Skip to main content

U.S. Supreme Court: Minneapolis man a 'frequent flyer' or 'frequent complainer'?

  • Author:
  • Updated:

CNN reports the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in the case of a Minneapolis member of the former Northwest Airline's WorldPerks program. The case will be a test of consumer versus corporate rights.

The plaintiff is a former "frequent flier" whom the airline calls a "frequent complainer."

Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, former dean of Torah Academy in St. Louis Park, joined the Frequent Flier program in 1999 because he travels a lot for work. The rabbi writes parenting columns for several Jewish outlets and is the education director for Living Lessons. By 2005, he had attained Platinum Elite status.

But in June of 2008, Ginsberg claimed a Northwest representative called him to say his status was being revoked on grounds that he "abused" the program, according to court papers.

Ginsberg said the airline also took away the hundreds of thousands of miles accumulated in his account.

"It didn't make sense. Initially, when they contacted me on the phone I thought it was a prank call," Ginsberg told CNN. "When I pushed for a reason and clarification, they told me it was because I was complaining too much."

Northwest clarified its position in a letter a month later.

"You have continually asked for compensation over and above our guidelines. We have awarded you $1,925 in travel credit vouchers, 78,500 WorldPerks bonus miles, a voucher extension for your son, and $491 in cash reimbursements," the letter said. "Due to our past generosity, we must respectfully advise that we will no longer be awarding you compensation each time you contact us."

Aviation Magazine reported that Northwest Airlines believes it has a right to set its own policies, as a result of the Airline Deregulation Act 1978, which exposed passengers to market forces in the airline industry.

The Times of Israel reports Ginsberg filed a class-action lawsuit in January 2009 seeking $5 million against the airline in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

In an interview with  City Pages in August 2011, Ginsberg said, “This happened at the time that Northwest and Delta were merging. The suspicion was that they had too many frequent fliers at the higher status in their roll, and they were showing too much of a liability on a balance sheet for the accumulated miles by those passengers. So they had to creatively find ways of getting rid of people.”

But that court dismissed his claim, citing the ADA. On June 9, 2011, Ginsberg filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In August, the court ruled in his favor.

Last spring the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case this term.

Next Up

16362 County Rd 81, Maple Grove, Minnesota - October 2021 (4)

Use of car seat in crash that killed child still under investigation

The mother of the child was treated for injuries not considered to be life-threatening.

Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 4.53.56 PM

Abortion-rights protestors clash with driver in downtown Duluth

Police say they've cleared the driver of any wrong-doing.


Report: Hundreds of Delta flights for holiday weekend don't have pilots

It could be a brutal travel weekend due to major staffing issues at Delta.


Animal Humane Society plans trailblazing new campus

Take a look inside the plans for a first-of-its-kind adoption center and animal care campus.


Minnesota reports 'concerning level' of syphilis cases

The Minnesota Department of Health says most of the cases are being discovered in the northern part of the state.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Airport police intercept 5,600 fentanyl pills headed to St. Cloud

Three were arrested following a police raid in St. Cloud.


Minnesota switches to weekly COVID updates

The weekly updates will be provided on Thursdays.

Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 12.22.08 PM

Man shot inside Oakdale movie theater expected to survive

The 23-year-old victim underwent surgery and is recovering at the hospital.


Minnesota confirms second case of monkeypox virus

More cases are expected in the coming days and weeks, the health department says.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, June 29

One of the newly reported deaths was a person aged 15-19 from Yellow Medicine County.


Frequent flyer sues airline for taking his points because he filed complaints

S. Binyomin Ginsberg, of Minneapolis, claims the airline took away hundreds of thousands of miles he accumulated after making 24 complaints in less than a year. The suit was tossed out in 2009, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now reversing the decision.