News of the Supreme Court’s decision to permit a class action lawsuit to go forward against Delta and Northwest is being overblown. Headlines like “Delta, Northwest lose appeal” make it sound as though the court was inclined to agree with the plaintiffs on the merits.
The Supreme Court has simply refused to intervene — and the Supreme Court rarely intervenes — to stop the suit which alleges that barriers to “hidden city ticketing” are illegal. (Hidden City Ticketing refers to when a passenger books an itinerary that takes them farther than their final destination but doesn’t take the last leg of their journey in order to receive a lower fare.)
If the case reaches a jury, public anger against the airlines will be on the side of the plaintiffs. But the most likely outcome is a settlement in which the plaintiff’s attorneys come out quite well and passengers get precious little — perhaps a small discount on a future ticket.