Supreme Court takes up airlines ability to take away frequent-flyer miles



WASHINGTON - Frequent-flyer miles can get you a seat upgrade or a free flight. But what if the airline just took away all those miles you earned?

Airlines say they can do just that and now the U.S. Supreme Court is stepping in.

Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg never thought he'd be at the Supreme Court over his frequent flier miles.

"They called me out of the blue and said, 'Your miles are gone, your status is gone,' and I was sure it was a prank. I mean, that's how outlandish it was," Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg was a Platinum Elite Northwest flier whose educational work had him on as many as 75 flights a year.

Northwest, now owned by Delta, kicked Ginsberg out of the frequent-flier program and canceled his hundreds of thousands in miles because they said he complained too much.

"I would call the airline and say, 'This was my experience yesterday. You asked for feedback andI'm giving it to you,'" Ginsberg said.

Bottom line, what this comes down to for customers is do airlines have a right to take away those frequent-flier miles you've earned?

Airlines say they do. It's all in the contract you agree to. The Supreme Court will now weigh in.

"I've earned (my frequent-flyer miles). I've sat on some pretty tight planes," one traveler said.

"If the airline gives them to you, they should honor what they give you," Ginsberg said. "I wouldn't be very happy but it's their program, they create the rules."

Channel 2 Action News contacted Delta Airlines for a comment about the issue, but they say they don't comment on pending litigation.

But a decision by the Supreme Court could have a big impact on how frequent-flyer programs are run in the future.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday about the frequent-flyer program. A ruling could come in the next few months.

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