Montreal convention

Airline liability for passengers and luggage.

Community legislation and the Montreal Convention determine the liability requirements for all airlines.

This outline indicates the rules which protect passengers and their luggage.

  • Death and injury to passengers: Claims for compensation due to death or injury are incontestable by the airline. For damages up to the local currency equivalent of 100 000 SDRs (special drawing rights) the airline is denied negotiations. Above that amount, the airline is permitted to contest the claim only by proving that it was not negligent or at fault.
  • Advance payments: upon death or injury, the air carrier must make an advance payment, to cover immediate economic needs, within 15 days from the identification of the person entitled to compensation. This advance payment shall not be less than the local currency equivalent of 16 000 SDRs in the event of death.
  • Passenger delays: The airline is liable for damages due to passenger delay unless it took all reasonable measures to avoid the damage or it was impossible to take such measures. The liability for passenger delay is limited to the local currency equivalent of 4 150 SDRs.
  • Baggage delays: The air carrier is liable for damage unless it took all reasonable measures to avoid the damage or it was impossible to take such measures. The liability for baggage delay is limited to the local currency equivalent of 1 000 SDRs.
  • Destruction, loss or damage to baggage: The air carrier is liable for destruction, loss or damage to baggage up to the local currency equivalent of 1 000 SDRs. In the case of checked baggage, it is liable even if not at fault, unless the baggage was defective. In the case of unchecked baggage, the carrier is liable only if at fault.
  • Higher limits for baggage: In paying a supplementary fee, a passenger can benefit from a higher liability limit by making a special declaration upon check-in at the latest.
  • Complaints on baggage: If the baggage is damaged, delayed, lost or destroyed, the passenger must write and complain to the air carrier immediately after the incident. In the case of damage to checked baggage, the passenger must write and complain within seven days, and in the case of delay within 21 days, in both cases from the date on which the baggage was placed at the passenger’s disposal.
  • Liability of contracting and actual carriers: In the event that the air carrier actually performing the flight is not the same as the contracting air carrier, the passenger has the right to address a complaint or to make a claim for damages against both. The contracting air carrier is indicated on the ticket by name or code.
  • Time limit for action: Claims brought before court due to damages must be brought within two years from the date of arrival of the aircraft, or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived.
  • Basis for the information: The basis for the rules described above is the Montreal Convention of 28 May 1999, which is implemented in the Community by Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 (as amended by Regulation (EC) No 889/2002) and national legislation of the Member States’.

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