Following a jury’s award of more than $325,000 to nine skycaps, three
more lawsuits have been filed against United Airlines, US Airways and
American Airlines by skycaps who claim they lost tips when the carriers
began charging a $2 fee for checking bags at the curb.
The lawsuits, filed in federal court in Boston over the last two weeks, are similar to a lawsuit filed by American Airlines skycaps who won their case against the airline. On April 7, a jury awarded the skycaps $2 for every bag they had checked since the baggage fee was put in place in 2005, for total damages of over $325,000.
Boston attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who filed all the lawsuits, said she will seek to have the complaints certified as class-action lawsuits on behalf of thousands of skycaps at airports across the country. The skycaps named as plaintiffs in the lawsuits work at airports around the country, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Many airlines began imposing a $2 per bag fee for curbside check-in following a steep decline in airline travel after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Skycaps say their tips have fallen dramatically since the fee was imposed because many passengers do not realize that the fee goes to the airline and its vendors, and is not a tip for them.
“These airlines have decided that skycaps just shouldn’t make this money and this money should go to pad corporate profits and bottom lines,” Liss-Riordan said.
The lawsuits seek to put an end to the $2 fee and also seeks reimbursement for all the tips lost by the skycaps since the baggage fees began. The lawsuits do not specify how much is being sought.
Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, would not comment on the new lawsuit, but said the airline is weighing its options in the earlier case, including a possible appeal of the jury’s $325,000 verdict. The carrier is owned by AMR Corp.
Smith noted that U.S. District Judge William Young refused to certify the earlier complaint as a national class-action lawsuit because laws on tipping vary from state to state.
Morgan Durrant, a spokesman for US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., declined to comment, except to note that the skycaps listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are not employees of US Airways. The airline is owned by US Airways Group Inc.
Most of the skycaps in the lawsuits do not work for the airlines themselves, but are employed by companies the airlines contract with to provide the curbside check-in service.
A representative of United Airlines, owned by UAL Corp., said the company has not received a copy of the lawsuit and declined to comment.