Says Tips Have Dropped Since Charge Was Enacted
A group of skycaps for
American Airlines are taking their employer to court, saying the
carrier's $2-per-bag fee for curbside check-in is taking money out
of their pockets, in the interest of corporate greed.
The skycaps say the fee has led to a marked dropoff in the
amount of their tips... which, like food service workers, make up
most of their hourly pay.
But passengers aren't willing to shell out more money for tips,
the skycaps say, on top of the $2 charge... or, they don't know the
fee doesn't include a tip.
The group's lawsuit is ambitious... perhaps overly so. According
to USA Today, the skycaps are calling for American to reimburse
them for all tips lost by skycaps in the three years since the fee
began. Trouble is, it's hard to determine just what that amount
"We are looking for fairness for the hardworking employees who
every day help passengers -- making travel a little bit easier,"
said attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who represents the skycaps who
filed the lawsuit. "Some of these guys have worked for 20, 30 or 40
years as skycaps. This is their profession. These guys' lives were
devastated by this."
The attorney declined to put a number on the amount of tips
skycaps haven't received in three years, but adds "[w]e know that
American Airlines has made millions of dollars off of this
The group suing American
includes nine skycaps at Boston Logan, and one who works at Lambert
Field in St. Louis. The lawsuit claims American has violated the
Massachusetts Tips Law, by failing to distribute the new fee
throughout the skycap ranks.
American Airlines' attorneys wouldn't comment
on the case during jury selection Monday. Opening statements were
due to begin Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how the trial proceeds. American
wasn't alone in imposing baggage fees; most US airlines -- faced
with slumping fortunes and, for many, bankruptcy proceedings -- now
charge passengers for services that previously were free. United,
Northwest, and US Airways also charge for skycap service.
American says it posted signs at several locations, alerting
customers to the new fee. Skycaps added their own signs, noting the
fee did NOT include a tip.
"Skycaps are still permitted, as before, to accept tips from
passengers who choose to tip them," American said in an earlier
court filing. "The evidence will show that customers understood the
fee was not a tip for the skycaps from day one. The evidence will
further show that the plaintiffs cannot demonstrate any decrease in
tip income resulting directly from American's implementation of the