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United Airlines fires 35 employees for abusing travel benefits

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/9/2019 David Matthews
a large white airplane parked in a lot© Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

United Airlines fired more than 35 employees who were abusing their travel perks, like selling travel passes that are intended for 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 nonrevenue reservations and were unable to provide the names of the employees who had provided the tickets."

The airline “uncovered a brokering scheme where employees were soliciting pass travel privileges from their colleagues to put up for sale.”

United found that employees would provide fake documents to pass off strangers as 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 said.

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 airline has clarified its employee travel policy.

United Airlines CEO on the company's future (video by CNBC)

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