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Passenger is cleared to sue for bag fees after luggage arrived late

A traveler gathers his luggage at the San Francisco International Airport Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in
A traveler gathers his luggage at the San Francisco International Airport on Nov. 22, 2015.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

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.

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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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hugo.martin@latimes.com

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.


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