7 family members got stuck in Jamaica after American Airlines canceled their flight — and now they're suing the airline for thousands
  • A family is suing American Airlines over a canceled flight that left them stuck in Jamaica.
  • Isaac Melton, a lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of his family, said they’re entitled to damages.

A vacationing family says American Airlines needs to pay up after their trip home from Jamaica became a headache when the air carrier canceled their flight.

Isaac Melton — an Illinois lawyer who’s representing his family members in a lawsuit against the airline — told Business Insider that he wouldn’t be suing the airline for thousands if it had comped them for the scrapped flight.

But now, he thinks the case could be a “roadmap” for others to hold airlines to account.

“I don’t think people really file suit on this, but if this is going to give people a roadmap because American doesn’t want to do right by us, then absolutely, then other people could just follow along,” Melton told Business Insider.

The family is suing American Airlines for tens of thousands of dollars, alleging that the air carrier canceled their flight and left them stranded at a Jamaica airport for more than a day earlier this year.


Melton; his wife, Tatum Drewes; their two toddler kids; Drewes’ sister from Tennessee, Taylor Fortner; and her two young children had been scheduled to fly from Montego Bay, Jamaica, to Chicago, Illinois, on Feb. 20 after a vacation, according to Melton and the civil suit obtained by Business Insider.

The family members were aboard American Airlines Flight 1417 on the tarmac at Jamaica’s Sangster International Airport for about 30 minutes before passengers were told by the pilot and crew that there was a “mechanical issue” with the plane and that “someone would be sent to see if the problem could be fixed,” the suit alleges.

The plane then returned to the gate and after another 90-minute delay passengers were told that the mechanical issue could not be fixed that day and that the flight was “not only delayed, but canceled,” the lawsuit alleges.

The family was told to return to the airport the next morning where they would be rebooked on a new flight, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Melton, a civil defense attorney, in an Illinois state court in July before it was later moved to federal court.

The family members spent Feb. 21 at the Jamaica airport based on American Airlines’ “representations that they would be rebooked on an airplane to return to Chicago on that day,” the suit says.


The suit alleges that the family’s rescheduled flight was also canceled

But that didn’t happen.

Instead, the family’s rescheduled flight got delayed from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., then 1:15 p.m., then 3:15 p.m., and then 4:25 p.m., according to the complaint.

The suit alleges that an American Airlines flight departed from the Jamaican airport on Feb. 21 without the family “or many of the other passengers who also had their February 20, 2023 flight delayed and ultimately canceled” by American Airlines.

“Ultimately, after a day in the airport with four minor passengers, two of whom were without diapers as a result of the delay, AA once again canceled Plaintiffs’ flight,” the lawsuit says.

Finally on Feb. 22, “after numerous delays and cancellations,” the stranded family members were able to board a return flight back to Chicago, according to the suit.


The lawsuit is seeking up to $10,000 for each person involved under the Montreal Convention. Melton says his family is entitled to damages, including for lost wages and other expenses.

Attorneys for American Airlines filed a motion to dismiss the suit in August.

An American Airlines spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement on Wednesday: “American strives to provide a positive experience to everyone who travels with us. We have been in touch with the customers over the past few months and have provided compensation for the canceled flight as well as reimbursement for expenses in accordance with the Montreal Convention.”

Melton told Business Insider in an interview on Wednesday, “It has just been an uphill battle getting any response” from American Airlines “from day one.”

According to Melton, American Airlines covered the tab for two hotel night stays as a result of the flight cancellation, gave each family member a $20 food voucher, sent him a check for just over $400 for out-of-pocket expenses, and gave airline miles.


The US Department of Transportation notes on its website that “on international itineraries, passengers may be able to recover reimbursement under Article 19 of the Montreal Convention for expenses resulting from a delayed or canceled flight by filing a claim with the airline.”

“If the claim is denied, you may pursue the matter in court if you believe that the carrier did not take all measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damages caused by the delay,” the federal agency says on its site.

Article source: https://airlines.einnews.com/article/670382716/Ebck_09rXnBDsvcK?ref=rss&ecode=vaZAu9rk30b8KC5H

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