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Airline Price Fixing Class Action Partial Settlement

Several major airlines have found themselves in the crosshairs of a massive price fixing lawsuit alleging that air carriers conspired to raise prices at the expense of air traveling consumers.

Notably, Southwest and American Airlines have both settled out for $15 million and $45 million, respectively, with both companies denying any liability. Delta and United are still fighting it out, denying the claim. A Delta spokesperson called the claims ridiculous and offensive.

Class Member Might Not See a Dime

Apparently, countless class members have begun to receive notifications about their status as class members, their right to opt out, and their potential eligibility for a cash payment.

However, due to the fact that there are likely many millions of class members (potentially up to 153 million), any proportional share payout is likely to be insignificant, especially after fees and administration costs. The massive class includes anyone who bought an airline ticket from 2011 to 2017 or 2018.

And while some pundits might be quick to point the finger at high attorney fees being the reason for the class getting sandbagged, the math just doesn't work out that well: If there are 153 million class members and the lawyers and payment administrator did it all for free, the airlines would have to cough up $153,000,000 for each person to get $1. Tacking on a zero at the end of that would give individuals $10 each; adding two zeros would up the class member pay to $100 each, but then the airlines would be paying out $15.4 billion to get there, and those aren't settlement numbers. Given the small individual share, it is likely that the payout will be donated to charities.

The court has a hearing set on whether to approve the settlement in March of next year, as class action settlements are subject to approval.

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