Max Bazerman, a Harvard Business School professor whose areas of interest include business ethics and decision making, is suing American Airlines for refusing to honor a commitment to let certain frequent flyers check up to three bags at no charge.
In a lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Bazerman is asking to be made lead plaintiff in a class action involving a total of more than $5 million in potential losses by him and similar American Airlines customers.
Bazerman says American Airlines promised him and other members of its "elite" frequent-flyer programs that they could check their bags at no charge when they purchased business- or first-class tickets, only to require them to then pay $25 a bag at check-in:
Even when tickets specifically provide that a first bag may be checked at no additional charge, AA systematically required passengers to pay to check their first bag.
For example, Mr. Bazerman received an e-ticket confirmation e-mail from AA that stated "1STCHECKED BAG FEE-PHXBOS-USD0.00." Yet, when Mr. Bazerman and his wife sought to check their bags after arriving at the airport, AA required Mr. Bazerman to pay $25 to check his first bag and $25 to check his wife's first bag.
Bazerman cited similar complaints by other American customers on Twitter in recent months, and charges American Airlines is breaking its contract with customers to benefit its bottom line:
In 2016, AA collected approximately $1.117 billion in revenue from checked bag fees, which was over 28% higher than the airline with the second highest revenue from checked bag fees. One way AA increases the revenue it receives from checked bag fees is to systematically charge checked bag fees to certain passengers in breach of its passenger contracts.
In addition to the base amount, Bazerman is also seeking unspecified penalties, interest and attorneys' fees.