Erika Hamilton, a mother from Oregon, recently secured a victory against American Airlines, claiming a settlement of 4,500 miles due to what she described as a “breach of contract” and causing “emotional distress” during a flight.
She alleged mistreatment by a flight attendant regarding the seating arrangements for her 18-month-old twin daughters during a trip from Portland to Tallahassee, Florida.
Hamilton’s complaint detailed her purchase of tickets—one for her daughter to sit in her lap and the other in a separate seat, adhering to the airline’s policy at the time.
American Airlines’ policy dictated that children under 2 must either have a safety-approved seat or be able to sit upright in their own seat with a securely fastened seatbelt during the flight.
However, during a layover in Dallas, a flight attendant questioned the safety of Hamilton’s seating setup, causing distress.
Hamilton claimed that despite following the airline’s policy, she was belittled and pressured by the attendant.
Eventually, due to the ongoing conflict, another passenger offered to hold one of the infants, which Hamilton considered an unsafe compromise.
Although the flight attendant apologized midway through the flight, Hamilton filed a report with the airline and initiated legal action after the airline’s initial offer of a $75 voucher for compensation.
She sought $3,500 in damages through a small claims court, stating the airline sold her a ticket but failed to honor its terms and conditions.
The case progressed to trial, where additional passengers testified against the flight attendant’s claims.
American Airlines defended itself by stating that crew members reserve the right to deny passengers for any reason, which they argued doesn’t breach the contract.
Hamilton emphasized the importance of standing up against large corporations, pointing out that the airline’s decision to contest the case and hire a private attorney likely incurred substantial costs.
She believed that pursuing such cases was essential in a system where individuals often lack adequate recourse against corporate injustices.
This legal victory sheds light on the conflicts that can arise between passengers and airlines regarding policies and their implementation, particularly in cases where individual rights and company regulations clash.