Do you owe American Airlines money for the $7.5 million baggage fee?


If you’ve flown with American Airlines in the past few years and had to pay to check your bags, you may owe money. The carrier, the world’s largest, is paying at least $7.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit accusing it of charging unfair fees for storing luggage.

The plaintiffs include travelers with AA-branded credit cards that earned them checked-baggage privileges and passengers who qualified for the airline’s AAdvantage Gold loyalty program. They claim that their benefits have not been properly programmed into AA’s airport software system for years.

“As a result, AA passengers were improperly charged and forced to pay baggage fees,” according to the complaint.

American Airlines declined to comment on the matter, but in court filings it denied any wrongdoing. The financial agreement must still be approved by the court before the clients will receive compensation.

What is American Airlines accused of in the class action?

The plaintiffs in Cleary, et al., v. American Airlines alleges the carrier routinely tells some passengers they can check their bags for free, then asks them to pay when they arrive to check in at the airport.

“Knowing that waiving baggage fees would incentivize travelers, AA offered free checked bags to select customers, including customers who traveled frequently through AA’s loyalty program, AAdvantage; customers who purchased first class or business class tickets and customers who held AA-branded credit cards,” the suit reads. American “has systematically violated these contracts by nevertheless requiring these passengers to pay AA to check this baggage”.

Some passengers said they asked for a refund and were denied.

A class representative, Eric Earll, said he had been approved for a Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card, “which he said would allow him to check one bag at no additional charge on his next flight.”

But when Earl arrived at the airport, “the AA check-in agent told him that the computer showed no baggage fee waivers, that this happens all the time and that he has to pay the fee for checking baggage”.

According to the lawsuit, American Airlines generated more than $1.4 billion in baggage fees in 2019 alone.

Continue reading: AirTags in checked baggage? Why I will never travel without them again

Who is eligible for part of the American Airlines settlement?

The settlement divides class members into two groups:

  • Travelers with AA-branded credit cards that entitled them to free checked-baggage privileges but were charged on a domestic flight.
  • Passengers who received email confirmation that one or more of their bags would be free to check in but still had to pay.

To be eligible for part of the settlement, group members must have traveled on or after February 24, 2017 and their tickets must have been purchased by April 8, 2020.

How much could customers receive from American Airlines?

Although class representatives and the airline have both agreed to the terms of the settlement, they have yet to be approved by the courts. If and when this occurs, eligible customers will receive a full refund of all relevant checked baggage fees.

According to the American Airlines website, the fee for the first checked bag on a domestic flight is $30. From there, the fee increases to $40 for a second bag, $150 for a third bag, and $200 for a fourth.

Although American Airlines agreed to a minimum settlement of $7.5 million, there is no cap on how much it could ultimately pay out.

How do I file a claim for American Airlines baggage fees?

Currently, the settlement website offers details of class member rights and options, but does not include forms or timelines for filing a claim.

“Please check back in the coming weeks for detailed information on the proposed settlement,” read a statement on the site.

In court documents, American Airlines said it would notify potential class members of the settlement by mail and public notice. It will also establish a toll-free telephone number and include additional information on the settlement website.

Lawyers for Giskan Solotaroff and Anderson, the firm representing the plaintiffs, did not respond to a request for details.

Continue reading: What is a class action? How do you deposit and who is eligible for payment?

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