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American Airlines reaches $7.5M settlement in baggage fees lawsuit

American Airlines has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit brought by passengers in several states who claimed they were overcharged in a bait-and-switch on baggage fees. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
1 of 4 | American Airlines has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit brought by passengers in several states who claimed they were overcharged in a bait-and-switch on baggage fees. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 18 (UPI) -- American Airlines has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit brought by passengers in several states who claim they were overcharged in a bait-and-switch on baggage fees.

A final deal in the matter was approved by a judge last week after five customers in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas sued the airline last year, claiming they were forced to pay surcharges despite frequent flier perks and other premium rewards that should have given them a break.

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The lawsuit accused the airline of reneging on the promise to honor free baggage vouchers for its loyalty members and certain credit card holders who had purchased first-class seats.

Travelers said they arrived at their respective airports with receipts and other documentation proving the rewards but were told they had to pay up anyway.

The complaint says the airline offered the deal but never updated its check-in protocols to determine exactly which passengers were eligible.

As a result, "passengers were improperly charged and forced to pay baggage fees," the lawsuit says.

The oversight persisted for more than three years, needlessly taxing travelers between February 2017 and April 2020. Any other passenger who flew American during that time could potentially make a claim under the class action, with the airline also agreeing to pay all court costs and attorneys fees.

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As part of the settlement, the airline is not being forced to admit to any wrongdoing and will avoid a trial that was set to begin in August before both sides reached a preliminary agreement that has since been approved by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Dallas.

Two sets of passengers will share in the payout, including those who got email confirmations for free checked bags, and those who paid with credit cards that offered free baggage on domestic travel.

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