49 U.S.C. section 41713 – Interpretation

In American Airlines, Inc. v. Wolens, 513 U.S. 219, 115 S. Ct. 817, 130 L. Ed. 2d 715 (1995), the only other recent Supreme Court case addressing the scope of 49 U.S.C. section 41713, the issue was whether state law consumer fraud and breach of contract claims arising from retroactive changes in a frequent flyer program were preempted under the Act. Id. at 224-25.

Citing another portion of section 41713-"enact or enforce any laws"-the Court held that the consumer fraud statute, like the advertising guidelines in Morales, "serves as a means to guide and police the marketing practices of the airlines." Id.

The Act therefore preempted the consumer fraud claims. The state law breach of contract claims, however, were not preempted.

The Court held that section 41713 did not protect the airlines from "suits alleging no violation of state-imposed obligations, but seeking recovery solely for the airline's alleged breach of its own, self-imposed undertakings." Id. at 228.