DOT Revises Rule Governing Notice of Liability Limitations

On April 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) issued a rule amending various aviation economic regulations to update outdated terminology and correct obsolete statutory references.1 Although many of these edits are for clarity only, the new rule substantively modifies the regulation governing the notices which carriers must provide to passengers regarding limits of liability which may be applicable under the Montreal and Warsaw Conventions.  The rule, which took effect May 16, 2019, will require carriers to revise their paper tickets and jackets, e-tickets, confirmation emails, and airport signage.

The rule modifies 14 C.F.R. Part 221 by changing the language carriers are required to use in notifying passengers of liability limits for injury, delay, and baggage loss.  The applicable regulation, 14 C.F.R. § 221.105, formerly was titled “Special notice of limited liability for death or injury under the Warsaw Convention,” and required carriers to make disclosures regarding the limitation of liability set forth in the Warsaw Convention “at the time of delivery of the ticket.”2

The new rule updates and modernizes Section 221.105 by including a reference to the Montreal Convention and removing certain Warsaw-era references from the language that is required to be included in the notice, and also explicitly requiring that the notice be included in e-ticket receipts.  The new rule is entitled “Special notice of limited liability under international treaty” and the required notice language is revised as follows:


Passengers embarking upon a journey involving an ultimate destination or a stop in a country other than the country of departure are advised that the provisions of an international treaty (the Warsaw Convention, the 1999 Montreal Convention, or other treaty), as well as a carrier’s own contract of carriage or tariff provisions, may be applicable to their entire journey, including any portion entirely within the countries of departure and destination. The applicable treaty governs and may limit the liability of carriers to passengers for death or personal injury, destruction or loss of, or damage to, baggage, and for delay of passengers and baggage.

Additional protection can usually be obtained by purchasing insurance from a private company. Such insurance is not affected by any limitation of the carrier’s liability under an international treaty. For further information please consult your airline or insurance company representative.

This notice must be provided in at least 10-point font on all tickets, including both printed and electronic tickets, issued to passengers. The new notice also must be displayed conspicuously at each desk, station, and position in the United States which is solely or jointly controlled by the carrier or by agents employed by the carrier to sell tickets to passengers who may be affected by the liability limits. Carriers have until December 31, 2019 to update their signage.

Formerly, Part 221 also included a requirement that carriers provide passengers with a separate notice of limited liability for baggage.  See 14 C.F.R. § 221.106.  Since the new notice language covers both injury and baggage liability, this section has been deleted, and no separate notice of baggage liability need be given either on tickets or at sales locations.

Carriers are free to develop their own wording for the notice, but must obtain the DOT’s approval before implementing their own version.

1 See Elimination of Obsolete Provisions and Correction of Outdated Statutory References in Aviation Economic Regulations, 84 Fed. Reg. 15,920 (April 16, 2019).

2 Carriers frequently included this notice language in their e-ticket receipts and/or confirmation emails as well as on paper tickets, even though e-tickets were not explicitly mentioned in the regulation.

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