For at least the last year, something calling itself ‘United Airways’ — which is the name of a regional carrier in Asia that has nothing to do with this story — has been sending out versions of the above letter to consumers, promising free reward travel, but both the airline industry and the Better Business Bureau say it’s nothing but a scam.
The first clue should be the letterhead. Sure, there’s a logo, but where is the return address, website info? These are all things that most people would expect to see on an official letter.
The second big red alarm is the fact that United Airways isn’t really a thing, unless a Bangladesh-based airline that doesn’t even fly to the U.S. is suddenly offering travel vouchers to American consumers.
Consumerist reader T. received the above letter in the mail and sniffed this nonsense out right away. Out of curiosity, we called the number given on the letter. The first time, we were put on hold while a very proper, English-accented recording told us that someone in the “travel rewards” department would be with us shortly. Eventually, we received an error message and the call was disconnected.
We called back the next day and a young woman answered. When we pointed out that “United Airways” is not a company in the U.S., she explained that it is actually a marketing company that “represents all the major American airlines.” She also said it does business under the name of American Airways. When we pushed further, for examples of office locations or actual corporate names, our call was suddenly disconnected and no one picked up when we tried a third time.
Figuring that if this mysterious marketing company does represent “all the major American airlines,” we should ask those airlines if they had ever heard of this company with which they are so intimately involved.
We’re still waiting on replies from some carriers, but a rep for the actual United Airlines tells Consumerist that it has no relationship of any kind with this company.
Likewise, a rep for US Airways says the airline is “not familiar with any carrier or marketing firm operating under the name United Airways,” and that whoever is sending these letters does not represent US Airways. The rep has passed the letter on to its corporate security department.
Southwest was even more blunt about the travel voucher letter.
“Unfortunately, this is a scam,” a rep for the airline tells Consumerist, adding that while she is not aware of any calls to the Southwest Customer Relations department regarding this letter, its fraud folks are looking into it and “will insist that this company doesn’t misrepresent itself as working on behalf of Southwest Airlines.”
In 2012, the Better Business Bureau publicly declared this letter a scam, saying that it’s no more than an attempt to convince victims to call and turn over personal information that could be used to steal one’s identity.
Over at the blog Memoirs of a Single Dad, the author has posted a couple examples of this scheme along with some phone numbers he’s been able to put together from the letters he’s seen.