The problem with consumer class action suits against big companies is that even when they’re successful, the only parties that get a decent return are the lawyers who pursue them; the consumer plaintiffs are usually left with a pittance.
That’s why an email we received this week caught our attention. Here it is:
“Dear Chris: A weird thing happened this week. About three years ago, I received a notification of a class action lawsuit against Korean Air and Asiana for price fixing. I sent them all of my flight records going back to the time period. Well, Monday of last week I got a letter I almost threw away (didn’t have my glasses on) but opened it anyway. It was a check for $3700.00! Also, there are two coupons included — an Asiana for $850 and Korean Air for $2,000 or so. I can auction them off, but I think I will hold them for a bit. Have you heard from any of your other subscribers on this? I was stunned and had forgotten about it all together.”–J.P.
The class action in question alleged that the two Korean carriers conspired to fix prices for air travel from 2000 through 2007. The suit was filed on behalf of passengers who flew on them during that period.
Both airlines denied the claims in the suit, but agreed to settle in order to avoid further legal costs. Asiana settled in 2011 and Korean did the same two years later. The settlements called for the airlines to pay out a total of $65 million to the plaintiffs (and their attorneys). That included $39 million in cash and $26 million in travel vouchers.
Reader J.P. tells us that he had filed documentation of his travel on the airlines, covering 15-20 flights and total spending of around $50,000 to $60,000. “I purchased a lot of business class early on with KAL when I could get them for about $3,300. The odd thing is I spent very little on Asiana. About $900 was attributed to them. I only flew them in Korea (maybe five flights total) and those flights I bet I only spent $400 altogether,” he told TravelSkills.
What about our other readers? What are your thoughts and experiences on travel-related class action lawsuits? Please share your comments below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare deals | One airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers | First class phase out coming soon