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Former airline executive, traveler advocate weighs in on class-action suit filed against Southwest Airlines

Winter Weather Travel Phoenix
Posted at 6:33 AM, Jan 03, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A class-action lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of California in the County of San Diego against Southwest Airlines.

The lawsuit was filed on December 30, 2022.

Carla Hill claims Southwest took the money she spent to fly her son to and from Columbus, Ohio, even though the airline knew it would never happen. And Cameron Youssef blames Southwest for him and his spouse getting stuck in Tennessee.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, asks for money for people who had problems with their flights. It also wants Southwest to publicly admit it knew it was inevitable its operations would collapse.

The Southwest travel woes have been a heavy burden on many people.

"This is our fourth attempt to fly. My daughter was going to go see her dad in Texas, in Houston,” Jennifer Wren, whose daughter was caught up in the travel mess, said.

"Our case is pretty extreme given the fact that I spent $300 to $400 on wardrobe and then we spent another $200 on a rental car. I sent all of those receipts to Southwest in just hopes that they'll reimburse us," said Sabrina Kenney, who said she and her husband were impacted by Southwest's problems.

Southwest Media Relations sent ABC 10News the following statement regarding the lawsuit being filed:

“Southwest does not have information to provide on the pending litigation. There are several high priority efforts underway to do right by our Customers, including processing refunds from cancelled flights, reimbursing Customers for expenses incurred as a result of the irregular operations. We have a long and proud 51-year history of delivering on our Customers’ expectations and we are committed to the all-important imperative of taking care of them during operational disruptions.”

"I think it's only a matter of time before we see a class-action lawsuit. There were a lot of people who had their holidays negatively impacted or ruined entirely,” Kurt Ebenhoch, a former airline executive and traveler advocate, said.

Ebenhoch said these kinds of lawsuits can run into some hurdles when it comes to state courts after a law that was passed many years ago was interpreted by a judge.

"That judge basically said that if there's anything that involves interstate business; interstate travel, the state courts aren't available to consumers,” Ebenhoch said. "So if something happens to me and I’m flying in California because the company I flew on was a national company whose business crossed the states; that's out of the jurisdiction of the state, of the state court. So, the only legal remedy I can have is through a federal court."