PAX Sue Airlines Over Resold Seats
When you give up your nonrefundable airline seat, does it remain
empty? No way, according to industry experts quoted by the Boston
Herald. In what the paper says is one of the industry's "dirty
little secrets," and it's now the subject of a lawsuit filed by 16
The suit, filed against 13 carriers, alleges airlines are
rebooking seats after passengers' plans change and they have to
abandon their nonrefundable tickets. That, according to Boston
lawyer Evans J. Carter, nets the industry an extra -- hidden -- $50
million a year.
"That seat is paid for twice as far as these fees but they keep
it," he told the Herald.
If Carter wins, at least one industry source told the Boston
paper it would make for bedlam in the front offices of airlines
around the country. It would open the door to a massive accounting
nightmare. They would have to adjudicate every ticket and retrieve
it from the various buckets," the source said, speaking on the
condition of anonymity. That particular consultant told the
newspaper Carter's estimate of $50 million in "illegal enrichments"
is too low.
Carter's suit also takes the airlines to task for the way they
advertise low fares. In particular, he's aiming at the fine print
-- the add-on charges that make low fares not so low.
"The airlines have made
a big business out of these fees," that anonymous industry source
told the paper. They include PFCs (Passenger Facility Use fees
which average about $9.00 per ticket, according to the suit),
segment fees (about $3.10 per leg, according to the suit) and
foreign landing fees, according to Carter.
"I understand the airlines are having their problems," Carter
told the Herald after dropping four airlines from the lawsuit. He
didn't do it out of the kindness of his heart -- the four airlines
all went bankrupt. "But it just doesn't seem fair or right. They
[the airlines] are the least entitled to this money and they're the
ones who keep it."