Having to shell out $9, or whatever nominal fee the airline charges for WiFi, sucks. But when you pony up the cash and the WiFi doesn't work at all... well, apparently, that's grounds for a $5 million lawsuit. At least, that's what one lady in New Jersey thinks.
Passenger Cary M. David lodged a class action lawsuit against United in March, alleging that although the company states on its website onboard Wi-Fi doesn’t work outside the US, it made no effort to inform passengers on her flight. And in fact, the airline promotes its purchase in seatback screens. David paid $7.99 to use the Internet connection on her four-hour flight from Puerto Rico to New Jersey, then was appalled to find she effectively threw $8 into the airplane's toilet when the Internet stopped working after the plane was no longer over the continental US.
“United sells these services to passengers on the flights and fails to disclose that the services will not work as advertised when the aircraft is outside the continental United States,” the lawsuit argues. “It is not until they have crossed US borders or are over water, with no service, that customers learn that their DirecTV and/or Wi-Fi service will not work.”
Last week, United filed a motion to drop the lawsuit, making the case that David “only quoted select passages from the in-flight Wi-Fi advertisement,” and boiled her complaint down to “a false premise.”
“We believe this suit is without merit both factually and legally," United spokeswoman Christen David told Thrillist. "On our DirecTV-equipped planes, we clearly inform our passengers in writing on the screen before they confirm their purchase that ‘Live DIRECTV programming is not available while the aircraft is outside of the continental United States’ and that ‘Wi-Fi service is available over the continental US.’”
Christen David countered that United's international long-haul fleet has global satellite coverage, and that the airline is working to expand the coverage area to its domestic aircraft.
Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.