Who is liable if the train arrives at the airport late and you miss your flight? The Munich District Court has now ruled/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Who pays when you miss your flight because your train arrives airport late?

The departure counter was already closed as a father and his son arrived at the airport. They missed their flight and sued the travel agency for compensation. Who is liable if the train arrives at the airport late and you miss your flight? The Munich District Court has now ruled.

If the train arrives late for the flight, the passengers are unlucky. The tour operator does not have to assume responsibility for the replacement flight, the Munich District Court (Landgericht) ruled in a landmark judgment published on Friday (27 December 2019), according to the German press agency dpa.

Father and son, from the Peine area in Lower Saxony, wanted to take their flight from Düsseldorf to Dubai in 2018. They had booked a one-week package tour, including a rail-and-fly ticket for the train travels to and from the Düsseldorf airport.

The train should arrive at the airport at 18.58 hours for the flight to Dubai. However, the train was almost two hours late and did not arrive until 20.40 hours, when the departure desks for the flight were already closed.

Father and son missed their flight and had to spend a night in a hotel at the airport. They booked new flights through the travel agency for 1,683 euros. According to the plaintiffs, these costs should be borne by the travel agency.

The court saw it differently and dismissed the complaint with reference to the terms and conditions of the travel agency. It states: “If the traveller arrives at the airport by train (…), he is obliged to take into account any delays in train transport that may occur when selecting the train connection.”

The judgment has now become final because the Munich I Regional Court also assessed the situation similarly and rejected the plaintiff’s appeal in October 2019. The reason: In the planned seventeen minutes before the start of the two-hour period before departure, a too short time window was chosen, which did not take due account of possible train delays (Casefile (Az.): 30 S 8057/19).

Kwame Appiah

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