Airline interfered with tips, court says


BOSTON – American Airlines interfered with the tipping process by imposing a fee on curbside baggage, a federal jury in Boston ruled.

The airline imposed a $2 bag-check fee at the curbside two years ago, which skycaps, who are paid below minimum wage, were required to charge, USA Today reported.

When they did, travelers assumed the fee was an imposed tip or part of one, the skycaps’ attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan argued.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the company was “disappointed by the verdict and the amount awarded,” which was $325,000.

The case involved 9 skycaps. But Liss-Riordan said she would pursue the case as a larger, class action that could involve hundreds of skycaps at 60 airports.

In 2005, when the airline planned the new curbside fee, it estimated a net gain of $16 million to $20 million a year, compared with a $7 million fee for hiring its skycaps, Liss-Riordan said.