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Breach of contract / public humiliation / ADA

Plano, TX |

I am mid-sixties, work fulltime, and have a hearing impairment that requires me to wear hearing aids. Even then, I have a very difficult time understanding people who speak fast (who do not distinctly separate their words) and I can rarely understand public address system announcements. To the point: Flew on one of the dominant airlines in the US a few weeks ago. I typically purchase the right to sit in an aisle seat. (This is the great American rip-off -- but beside the point.) Along with the seat comes the right to board the aircraft in 'Group 1'. Come boarding time, since I am always in Group 1, I queue up right behind the road warriors and rich folk who have ultra-priority boarding. As the end of their line passes through the boarding agent, I walk up and hand her my boarding pass. She says something to the effect of, "No, you can't board yet." (I don't understand foreign accents very well either.) So, I carefully listen -- as best I can to the PA announcement she whispers in muffled-speak. I didn't understand who was supposed to board but, surely, by now, at least Group 1. She takes my boarding pass, starts to scan it in and says something to the effect of, "No, you're in GROUP 3! I said you have to wait." I replied, "Why are you being such an a**hole?" I go and stand against the wall near her scan machine. In a moment she turns to me and says, "NOW, Group 3 can board -- but NOT you. YOU stand there while I call (security)?" I got the 'stand-there' part so I stood there as the entire waiting area was emptied. Many of these passengers stared at me like I had the plague or worse, I was a t*******. (Right!) Before everyone else boards, TSA guy comes and calls me aside and says, "What's going on here?" I said, "What have you been told is going on here?" He said, "I understand you called her an a**hole. Is that right?" "Yep, it is.....I was just trying to get on the plane with the group I always get on with. I paid a lot for this seat -- and I paid it, not my company -- and I always board with Group 1." He looked at my boarding pass: "Group 3". He said something like, "Well, you understand that we have to be sure that there are no unruly passengers boarding the plane?" "Got it -- and I don't think I'm in that class." He let me board. I am still waiting for an apology from the airline whose customer service has assured me "is checking into it." If you're still with me, here are the 2 questions: (1) Grounds for filing suit under breach of contract? (They breached the contract by putting me in Group 3 after I paid the contractual amount for the aisle seat -- which I got -- and the Group 1 boarding which I did not get), (2) grounds for a public humiliation claim?

This flight was from NY/Laguardia to DFW.

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Filed under: Lawsuits and disputes
Attorney answers 2


Some things are wrong but there is no practical legal remedy. Best to move on.

This is not legal advice. You should always discuss the specifics of your issue in person with an attorney. Be aware that there are time limits on all claims that depend on the kind of claim, so do not delay in seeking an attorney.


To put it in laymen's terms, you've got nothing. Zip. Nada. No breach of contract. No negligence. No damages. Its is never a good idea to mouth off to airline personnel these days, whether you have a right to or not.

DISCLAIMER: This is not specific legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.