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Supreme Court Will Hear Case On Disgruntled Frequent Flyer

Man filed suit after being booted from program for excessive complaints


NewLettersThe Supreme Court agreed today to hear arguments from a man who was allegedly kicked out of a frequent flyer program for complaining too much.

Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg sued Northwest Airlines (which ceased operations in 2010 after Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) merged with it) after he was dismissed from their frequent flyer service in 2008.

According to Ginsberg, he was told he was removed from the program because he filed too many service complaints. He was also accused of seeking compensation after booking reservations on full flights, knowing he would be bumped to other flights.

Ginsberg said that his complaints — 24 in total according to Northwest — involved a small proportion of the flights he took, and dealt with issues like long waits for luggage or lack of notification of cancelled flights.

Initially, his suit was dismissed by a federal judge in California, where he had filed in hopes of receiving class action status for others who may have been booted from the frequent flyer program for complaints. The judge said that because of the Airline Deregulation Act, which forbids states from passing laws addressing the prices, routes or service of an air carrier, Ginsberg could not sue. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying that his case was not related to the prices, routes, or services and did have standing.

Hearings will be held and the case will be decided sometime between October of this year and June 2014.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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