NV Flyer tells the story of Edwards v. Southwest Airlines Co. (S.D. Ohio Jan. 28, 2020), a case about a 14 year old boy who flew Southwest Airlines without his father’s permission.
Southwest got the case tossed, successfully arguing that the Airline Deregulation Act precludes a lawsuit under Ohio state law for actions arising out of its ticketing, check-in and boarding activities. The father had unsuccessfully argued that his claims were directed at the safety of unaccompanied minors on Southwest flights and not the airline’s services covered by the Act.
The conniving 14 year old gets short shrift in all of the legal maneuvering. He was being watched by his grandfather and “asked his grandfather to go to Starbucks to get him a Frappuccino.” While the grandfather was gone the boy went to the airport. He was apparently in league with him mom who bought him a ticket to New Orleans. The father, alerted to the plan, called the police and drove to the airport before the flight took off. Southwest let the boy travel.
The father behaved badly, was arrested, and spent a night in jail. He’s arguing that Southwest had an obligation to confirm his permission (and not just the boy’s mother’s) to fly. However it isn’t only frequent flyers unable to sue airline loyalty programs under state contract law, thanks to the Airline Deregulation Act’s preemption provisions. It’s dads whose kids fly without permission, too.