So you’ve won a small claims case against an airline — now what?

As anyone who has won a case in small claims court against an airline knows, it’s not that hard to get a judge to side with you. It’s collecting from an airline that’s virtually impossible. But readers of this blog are familiar with Linda Sesa’s case against US Airways. And guess what? She just got a check.

Here’s the problem. In order collect from US Airways, she needed to know a few details about the airline and its bank accounts. Information the carrier wasn’t exactly ready to reveal. But her persistence paid.

I was able to find the US Airways bank that was located in Philadelphia by asking — get ready for this — the customer relations department at US Airways.

One of their own employees actually revealed confidential information that all US Airways checks received in Philadelphia are deposited into PNC Bank. That was the information I needed to file the writ of execution and interrogatories. What that meant was that now the money that US Airways owed me would be garnished from their bank account.

Then things got interesting.

I received a message on my cell phone last Wednesday night from US Airways’ legal department, saying they were mailing a check to me the next day and that it would arrive on Friday and to please call if I had any questions. They gave me their direct phone number — imagine that!

I did receive the check exactly when they said it would arrive. The only thing is that because they jumped in and paid me before their account was garnished, they did not include the fees that I had paid through small claims court. I called US Airways at the number they provided. A person actually answered the phone on my first phone call, no recorded messages! They agreed to send the money to cover all court fees.

I received a check for that yesterday.

Lesson learned: taking an airline to small claims court is hardly a no-win proposition. If your air carrier doesn’t send a representative — and it probably won’t — it might be easier to collect than you think.

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(Full disclosure: I’m not a lawyer. But there are several attorneys who follow this blog. Anyone have anything to add to this, by way of advice.)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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