For years, passengers who booked what are called “Business Select” tickets on Southwest Airlines received free drink coupons that could be used at any time. Some passengers saved those coupons and were caught by surprise when, in the summer of 2010, Southwest decreed those chits would become worthless.
Enter the lawyers.
There was no expiration date on those coupons, so some Southwest customers weren’t too happy about the airline’s decision. Joe Siprut, a Chicago-based lawyer, filed a class action suit against Southwest on behalf of everyone who had coupons they hadn’t used.
“Unfair,” he said.
Well it took more than a year, but Southwest recently capitulated, agreeing to send new vouchers to anyone who claimed they had unused ones. The settlement will result in Southwest issuing 5.8 million worth of new coupons worth potentially $29 million.
I asked attorney Siprut if Southwest covered his legal fees by offering him drink chits. He laughed and said, no, Southwest paid his expenses in cash. And he said he suspects that this was one fight Southwest is sorry it chose to take on.
I have a feeling he’s right. For the moment, anyway, there will be lots of drinks on the house on Southwest flights.