'Thou Shalt Not ...' Participate in Our Airline's Frequent-Flier Program
As I have explained before, I love the stories where a corporation rolls out its ultimate "death penalty" punishment on a customer: "You can never come here [buy here] [eat here] again!!" Indeed, I even launched the "Thou Shalt Not ..." series of posts here at LBW earlier this month (e.g., "Thou shalt not buy clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch").
The latest installment in this series:
Thou shalt not participate in our airline's frequent-flier program.
According to The Blotter, Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg, a consultant, author and speaker on parenting issues, flew hundreds of times per year for work. This heavy traveling ultimately earned him membership in "Northwest Airlines WorldPerks Platinum Elite," which provided him with improved status for meals, upgrades and more comfortable seats. In 2008, however, Northwest abruptly told Ginsberg he was being booted from the frequent-flier plan altogether. His offense? He says he was told it was due to too much complaining.
Ginsberg admits he complained "a few times" about things like delayed luggage, but that the number of his complaints was low given the hundreds of flights he took each year. In an email to Ginsberg, Northwest simply stated that it has the right under the terms of the WorldPerks Program to determine "in its sole judgment" whether a passenger has abused the program and, if so, to cancel the member's account, disqualify them from participation in the program and forfeit all of the mileage accrued. And it did so.
Unlike other "Thou Shalt Not" situations I've seen, this one actually led to a lawsuit filed by the banished person. Ginsberg sued Northwest alleging a breach of contract under the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The federal district court dismissed the case as pre-empted under the Airline Deregulation Act, but on Aug. 5, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court. The 9th Circuit held that the Airline Deregulation Act does not pre-empt a contract claim based on the doctrine of good faith and fair dealing. This clears the way for Ginsberg's lawsuit, a class action brought on behalf of all of those who were similarly kicked out of the program, to go forward.
Posted by Bruce Carton on August 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Permalink
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