More than 35 United Airlines employees were fired after the company discovered they were abusing their employee travel perks by selling travel passes, which are intended for employees and their friends and family.
“United employees at the gate noticed something fishy about a particular group of nine non-revenue pass riders,” the company said in an article published on United’s internal site and obtained by USA TODAY. “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.”
Following an investigation, the airline “uncovered a brokering scheme where employees were soliciting pass travel privileges from their colleagues to put up for sale.”
United discovered some employees gave fake documentation to in order to name travelers as their stepparents or domestic partners.
“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),” the airline stated in the article.
The employees involved were fired, United explained, noting “some claimed that they believed that what they were doing was OK, since they had pass travel privileges that weren’t being used.”
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 article also provided a reminder to employees about the rules of the travel passes.
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“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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