Spirit Airlines Inc has reached an agreement to pay out up to $8.25 million in order to settle a class-action lawsuit initiated by passengers who alleged that the budget airline caught them off guard with unanticipated carry-on bag charges for tickets obtained through third-party travel services. Legal representatives for the passengers disclosed the details of the settlement in a motion filed on Wednesday at a federal court in Brooklyn. The filing stated that the resolution “represents a fair compromise.”
The plaintiff class is comprised of individuals new to flying with Spirit Airlines, who purchased their tickets via Expedia, Travelocity, Kiwi, CheapOair, CheapTickets, or BookIt between August 2011 and May 2017, the period during which the original complaint was lodged. Those eligible for compensation will be entitled to receive refunds for up to 75% of the fees incurred. However, the final payout might be subject to reduction in case of an overwhelming number of claims. Notably, the $8.25 million settlement amount encompasses the allocation for attorneys’ fees.
Spirit Airlines, headquartered in Miramar, Florida, follows a conventional practice among low-cost carriers by imposing supplementary surcharges to offset the impact of lower base ticket prices. The lawsuit plaintiffs from 2017 leveled criticism against the Spirit Airlines for promoting misleadingly low fares that concealed additional and unexpected “gotcha” bag fees, sometimes comparable to the cost of the actual airfare. The original claim sought punitive damages amounting to $100 million. However, subsequent versions of the lawsuit omitted this particular demand.
Presently, both Spirit Airlines and the legal representatives for the plaintiffs are yet to provide responses to inquiries seeking comments on the settlement.
This settlement brings resolution to a prolonged legal battle that unveiled a contentious practice in the airline industry. Spirit Airlines’ agreement to disburse a significant sum underscores the acknowledgment of passengers’ grievances regarding obscured fees. The lawsuit shed light on the challenge faced by passengers, especially those booking through third-party services, who found themselves surprised by additional costs only after purchasing their tickets.
The federal court in Brooklyn served as the arena for this legal showdown, with the plaintiffs’ lawyers arguing that the proposed settlement serves the interests of the affected passengers and adequately compensates them for their unexpected financial burdens. The potential for a substantial volume of claims has led to a provision within the settlement for potential reduction of individual payouts to ensure the equitable distribution of the settlement funds.
As this legal matter concludes, it stands as a reminder of the importance of transparent pricing within the airline industry. The outcome of this case could potentially influence how other carriers approach fee disclosure and pricing transparency, especially those known for their budget-friendly business models.
In conclusion, the settlement of up to $8.25 million reached by Spirit Airlines to address the allegations of surprise bag fees represents a significant development in the realm of consumer rights within the airline industry. While resolving this specific legal dispute, its repercussions are likely to reverberate throughout the broader landscape of air travel, emphasizing the need for candidness in pricing practices and terms for passengers across all carriers.