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Woman Sues United Over Lack of Wi-Fi, Says Airline Tricks Flyers Into Prepaying For Nonexistent Service

A disgruntled United passenger has filed a class action lawsuit accusing the airline of failing to provide the wireless Internet she paid for on her overseas flight.

Cary David says when she prepaid for Wi-Fi on her upcoming United Airlines flight from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) to Newark International Airport (EWR), she was unaware that the service would be unavailable on her 4-hour flight because the trip originated outside of the continental U.S.

This is the sort of customer service issue that can usually be handled without lawyers. A simple refund and an apology for charging a customer for a service that wasn’t available in the first place would solve the problem in most cases. In this case, however, both sides are remarkably entrenched. Either United’s customer service team failed at handling a passenger complaint or David is an exceptionally stubborn woman, because this in-flight inconvenience resulted in a class action lawsuit.

The 17-page lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on March 15. It contends that David was taken advantage of, as United knew she was paying for a service that was unavailable, yet the airline took her money anyway. A portion of the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of all potential victims of the allegedly shady business practice, reads:

United sells these services to passengers on the flights and fails to disclose that the services will not work as advertised when the aircraft is outside the continental United States or is over water. It is not until they have crossed U.S. borders or are over water, with no service, that customers learn that their DirecTV and/or Wi-Fi service will not work for all or part of the flight.

For its part, United says it makes it clear that Wi-Fi is not available on all flights and cannot be held responsible if passengers choose to purchase packages on flights where the service is unavailable. The legacy carrier filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last week.

[Photo: iStock]

Comments are Closed.
weero May 10, 2015

Of course the in flight Internet DOES work outside of the US - could the writer of the article not simply verify that??? I used it on numerous occasions. There are many dropouts and the quality of often abysmal but I got several hours of online time on transpacific flights.

dlflyer2 May 8, 2015

United uses at least 3 different wifi providers, depending on the route which probably contributes to the problem. United's wifi is probably the least dependable among the 3 majors both for availability on airplanes and functionality where it exists.

vicmmen May 8, 2015

It is interesting to note that for each person who claims back their money for falsely advertised services, there are many who will not because they do not know the claim process or the amount is too small to bother. Fatter profits for the friendly skies.


United has no Customer Service emails or phone numbers found on their website I've tried myself in the past. I avoid the airline due to their horrendous customer service record Even a last ditch attempt at a senior management official who is in charge of customer experience couldn't be bothered responding. United was a very good airline years ago before the merger The customer has no choice as reservation agents aren't going to solve the issue other than disputing a credit card charge with the issuing bank

WaxComb May 7, 2015

I had the same thing happen to me, but I didn't bother complaining because it was a buck. However United refunded me anyway with no intervention on my part.