Tarmac Stranding Lawsuit Against American Airlines Seeks Class Action Status

If we had an award for most pissed-off consumer ever, it might go to Kate Hanni. After being stranded on the tarmac by American Airlines in 2006, she started a group called “The Coalition For An Airline Passengers’ Bill Of Rights,” which, since we first reported on it, has grown from a blogspot blog to a full blown lobbying group that has a tipline and issues press releases.

Now Ms. Hanni and another passenger are suing American Airlines over the incident, and are seeking class action status. From USAToday:

The plaintiffs, Kathleen Hanni of Napa, Calif., and Catherine Ray of Fayetteville, Ark., want courts to certify the cases as class actions covering thousands of passengers stranded on American flights when severe weather temporarily shut Dallas/Fort Worth airport on Dec. 29, 2006, forcing flights to go to other airports.

Both women’s flights were diverted to Austin. The complaints allege passengers suffered hunger, thirst, illness, emotional distress and financial losses when American (AMR) failed to supply the planes with food or water, empty the toilets or let passengers off.

The complaints were filed in state courts last week in Napa and Fayetteville.

Hanni’s complaint says the captain told passengers American’s management would not allow the plane to go to a gate. It says that after 9 hours 17 minutes, the captain declared an emergency so he could go to a gate.

During the delay, passengers received only a bag of pretzels and a cup of water, and the plane’s toilets overflowed, it says.

Hanni said American later gave her a $500 coupon for a future flight. She said she hasn’t used it.

Good job, American. Probably should have offered better refunds and apologies. Oh well, hindsight and all that. Have fun with the lawsuits.

Two fliers seek class-action suit against American [USAToday]