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US Attorney trying to enforce airlines fare rules!?!

US Attorney trying to enforce airlines fare rules!?!

Jan 25th, 2004, 10:39 AM
  #1  
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US Attorney trying to enforce airlines fare rules!?!

I posted this on the US forum by mistake. It should be posted here.

This will be an interesting trial. A US Attorney trying to enforce back to back ticketing. While it is against the airlines fare rules, I have a problem understanding how a US Attorney has a right to pursue this matter. I would think this is purely a civil court matter, not criminal.

http://www.detnews.com/2004/business.../b01-44600.htm

Any thoughts, opinions?
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 12:05 PM
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Not a right, but a responsibility. The article basically says that it is fraud. It's interstate commerce, so a Fed thing. I hope the govt wins, people oughta play by the rules.
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Jan 25th, 2004, 12:45 PM
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I still have a problem with the US Atty getting involved. This is not against any laws of any state or country. These are simple contractual disagreements/abuses. As a company the airline has the right to sue the abuser in a civil court, but where does the gov come in?
We all know that a company/individual in Florida could break/abuse a contract with a company in California. Can you provide example where when that happened(interstate commerce) the US attorney went after the abuser/breaker of the contract? True, it is ripping of the airline, BUT more importantly it is ONLY because of their own rules, not because any laws say so. Other airlines don't have the same rules, so it doesn't even apply to all the airlines, just the ones that make these rules.

Just debating
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 01:15 PM
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Ok, so neither of us is an attorney.

WHITE COLLAR CRIMES

White collar crimes are usually crimes of theft and deception committed by salaried professional people as opposed to other crimes that use force. White collar crimes can be prosecuted at the state level or federal level, or both. Penalties for being convicted of white collar crime typically consist of fines, restitution and, in some cases, prison.

Some of the more common white collar crimes are defined below:

FRAUD
Fraud is defined to be "an intentional perversion of truth" or a "false misrepresentation of a matter of fact" which induces another person to "part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right".
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 01:17 PM
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The above statement is from the law offices of Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 01:30 PM
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I agree with you to a certain point. There are laws against stealing and fraud, but they are written for everybody and according to a general believes and practices in business.

In this case the gov is enforcing what seems to me a contractual rule that is not part of any general business plan, only few companies, specifically airlines and only some of them, not all.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 01:31 PM
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What is back ticketing exactly ?
Wednesday is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 01:40 PM
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Wednesday,

Please follow the link above. It will explain exactly what you want to know.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 06:35 PM
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It is interesting, but perhaps not entirely unprecedented or unreasonable. Several years back, a lot of hay was made by attorneys making recovery with trucking tariffs on behalf of bankrupt carriers who had shipped for rates that didn't match the filed tariffs. In those cases, I don't think the customers who "underpaid" were probably even aware of it; rather, they just paid what they were quoted and charged. I don't believe this was being carried out by a U.S. attorney, but there is a public interest in these matters as it relates to the airlines. That is because the federal government has stepped in since Septemeber 11 to provide financing, certain tax concessions, etc. to try to stabilize the industry. To the extent that a company (or even an individual) is side-stepping the tariffs -- thereby defrauding and helping to financially destabilize carriers in which taxpayers are effectively stakeholders -- I can see where this might be a legitimate way to protect public interests. I'm no lawyer, but it just seems like the logic is there to make a case.
Flyboy is offline  
Jan 25th, 2004, 08:45 PM
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AA,

I agree with you. Seems a civil matter to me. In order for it to be a crime, there has to be a law on the books somewhere.

If it's simply a matter where the airlines terms of use have been violated, that's a contractual matter, but not a crime. In order to consider it a crime, you'd have to accept that the airlines had the right to write laws and have them enforced.

On the other hand, were there laws making back to back ticketing illegal, then yes, there'd be a criminal case (as is the case in embezzlement or fraud).

I too am no lawyer, but it seems you can't really enforce a law that doesn't exist, unless law enforcement isn't the primary goal....

Clifton is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 04:02 AM
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I see what you're saying, but is it possible that an approved tariff filed with the appropriate federal agency has the force of law?
Flyboy is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 04:26 AM
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Well, yeah. I would think if a federal agency actually put something down on paper, then it would have to carry some weight. Getting FDA approval for a drug may be close to that idea and yet, there's *still* a law that says that that the FDA must approve all new drugs, so again, they're in violation of an actual law.

In order for the same sort of thing to be in affect as relates to airline policies and procedures (off plane), wouldn't there still need to be some sort of defacto law enforcing standard airline policies?

I mean, if the airline came up with some fairly arbitrary rules in order to protect their business (must show up two days early, must help serve drinks enroute) shouldn't that just be bad business practice, or must the gov't enforce these as well? If the US atty is only going to enforce those un-laws that he wishes, those that were never laws before, isn't he then making laws? As you can probably tell, I'm not a tremendous believer in big government though, so I'm sure that might color my take on things.

