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Lawsuit Claims US Airways Cheats Frequent Flyers on Awards Miles Calculations

Aug 24, 2013 12:51 am

Skift Take

US Airways can obviously save a lot of money by awarding miles on point-to-point distances instead of actual miles flown, but if the airline is going to cut corners like this, then it has to be absolutely transparent about it.

— Dennis Schaal

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US Airways Group must face a lawsuit from a frequent flier claiming the carrier is cheating its loyalty rewards program members when determining how many miles they’ve flown.

U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber in Chicago today denied the airline’s bid for dismissal of the lawsuit filed this year by Dividend Miles program member Annette Kwok of Washington.

Kwok claims the airline “misled and deceived millions of its members” by crediting them with fewer miles than they’ve actually flown in conflict with the terms of its program membership guide.

“While defendants argue that the guide’s unambiguous language illustrates that they are not in breach, the court disagrees,” Leinenweber said.

Kwok cited, as one example of being short-changed by US Airways, the carrier’s decision to award her 313 miles (504 kilometers) for a flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport to Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut. She said the trip was 398 miles from origin to destination.

The airline accounted for the discrepancy in court papers, saying that it counts miles based on point-to-point distance and not the flight’s actual route, according to Leinenweber.

Membership Guide

The judge said that elsewhere in the membership guide, the airline says the points earned are based on actual miles.

Claiming breach of contract, Kwok is seeking group status on behalf of all current and former Dividend Miles Program members who have been awarded less miles than flown on qualifying flights plus unspecified compensatory damages.

The Tempe, Arizona-based airline’s media relations department didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on today’s ruling.

The U.S. Justice Department on Aug. 13 sued to block U.S. Airways’ planned merger with AMR Corp’s American Airlines, which would create the world’s biggest airline.

The case is Kwok v. US Airways Group, 13-cv-02068, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

–Editors: Michael Hytha, Stephen Farr

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in the Chicago federal courthouse at aharris16@bloomberg.net

 

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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