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Fired For Misusing Travel Passes

Fired For Misusing Travel Passes
Jackie Reddy

Over 35 employees of United Airlines have been fired after it was discovered that they were selling their travel passes for profit. Gate staff were the first to suspect this scheme and an investigation soon followed suit. United has cautioned its employees over the correct use of their privileges.

United Airlines has fired over 35 of its staff members after they were found to be violating the terms of their travel perks, USA Today reports. Specifically, the employees were said to be selling on their airline travel passes, privileges meant to be enjoyed only by staff members and their close family and friends.

An article published on the carrier’s internal website, which has been seen by the outlet, described in detail the circumstances that led to the firing of these employees.

“United employees at the gate noticed something fishy about a particular group of nine non-revenue pass riders. The three families, who were traveling internationally, stated that they had ‘paid for’ first class tickets – but they were on non-revenue reservations and were unable to provide the names of the employees who had provided the tickets,” United stated, as quoted by USA Today.

An investigation soon followed, during which the carrier “uncovered a brokering scheme where employees were soliciting pass travel privileges from their colleagues to put up for sale.”

It has also been revealed that some of the fired employees provided those using their passes with false documents in an attempt to create the appearance of a familial relationship.

It is reported that some of the fired employees received payment for the use of their passes.

“Your pass travel privileges are intended for use only by you and your friends and family members. While you can be reimbursed by your pass riders for any taxes, fees and imputed income for their travel, charging above that amount is not allowed – and selling pass travel or trading for goods or services isn’t either,” cautioned the carrier.

Commenting on the incident to the outlet Frank Benenati, spokesperson for United, said, “Enjoying flying privileges is a unique and special advantage of working at an airline, and it is intended only for our employees and their friends and family. We have clear rules on flying privileges so we can all fairly enjoy this benefit.”

[Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (11)


  1. SouthernTide

    March 13, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Why don’t the airlines stop giving perks that interfere with paying customers ability to fly and get upgrades. Every time I fly Delta and get denied an upgrade, it is not enjoyable to see Delta staff getting into first class. I don’t know any other business that gives preference to its own employees over customers. We always take care of the customer before ourselves at my company. Wake up airlines.

  2. blimpin aint easy

    March 13, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Southern tide,

    You just like to complain hu?

    That’s not at all how it works. All passengers, revenue standby and revenue upgrades get done first. Any left over seat, gets handed over to employees, then employee friends. And many times, the flight is full so the friends at the end of the que get left behind.

    The only exception to this (and it’s very rare) is when employees are traveling for work purposes. For example, flying a mechanic to a remote airport or Having a pilot in first for part of a long haul flight so they can sleep/relax.

    Status and revenue passengers always get first dibs for those warm nuts and free drinks up front.

  3. Alex Jevdic

    March 13, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Airline staff are the very last to get considered for any seat let alone first class and with the anount of revenue upgrades its almost unheard of for employees to get first class on domestic. Travel benefits are a corporate perk that employees earn through their hard work and should not be stripped.

  4. kkua

    March 13, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    In the old NWA international days, staff can only sit upfront when both conditions are met: 1) economy class seats are not available, and (2) no more platinum flyers left for upgrades to make room for staff to sit in the back. This way, it ensures brand loyalty of top tier flyers… and still maintain staff happiness.

    The new Delta method gives only what the passenger paid for. There is no incentive for brand loyalty these days.

  5. Snuggs

    March 14, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    The silence is defeaning….

  6. KRSW

    March 15, 2019 at 7:35 am

    @blimpin: It depends on the airline. Some airlines DO give preference to employees. I know of at least one airline which allows employees to poach first class seats for personal travel. Granted, they get an annual limit of these vs. the usual standby travel, but still, they’re out there.

  7. VXforever

    March 16, 2019 at 6:02 am

    whats the big deal? WFBF

  8. MrGood

    March 16, 2019 at 7:18 am

    When I worked for an airline back in the day, I was given travel passes known as non-rev. Coworkers abused their non-rev benefits by literally selling their passes to people willing to pay requested price ALL THE TIME. You can find them here and there on the internet, but it’s hush-hush. Some got caught and reprimanded or worse, and some were sly enough to never get caught. I used a travel pass for my father once, somehow got caught, and that was a good enough reason my mgr finally needed to fire me. He ended up doing me a favor, but anyway, it is what it is! At their own risk…

  9. Jeff767

    March 16, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Delta pass travel in all circumstances comes after revenue passengers. The posts to the contrary are incorrect.

  10. VaguelyAsian

    March 17, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    why can’t they upgrade some from the back of the plane first rather than giving it to staff?

  11. izzyizzo

    March 18, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Delta employees only ride in premium seats that would have otherwise gone empty. Period. Back-of-bird pax are welcome to buy up to those seats until about a half hour prior to departure.

    There ARE rare occasions when an employee will get to sit in a premium seat when elite were on the standby list – usually involves a last-second no-show when close to or past departure time, in which case relocating an upgrade-eligible pax who’s already boarded could cause a departure delay. Finding and moving a revenue pax could take a minute or could take five minutes, but the employee will get on quick, sit down, buckle up and shut up. Most pax would agree that’s preferable to an entire aircraft losing its spot in the departure queue.

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