JurisdictionUnited States
Publication year2021

§ 2.08 Misinformation

Passengers reasonably expect airlines to provide on-time, reliable and safe transportation of their persons and property. Passengers also expect airlines and travel agents to (a) disclose information needed to fully utilize the purchased air transportation services and (b) render accurate and complete information when called upon to give advice. A failure to do either constitutes misinformation. The duty of an airline or travel agent to disclose needed and accurate information may apply to the following types of information.

[1] Passports, Visas and Other Travel Documentation

Before being allowed to enter a destination country, airport authorities may require passengers to produce travel documents such as passports933 and visas.934 Some courts have held airlines or travel agents liable for failing to advise passengers that they need a valid passport, visa or other documentation to enter a destination.935 Other courts, however, have enforced disclaimers appearing in airline tariffs and otherwise placed upon the passenger the responsibility of knowing what travel documentation is needed to enter a specific destination.852

[2] Ticket Restrictions and Price Guarantees

Many tickets have special use restrictions and price guarantees of which passengers should be advised. Some courts have held airlines or travel agents liable for failing to adequately disclose such ticket restrictions937 while other courts have not.938 In addition, online travel sellers such as Priceline may misrepresent airfare price guarantees.939

Airline tickets may also contain claim restriction clauses, which may or may not be enforceable.940

[3] Guaranteed Times, Schedule Changes and Discontinued Flights

Airlines and travel agents should provide accurate information about guaranteed times, schedule changes, anticipated delays and discontinued or canceled flights. Some courts have held airlines or travel agents liable for failing to disclose such information941 while others have not.942 Airline tickets may also contain clauses limiting liability for schedule changes and flight delays, which may or may not be enforceable.943 In addition, cargo contracts may provide exclusive and enforceable remedies for a failure to deliver on time.944

[4] Weather

Generally, airlines and travel agents do not have a duty to advise passengers of the possibility of rainy weather at a destination.945 Some courts, however, have found that airlines or travel agents have a duty to advise passengers of the possibility of bad weather,946 while other courts have not.947 Some hotels and tour operators may offer "protection" from the consequences of bad weather.948

[5] Dangers of Physical Injur y

Passengers may sustain injuries while onboard the aircraft from unruly passengers,949 falling baggage from overhead bins,950 unanticipated turbulence951 and so forth. Passengers may be assaulted, raped or robbed while in the destination country for which State Department travel advisories may have been issued.952 Some courts have held airlines or travel agents liable for failing to warn of such dangers953 while other courts have not.954

[6] Seat Design and Positioning

The use of seating design and positioning and charging higher prices for "better" seats, typically those that are more comfortable955 and closer to the front of the aircraft, has long been an area of competition among airlines. Some airlines and travel sellers have made available on the Internet programs to facilitate online seat selection.956

[7] Children Flying Alone

Airlines and other travel suppliers such as cruise ships957 and hotels958 have a duty to protect their passengers or guests, particularly, children, from sexual assaults and molestation and may misrepresent their ability and willingness to do so.959 Parents should be very careful, indeed, in entrusting their children to carriers and hotel babysitting services.960

[8] Food

In an effort to raise revenue the airlines have imposed a variety of new fees961 including charging for meals.962 Since passengers seem to be willing to pay for good meals the airlines now compete with each other on the basis of cuisine.963 The food may be misrepresented964 or the passengers may become sick from food poisoning or allergic reactions965 or too much alcohol.966


[933] See Gunderson, "New U.S. Passport Rules Worry Industry," N.Y. Times Travel Section, p. 6 (May 1, 2005), available at (last visited Feb. 17, 2015).

[934] See "DHS Reminds Visa Waiver Program Travelers of ESTA Requirements Effective Today," (Jan. 12, 2009) (last visited Feb. 17, 2015).

[935] See, e.g.,

First Circuit: Acevado-Reinoso v. Iberia Lineas Aereas De Espana SA, 449 F.3d 7 (1st Cir. 2006) ("Upon arriving in Spain on November 14, 2002, a Spanish immigration officer requested passports from all passengers. When Acevedo-Reinoso showed his Cuban passport, the Spanish government ordered his immediate detention. . . . Later that evening, Acevedo-Reinoso was taken to another room where he was strip-searched and humiliated by a female Spanish officer"); Compagnie Nationale Air France v. Castano, 358 F.2d 203 (1st Cir. 1966) (airline liable for failing to advise passengers of need for visa to enter Spain; $3,000 in emotional distress damages awarded to child).

Fifth Circuit: Rogers v. American Airlines, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17541 (N.D. Tex. 2001) (airline failed to advise passengers of need for passport for their infant child; motion to remand granted).

State Courts:

New York: Levin v. Kasmir World Travel, Inc., 143 Misc. 2d 245, 540 N.Y.S.2d 639 (1989) (travel agent liable for failing to advise passenger of need for visa to enter China).

936 See, e.g.,

First Circuit: Fontan v. Lineas Aereas, 936 F.2d 630 (1st Cir. 1991) (passenger encountered problems because of a failure to carry passport; airline disclaimed liability for inaccurate information given by travel agent; action stayed while passenger seeks determination by D.O.T. on enforceability of disclaimer); Aquasviva v. Iberia Aereas de Espana, 1995 WL 625472 (D.P.R. 1995) (airline failed to advise passenger of need for visas resulting in her arrest).

Second Circuit: Levy v. Delta Airlines, 2004 WL 2222149 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (3 month old son of passenger not permitted to travel without "passport or any other official documentation for travel to France"; "Delta had a published tariff which placed on passenger the responsibility for obtaining necessary travel documents. Airlines are permitted to 'incorporate by reference in any ticket or other written instrument any of the terms of the contract of carriage' ").

State Courts:

Georgia: Sethi v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 381 S.E.2d 403 (Ga. App. 1989) (improper visas; airline tariff disclaiming liability enforced).

[937] See, e.g.,

Four th Circuit: Weber v. USAirways, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5051 (4th Cir. 2001) (vouchers given to passenger for relinquishing his seat to an overbooked passenger contained use restrictions about which he was not informed; fraud and breach of contract claims preempted by ADA).

State Courts:

District of Columbia: Craig v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 19 Aviation Cases 17,954 (D.C. Super. 1985) (passenger unable to use restrictive use tickets; failure to disclose restrictive use).

New York: American Express Co. v. Teitel, 18 Aviation Cases 17,219 (N.Y. Civ. 1983) (failure to inform passenger of "special fares"; airline ticket agents have duty to give passengers correct information and provide proper tickets).


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