Delta/AirTran Antitrust Case

In March 2018, a three judge panel of the U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment to Compass Lexecon’s client, Delta Air Lines, in an antitrust suit involving allegations that Delta colluded with Air Tran in instituting a first checked bag fee in 2008. The full Appeals Court in June 2018 refused Plaintiffs’ request for a hearing, leaving in place the panel’s ruling. Compass Lexecon Senior Consultant Professor Dennis Carlton testified on behalf of Delta at the lower court hearing, opining that industry conditions in 2008 would have pushed Delta toward adopting a first bag fee and that Delta had economically valid business justifications for adopting a first bag fee. In granting summary judgement for Delta and Air Tran, Judge Timothy Batten of the Northern District of Georgia found, in part, that Delta’s competitors were already moving toward the use of bag fees at the time Delta instituted its fee and that Delta had valid reasons for adopting the fee, thus contradicting Plaintiff’s allegation that Delta’s fee was the result of a conspiracy with Air Tran.

At trial, Delta Air Lines was represented by Randall L. Allen and Samuel R. Rutherford from Alston & Bird LLP, and James P. Denvir III, Scott E. Gant and Michael S. Mitchell from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. Professor Carlton was supported by a team in Compass Lexecon’s Washington, DC office led by Theresa Sullivan.