RALEIGH, N.C. – Millions of people who purchased domestic airline tickets over an eight-year period are being asked if they want to participate in a class action lawsuit.
Before flyers ever get on an airplane, they need to buy a ticket. A lot goes into the cost of the ticket, and that’s what’s in dispute.
Lawyers claim that, for the better part of a decade, four of the biggest carriers in the country colluded to drive up airfares between 2011 and 2018.
American, United/Continental, Southwest and Delta were named in a class action lawsuit that accused them of secretly conspired to raise the price of tickets at a time when demand was stagnant and the price of jet fuel was declining.
All four airlines have denied the allegations, but two of them have agreed to settle for millions to avoid further litigation. American Airlines agreed to pay $45 million dollars to end the lawsuit, and Southwest has offered to pay $15 million.
Both airlines have also agreed to cooperate with lawyers.
Anyone who purchased domestic tickets with those four carriers between July 1, 2011 and June 14, 2018 are receiving letters asking them if they want to be part of the class action lawsuit. They also explain how to opt out.
With settlements being offered, affected passengers want to know how much money might they get from the settlement. That’s unknown. A website set up to explain the litigation says people may have to wait until additional settlements are achieved.
The website also said it’s possible that ticket buyers will never get any money from the lawsuit. “After deductions for any attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, settlement administration expenses, and class representative incentive awards approved by the Court, the remaining amount will be distributed to charities, governmental entities, or other beneficiaries approved by the Court.”
It remains to be seen how that plays out.
The court has scheduled a hearing in March 2019 to consider whether it should approve the two proposed settlements as well as attorney’s fees of up to 30 percent.