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Southwest Airlines is about to pick up a $29 million drink tab for passengers

Jan 21, 2013 1:50 pm

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A few passengers actually read the fine print on the vouchers, which in 2010 the airline abruptly announced were only redeemable on the day they were given out, effectively voiding nearly 6 million vouchers.

— Samantha Shankman

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Nan Palmero  / Flickr

Drinks on a Southwest Airlines flight. Nan Palmero / Flickr


For millions of Southwest Airlines passengers, the drinks are on the house.

The airline has reached a tentative settlement with passengers who sued Southwest over drink vouchers that were given to “business select” passengers before Aug. 1, 2010.

On that date, Southwest changed its policy, saying that even though the drink vouchers had no expiration date, the airline would honor them only on the date passengers were traveling.

In the lawsuit filed in 2011, the plaintiffs, Adam Levitt and Herbert Malone, said the policy change amounts to a breach of contract and made the coupons worthless. The airline had previously said that it changed its policy because passengers were making photocopies of the vouchers to get free drinks.

Under the settlement, Southwest could be on the hook to redeem as many as 5.8 million vouchers. Since the airline charges $5 for alcoholic drinks, the settlement is worth as much as $29 million. The airline is also responsible for paying attorney fees of as much as $7 million.

If you think Southwest owes you a drink, go to www.southwestvouchersettlement.com to get details on how to file a claim for a new voucher. You must file before Sept. 2.

(c)2013 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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