A rabbi who claims he lost his status in an airline's frequent flier program because the airline said he complained too much got a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The New York Daily News reports that Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg attained "Platinum Elite" status in the now-defunct Northwest Airlines' WorldPerks program in 2005. The airline, which was bought by Delta in 2010, reportedly claims that Ginsberg complained about service 24 times over eight months leading up to a phone call.
"They called me out of the blue and said your miles are gone, your status is gone," Ginsberg said. "And I was sure it was a prank. That's how outlandish it was."
Ginsberg was a very frequent flier, with top Platinum Elite status and approximately 75 flights a year, according to NPR. He said he never asked for anything when registering his complaints, but the airline contends he "repeatedly asked for compensation."
Ginsberg initially thought the call kicking him out of the club was a joke. However, when he realized it wasn't, he asked for an explanation. "And they said, 'Because you complained too much about our service,'" he told NPR.
The rabbi also said that when he called the legal department to follow up, he was told that under federal law the airline has "total discretion" in such matters.
Ginsberg then sued the airline for himself and others similarly situated, asking for $5 million in damages.
The New York Daily News also reports that the case is not about whether Ginsberg got a raw deal, but is about whether he can even sue the airline under the 1978 federal deregulation of the airline industry, which ruled out most lawsuits like the one he filed.