United Airlines has discriminated against older consumers in California by excluding them from a 10-percent-off flight discount available only to customers 18 to 22 years old, a proposed class action lawsuit alleges.
According to the 17-page lawsuit, Section 51 of California’s Civil Code, known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, prohibits businesses from discriminating against people based on their age.
The plaintiffs, California United Mileage Plus members who are described in the suit as a 23-year-old woman and a 67-year-old disabled U.S. military veteran, claim they were unlawfully and arbitrarily excluded from full and equal access to the discounted United services solely due to their ages.
“United’s Discount intentionally discriminated against Plaintiffs and other United customers based on their age, and the Discount constituted arbitrary, unreasonable, and/or invidious discrimination,” the complaint alleges, asserting United’s age-restricted discount amounts to a “willful and malicious” injury upon certain customers in violation of state law.
The “misfortune” of being too old?
The lawsuit argues that on September 10, 2019 United began denying a 10-percent discount off flights within the U.S., Canada and Mexico to customers “whom United considered to be too old.” Specifically, United began exclusively providing customers 18 to 22 years old with the discount while denying the offer to those who, as the case tells it, “had the misfortune of being older than 22 years old.”
Per the suit, United’s 10-percent-off discount afforded customers between the ages of 18 and 22 a discount so long as they downloaded or already had the latest United app, signed up for or were already signed up for a United MileagePlus account (which required them to enter their date of birth), selected the “discounted travel (18-22)” option when searching for flights, and booked their flight through the United app.
In order for the plaintiffs to receive United’s 10-percent-off discount, they would have had to lie about their ages when ordering tickets, the case relays.
The suit argues United’s blanket exclusion of customers older than 22 years of age from receiving 10 percent off flight tickets deprives older passengers of their right to “equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, services, or prices.”
“A bit hypocritical”: Lawsuit highlights United’s mission statement
The lawsuit goes on to contend that it’s “especially troubling” that United implemented an age-restricted ticket discount given the airline’s mission statement attests to its apparent commitment to diversity and inclusion. As the suit tells it, profits take precedent over inclusiveness at United.
From the complaint:
Contrary to United’s woke-worded and strategically-placed proclamations about inclusion and diversity, United’s ageist Discount was all about exclusion and divisiveness. United’s trumpeted promise of inclusion and diversity, at least when it comes to its customers’ age, is empty, hollow rhetoric, mere virtue signaling.
United’s sole reason or motive for employing its Discount was to maximize profit.”
According to the lawsuit, California’s Supreme Court has found at least twice in Unruh discrimination cases that profit maximization or economic gain does not justify discrimination.
Who does the lawsuit look to cover?
The case aims to cover a class that includes all individuals who, while in California at any time from September 10, 2019 to June 30, 2020, were 23 years of age or older, used the United app to buy a United Airlines economy ticket for air travel for anytime from September 10, 2019 through December 31, 2020 and were denied the 10-percent discount provided by United to only those between the ages of 18 and 22.
The suit also looks to represent anyone who, while in California at any time from September 10, 2019 through June 30, 2020, were 23 years of age or older, visited United.com with the intent to buy an airline ticket for travel for any time from September 10, 2019 through December 31, 2020, and encountered United’s terms and conditions that excluded them from the airline’s 10-percent discount provided only to those between the ages of 18 and 22.