Grounded free flyer battles for pass

May 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM
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NEW YORK, May 13 (UPI) -- A New York banker vows he will get back the ticket for unlimited travel that he says American Airlines revoked because he travelled too much.

Steve Rothstein, 61, is appealing the dismissal of lawsuit over the revocation of the AAirpass he bought from American Airlines in 1987 and used for more than 10,000 flights through 2008.

"Our country is almost captive to big companies who have incredible power to do whatever they want to do," Rothstein told The New York Post. "It's hard to fight them."

But, he added, "They signed a contract and a contract is a contract."

Rothstein said he paid a total of $350,000 for his AAirpass and a companion ticket which basically allowed him to travel at no additional charge wherever and whenever he wanted. "I could go someplace and I wouldn't even have to think about it," he said. "Just make the reservation and go."

Rothstein put the pass to good use on spur-of-the moment pleasure jaunts to Europe and sporting events around the United States. He frequently used it to help out strangers bumped from other flights or friends who couldn't afford to travel.

But the high-flying days came to an end after American conducted an audit of its most-costly accounts. The bean counters determined Rothstein had committed fraud by booking companion-ticket flights under fake names in order to hold a seat if he didn't know who his companion was going to be.

Rothstein said it was a devastating change of tune from a company he said treated him like a "hero" when he first bought his lifetime pass. "I feel betrayed," Rothstein said. "They took away my hobby and my life. They essentially destroyed my persona."

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