Michael Wukoschitz's blog

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Visitors Delayed

According to documents recently released, some visitors to the U.S. were delayed by immigration officers because the fingerprints in their passports were mismatched or smudged. However, Homeland Security Department pointed out that only a tiny fraction of visitors was affected by such problems.

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Liability for an accident at a water slide

Liability for an accident at a water slide was repudiated by Austria's Supreme Court (OGH): a swimming baths offering a water slide was not obliged to provide permanent supervision by its staff or video cameras. A stoplight system regulating access to the slide and sliding instructions displayed directly at the entrance of the slide were sufficent security measures. Safeguard obligations of a swimming baths must not be overdrawn.

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Seaquake alert via text message

A German company has developed a system to forewarn tourists against seaquakes via text message to their cell phones. The system is based on data provided by international seismological institutes.

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Machine-readable passport required

From 26. June 2005 all foreign travellers to USA who don't need visa must produce machine-readable passports, otherwise they may be rejected by immigration officers.

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No right of withdrawal from car hire contracts

Interpreting Art. 3(2) of the European Directive 97/7/EC on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts, European Court of Justice in a recent preliminary judgement (easyCar UK Ltd v. Office of Fair Trading) held that the exemption made in regard to "provison of transport services" includes contracts for the provision of car hire services. Consumers therefore have no unrestricted right of withdrawal within a specific period after conclusion of contract, even if same was concluded as a "distance contract" via the internet (ECJ 2005-03-10, C-336/03).
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Lufthansa: New Check-In Machines

By the end of March 2005 Lufthansa will indroduce new check-in machines which will allow to scan passengers' passports. Due to legal obligations the Airline has to collect passengers' passport data for each flight to USA, Canada, Korea or Mexico. Up to now these data have beeen collected manually. The new machines will be a further step towards self-service by passengers.

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Remarable Boost in Tourism

Due to figures published by WTO this February, Central American states have achived an remarkable increase of Tourism. Espescially Panama substantially invested in touristic infrastructure and advertisment for its historical sites, beaches and national parks. Thus in 2004 number of tourists increased by about 20%.

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Ticket lost - still entitled to carriage?

"No compensation will be granted if tickets were stolen or lost ." Such provision used in the general condiditons of contract of a German coach tour company was held ineffective by Germany's Supreme Court: the provision was inappropriate as it would frustrate purpose of contract when ticket got lost, even though a register of passengers allowed bus driver to verify passgenger's right to carriage.(Press release 17/2005 by BGH/German Supreme Court)

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Railway Compensation Scheme

Austrian Federal Railways have introduced a new compensation scheme for railway delays. According to this scheme any delay exceeding 1 hour will entitle passengers to a refund of 20% of the payed fare. If the delay should lead into arrival after midnight, passengers can also claim for refund of taxi or accomodation fees up to EUR 80. However, this scheme falls behind expectations as EU commission had demanded a refund of 50% for delays exceeding 1 hour or even 100% for delays exceeding 2 hours.

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National Security and Data Protection

Since 5 March 2003, an agreement between the European Commission and United States Customs gives the USA online access to passenger name record (PNR) data of all Europe-based airline carriers for flights that go to, from or through the USA. European privacy protection groups are deeply concerned as airline companies disclose Passenger Name Record data to United States authorities without obtaining passengers' explicit consent.

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