Air carrier passenger and baggage liability
Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 on air carrier liability
The regulation implements the 1999 Montreal Convention as it relates to liability and compensation issues for passengers travelling by air and their baggage (see summary).
Note: The original regulation (before it was amended by Regulation (EC) No 889/2002) concerned European Union (EU) air carrier liabilities for death or injury to passengers as a result of accidents. The 2002 amending regulation brought the original regulation into line with the new international rules in the Montreal Convention, to additionally include baggage and delay liability issues.
Air carrier liability for passengers and their baggage
The regulation summarises the liability rules applied by EU air carriers under EU legislation and the Montreal Convention, and EU Member States’ national legislation. Compensation is expressed as the approximate value in local currency of special drawing rights (SDRs)*.
Insurance and passenger notification
EU air carriers must:
be insured up to a sufficient level that is adequate for all persons entitled to compensation to receive the full amount to which they are entitled under the regulation;
ensure that a summary of the main provisions governing liability for passengers and their baggage is available to passengers at all points of sale, including by telephone and via the internet;
use a notice based on the annex to the regulation.
EU air carriers must also provide each passenger with a written indication of the carrier’s liability limit for the flight in respect of:
death or injury;
destruction, loss of or damage to baggage; and
damage caused by delay.
The above limits are those established by this regulation unless the air carrier voluntarily applies higher limits. For carriage by non-EU air carriers, these requirements apply only to flights to, from or within the EU.
Compensation in the case of death or injury
There are no financial limits to the liability for passenger injury or death. For damages up to 100,000 SDRs, the air carrier cannot contest claims for compensation. Above that amount, the air carrier can defend itself against a claim by proving it was not negligent or otherwise at fault.
If a passenger is killed or injured, the air carrier must make an advance payment, to cover immediate needs, within 15 days of the person being identified, under the following conditions.
In the event of death, this advance payment must not be less than 16,000 SDRs.
An advance payment does not constitute recognition of liability and can be offset against any subsequent sums paid for air carrier liability.
It is not returnable unless the carrier proves that the damage was caused or contributed to by the negligence or omission of the person claiming compensation, or where the person who received the advance payment was not entitled to it.
If a passenger is delayed, the air carrier is liable for damage unless it took all possible reasonable steps to avoid the damage. Liability is limited to 4,150 SDRs.
If baggage is delayed, the air carrier is liable for damage unless it took all possible reasonable measures to avoid it. Liability is limited to 1,000 SDRs.
Destruction, loss or damage to baggage
The air carrier is liable for the destruction of, loss of or damage to baggage, liability is up to 1,000 SDRs. For checked baggage, it is liable even if it is not at fault, unless the baggage was defective. For unchecked baggage, the carrier is liable only if it is at fault.
Higher limits for baggage
Passengers can benefit from a higher liability limit by making a special declaration at the latest at check-in and by paying a supplementary fee. The fee must reflect the additional costs above those for baggage valued within the liability limit. The tariff must be made available on request.
Complaints on baggage
If checked baggage is damaged, delayed, lost or destroyed, the passenger must write and complain to the air carrier as soon as possible, within 7 days for damage and 21 days for delay following receipt.
Any court action must be brought within 2 years from the date of arrival of the aircraft, or from the date on which the aircraft was due to arrive.
Council Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 of 9 October 1997 on air carrier liability in the event of accidents (OJ L 285, 17.10.1997, pp. 1–3).
Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights and Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air (COM(2013) 130 final, 13.3.2013).
Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention) (OJ L 194, 18.7.2001, pp. 39–49).
Council Decision 2001/539/EC of 5 April 2001 on the conclusion by the European Community of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention) (OJ L 194, 18.7.2001, p. 38).