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Has anyone ever taken an airline to small claims court and been successful?
Apr 7, 2021 18:13:04   #
Bridges Loc: Memphis, Charleston SC, now Nazareth PA
 
I have an issue I doubt will be resolved easily.

Apr 7, 2021 18:46:22   #
captivecookie
 
No, I took a car, and lost.

Seriously, though, airlines have a lot of money to fight you. Despite that, best wishes for your case.

Apr 7, 2021 19:02:24   #
cliburn
 
I know someone who has.... the airline did not show up.... and he had a really strong argument.

 
 
Apr 8, 2021 06:16:23   #
bobforman
 
When I got screwed by a regional AL in the Midwest (I live on the west coast) I wrote a nastygram to the president of the AL, my travel agent, the FAA; consumer reports and anyone else I thought might have an impact to the industry. It didn't make me even, financially but it sure felt good dropping those in the post box.

Apr 8, 2021 06:24:35   #
JHS Loc: Carmichael, CA
 
The amount in controversy that can be asked in California small claims court is very limited; it used to be $1,500. Consequently, that is the maximum amount of financial exposure a defendant would have. Lawyer’s fees for preparing and appearing in such a court would be many times that amount, thus many defendants settle the case based just on the pleadings filed. However, every case is different and every state has different court rules thus this strategy does not work all of the time.

Of course if you win, you still have to collect from them and that could be a long drawn-out, frustrating effort in itself.
Good Luck, John

Apr 8, 2021 08:43:33   #
davidrb Loc: Hangar i13
 
First: Change your name to Don Quixote. Second: File for bankruptcy while you still have a dollar to your name. Please keep us updated in your folly as "successful" will become "staying alive." If I had a nickel for every person who was going to "own" the airline I represented I would have a pile of nickels larger than the planes I flew. Large corporations hate publicity as this and go to great lengths to avoid it. In small claims courts the petitioner stands alone for a reason. Airlines do not hire an attorney for these matters, they own their law firms to handle the dirty work. Now, a question for you: How much authority do you think a small claims judge is going to have over a company that may do business internationally? We will watch for your updates.

Apr 8, 2021 09:24:24   #
charlienow Loc: Hershey, PA
 
More info would help.

 
 
Apr 8, 2021 10:18:02   #
rogerl Loc: UK (Harrogate, North Yorkshire)
 
Yes - I took Namibia Airlines to the small claims court here in the UK. They changed our outbound flight at the last moment from London to Frankfurt so I lost the £100 I'd paid for internal flight from home to London (I then had to buy a flight from home to Franfurt). They refused to pay. The day after I lodged the claim, I received the £100 + court fee.

Apr 8, 2021 12:41:30   #
LeeR
 
Check your ticket documents. You may be required to go to arbitration instead of court.

Apr 8, 2021 12:41:54   #
rcarol
 
JHS wrote:
The amount in controversy that can be asked in California small claims court is very limited; it used to be $1,500. Consequently, that is the maximum amount of financial exposure a defendant would have. Lawyer’s fees for preparing and appearing in such a court would be many times that amount, thus many defendants settle the case based just on the pleadings filed. However, every case is different and every state has different court rules thus this strategy does not work all of the time.

Of course if you win, you still have to collect from them and that could be a long drawn-out, frustrating effort in itself.
Good Luck, John
The amount in controversy that can be asked in Cal... (show quote)


When I took a business to small claims in California many years ago, I had to represent myself. Lawyers were not allowed. Has that changed?

Apr 8, 2021 13:44:48   #
Vlemasters
 
Before I retired I owned a small business and took several people to small claims people to court when they refused to pay. Won every time.

 
 
Apr 8, 2021 13:58:23   #
ORpilot Loc: Prineville, Or
 
Bridges wrote:
I have an issue I doubt will be resolved easily.


Be careful, You may win the battle but lose the war. By that I mean: They could put you on the "no fly" list and you would never be able to fly on any airline again.

