American Airlines and Spirit Airlines will pay a combined total of more than $12 million to satisfy claims filed against them by the federal government and a group of travelers, respectively.
Two US-based carriers will pay millions over alleged customer service issues with their operations.
American Airlines is fined $4.1 million by the US Department of Transportation for ‘violating federal laws’, while Spirit Airlines offers $8.25 million settlement in class action lawsuit .
DOT fines American for 43 cases of long tarmac delays
For American Airlines, payment follows an investigation into the holds of the Fort Worth-based carrier. The Office of Consumer Aviation Protection states that between 2018 and 2021, “American allowed 43 domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for long periods of time without offering passengers the opportunity to disembark, in violation of the Tarmac Delay Rule. of the ministry. »
In these situations, the DOT says the tarmac holds were not for permissible reasons, including safety or security concerns. In total, more than 5,800 passengers have been affected by these cases. While the fine is the highest ever imposed on a carrier for allegedly violating tarmac delay rules, it will include a $2.05 million credit for compensation offered to affected travelers.
“This is the latest action in our ongoing effort to uphold air passenger rights,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release. “Whether it’s extreme tarmac delays or problems getting refunds, DOT will continue to protect consumers and hold airlines accountable.”
American has not publicly commented on the DOT fines.
Spirit offers $8.25 million for bag fee class action lawsuit
In a federal court case, Spirit Airlines is offering a group of new air travelers a 75% refund of the carry-on baggage fees they paid to the carrier, totaling up to $8.25 million. Although Spirit is known for its ultra-low-cost model, travelers involved in the lawsuit say they were not told the fees in advance through numerous online travel agencies, including Expedia, Travelocity and CheapTickets.
“The issue at the heart of this litigation…(is) quite simple: by charging its passengers, who had never flown on Spirit and who had booked their flights through one of the OTAs, an additional charge for hand luggage , has Spirit breached the contract formed between these passengers and Spirit,” the lawsuit alleges. “The plaintiffs argue that the evidence they would present at trial would establish that a reasonable consumer would believe that the price paid for Spirit to transport him from point A to point B includes the right to carry one carry-on bag in the plane at no additional cost. .”
If the settlement is approved by the court, it would end a six-year litigation against the Florida-based airline. The proposed $8.25 million would include plaintiff’s attorney fees. Spirit has not publicly commented on the proposed settlement.