How to Sue Alaska Airlines in Small Claims Court
Air travel can certainly be a bumpy ride at times. Aside from the stress associated with delayed or canceled flights, airlines can also cause additional problems if they damage or lose your luggage or fail to issue a flight refund, among other reasons.
Some travelers elect to take matters into their own hands by contacting the airline directly, filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Better Business Bureau, and even filing a lawsuit in small claims court. This article will discuss your rights as a passenger and explain how to sue Alaska Airlines in small claims court.
Common Reasons to Sue Alaska Airlines in Small Claims Court
Some of the most common reasons passengers sue Alaska Airlines in small claims court include:
- Delayed, damaged, or lost baggage
- Canceled flights
- Failure to receive a refund
- Your flight was oversold
- Delayed flight
Before moving forward with a lawsuit against Alaska Airlines, make sure to read the airline’s contract of carriage. The contract of carriage provides detailed information about limits of liability for lost or damaged baggage, time periods in which you can file a claim against the airline, and many other of the airline’s regulations.
Steps to take Before Suing Alaska Airlines
If you’re considering suing Alaska Airlines, try and exhaust all other avenues before filing the lawsuit in small claims court. That includes:
Contacting Alaska Airlines Directly
You can contact the airline’s customer service department at 1-800-252-7522 or directly contact them via their Twitter handle at @AlaskaAir. Many large companies quickly respond to social media messages to avoid bad public relations.
Filing a Complaint with the BBB and the U.S. Department of Transportation
You can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has strict regulations to protect airline passengers. For example, according to DOT regulations, airlines must compensate passengers for lost luggage, up to a maximum amount of $3,800.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), meanwhile, may also assist with your complaint against Alaska Airlines. At the very least, you can see what other BBB complaints were lobbied against the airline and see if it responded to any of them.
Send a Demand Letter
Consider sending Alaska Airlines a demand letter that details all of the specifics of your complaint. This is often required before filing a lawsuit in small claims court. Include the following information:
- How much money the airline owes you and why
- Your contact information
- Where to send the payment
- Tell them you intend to sue if you don’t hear back within a reasonable timeframe
Filing a Lawsuit in Small Claims Court
If you haven’t had any luck negotiating with Alaska Airlines, consider taking your case to small claims court. Small claims court is typically cheaper and quicker than filing a lawsuit in regular court. According to the DOT, an airline can usually be sued in small claims court in any jurisdiction it has an office or operates flights.
If you’re going to court, gather any evidence, including your ticket and bag stubs. You usually have about 15 minutes to state your case to the small claims court judge, and the entire process takes about 2 to 3 months.
If you are uneasy about filing a lawsuit or unsure about how the small claims court works, consider contacting an attorney for advice.