit says both travelers fulfilled. The only thing not applicable was their age, as they were 23 and 67 at the time.

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United’s “Young Flyer” campaign for the US, Canada, and Mexico ran from September 2019 to June this year. Photo: Getty Images

United says the lawsuit is baseless

Apparently, the two plaintiffs felt so discriminated against for missing out on their 10% discount by one and 45 years, respectively, that they decided to take United to court over it. The suit asks for $5 million in damages and an injunction against United not to engage in any further “age discrimination.”

A spokesperson for United Airlines told the Chigaco Tribune that,

“It is a shame that a few individuals take issue with an offer that is intended to make travel more accessible to more people. We believe this lawsuit is completely baseless and will defend ourselves vigorously.”

While there may technically be a case under California’s anti-discrimination laws, the sheer disproportionality of the damages the plaintiffs’ lawyer is requesting on their behalf should be enough to label this as the opportunistic stunt it seems to be.

Simple Flying has reached out to United for a comment but was yet to receive a reply at publication.

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A spokesperson for United says the airline will defend itself vigorously. Photo: Getty Images

Other select suits

This is not the first, and most likely will not be the last, of odd law-suits brought against an airline. Business Traveller mentions, among others, a nervous flier who was appalled when a carrier played “Killing Me Softly” with The Fugees as she was boarding the plane. The woman, who claimed psychological suffering, lost her case in court. 

Apparently, some of the most common claims stem from insect bites, including bed bugs from sleeper-style premium cabins, and injuries suffered due to turbulence. In the US, the airline is actually liable for the latter, with about $170,000 payable without any particular proof that the carrier itself was somehow at fault.

Now and then, the lawsuit comes from somewhere more unexpected. As NBC News tells it, an undisclosed airline’s CEO filed a lawsuit against his own airline from which he had received millions and full health insurance for life. The reason being that he had not been granted “full compensation” in the form of his free life-time first class flights.

What do you make of the class action against United? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.