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British Airways Flyers Win Class Certification In Fuel Surcharge Suit

Apr 10, 2017

British Airways frequent flyers who paid fuel charges on rewards flights have won class certification in a New York federal court case over allegations they were swindled with overpriced and illegitimate “fuel surcharges.”

The long-running action accuses British Airways PLC of using a fuel surcharge as an opportunity to charge its Executive Club members hundreds of dollars for reward tickets instead of tying the surcharge to fuel prices, breaching the frequent flyer program’s contracts.

The passengers argued the added fee isn’t an actual surcharge based on the cost of fuel, or as British Airways says on its website, a reflection of “the fluctuating price of worldwide oil.”  The fliers filed a motion for certification seeking to bring together nearly 170,000 putative class members who used U.S. addresses to redeem frequent flier miles.

U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie granted the passengers’ request for class certification on Friday, shutting down British Airways’ argument that the passengers can’t meet requirements for ascertainability.

Though British Airways argued against commonality requirements because fuel surcharges fluctuated throughout the class period and affected rewards flights in different ways, Judge Dearie said Friday that such changes are irrelevant, as the term “fuel surcharge” has a uniform meaning throughout the class period.

The case is Dover et al. v. British Airways PLC, case number 1:12-cv-05567, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.