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Chicago 'Million Miler' Sues United Airlines for Taking Away Perks

United Continental Holdings(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago man who has accumulated more than a million miles in United Airlines' frequent flier program has sued the airline in a class action for "immorally" rescinding perks for "Million Milers."

George Lagen flies on average 200,000 to 250,000 miles a year, and achieved "Million Miler" status in United Airlines' Mileage Plus frequent flier program.  He said that the average customer would spend about $273,000 to reach one million miles.

"On the other side of the coin is United Airlines, which reaped millions -- if not billions -- of dollars from Million Miler members," the suit stated.

Elite frequent fliers aren't only battling with United.  American Airlines realized it was losing money from its "unlimited" first class flying program and began to crack down on its AAirpass holders, accusing some of them of breaking the program's rules.

Lagen claims that United's merger with Continental Airlines, which closed in October 2010, led to an "immediate and significant retroactive demotion of benefits to Million Milers."

He said that before the merger, Million Milers were "guaranteed Lifetime Premier Executive status for life" only through the purchase of actual tickets toward one million miles.  Those lifetime benefits included a one-time award of three system wide upgrades, two free regional upgrades a year, a 100 percent bonus for the miles flown each year, and other lifetime benefits, such as pre-boarding advantages, upgrade possibilities and seating priority.

Now, Lagen said his one million miles only gives him second-tier status.

He had to say bon voyage to the 100 percent bonus miles, which is now only 50 percent.  Lagen also no longer has the one-time award of three system wide upgrades nor the two regional upgrades a year, according to the suit.

He has sued for breach of contract, good faith and fair dealing, and has invited other fliers who became Million Milers before the merger to join a class action filed last Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio