United Airlines Fires Over 35 Employees for Selling Travel Passes

United Boeing 787 Dreamliner

United Airlines fired over 35 employees after the company discovered they were selling their employee travel passes for profit.

Employee travel perks, like travel passes, are intended for employees and their friends or family, but following an investigation, the airline “uncovered a brokering scheme where employees were soliciting pass travel privileges from their colleagues to put up for sale.”

USA TODAY obtained an article on United’s internal site that explained just how the airline learned of the dealings.

“United employees at the gate noticed something fishy about a particular group of nine non-revenue pass riders,” the company said.

“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.”

According to the company, “Some of the employees who gave up their passes received payment, while others were deceived into giving away their pass travel privileges based on the pretext that the passes were for a good friend or a relative (although even that would be against the rules).”

United spokesperson Frank Benenati told USA TODAY: “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.”

The 35 employees involved were fired, though United noted that “some claimed that they believed that what they were doing was OK, since they had pass travel privileges that weren’t being used.”

In the internal article, United reminded employees of the rules surrounding the travel passes.

“Don’t let something like this happen to you,” the airline continued. “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.”


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