Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAI.A and CAI.B) today filed suit against Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) to stop Delta from interfering with Continental`s policy and operations regarding carry-on baggage. The lawsuit comes as a result of Delta`s effort to restrict carry-on baggage of Continental and other customers at San Diego International Airport by the installation of baggage “sizers” on the security screening devices which Delta jointly shares with Continental and AmericaWest.
The suit, filed in the Superior Court of California in San Diego, seeks restoration of Continental`s right to judge the suitability of its own customers` carry-on baggage.
Recently, Delta has retrofitted the airport concourse X-ray machine with its baggage sizers. These devices needlessly prevent Continental customers from traveling with carry-on bags that are generally accommodated aboard Continental`s modern aircraft.
“There is a growing trend in this industry to take away customer comfort and convenience and Continental isn`t going to be a part of that trend,” said Mark Erwin, Continental`s senior vice president of airport services.
“Continental customers shouldn`t be penalized by Delta`s imposition of its unfriendly baggage policies. We have our own policies for our customers and our new aircraft were designed with expanded overhead storage bins to accommodate our customers` needs,” Erwin said. “In addition, we`re investing millions to retrofit dozens of existing aircraft with the expanded bins.”
In some cases, as a result of Delta`s baggage sizers, Continental customers are sent back by airport security staff to the ticket counter to check their bags. As a result, Continental has hired a representative to assist its passengers in bypassing “bag jams” created by Delta`s baggage regulations.
“Security staff shouldn`t be distracted from their primary safety duties by having to perform as `bag cops,`” Erwin said. “At airports around the world we share x-ray machines with other airlines. It is universally understood that the airline which operates the checkpoint will not use it to disadvantage other carriers or their passengers.”
The lawsuit seeks damages against Delta for its interference with the contractual rights Continental has with its customers and for unfair competition, and also seeks injunctive relief.