Germany: lugagge to be carried on a later flight is no legitimate reason to deny boarding

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

The plaintiff and his companions had booked a holiday package to Curacao. The flight MUC-AMS-CUR was to be operated by the defendant. The passengers' luggage was checked through from MUC to CUR. The flight MUC-AMS arrived in AMS with a delay of 20 mins. Nevertheless, the passengers were able to reach the gate for the connecting flight on time. However, they were denied boarding because it was not possible to transship their luggage in due time and same was to be carried on a later flight only. The defendand argued it would have been a security risk to carry the passengers and their luggage separately.

The passengers claimed for compensation of EUR 600 each pursuant to Art. 4 of Reg. (EC) 261/2004 as well as reimbursement of additional costs of accomodation and meals.

The first instance court (LG Frankfurt/Main) dismissed the claim. The appealte court (OLG Frankfurt/Main) upheld this decision.

In its judgement of Aug. 28, 2012, the German Supreme Court (BGH), however, set the decision aside and remitted the case to the appelate court: the passengers had fullfilled the requirement of presenting themselves for check-in at due time when checking in for the feeder flight in MUC already. They also had been ready at the gate for boarding the connceting flight on time. With regard to the luggage, the BGH referred to item 5.3 of the annex to Reg. (EC) 300/2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation security, according to which unaccompanied hold baggage shall not be transported, unless that baggage has been either separated due to factors beyond the passenger’s control or subjected to appropriate security controls. As it had been beyond the plaintiffs' control that they reached the connecting flight on time while their luggage didn't, there was no legitimate reason to deny them boarding.

BGH judgement X ZR 128/11 of Aug. 28,2012

Source: BGH press release 136/2012

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