Lawsuit Dismissed: Million Miler Loses to United Airlines

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”, United States District Judge Harry Leinenweber reportedly said as he quoted Job from the Bible at the start of issuing his decision earlier today to dismiss a lawsuit which claimed that United Airlines removed some of the benefits it promised to bestow upon members who earned and achieved million miler status in the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program, thereby breaching its contract with them.

George Lagen — the plaintiff who is a million miler member of the United Airlines MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program — was denied a motion for summary judgment after Leinenweber ruled that Lagen “has not produced any evidence that United made him (and other putative class members) an offer to participate in a separate MillionMile Flyer program that was separate and apart from the MileagePlus program.”

To add insult to injury, the judgment also demands that Lagen pay costs incurred by United Airlines.

Lagen first filed his lawsuit back in May of 2012 in the Eastern Division of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, claiming that United Airlines removed some of the benefits it promised to bestow upon members who earned and achieved million miler status in the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program, thereby breaching its contract with them.

Almost a year ago, Leinenweber refused the request of United Continental Holdings Incorporated — the parent company of United Airlines, which cited that the litigant had no legal standing on which to sue based upon its right to modify the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program at any time — to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that the contract United Airlines had with Million Miler members supposedly differed from the contract with other members of the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program.

Meanwhile, FlyerTalk members continue to debate this case — as well as portend the future of the members of frequent flier loyalty programs who have earned million miler lifetime elite level status.

With regard to the assertion by Leinenweber that Lagen has not produced any evidence, FlyerTalk member LASUA1K disagrees, stating that we should “expect UA to make changes in the future. This judgement is unfair, the plaintiff had plenty proof.”

Do you agree? Should FlyerTalk members think twice before purposely venturing to achieve million miler status on any airline?

What do you think?

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Comments (Showing 8 of 8)

  • Dubai Stu at 11:25am January 24, 2014

    Anyone who has personal experiences that on which they would be competent to testify should step up to the plate.

  • sdsearch at 12:33pm January 24, 2014

    One should always be careful about spending lots of real extra money to achieve something in the frequent flyer world. It’s one thing to shift spending around (fly this airline rather than that airline, use this credit card rather than that credit card) to earn much more, because then if what you earn diminishes in value you’re only out what you could have earned otherwise (had you not shifted your spending patterns), which was likely either even less or also has devalued or will devalue soon.

    But if you spend lots of extra real money (say, mileage runs), it better have some IMMEDIATE benefit that you can use, because obviously in the long run anything can change.

    I have an much simpler example of this: In early 2012 I did a bunch of mileage runs during AA’s double/triple EQM promos and achieved EXP (top elite level) status through Feb 2014. But it so happen that due to a variety and combination of personal circumstances, I had no opportunities to travel overseas in 2013 or early 2014. So those “valuable” system-wide upgrades got used on North American flights only. Now, in this case, it wasn’t the airline who changed things on me, it was my own circumstances that changed, but the point is, something/anything can change in the future, so be careful in how much real money you spend trying to secure that future.

  • JackE at 1:12pm January 24, 2014

    Dubai Stu, the trial is over. There’s nothing to testify to now. There’s no plate; they’ve all been put away.

  • erdehoff at 3:07pm January 24, 2014

    That judge is getting Global Services status for life, I’m guessing. (Until UA/CO decides to change the program without notice, that is.)

  • iker at 6:57pm January 24, 2014

    To erdehoff: That would be a crime and something that neither the judge or United would risk engaging in.

  • chinatraderjmr at 9:57am January 26, 2014

    With all these different suits, the airlines seem to prevail based on some misguided defense that “you paid for travel & got travel” everything else is just a give away. Well, I’d like to see a suit brought by someone who bought nothing but miles. No travel, no CC spend, just retail mileage purchases which UA & AA have made a fortune over

  • UAThreemillionmiles at 7:35am January 28, 2014

    UA does not realize that someone like myself wit 3.3million flight miles is looked to by travelers as a person knowledgable of United operations. By discounting their rewards to million mile flyers, their best customers, they make Ambassadors into disgruntled customers.

  • sawadeeken at 11:15am January 28, 2014

    Mileage plus used to award lifetime Red Carpet Club (United Club now days) membership when you reached 2 Million. With the merger that disappeared at a time when I was 95% there. I had worked long and hard to reach that goal just to have it snatched away as it was almost in my hand. I have nothing but ‘bad to say’ about United since then. I am just another “bad will Ambassador”

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