The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled against FlyersRights.org‘s attempt to bring U.S. airlines into compliance with the Montreal Convention, the international treaty governing air travel.
The Montreal Convention’s Article 19 guarantees passenger compensation on a quasi-no fault basis for flight delays on international trips for up to $6,400. According to Article 3 of the treaty, the airlines must provide adequate notice that passengers may be entitled to such compensation for flight delays.
The court ruling allows the DOT to continue to abdicate its responsibility under its legal mandate to prohibit unfair or deceptive airline practices by ending the lack of notice about passenger Montreal Convention rights. The court deferred to the DOT, who has argued that it has not collected enough evidence of passenger confusion.
Paul Hudson, President of FlyersRights.org, explained “The airlines only inform you that compensation may be limited, without disclosing the amount of delay compensation (up to $6400), how to obtain compensation, or that the treaty overrides any contrary provisions in an airline’s contract of carriage. The airlines bury the information in dense legalese in lengthy contracts of carriage on their websites, so that the overwhelming majority of passengers are unaware of their delay compensation rights on international trips.”
The three major U.S. airlines (American, Delta and United) with international flights either give no notice or bury notices in incomprehensible legal jargon deep in their web sites, and airline employees regularly misinform passengers that they have no delay compensation rights.”
Mr. Hudson continued, “It is now up to Congress to mandate plain language notices to end airline delay compensation deception. This deceptive practice has deprived passengers of billions of dollars in delay compensation under international law.”