Apr 8, 2021 14:37:07   #
Jim Plogger Loc: East Tennessee
 
Back in the 80's Eastern Airlines lost one of my bags on a flight from Philadelphia to Charlotte. I filed a lost baggage claim which included the value of the bag and the contents. After 30 days and no bag they finally paid the claim, but only 50% of the claimed value. After numerous phone calls and being given the run-around I sent a letter to the president of the airline detailing the situation and chain of events. I explained that I was prepared to take them to small claims court for the balance. Two weeks later, I received the other 50% in the mail. Here's the kicker. It was at least six months later that on a Saturday morning a courier arrived at my door with my bag. Other than being a bit dusty it was in good shape and all of the contents were there. I actually called Eastern's baggage claim in Charlotte on the following Monday and explained that I had been paid for the lost bag. The agent told me to forget it and to consider it compensation for the inconvenience.

Apr 8, 2021 21:28:11   #
Bridges Loc: Memphis, Charleston SC, now Nazareth PA
 
davidrb wrote:
First: Change your name to Don Quixote. Second: File for bankruptcy while you still have a dollar to your name. Please keep us updated in your folly as "successful" will become "staying alive." If I had a nickel for every person who was going to "own" the airline I represented I would have a pile of nickels larger than the planes I flew. Large corporations hate publicity as this and go to great lengths to avoid it. In small claims courts the petitioner stands alone for a reason. Airlines do not hire an attorney for these matters, they own their law firms to handle the dirty work. Now, a question for you: How much authority do you think a small claims judge is going to have over a company that may do business internationally? We will watch for your updates.
First: Change your name to Don Quixote. Second: ... (show quote)


I don't understand your post at all. I have no desire to "own" an airline. I do have a good claim for less than 1000.00. I certainly would not hire an attorney for that amount and doubt seriously the airline would have even one of their inhouse legal minds bother with such a claim. The best advise someone posted was that this isn't a case for the courts but rather an arbitration panel. I looked up the top seven top officers of the company and will send separate letters to all seven (the same letter but each of the seven letters addressed to an individual). I'm sure some will find the round file but think someone may actually read a copy. I will not release the name of the airline pending their response. If you want to follow this journey, here is the first installment:

About three to four weeks ago we booked a round trip flight for my wife, grandson, and myself. We received a confirmation and was charged for the flights. A couple of days later my wife went into the flight info and pre-paid 180.00 for three pieces of luggage since it is less expensive to pay on line rather than at the airport. Then within the 24 hour window that is required to preprint boarding passes we went to our confirmed flight and could find nothing. No info available. We called the airline and was on hold for 30 minutes. The last time we were on hold for 2 hours and 45 minutes so I told my wife we just need to head to the airport and straighten this out. We live only about half an hour from the airport and we would be able to talk to someone in person. When we arrived at the airport the agent told us nothing was done at the airport due to covid but did look up information for us. For some inexplicable reason they had cancelled our reservation three days before we were to fly. The agent could do nothing for us at the airport but did say only 20 of the 43 seats were booked and we should go home and redo the flight. When we got home we tried to book the flight but could not. We called an agent (only a 45 minute wait this time). We were told there were no seats left on that flight. He was able to find us seats for 8:15 the morning for which we were supposed to leave at 3:15 in the afternoon. He also informed we could not come home on the flight we were to return on. He couldn't get us home until two days later! We were also informed the round trip flights would also cost us an additional 400.00! We had no choice but to take what was offered since the vacation was already arranged at our destination. I was due back to work for two days and was unable to work those two days. The loss of wages, the extra money required for tickets, two trips to the airport because we couldn't get people on the phone, not to mention the frustration is plenty to get my dander up. I plan to send letters to the airline in a professional and non-confrontational manner outlining what I did here. If I don't get a positive response I will pursue additional avenues in order to attain some satisfaction.

Apr 9, 2021 15:21:26   #
Dannj
 
Bridges:
I just read your “installment” and I think you’ll be better off if you present your case in a detailed timeline: dates, times, flight numbers etc. to make it easier to follow. There’s a lot of info there for someone to wade through. You should also spell out what you expect. You should also include photos of any documentation you have. Just my opinion of course.

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