Does an airline have to reimburse the passenger for the cost of a new flight ticket if it has made two separate flight bookings and a delay in the first flight leads to a missed flight?
The district court of Erding recently had to decide such a case. By judgment of 19.12.2019, the court (Erding District Court, 15 C 3341/19) ruled that the airline had to pay the passenger for the new flight ticket because the delayed carriage caused the airline to be delayed and the airline was also responsible for this delay ,
How was the situation?
The plaintiff had booked a cheap flight ticket from Paris to Pointre a Pitre (Guadeloupe, French overseas department in the Caribbean). To get to Paris, the passenger booked separately a Lufthansa flight from Munich to Paris. The plaintiff had calculated a time window of a good 1,5 hours for the change in Paris.
It happened the way it had to. The flight from Munich to Paris was delayed by around 1,5 hours, so that the plaintiff no longer reached the check-in of his second flight in the Caribbean in time. The delay in the flight from Munich to Paris was as follows: The passenger's official tablet was stolen by a passenger. The tablet was unattended and was probably in one of the front rows of seats. It was not possible to carry out the flight without this tablet as this tablet contained safety-related information. The "thief" only returned the tablet after an announcement that the flight could not be carried out without the tablet. This was followed by further checks on the passenger. The latter was then not allowed to take the flight to Paris and had to leave the plane again. The departure of the flight to Paris was delayed by one hour and 20 minutes due to this security incident.
Due to the missed connecting flight in Paris, the plaintiff had to book new flight tickets to the Caribbean. He wanted the defendant Lufthansa to reimburse these costs. Lufthansa refused to do this. The district court of Erding now confirmed the plaintiff.
How does the court justify the passenger's claim?
The court sees a claim from §§ 280 I, II, 286 BGB.
The airline has violated an obligation under the air transportation contract concluded with the plaintiff. In the event of a flight delay, the airline is in default without the need for a reminder, as a time is determined for the service according to the calendar, cf. OLG Frankfurt am Main, judgment of 15.11.2011, 16 U 39/11. A flight booking is based on specific departure and arrival times; the time for the performance is fixed. Failure to comply with the specific times has resulted in default.
It is crucial, however, that the airline is also responsible for the delay. The burden of proof rests with the airline.
Despite the theft of the passenger, the airline was unable to prove that it was not at fault in this regard. Pursuant to section 276 (1) sentence 1 of the German Civil Code, the debtor is responsible for intent and negligence, whereby, according to section 276 (2) of the German Civil Code, the negligent act neglects the care required in traffic. The defendant must be held responsible for the fault of its vicarious agents, Section 278 BGB. It is incumbent on the defendant to prove that it has observed the due diligence required in traffic.
The airline was unable to prove this in the present case. Based on the evidence, the court was certain that the official tablet was stolen by a passenger. However, it could not be ruled out that the chief flight attendant acted negligently as the defendant's vicarious agent, since a tablet with security-relevant information must not be left unattended, especially if it is easily exposed to third-party access. In any case, it does not correspond to the care required in traffic to leave a business tablet with safety-relevant information unattended in the seating area that is freely accessible to passengers.
Has the passenger calculated his transfer time too short?
The court denied this question. Both flights were flights in the so-called Schengen area, so that no further entry checks were necessary. According to the court, the transfer time of about 1,5 hours calculated by the plaintiff was sufficient.
How do I get help enforcing my claims against the airline?
Should you have any questions on the subject Passenger Rights, Have a flight delay and flight cancellation or need help in asserting your claims for compensation against an airline, this is your responsibility Lawyer Michael Gabler gladly available! Lawyer Gabler specializes in passenger rights and has already successfully enforced compensation payments from airlines for hundreds of passengers.