man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights

Steven Rothstein purchased a lifetime ticket in 1987. Yet, American Airlines took it away from him after accusing him that he was abusing it.

What made American Airlines make such harsh statements after flying for 10,000 times and racking up more than 10 million air miles?

Lifetime pass and passion for traveling

man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights
man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights

Rothstein’s lifetime ticket got revoked, and back in 2011, he lost a case against American Airlines.

Now-defunct AAirpass was introduced by American Airlines back in 1981. It guaranteed pass holders unlimited first-class travel for life.

AAirpasses were some of the most famous people in the world. This pass wasn’t cheap. Rothstein paid 250k and a companion pass for an additional 150k.

Rothstein was stripped of the pass in 2008 for “speculative bookings.” He sued for seven million and lost.

The case made headlines, and it’s estimated that Rothstein’s got around 21,000,000 dollars worth of flying out of American Airlines.

Rothstein’s adventures

man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights
man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights

A passionate traveler told The New York Times in 2012:

“[I] became a hero at the airline. I could just show up and get a seat”.

He continued:

“I could go someplace, and I wouldn’t even have to think about it Just make the reservation and go.”

And he did. He went for a sandwich to Rhode Island, Venezuela, Switzerland, pretty much everywhere.

He gave away all of his 14 million air miles to his friends and to his kids’ nanny to get back to Bosnia.

As explained, he ‘felt those random acts of kindness were exactly the sorts of things that we’re meant to do as people’.

Yet, that Bosnia trip cost him his lifetime pass.

The Bosnia experience

man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights
man bought ticket for lifetime air travel but had it cancelled after 10,000 flights

On that Bosnia trip, he was told his pass had been terminated because of fraudulent activity.

“I feel betrayed. They took away my hobby and my life. They essentially destroyed my persona.”

“Our country is almost captive to big companies who have incredible power to do whatever they want to do. It’s hard to fight them.”

He concluded:

“They signed a contract, and a contract’s a contract.”

By the end of 2012, the two parties appear to have settled their case out of court. Yet, Steve never got his pass back.

Final verdict

Obviously, this man used his pass more than an average traveler. But, as he stated: there was a contract. It’s a cautionary tale, and to this day, it remains a puzzle for many avid travelers.

What are your thoughts? Did Mr. Steve breach the contract? Or was he punished for doing good deeds?