Louisa-Ann Lange February 2 2022 No claim to carriage or reimbursement of costs for alternative flight if passenger arrives late at gate for boarding Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein | Aviation - Germany Louisa-Ann Lange Aviation IntroductionFactsDecisionCommentIntroductionPassengers are not entitled to carriage or reimbursement of the costs for alternative carriage in the event of their delayed arrival at the gate for boarding. The Munich Local Court came to this decision on 20 August 2021 (Fn: 275 C 17530/19), published on 17 December 2021.Airspace and airport operations are a complexly organised system, comparable to the workings of a clock, in which each cog has to fulfil its task so that the overall structure functions. In order to ensure that a flight runs smoothly, both passengers and airlines must adhere to time constraints. Before a flight can leave, a number of preparations and steps must be completed. In daily flight operations, however, it is not uncommon for passengers to fail to comply with their obligations to cooperate and to be late for boarding. In such cases, it is not possible for air carriers to wait for passengers as otherwise the flow of air traffic would be significantly impaired so the timetable could not be adhered to.The Munich Local Court has now clarified whether passengers are entitled to carriage or reimbursement of the costs for the alternative flight in these cases and has once again stated the following: if a passenger arrives late at the gate for boarding, there is neither a right to carriage nor a right to reimbursement of the cost of alternative carriage. In addition, the air carrier does not owe a minimum boarding time.(1)FactsThe plaintiff booked a package tour from Frankfurt to Hurghada, Egypt, with a Munich tour operator. On the day of departure, the plaintiff and her fellow passenger arrived at the gate 18 minutes after the stated boarding time. The airline refused boarding due to the passengers' late arrival. The plaintiff claimed that carriage would still have been possible as the aircraft was still at the gate upon arrival. In fact, the aircraft did not leave the parking position until approximately 30 minutes after the plaintiff's arrival. The plaintiff then independently arranged an alternative flight to Hurghada and sued the tour operator for reimbursement of the costs for the replacement transport.DecisionThe Munich Local Court dismissed the claim.The Court stated that a minimum boarding time is not owed. Rather, it is solely up to the airlines to complete boarding according to internal procedures in order to ensure that leaving the parking position as well as preparing for departure can be carried out as scheduled. The plaintiff's argument that the aircraft in question was still at the gate when they arrived and that carriage would therefore still have been possible was not accepted. Admission on board does not have to be guaranteed for the whole period up until the airplane leaves the gate. According to the Court, a different judgment would result in a considerable disruption of air traffic.(2)CommentIn practice it is not uncommon for airlines to wait for delayed passengers, but a claim cannot arise from this. The decision of the Court is therefore welcome and understandable, because air carriers cannot be obliged to take measures that further jeopardise the complexly organised course of flight operations in addition to the usual unforeseen daily occurrences. It is also understandable that a claim for reimbursement of the costs for alternative carriage cannot exist either against the tour operator or against the air carrier, since the circumstances of the delayed arrival of the passengers for boarding is neither controllable nor avoidable by the tour operator or the air carrier. This is solely the responsibility of the individual passenger. It is the passenger's responsibility to do what is necessary to prepare for and carry out the journey as planned, in particular to arrive on time for check-in, security checks and boarding. An obligation to reimburse costs would result in an unjustified shift in the spheres of risk.For further information on this topic please contact Louisa-Ann Lange at Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein by telephone (+49 69 97 98 85 0) or email ([email protected]). The Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein website can be accessed at www.asd-law.com.Endnotes(1) Local court Munich, verdict of 8/20/2021 – 275 C 17530/19, Editorial beck-aktuell, Publishing company: CH BECK, 12/17/2021.(2) Local court Munich, verdict of 8/20/2021 – 275 C 17530/19, Editorial beck-aktuell, Publishing company: CH BECK, 12/17/2021.