No, I didn’t want to buy United’s “Promotion Bundle”

Mary Bradley selects her seats on her upcoming United flight, but is confused by the confirmation that she soon receives. She is sure that she didn’t purchase anything called “United’s Promotion Bundle,” so why is she being charged for it?

Question: I purchased two round-trip United Airlines tickets from Philadelphia to San Francisco, but then I had eight extra charges for selecting two seats round-trip. I called United to ask what the extra charges were for, and they said something about a promotion bundle. I told the representative I never agreed to a promotion bundle, and she told me I would have to request a refund.

I don’t even know what a promotion bundle is. But I don’t want it. I just wanted my seat assignments. I went online and asked for a refund, but United did not respond. Can you help me get a refund for this package that I did not request? Mary Bradley, Wayne, Pa.

Answer: You should never be charged for anything that you did not intentionally purchase.

These days, all the extra amenities that airlines are offering to customers can be confusing — even to the most seasoned traveler. Which ones are necessary? Which ones are a good bargain?

Before hitting that final confirmation button, there can be a dizzying array of choices to make.

Do you want a seat assignment? Would you like to pre-pay baggage fees? How about priority boarding? An upgrade? What about purchasing bonus mileage? During your self-booking process, all of these options, and more may be presented to you on various screens.

The variety of supplementary options for air travelers are increasing by the day. It would appear that the airlines are constantly searching for additional revenue sources.

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And the complaints that we have been receiving seem to suggest that the airlines’ customers are a bit confused. Accidental online purchases of unwanted amenities are becoming common — at least in our helpline mailbox.

When you purchased your tickets, though, you were clear that you only wanted to secure an assigned seat for you and your husband.

Because you were selecting two seats on a round-trip itinerary, there should have been four charges. You sent me a screenshot of your credit card that showed that you were charged for the seats that you selected, but also for something called the United Airlines Promotion Bundle — four more times. These charges added $250 to your trip.

So what is this bundle?

There is not a simple answer to that question. When I went to the United website and searched for the promotion bundle, I was taken to a page that has a multitude of additional products that may be part of your bundle — including, among other things, amenities such as premium seats, wifi, snacks and extra luggage.

The FAQs explain that “Travel Options Bundles” are customized based on your trip, and could include any combination of products.”

So what products did your bundle include? It was a mystery to you. The four charges on your credit card only noted “United Promotion Bundle.” The representative that you spoke to wasn’t quite sure either.

Looking further into the explanation of this bundle, it appears that the options are shown to you, at some point, before you click the final confirmation button and purchase your ticket.

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You didn’t recall seeing any screen that offered you multiple products, and you were certain that you did not agree to the purchase.

I contacted United Airlines on your behalf and asked why you had been charged for the seat assignments and the “bundle.”

Although United did not explain the confusion, they quickly sent you a confirmation that your bundle would be fully refunded, and the seat assignment charges would remain.

You are pleased with this result, and I am happy to have helped.

In the future, remember to carefully review each screen prior to that final confirmation button — or you may find yourself once again with a bundle that you neither want or asked for.

Are these additional amenity offerings something that airline customers want?

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is the executive director of Elliott.org. She is a consumer advocate, writer and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. Contact her at Michelle Friedman Read more of Michelle's articles here.

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