Delta Airlines and Frequent Flyers: If Corporations are People, Why Not a Ticket-Holding Cello?

A Cello (Not the one mentioned in this post)
Photographer: Unsubtlely

Lynn Harrell, a renowned cellist, travels a lot with his pal, a trusty cello named "Cello Harrell," -- at least that's what was printed on Cello's Frequent Flyer card, issued by Delta.

Evidently, Delta has taken umbrage at having a cello as a non-human club member and has not only canned Cello Harrell but also Lynn Harrell from its Frequent Flyer program because he has violated Delta's TOS. Mr. Harrell's existing miles have been confiscated, and the ban is in effect for life.

Now Cello Harrell may not be human, but, due to the instrument's large size, Lynn Harrell has always paid for a separate ticket (often full fare) for his valuable musical companion, so he felt entitled to apply for frequent flyer status for his cello.

Another plaintiff, Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, contends that his Northwest (now owned by Delta) elite membership and miles have been canceled because he "complained" too much.

Seriously? This sounds more like vengeance as opposed to violating some vague TOS.

The case, with both plaintiffs, has gone all the way to the Supreme Court, which must now rule whether or not airlines have the right to cancel Frequent Flyer cards for any reason and at their pleasure.

It seems to me that SCOTUS may have painted itself in a corner when it ruled that "corporations are people"; might not "personhood" be extended to the esteemed Cello Harrell, a full-fare paying passenger? It's not like Mr. Cello tried to squeeze himself into the overhead bin, nor did he try to stowaway in the wheel well. Like all good customers, he paid for his passage.

And what about service animals? If you buy a full-fare ticket for a canine service companion, why not issue a frequent flyer card for Spot?

Well, that may be a moot point, given that SCOTUS is not looking at personhood, per se, but whether or not airlines can cancel Frequent Flyer miles for any reason, thus trampling over the rights of club members.

This will be an interesting case to watch because it will affect millions of Frequent Flyers, and the ruling (either way) is posed to change the way airlines administer their Frequent Flyer programs.


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