Some United Airlines customers booked round-trip tickets to Hong Kong for $40 and four frequent flier miles over the weekend because of a computer glitch. Federal law requires United to honor the price. But should they have to?

United has had disaster after disaster for a while now. The employees hate the company and their pilots are threatening to strike. Following their merger with Continental, they've had continual troubles with their computer systems and performing timely maintenance. They even left passengers stranded in Shanghai for three days.

This past weekend, United's fouled up computer systems started offering first class roundtrip tickets from the U.S. to Hong Kong for the obscenely low price I mentioned above. (By comparison, a discount fare on first class would be more than $11,000!)

So United issues these tickets, charges people's credit cards for $40 and then says, 'Oops, we were wrong.' Federal law and regulations require that once an airline takes your money, that constitutes a contract, and even if there's a clerical error they owe you the transportation you purchased.

Yet United is balking. They could have used this as a, "Gee Whiz, isn't this amazing?" kind of scenario and won some PR kudos if they let the people fly. But instead their brainiacs said no.

What do you think? Did people buy these tickets knowing they were getting something over on the airline? Or is United wrong -- they had the fare, people bought it and they should honor those tickets?

Vote in my poll and let me know.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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