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United Frequent-Flier Member Suing Airline Over Not Being Awarded Full Miles Credit

Travelers Today       By    Antranig Dereyan

Updated: Mar 26, 2013 03:16 PM EDT

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A horrifying situation can happen when an airline pilot suddenly has a heart attack while flying. However luckily, a bomber pilot was on board a December United Airlines flight to help bring the plane to safety. (Photo : Reuters)

After being criticized for being one of, if not, the worst frequent-flier program, one of United Airlines' frequent-flier members is suing the carrier on claims that the company is not awarding customers full credit for the actual number of miles for their flights, reported The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

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"United has breached its MileagePlus contract with millions of its members. . . by not actually awarding the miles actually flown by them, as United had promised," Hongbo Han of Rockville, Md., is quoted as saying by the Plain Dealer. The newspaper stated that Han made the accusation in a 13-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

Hans accuses the airline of awarding mileage "closer to the direct distance (i.e., a straight line point-to-point irrespective of flight route) between the origin and the destination instead of the actually-flown miles for each flight," according to the Plain Dealer.

The example that the elite-level member used was a $1,166 round-trip ticket he bought to fly between Washington Dulles and Beijing. He says United credited his account "only" 6,920 miles each way, instead of the mileage that his particular flight took on the route on the days he flew.

To prove his claim, he used flight-tracking sites such as FlightAware.com to show the mileage of the particular flights he flew on his days of travel--the milage was actually closer to 7,276 and 7,043 miles on the two legs of his itinerary. Thus, Han claims United has shortchanged him on miles, including the ones customers accrue toward elite status.

A United spokeswoman tells the Plain Dealer that the company thinks the suit is "without merit."

Brett Snyder, author of The Cranky Flier blog, told thePlain Dealer that hans' lawsuit is "completely absurd" and that airlines use the so-called "great-circle" distance calculations, which accounts for the curvature of the earth in calculating the shortest possible distances between two destinations.

With all this being said and stated, to hear that a frequent-flier is upset about being short-changed isn't shocking and to hear that an airline (who, along with the industry in general has made a business out of pinching pennies) would try to take advantage of a passenger in the name of the all mighty dollar.

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