Two frequent fliers are suing American Airlines over the suspension of their unlimited lifetime airpasses, purchased in 1987. Sixty-six people bought the AAirpass for $350,000 before the program was discontinued. Steve Rothstein has flown nearly 40 million miles on American Airlines’ dime since buying his pass. AAirpass holders became American Airline VIPs, with virtually unlimited first class flight options for themselves and a companion.
“I would put in little pins when I went to places. Here’s Zurich. Frankfort. Munich. France. All places that I went to dozens and dozens of times,” Rothstein told ABC News’ John Berman. “London. Probably five or six hundred trips in my lifetime. My shampoo all came from London for the last 30 years.”
But there's "unlimited" ... and then there's "unlimited." Three years ago American cracked down, canceling his airpass after an investigation found the airlines was losing millions of dollars to these extreme frequent fliers. The airline also says Rothstein abused the system by booking flights he never planned to use. Rothstein says he didn’t do anything wrong, and is suing the airline to get his pass back.
Another AAirpass holder, Jacques Vroom was also investigated by the airline and had his pass revoked. Vroom is also suing American to get his pass back. A spokeswoman for American said cases like Rothstein’s and Vroom’s are an extremely small percentage of overall AAirpass accounts, but fraudulent activity cost all of AA’s customers money.
Litigation is currently on hold, due to American’s Chapter 11 filing late in 2011.