New United and JetBlue Ticket-Scam Warnings—And Recommendations

The airlines are alerting travelers about a social media-based swindle ahead of the holidays.

No matter how prepared you may be, there's still plenty that can go wrong while you're traveling. Sometimes, it can come down to getting stuck in a long security line when you get to the airport. In other cases, finding a seat next to your young children on a flight can be difficult. In cases like this, most people know to reach out to an airline's customer support team if they ever run into serious issues. But now, United and JetBlue have issued a new warning about a ticket scam targeting passengers on social media. Read on to see how you can protect yourself.

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Major airlines, including JetBlue and United, are warning about a new scam involving social media.

A woman using her phone while seated in an airport terminal waiting to board a flight

It's not at all uncommon for people who find themselves in a bind while traveling to reach out to their airline for help, including on social media. But according to major airlines, you might be putting yourself at risk of getting duped if you're not too careful.

Recently, carriers have become aware of scammers posing as customer service representatives and reaching out to travelers on major social media platforms, including X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, and Facebook, Fox Business reports. The practice also appears to be targeting passengers who may be facing flight delays or cancelations.

"Along with the rest of the industry, we have seen several fake social media accounts falsely representing themselves as JetBlue to deceive and defraud customers," a spokesperson for JetBlue recently told Fox Business.

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The fake accounts can be set up to appear legitimate and trick desperate travelers.

A woman waiting in the airport with her head down after a flight was canceled

The scam usually plays out with frustrated or stranded travelers reaching out to social media accounts looking for help with their reservations or to reroute them during a cancelation while waiting in long phone queues for assistance. It's then that an authentic-appearing account approaches the passenger and requests their flight and personal information—along with a fee, NewsNation reports.

Unfortunately, like many other scams, this bogus account fraud stems from a genuine attempt by the airline industry to quickly and efficiently serve its customers.

"If I reach out with a problem, and they give me an answer, and they make that public, and you have the same problem, they're able to serve thousands of customers in one sentence. Imagine that in real-time," business strategist Marve Bailer told NewsNation in a recent interview. "So that was the goal of this idea in the first place. And what's happening is we have bad actors ruining this experience."

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Warnings about the scam come as officials expect record-breaking travel this holiday season.

Extremely Crowded Airport
William Barton/Shutterstock

The airlines' scam alerts come on the heels of an announcement from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about the upcoming busy travel season. In a Nov. 13 press release, the agency said it expects to screen 30 million passengers during the 12 days surrounding Thanksgiving on Nov. 23. Officials estimate that Sunday, Nov. 26, will see the most people take to the skies, with 2.9 million passengers anticipated at airports.

"We expect this holiday season to be our busiest ever. In 2023, we have already seen seven of the top 10 busiest travel days in TSA's history," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in the release. "We are ready for the anticipated volumes and are working closely with our airline and airport partners to make sure we are prepared for this busy holiday travel season. We will also do our best to maintain wait time standards of under 10 minutes for TSA PreCheck lanes and under 30 minutes for standard screening lanes."

As the expected record-breaking crowds take to the skies, experts anticipate that social media scammers will try to exploit any issues or snarls and target vulnerable passengers.

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Here's what airlines are doing to solve the issue—and how to protect yourself from scammers.

Best things to do in Kansas City - family travels
Shutterstock / NicoElNino

Travelers can still be proactive by keeping a keen eye out when dealing with purported help online, including checking the profile picture and spelling of the handle for accounts claiming to belong to any carrier. At the same time, those using X should also look for the gold checkmark given out to verified businesses on the platform, NewsNation reports. But even beyond that, some major airlines are already taking action to curb scammers.

In a statement to Fox Business, JetBlue said it was already working to find and remove fake accounts from social media while still actively communicating with customers through the channels when they need help. It advised all travelers to double-check that they're speaking with a genuine account to ensure they're not being conned.

United Airlines also said it was taking steps to counter bogus social media accounts. A spokesperson for the carrier told Fox Business that passengers should "always verify any account they share information with."

Travelers trying to get in touch with Southwest Airlines are urged to reach out to the carrier via private message when they need help. "Messaging us privately is the safest and most secure way to know you're talking to Southwest and avoid someone else jumping into the conversation," a spokesperson for the airline told Fox Business.

Best Life has reached out to major airlines for comment on social media scammers, and we will update this article with their responses.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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