All Commentary
Monday, March 1, 1993

Class Exclusion Notice

Legal harassment will drive airline prices up more than a supposed price-fixing conspiracy.

The Airlines Antitrust Litigation

P.O. Box 275

Mt. Royal, NJ 08061-0275

Dear Sirs:

My wife (Lois) and I (Virgil) recently received notices (copies attached) indicating that we are members of the Class.

From reading the notices, we see that we qualify to file via AIRLINES ANTITRUST LONG CLAIM FORM C.

1. During the period January 1, 1988 to June 30, 1992, Lois and I have bought airline tickets and flown. In addition, we have bought tickets for our two sons so they could make various flights. And we have also bought tickets for my dad so he could make various flights. We have purchased tickets in all of those years.

2. Most of our flying has been on one of the airlines listed, namely, Delta. We have probably flown on one or more others, but I haven’t checked to verify for sure.

3. We have flown in and out of several of the airports listed in the notices.

4. Attached are copies of recent VISA card charges that illustrate that we qualify.

Lois and I are writing to request exclusion from the Class.

We hope that we are two of a sufficiently substantial number who want to be excluded from the Class so that this whole sordid undertaking gets terminated.

I quote from the notice, Section I, BACKGROUND OF THE LITIGATION:

The lawsuit charges that during the period January 1, 1988 to June 30, 1992, the airline defendants and ATPCO violated the antitrust laws by engaging in an unlawful conspiracy to fix prices for domestic air transportation and to allocate certain airline markets and airports and that, as a result, prices for airline tickets for such flights were higher than they otherwise would have been.

That foundation for the lawsuit is so ridiculous that any judge worth his salt should throw the suit out immediately. Let us just give you some examples that come to mind.

1. First and foremost, it is obvious to the most casual observer that concern for those of us who paid airline ticket prices “that were higher than they otherwise would have been” has nothing whatsoever to do with the real motivation for the suit.

Anybody who knows the slightest thing about what is going on can tell that the plaintiffs’ lawyers see an opportunity to make a fortune by attacking a group of businesses that the lawyers perceive as having deep pockets.

If the lawyers really had so much concern for how much we travelers pay in airline tickets, they would have started one or more airlines of their own and charged us less.

What the lawyers for the Class are trying to do is get some kind of government approved theft, all in the name of the Class. Then the lawyers will pocket huge amounts of money for themselves.

This kind of legal harassment will drive airline prices up a whole lot more than the supposed price-fixing conspiracy claimed in the lawsuit.

2. Secondly, there may be antitrust laws on this subject, but if I were on the jury trying this case, I would vote to invalidate those laws.

If a person knows anything about economics and business, he knows that the only kind of monopoly that can be created and sustained is one created and sustained by government power. Thus, if the airlines are truly deregulated, like they should be and supposedly are, no one airline nor even all of them working together could create and sustain a monopoly.

For heaven’s sake, inflation-adjusted airfares have been less since deregulation than previously when the federal government conspired to fix prices, routes, airport slots, and the whole rest of it. Anyone watching this year’s airfare wars knows that it’s a tough, competitive business. So much so that the airlines are lowering fares to the point of being non-profitable.

Not even the multi-governmental Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] can keep its cartel working the way the wrongheaded antitrust theorists proclaim; gas prices are lower now than they were years ago. That’s due to worldwide competition, not antitrust laws. The antitrust laws should be thrown out along with this lawsuit.

3. Thirdly, all of us that bought airline tickets did so freely. No airline used any kind of force, intimidation, extortion, threats, or anything else of that type to make us buy their tickets or fly on their airline. We did it voluntarily. We must have gotten a good value, or else we wouldn’t have done it.

You know, we could have driven our cars, or taken a bus or train, or even stayed home.

So, even if the airlines did work together to fix prices, routes, airports, etc., that is totally irrelevant. We bought their product voluntarily; and we’re glad we did.

And that is more than can be said for this Class action lawsuit. The lawyers for the Class caused us to be included involuntarily–we want out of the Class. Furthermore, they are forcing taxpayers to fund their crazy game; it costs money to run the governmental side of this type of undertaking. And then airlines (and lots of other businesses, too) have to increase their prices in order to have money to fend off this type of harassment.

4. We say the lawyers for the Class are the guilty ones. The case should be dismissed. The lawyers for the Class should not be awarded even $1.00! They should be severely reprimanded and told to never start this type of suit again.

Let us say it one more time. If the lawyers who have hatched up this attempt at governmentally approved theft were so concerned about the airline ticket prices we travelers pay, those lawyers would start and run one or more airlines and set their prices lower than their competition. The fact that they haven’t even attempted to do that is conclusive proof that they are not really interested in the price we pay for plane tickets.


Virgil L. Swearingen

Lois A. Swearingen

Mr. and Mrs. Swearingen, who describe themselves as “ordinary citizens who fly on airplanes,” reside in Fresno, California.