Hack for Free Flights

United computer glitch results in more free flights: Airline accuses travelers of manipulation

United accuses travelers of manipulation to secure free flights

United Airlines airplanes tails at IAH Bush Intercontinental Airport
Once again, a United Airlines website glitch is handing out amazingly discounted airfare. BoardinArea.com

Yet another glitch on the United Airlines website gave travelers shockingly low ticket fares on October 14. But unlike the infamous September errors that offered $5 to $10 round-trip flights, company execs are refusing to honor this new batch of reservations.

This time, the glitch is more of a crafty consumer workaround than a bug. BuzzFeed posted an email from an anonymous reader explaining how travelers used a 10-minute process to essentially confuse United's MileagePlus program into covering flights with free air miles:

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.

Although the hack was fully operational October 14, CultureMap was unable to secure a cheap California getaway for October 15. (Admittedly, though, the BuzzFeed instructions are not entirely clear.)

United spokesperson Rahsaan Johnson told Mashable — which first reported on the glitch — that the airline won't honor low fares obtained by customers "intentionally manipulating" the website. Prices from the September system mistake, he added, were honored because of they were caused by "human error" by United's own personnel.