K A T E H A N N I , D I R E C T O R ,
F L Y E R S R I G H T S . O R G
Kate Hanni is one today’s most passionate and dedicated national figures fighting for safeguards and protections to airline passengers. She is the Founder & Executive Director of FlyersRights.org, formerly the Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights (CAPBOR), the fastest growing airline passengers’ coalition in the country.
Kate, her family and thousands of airline passengers were stranded on the tarmacs of airports all over the country aboard 124 American Airlines flights during the Christmas holidays, December 29th, 2006. For close to ten hours, Kate and the rest of the passengers were given no food, no water, no medical attention and no basic services such as working toilettes. Unable to deplane and sitting on the tarmac at Austin airport, Kate and other passengers decided to turn anger and frustration into advocacy by creating the Coalition for an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights (CAPBOR), now known as FlyersRights.org (FRO).
FRO has grown from 100 members to more than 50,000, and is supported by many consumer groups, pilots and flight attendants. Since June 2007, FRO has operated a 24 hour HOTLINE (1-877-flyers-6) for airline passengers to report their experiences. During the first day of operation, the Hotline received more than 920 calls from angry and frustrated passengers in less than 3 ½ hours.
Kate has taken her mission on behalf of the flying public to the national airwaves. In all, Kate has completed more than 5,700 interviews since 2007. And FRO/CAPBOR has filed numerous comments on DOT rulemaking and legislation that have led to significant pro- consumer regulations and legislation including:
· October 2008 tarmac data mandate; airlines must report tarmac data for cancelled, diverted and multiple gate return flights
· May 2008 bumping compensation doubled from 200 and 400 dollars respectively to 400 and 800 dollars
· December 21 2009, the three hour tarmac rule for domestic flights
· August 23, 2011 the 4 hour tarmac rule for international flight
· August 23 2011 refunds of baggage fees for lost baggage
· August 23 2011 another increase in bumping compensation to 650 and 1300 dollars respectively
· January 23th 2012
o Ban on post purchase price fare increase
o Ability to hold a ticket for 24 hours without a re-faring fee
o Full Fare advertising : All fare advertising must include base fare plus any mandatory taxes, surcharges and booking fees
o Mandatory notification of flight delays every 30 minutes by any means possible, airport overhead announcements, overhead displays, e-mail, phone, text etc.
o In addition airlines are now required to disclose baggage fees online and or on the phone when making a reservation and they must make clear where all ancillary fee information can be found prior to booking a ticket.
In Five years FlyersRights.org had Fifteen Bills introduced before Congress, all titled “Airline Passengers Bill of Rights”, with both the House and Senate having passed their versions of the bills. The FAA Reauthorization Bill passed in February of 2012 contained an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights.
FlyersRights.org and its leader Kate Hanni’s list of honors is long and growing-
· Named one of the top 25 most influential people by Nielson Business Meetings In
April of 2007
· Named in 33 Most Influential in Travel by Travel Weekly on Nov. 20, 2007
· Among Forbes Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Women in Travel in 2008
· A Conde Nast Traveler Trailblazer in 2008
· Named one of Travel Weekly’s 33 Most Influential Names in Travel in 2010
Airline Passenger Compensation Rights on International Flights
Paul S. Hudson, Esq.
Aviation Consumer Action Project
PO Box 19029, Washington, DC 20036 firstname.lastname@example.org email
International airline passengers, under the Montreal Convention of 1999 ratified by the U.S. in 2003 (and which replaced the Warsaw Convention), now have legal rights that are in some ways superior to the rights of passengers on U.S. domestic flights. International air travel covered by this treaty includes any ticketed trip with stopping, departure or destination points in two or more countries. These rights include:
1) Strict liability for bodily injury or death incurred on board the aircraft or in the course of embarking or disembarking, up to approximately $160,000 in compensation.
A passenger does not have to prove negligence or fault by the airline. However, damages may be reduced for contributory negligence or wrongful acts by the passenger.
For damages over $160,000, an airline may use the defense that it was not negligent or did not engage in wrongful conduct, or the damages were solely due to negligence or wrongful acts of a third party.
2) For lost or damaged or delayed baggage, the airline liability is generally limited to
$1,640 per passenger, unless the passenger has handed the airline a special interest declaration and paid any supplementary fee. .
3) Airlines are liable for damages caused by delay in the transporting of passengers or cargo up to $6,640, unless the airline proves that it took all reasonable measures to
prevent the damage caused by delay or that it was impossible for them to take such measures.
No airline is permitted by contract to assert lower liability limits for international air travel than those provided for in the Montreal Convention and any such contract terms are void. In general, state common law tort or statutory actions are now preempted, as most courts now view the Montreal Convention as the exclusive remedy for claims arising out of international air transportation.
Legal actions on all claims must be brought within two (2) years of the incident. However, in addition, complaints to the airline for baggage damage claims must be made within 7 days, for cargo damage within 14 days of the date of receipt by the passenger. For baggage or cargo delay claims, the passenger must file a complaint with the airline within 21 days of receipt. Complaint to the airline must be made in writing and delivered or sent within the time limits or the claim is barred except in case of fraud by the airline.
Courts that have jurisdiction for passenger actions against airlines under the Montreal Convention include US federal district courts and other courts where the passenger has his/her primary and permanent residence, where the airline is domiciled (incorporated) or has its principal office, the final destination location of the flight, or where the airline has a place of business through which the ticket was purchased.
This short article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Anyone seeking legal advice should consult with an attorney of their choice. The text of the Montreal Convention is available on the internet at http://www.jus.uio.no/lm/air.carriage.unification.convention.montreal.1999/doc.html
The US dollar amounts specified in this article are based on the conversion to US dollars from the Special Drawing Rights units used in the Convention as of February 22, 2008. This conversion is posted daily on the International Monetary Fund web site.