The Business Times

Court dismisses frequent-flyer lawsuit

Published Thu, Apr 3, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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[WASHINGTON] Airlines won a stronger shield from passenger lawsuits as the US Supreme Court threw out claims filed by a man kicked out of Northwest Airlines's frequent-flyer programme for complaining too much.

The justices unanimously said that the man's lawsuit under Minnesota state law was barred by a 1978 federal statute that deregulated the airline industry. The ruling reversed a federal appeals court.

Writing for the court, Justice Samuel Alito said that the ruling wouldn't necessarily preclude suits in all 50 states. He said that Minnesota law would have improperly imposed obligations on airlines no matter what was in their frequent-flyer contracts with passengers. He said that frequent flyers wouldn't be left "without protection", even in Minnesota. "If an airline acquires a reputation for mistreating the participants in its frequent-flyer programme (who are generally the airline's most loyal and valuable customers), customers can avoid that programme and may be able to enrol in a more favourable rival programme," Justice Alito wrote.

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