American, Spirit to Pay Fines and Settlements for Customer Service Gaffes


American Airlines is being fined $4.1 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation for “violating federal statutes,” while Spirit Airlines is proposing a $8.25 million settlement in a class action lawsuit.


DOT Fines American for 43 Instances of Long Tarmac Delays

For American Airlines, the payout comes after an investigation into the Fort Worth-based carrier’s tarmac holds. The Office of Consumer Aviation Protection says between 2018 and 2021, “American allowed 43 domestic flights to remain on the tarmac for lengthy periods without providing passengers an opportunity to deplane in violation of the Department’s tarmac delay rule.”


In those situations, the DOT says the tarmac holds were not for allowable reasons, including safety or security reasons. In total, over 5,800 passengers were affected by the instances. While the fine is the largest against any carrier for allegedly breaking tarmac delay rules, it will include a $2.05 million credit for compensation offered to the affected flyers.


“This is the latest action in our continued drive to enforce the rights of airline passengers,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a press release. “Whether the issue is 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 first-time airline flyers a 75% refund of carry-on bag fees they paid to the carrier, for a total of up to $8.25 million. While Spirit is notorious for their ultra-low-cost model, the flyers in the lawsuit claim that they were not made aware of the fees ahead of time through numerous online travel agencies, including Expedia, Travelocity, and CheapTickets.


“The question at the heart of this litigation…[is] fairly simple: By charging its passengers, who had not previously flown on Spirit and who booked their flights through one of the OTAs, additional fees for carry-on bags, did Spirit breach the contract formed between those passengers and Spirit,” the lawsuit claims. “Plaintiffs contend that the evidence they would submit at trial would establish that a reasonable consumer would believe that the price paid for Spirit to fly them from point A to point B includes the right to bring a carry-on bag on the plane without additional charges.”


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 the plaintiff’s attorney fees. Spirit has not publicly commented on the settlement proposal.


Stay up to date on everything going on at American Airlines and Spirit Airlines on the FlyerTalk Forums.


Feature image courtesy: Photo by MOHD AZRIN on Unsplash

Source: frugal travel guy

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