SEATAC, Wash. – A Pierce County woman is suing American Airlines, saying her checked bag fee should be refunded after the airline lost her luggage. It's a case that could reach class action status and could cost airlines millions of dollars.
The lawsuit, filed in Seattle federal court says American refused to refund her $25 bag check fee. The suit seeks class action status, saying American has refused refunds to potentially thousands of passengers whose bags are missing or damaged.
Millions of dollars per month are potentially at stake. The U.S. Department of Transportation says American Airlines passengers reported 23,000 mishandled bags in May. That same month among all airlines, 160,000 bags were lost or damaged – bags that could have garnered the airlines up to $4 million in fees.
The idea that carriers might hold on to some of that money rubs fee-weary travelers the wrong way.
"I think it's totally wrong. I don't care if it's American or United or anyone else. I'd be furious," said traveler Wayne Pinkstaff. "It's bad enough to lose the bag and to go through all the grief to try and get it back, but once I get it back and I still have to pay the fees, I don't think so."
"I think that they should pay the money back. If you're having to pay for a service like that and they're not able to deliver on it, I think it should be paid back," said traveler Laurie Mernett.
American Airlines says it won't comment on the lawsuit because it hasn't seen it. An airline spokesman argues that a passenger can get a refund if that passenger files a claim. The lawsuit says the woman was denied a refund. It doesn't say whether she filed a formal claim for the refund.