Ohio Man Sues Continental Over Mileage-Award Fees

March 26, 2009

An Ohio man is suing Continental Airlines Inc. for raising the number of miles needed to earn a free trip and then charging him $75 to book the flight.

David Simon’s lawyer asked a federal court to approve class-action status for the case, which would allow other travelers to join the case.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Cleveland.

Continental officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Simon tried to book a flight in January from Los Angeles to Cleveland for 25,000 miles, which was the number of miles needed to earn an economy-class round trip within the lower 48 states when Simon joined the airline’s OnePass frequent-flier program several years ago.

The airline demanded 50,000 miles even though reservations officials said there were empty seats on some flights, said Simon’s lawyer, who described his client as a semiretired man in his 60s who “travels a fair amount.”

Simon eventually found a flight for 25,000 miles on Northwest Airlines, a partner of Houston-based Continental, but he was charged $75 because he booked the flight within three weeks of travel.

“There is no justification for the charge, and there is nothing in the fine print authorizing it,” said Simon’s lawyer, Joel D. Joseph.

The lawsuit charges Continental with levying an illegal penalty, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

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