United Airlines Glitch Drops Fuel Surcharge And They Won't Be Able To Fix It Until 8pm Tonight

You can save up to $130 due to a “human error” that is causing United Airlines to drop the up to $130 fuel surcharge, says the Wall Street Journal. The airline says they won’t be able to fix the glitch until 8pm tonight, so hurry up and book it:

“What happened was a human error that resulted in us taking off the fuel surcharge on all domestic flights,” said Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United.

Airlines file their fare levels three times a day in the U.S. to Airline Tariff Publishing Co., the U.S. air-fare clearing house. United’s 12:30 p.m. eastern time filing was incorrect, the airline said. The next chance for Untied to file air fares was 8 p.m. eastern time.

Buy now! Tell a friend! Sorry, United!

United Drops Fuel Charges, for a Day [Wall Street Journal]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dorianh49 says:

    Yeah, butt you’ll have to sit on the toilet for the hole flight…

  2. ChipMcDougal says:

    @dorianh49: and you KNOW you aren’t getting the meal you wanted

  3. xl22k says:

    I don’t get the Consumerist sometimes…

    You encourage people to take advantage of a company’s mistakes in their favor and yet you complain when they make a mistake that goes against the company.

    Shouldn’t you be encouraging everyone to “play nice” instead?

  4. Triterion says:

    Its a better deal to just fly Virgin America, even without those extra charges!

  5. petrarch1608 says:

    ummm wasnt it jetblue where the guy was on the toilet?

  6. Bet you they try to add $130 after the fact and re-charge the cards.

  7. petrarch1608 says:

    meh, I just checked–still more expensive than Southwest

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    @xl22k: They also like to point out deals and bargains when they become available. This particular article cites the Wall Street Journal as a source, so Consumerist isn’t the only one spreading the word.

  9. hypnotik_jello says:

    @xl22k: Could it be because corporations tend not to play fair, and given the opportunity will not play on the same level playing field as consumers.

  10. Landru says:

    @xl22k: You forgot “How is this not stealing?” And btw, it’s not stealing.

  11. United doesn’t fly to my airport.

  12. spinachdip says:

    @xl22k: And shame on David for going after Goliath’s eye! Why couldn’t he fight the giant with his fists, mano-a-mano? See, the impact of a corporation’s mistake is far, far, far greater to an individual consumer than to a corporation. Not to mention United will probably sell a few extra tickets today because of this glitch. This is a textbook case of where companies turning bad news in their favor, by simply being transparent and saying, “Oh, what the hell, it’s on the house.”

    Plus, United’s going to file bankruptcy in the next 5 years (again) anyway, so it’s not like anyone’s actually losing money out of the deal.

  13. thesabre says:

    Talk about a creative marketing blitz. Now United Airlines can sit back and watch people snatch up their tickets like water in a desert.

  14. SayAhh says:

    It’s NOT stealing: UA will most likely tack on the fuel charge at the airport on the departure date, and most people will just suck it up and pay it.

  15. trujunglist says:

    Maybe this was all some genius plan to get more people to book tickets with their stimulus checks. Pretend that it was a glitch, raise most fairs by about 80 bucks, then have a “sale.” Genius.

  16. trujunglist says:


    That’s fares, genius.

  17. humphrmi says:

    @xl22k: What if Consumerist posted the story as “United Airlines fares discounted up to $130 until 8:00 PM”? Would that be OK? If so, then at what point does it become “taking advantage”, only after the article mentioned that it was a glitch? So, should they leave that part out of the article?

    This wasn’t some sort of computer hack or big huge secret, United published the fare and even issued a press release!

  18. planetdaddy says:

    It’s part of the master plan.

  19. Wish I had somewhere to go…

  20. Macroy says:

    @xl22k: Umm, because it’s called the CONSUMERist?

  21. krunk4ever says:


    I have to agree with x122k and what Consumerist is doing here is completely different from WSJ. WSJ is not advocating readers to take advantage of this error.

    And the problem with you folks who obviously know that it’s an error is the fact when they go ahead and cancel your ticket is that you’re going to complain like you didn’t know this was going to happen and demand that they respect your purchase price.


  22. petrarch1608 says:

    consumerist has always been and will always be about protecting the consumer and holding companies accountable. If United is so f*ed up that they can’t fix a computer glitch, then they deserve to lose out on my money

  23. Channing says:

    I gotta side with you on this one, friend.

    I think instead of reporting it as “take the money and run!” there would be a lot more journalistic integrity to say “united may make you pay $130 extra on flight booked until they correctly patch the error which has been made.” Of course, in comprehensable English as mine is pewp. This ought to be more of an alert that you may not be getting the deal you think you’re getting instead of telling people to buy tickets and get into a $130 hassle later.
    That’s like finding something priced wrong in the store and DEMANDING that they give you that ruby brooch for $1.30 instead of the $130 it should be.

  24. Carencey says:

    I have to laugh at United. If they’d just been honest and raised the fare instead of trying to sneak in some more money as a surcharge, they probably wouldn’t have had this problem as there wouldn’t have been a way to magically leave off part of the actual fare.

  25. ChuckECheese says:

    @thesabre: I’ll bet they snap up tickets like orphans grabbing icewater at a Wal-Mart.

  26. god_forbids says:

    @petrarch1608: C’mon. How about if a company went for your throat next time you make a mistake? Nothing is right about being ruthless with one another.

    After all, we’re all human. Unless you work for yourself, your salary depends on corporate profits. You cut those, and employees suffer. There is no “Mr. United” – the corporations are us.

    The hard-working owners of any business work to put food on the plates of their workers, partner businesses and shareholders. What is so evil about that?

    As a future business owner, I cringe to think what will happen when I make a mistake … “consumerists” everywhere will be ready, with knives poised, to take advantage.

  27. n301dp says:

    Must be one of those days for the airlines…almost got my hands on a $0 fare from Denver to Ft. Myers, FL during the summer on AirTran (total cost: $35 in taxes). They caught the mistake as I was booking :-(.

  28. ugly says:


    There’s a simple reason that you’re all wrong.

    United knows about this, they choose to still sell the tickets at the price indicated. They could very easily simply stop selling the tickets, or even raise the ticket prices by the corresponding amount. I’m sure you’ve all noticed how frequently ticket prices changes, so obviously they can change them far faster than fixing whatever “glitch” is prohibiting the fuel charge from being applied.

    So there is every reason for us as consumers to take United up on their offer of withholding the fuel surcharge.

    What you must realize is that the relationship between consumer and company is mutual. Nobody can make you buy something (well, except the government) and nobody can make you sell something (same caveat). A website that gives a bit of the power of numbers and communication to the consumer can only work out better for both parties in that relationship. Companies that deal with consumers honestly will win, and companies that dissemble will lose. The free market can only work when the people with the money can make informed decisions.

  29. selectman says:

    @ugly: +1, A++++ would read again

  30. midwestkel says:

    This has to be some sort of ploy to make money. If that really hapened there is no way that they would wait till 8PM to fix this, I am a website designer, if there is a problem like something simple a calculation it would be fixed in a matter of minutes.

    If for some reason the people who run the website are dumb and this is a problem. I am guessing there will be an extra charge on your credit card for that, lol.

  31. you sure this is really a mistake and not some sort of backdoor, viral marketing campaign?

    think about it, how often does a company actually admit to their mistakes/problems?

  32. Channing says:

    The free market can only work when the people with the money can make informed decisions.

    Getting 130 pegged on to your ticket price at a later and unknown date is a great informed decision?