To protect air passengers traveling on international flights, the Montreal Convention was created in 1999. It sets common rules of compensation between the 120 countries which ratified it. Learn about your international air passenger rights and how to claim compensation for a disrupted flight.

 

Montreal Convention: Your Air Passenger Rights on International Flights

The Montreal Convention allows air passengers on international flight to claim compensation for the damages caused by their travel disruption and luggage problems. Learn more about your right to compensation on international flights.

 

What Flights Are Covered by the Montreal Convention?

The Montreal Convention covers international carriages between the 120 countries who ratified the accord. This includes flights between State Parties as well as flights within a single State Party that include a planned stopover in another country, even if this third party has not ratified the Montreal Convention or not. To summarize:

 

   Flight Itinerary

   Planned Stopover

   Application of Montreal Convention?       

   From State Party to State Party        

   Irrelevant

   Yes

   Within a single State Party

   No

   No

   Within a single State Party

   Yes, in another State Party       

   Yes

   Within a single State Party

   Yes, not in a State Party

   Yes

 

For example:

  • Flight Russia-Thailand (both State Parties): covered by Montreal Convention

  • Domestic flight in China without stopover: not covered by Montreal Convention

  • Flight China-China with a stopover in Thailand (State Party): covered by Montreal Convention

  • Flight China-China with a stopover in Vietnam (not a State Party): covered by Montreal Convention

 

Montreal Convention and International Flights Disruptions

The Montreal Convention sets rules of compensation for travel disruptions, whether they are flight delays, cancellations or denied boarding. It states that the airline is liable for damage caused by delay in the carriage of passengers.

At the difference of the EU Regulation 261/2004, however, you can only claim a refund for the damage resulting from your flight disruption. In other words, should you incur additional expenses such as the cost of a night at a hotel that you had to take because of a cancelled flight.

 

The term “damage” is interpreted by most countries as a financial loss. As such, unlike the EU 261, you will not be compensated on the sole basis that you arrived late at your destination. When submitting a claim, you will be asked to provide the proof of additional cost of the trip.

In the terrible eventuality of death or bodily injury of a passenger caused by an accident which took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking, the Convention also states that the airline must pay compensation.

 

The Montreal Convention waives the airline’s liability in cases where the flight disruption was caused by extraordinary circumstances. Such cases include adverse weather, Air Traffic control restrictions, lightning strikes, bird strikes, strike at the airport, medical emergency, security threats, political unrest, etc. The airline is not obligated to pay compensation if they have taken all reasonable measures to prevent the flight disruption or if there was nothing they could do.

 

Montreal Convention and Compensation for International Flight Disruptions

In cases where you have incurred damages in the meaning of the Convention, you can claim compensation. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has set a currency called Special Drawing Rights (SDR) to calculate the amount of the compensation. As of December 2017, the exchange rate was:

1 EUR = 0,84 SDR

1 USD = 0,70 SDR

You can follow the exchange rate here.

The Montreal Convention lets you claim compensation up to 4,694 SDR for damages resulting of your international flight disruption.

In the event of death or bodily injury, the air carrier is liable up to 100,000 SDR for each passenger.

 

How to Claim Compensation for an International Flight Disruption?

Claims for damages under the Montreal Convention require passengers to provide proof to justify the amount asked in compensation. Make sure that you keep all the receipts of your additional expenses.

In addition, keep all documents related to your flight and/or any alternative flights. These include your boarding pass or stub, your electronic ticket, booking confirmation, luggage tag, etc.

Try to find out what was the reason for the flight disruption and if possible, obtain a document from the airline attesting the reason.

 

How long after the flight disruption can I claim compensation?

The Montreal Convention allows you to claim compensation for damages up to 2 years after the flight disruption. However, we strongly recommend that you submit your claim soon after the events occurs.

 

Learn more about your passenger rights regarding flights delays, cancellations and denied boarding.

 

Montreal Convention and Luggage Problems

All kinds of luggage problems on international flights are covered by the Montreal Convention, as long as your luggage did not have an inherent problem or that you did not contribute to the problem.

 

Damaged luggage

The airline must repair or replace your damaged baggage, checked or carry-on, if the damage occurred while the bag was under their responsibility.

Delayed Luggage

Should your luggage be delayed, the airline must replace the essential items such as toiletries or refund you their cost if you need to replace them yourself. They must also provide information as to their location in real-time.

Lost luggage

In cases of lost luggage, the airline must pay compensation for both the bag and its content, assuming that you can provide proof that your luggage contained these items and that you can prove their value. Note that your delayed bags are considered lost after 21 days - even if they show up after this limit.

 

Montreal Convention and Compensation for Luggage Problems

The currency created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), called Special Drawing Rights (SDR) is also used to calculate the amount of the compensation in cases of luggage problems on international flights. As of December 2017, the exchange rate was:

1 EUR = 0,84 SDR

1 USD = 0,70 SDR

You can follow the exchange rate here.

The Montreal Convention lets you claim compensation up to 1,131 SDR per passenger fo your luggage problem. Should your luggage and its content be more valuable than this amount, the Montreal Convention recommends that you declare it to the airline at the airport. They should provide with extra coverage for an additional fee, working as a kind of insurance.

When it comes to refunding you the costs, it is common for airlines to undervalue your item, based on how long you have owned them. They may also tag some of your items as “Limited Release” (LTR): it means that they refuse to cover their cost. Such items generally include musical instruments and strollers. However, note that the Montreal Convention states that airlines are responsible for all items that they accept as luggage, so do not settle for this practice.

 

How to Claim Compensation for a Luggage Problem?

Proving the content and value of your luggage can be complicated, especially if you didn’t anticipate the baggage issue.

Photos of your packed luggage showing its content would greatly improve your chances of getting the amount that you claim. Any receipts acknowledging the value of your items would also help support your claim. Without these, expect the airline to undervalue your item.

In addition, keep all documents related to your flight and/or any alternative flights. These include your boarding pass or stub, your electronic ticket, booking confirmation, luggage tag, etc.

Try to find out what was the reason for the flight disruption and if possible, get a document from the airline attesting the luggage issue.

 

How long after the luggage issue can I claim compensation?

Damaged luggage

The Montreal Convention gives you 7 days to claim compensation for your damaged bag. However, we strongly recommend that you submit your claim while you are still at the airport, because the airline will ask to inspect your bag and content.

Delayed luggage

If your bag doesn’t show up at the airport, notify the airline while you are still there. They will provide you with a reference number and ask you to fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). Upon reception of your delayed luggage, you have 21 days to file a compensation claim under the Montreal Convention.

Lost luggage

If your delayed luggage doesn’t show up after 21 days or if the airline acknowledges that it is missing, your luggage is declared lost. You then have 2 years to file a compensation claim under the Montreal Convention, counting from the end of your trip.

 

Learn more about your passenger rights regarding luggage problems right here.

And it you want to read it for yourself, here is the Montreal Convention.

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