Southwest Airlines settles lawsuit for over five million alcoholic drinks

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Southwest Airlines has settled a lawsuit to the tune of an estimated $29 million — or 5.8 million unredeemed alcoholic beverages valued at $5 each, the Chicago Tribune reports

“This settlement is a grand-slam result for the class, as consumers are recovering 100 cents on the dollar,” Joseph Siprut, the Chicago attorney who represented the class against Southwest, told the news outlet.

An Illinois man brought the class-action suit against the airline on behalf of himself and any other Southwest airlines customer who received drink vouchers before the airline altered its policy on expiration dates.

On Aug. 1, 2010, the airline changed its policy. The drink vouchers were now only good on the day the person was traveling, making those previously issued worthless.

When the lawsuit was reported by the LA Times in 2011, a Southwest airlines spokesperson said the decision to add an expiration date was prompted by passengers making unauthorized photo copies of the vouchers.

According to the Tribune, it’s estimated that there are 5.8 million eligible vouchers that were never redeemed. And even if eligible passengers don’t have their vouchers anymore, the settlement still allows them to redeem new drink vouchers.

H. Thomas Wells Jr., a partner at Maynard Cooper & Gale in Birmingham, Ala., whom represented Southwest Airlines Reservations said Southwest had obtained dismissal of all consumer fraud counts in the class action, and the breach of contract claim was the only remaining count at the time of settlement.

“We were confident that if the case were litigated, Southwest would have prevailed,” Wells tells told the ABA Journal in an email posted on their website.

So, if you’re holding onto a voucher still, drink up! It’s valid. If you’ve lost it, you’ll be receiving a bit of cash to buy that drink on your next flight.

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