Airline passengers won a victory this week when a U.S. appeals court agreed that a carrier can be held responsible for reimbursing bag fees to a passenger whose luggage arrived late.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the case by Hayley Hickcox-Huffman, who sued US Airways in 2010 over a $15 bag fee she paid on a flight from Colorado to California. US Airways has since merged with American Airlines.
Her bag was delayed by a day, and Hickcox-Huffman filed a suit, arguing that the carrier failed in its promise to deliver her bag in a “timely manner.” The airline argued against refunding the fee for several reasons, including that the carrier does not spell out in its ticket contract a remedy for the delay of delivering the luggage.
Hickcox-Huffman filed the suit as a class-action claim, which would allow other US Airways passengers whose bags were delayed or lost to collect their fees. But a lower court has yet to certify the class-action status of the suit.
The decision by the 9th Circuit clears the way for Hickcox-Huffman to continue her pursuit of the lawsuit.
A spokesman for American Airlines said it is reviewing the court decision and considering the carrier’s options.
An attorney for Hickcox-Huffman said the decision by the 9th Circuit represents a victor for travelers.
“This case was filed right when airlines began to shove those baggage fees down everyone’s throats,” attorney Justin Karczag said. “This case represents the consumer fighting back.”
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