You only live twice


Many years ago, a colleague of mine was proudly showing me her lifetime membership card for Ansett Airlines’ Golden Wing business lounge.

Less than a year later, the Australian airline went bust and the offer was rendered worthless. Well, thanks to United Airlines — which has become the gift that keeps giving for cynical travel writers — I’ve now encountered something that tops that in the disappointment stakes.

In a post on, a contributor complains that United “promised ‘lifetime benefits’ if you flew a 1,000,000 miles. 15 years later they rescinded this offer. I sued them, and they won. What does ‘lifetime’ mean to you?”

Apparently the judges on the 7th Circuit Court sympathised with the complainant, and about 10,000 other loyal customers who had accrued the points, but noted that airlines had been deregulated and only the US Federal Aviation Authority had jurisdiction.

One respondent noted that the fine print in the MilagePlus agreemet gave United the right “to terminate the program, in whole or in part, or to change the rules”.

I suspect United isn’t the only culprit here, and that this kind of corporate behaviour extends well beyond airlines. I’m reminded of the episode of The Simpsons where Homer sues for being thrown out of an “all you can eat” restaurant before he ate all he could eat.

Once again, it’s a case of something that sounds too good to be true being exactly that.

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