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Ex-TWA flight attendants lose their travel vouchers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Flight attendants who fought TWA over its policy of grounding pregnant employees will not get the free travel they were promised in a 1995 settlement.

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that American Airlines, which bought bankrupt TWA in 2001, does not have to honor the flight vouchers given to 2,053 attendants as compensation for being forced to take unpaid maternity leaves in the 1970s and '80s.

A majority of the coupons were still unused because most of the flight attendants had saved them for retirement.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology says healthy women can safely fly until their 36th week of pregnancy. In the 1970s, some doctors recommended that pregnant attendants stop flying after 13 to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the discrimination complaint in 1976. It was later joined by the ACLU and hundreds of flight attendants.

In its ruling, the appeals court said forcing TWA's buyers to honor old debts could have sunk the sale and resulted in the loss of 20,000 jobs.