Denied Boarding

As we all know, September, 11, 2001 virtually revolutionized aviation laws and best practices worldwide. The fateful falling of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia, USA led to tight security controls in airports and on aircraft all over the world.

A passenger in Jamaica may be denied boarding by an airline if he is in breach of the Civil Aviation Regulations or the terms of his contract with the airline. An airline’s operations policies may require tighter, but not less, security controls than required by our local laws.

Jamaica’s aviation laws and regulations are of first class standards and are generally consistent with the Standards and Recommended Practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The Civil Aviation Regulations require that all airlines include in their contracts with passengers provisions which allow the airline to refuse to carry any passenger in circumstances where the safety of the flight appears to be endangered by misbehavior, or the conduct of the passenger may make others uncomfortable and could undermine order and good discipline on the flight, or action is necessary to prevent a breach of the Civil Aviation Act and Regulations.

The Civil Aviation Regulations prohibit the following kinds of conduct, among others, by passengers:

Using words or behaving in a way that is threatening, abusive or insulting towards crew members;

Intentionally interfering with a crew member’s performance of his/her duties;

Endangering the safety of an aircraft by interfering with, or causing interference to, the aircraft’s navigation or safety equipment;

Directing or throwing any object, missile, light, signal or electronic impulse towards an aircraft, unless the passenger is trying to attract the attention of air traffic control or search and rescue personnel;

Travelling while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs;

Failing to fasten seat belt while the “seat belt” sign is lighted;

Secreting on himself or cargo on board the aircraft;

Smoking on a commercial airline or while the “No-Smoking” sign is on;

Smoking in the aircraft lavatory;

Tampering with or destroying the smoke detector in the aircraft lavatory;

Carrying on board an aircraft an explosive, unauthorized weapon, or other dangerous device;

Additionally, a passenger who refuses to comply with exit row seating restrictions or who has a handicap that can only be accommodated by an exit row seat, may be denied transportation by an airline.

You will also notice that the Conditions of Carriage/Contract that passengers are required to enter into with various airlines will indicate other circumstances in which the airline may refuse to transport a passenger on the flight booked, or at all. For instance, where a flight is over booked, the airline may stipulate that some passengers will not be accepted for boarding and will be compensated if they are not put on an alternate flight to arrive at the intended destination no later than one hour after the arrival time of the original flight. The contract may also provide that the airline will not accept for boarding passengers who do not meet the preferred standards of the airline. Those standards may relate to: dress and deportment (barefoot or body odour not acceptable); refusal to provide positive identification; physical or mental condition that causes the airline crew member(s) to assess that the passenger may not be capable of comprehending or following instructions; having a communicable disease; or failing to check-in on time.

Certainly, travelling on an aircraft is not like travelling on a bus. The fact that a passenger has paid his fare does not mean that he is entitled to travel. The expansive body of aviation laws seeks to ensure the safety and comfort of airline passengers, and anyone found to be non-compliant in any respect may be denied boarding.

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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