Clifton is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 04:35 AM
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Oh, and I see what you're saying in your example about the interstate trucking case. Was that a price fixing case against other carriers though, who drove non-members into bankruptcy? If so, then the judgement may have been as restitution as a result of actual documented criminal activity (collusion amongst rival trucking companies) and the gains made by unwitting participants (customers of the plotting companies) of that activity. Sort of like receiving stolen goods. You don't get to keep the watch. Just speculation.
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Jan 26th, 2004, 06:23 AM
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I read the article, but it didn't explain the answer to my question, which is:

How exactly does this cause airlines to lose money?

If I go to the movie theater and buy a ticket, then don't go in and watch the movie, the theater didn't lose any money.

Also, if the passenger doesn't check in for the return trip, doesn't the airline sometimes sell the seat to someone who is on standby, thereby selling the same seat twice?

If the Value Meal costs less than the sandwich and drink separately, and I buy the Value Meal and throw away the fries but keep the sandwich and drink, am I violating the rules of the fast-food restaurant? Is it stealing? Can I be prosecuted?

I assume there is more to it than this, but I don't understand. Can someone PLEASE explain it to me?
ndf321 is offline  
Jan 26th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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Really, this is all just speculation because none of us know the law. The USA is not enforcing airline rules, it is enforcing federal law. I suppose it's fraud. It may be theft, since the passenger didn't pay the full price of the travel that was taken.
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Jan 30th, 2004, 04:14 AM
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The airline is not angry that they are not using the tickets puchased but angry because if they had purchased their correct itinerary, then the airline would have received more money. Not sure how this is illegal but, I am not an attorney so I have no idea. Personally, I feel it is stupid that it is cheaper to fly when your stay is longer than when you return the next day because really how does this matter to the airline. Again, though this is just my opinion and really does not count much. LOL

What I find humerous is that it never dawned on me that two roundtrip tickets would cost less than one. Guess I would never make a good crook would I?
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Jan 30th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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Will indeed be interesting to see how the legal beagles parse this one.

I'm with beachdreams in that it seems to me it's really not the airlines' business what we do with the second leg of a trip/ticket. It has happened to me "legitimately" on a couple of occasions that I couldn't get away on the day I was supposed to fly home, and it was cheaper for me to book an entirely new itinerary. At this very moment I'm holding two second-leg tickets that I can use -- if I want to -- by paying their $100 fee AND the "difference in fare." I didn't do this on purpose -- it's just how events and booking worked out; and I was advised to do just that by the airline res. agent when I called to tell them I was cancelling my return. I will probably use those two halves to take another trip but NOT if it turns out that the total of $200 in fees and the fare differential adds up to more than a new ticket.

And have the airlines conveniently ignored the point that by vacating your return seat, you've given them another seat for which they can charge as much as they want? Even if you fail to let them know you're cancelling, they give away -- correction: sell -- no-show seats all the time. If I don't use those two halves, they've got more revenue potential.

Were I the attorney for that company, I'd point out that a consumer is under no obligation whatsoever to use all parts of a product or service for which they've already paid. Moreover, if the airlines venture into the realm of considering a ticket a contract, rather than a commodity or service, they invite all kinds of breach-of-contract suits from passengers with grievances. This is a stupid move on their part.
 
Jan 30th, 2004, 05:50 AM
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By way of clarification regarding what the res. agent was advising: I didn't know until the day before departure that I couldn't leave, and seats on the flights I needed for the next 3 weeks were very, very scarce -- which meant that the "fare difference" was going to be based on a full one-way fare of over $1200. Even the agents seem to gag on that kind of exorbitant pricing.

Side comment: haven't some of the airlines (in this case AA) reached a point where they've cut back so many flights and replaced big planes with small ones that there just aren't enough seats (again)? I've flown nearly 18K miles over the last several weeks, and not one flight had more than one or two empty seats, if that. Coupled with the Less Room Throughout Coach initiative, it makes me wish Song and JetBlue flew from my airport.
 
Jan 30th, 2004, 06:09 AM
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"How exactly does this cause airlines to lose money?"

"If I go to the movie theater and buy a ticket, then don't go in and watch the movie, the theater didn't lose any money."

IMO, not a valid comparison. More like going to a theater that has multiple screens. One movie is more expensive than another. You buy a ticket to the cheaper movie and sneak into the other theater.

Or you have a free pass that is only good for movies after the first two weeks. You use the pass saying you are going to another movie, but sneak into the theater with the show that just opened.

Keith
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Jan 30th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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I disagree with the analogy, Keith.

It's more like you purchase a full fixed price dinner, and don't wish to eat the carrots, only to find the restaurant wants to charge you ala carte price for everything you did consume.
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