Supreme Court weighs frequent flyer's gripe

The Supreme Court is weighing the legal rights of a rabbi, Binyomin Ginsberg, of Minn., who is fighting with his airline over frequent flyer miles. The case could have implications for anyone who wants to complain about their service.

The U.S. Supreme Court decides only 80 cases a year, and this may seem like a crazy one, CBS News' Jan Crawford noted on "CBS This Morning," but the case may have ramifications for consumers, and may result in giving airlines more power.

Ginsberg complained to Northwest Airlines 24 times over eight months about his service on the airline, as well as the frequent flyer program. "Northwest said, 'You know what, take your business elsewhere,' and they booted him off their frequent flyer program," Crawford said. "So what did he do in America? He sued."

So why did the court decide to hear the case?

The case involves serious questions, Crawford said, about whether you can take cases to court, as in this instance, or if you have to take complaints up with the Department of Transportation, based on a 1978 law.

"(The Northwest Airlines lawyer said) you can't file suits all over the country in state courts because these juries can't be setting policies," Crawford said. "(The lawyer) argued yesterday… 'If you've got a complaint, take it to the Department of Transportation. Don't file a lawsuit.'"

The Supreme Court justices seem sympathetic to Ginsberg's case, Crawford said, but they seemed "pretty skeptical" and will likely side with the airline.

  • Amanda Cochran

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