We set out below a short summary of a recent Israeli court judgment involving aviation law, which may be of interest to you. The judgement concerns the refusal to board passengers because of verbal abuse on their part towards a senior employee of the defendant airline.
Small Claim No. 28007-02-18 Noy Tsedek et al v. El-Al Israel Airlines Ltd. et al
The plaintiffs purchased tickets for a flight from Tel-Aviv to Budapest operated by El-Al Israel Airlines Ltd’s low-cost subsidiary “UP”. The plaintiffs’ tickets did not include a free entitlement to check-in baggage.
The plaintiffs arrived at the airport with suitcases and were told by the defendant’s representatives that in order to check-in their baggage they must pay an additional fee.
The plaintiffs were surprised to hear this and demanded to speak to one of the defendant’s managers.
The manager explained UP’s baggage policy to the plaintiffs and did not agree to exempt them from paying for their checked baggage.
At this point, the plaintiffs, who were not pleased, raised their voices and made some impolite comments about the manager, including calling him “a bad man” and wishing him and his children bad health.
The manager then decided to remove the plaintiffs from the flight and would not change his mind even after the plaintiffs apologized. The plaintiffs were not permitted to board the flight and were required to purchase alternate flight tickets to reach their destination.
The plaintiffs contended that they were denied boarding and that the manager’s decision to prevent them from boarding was unlawful.
The defendant argued that the plaintiffs’ misbehavior and verbal abuse caused them to be considered a threat to the flight and that; accordingly, not permitting the plaintiffs to board the flight was justified.
The Court held the defendant liable for unlawful refusal to permit the passengers to board the flight.
The Court found that the plaintiffs’ conduct did not impose a real threat to the flight and, therefore, there was no justification for preventing them from boarding the flight.
The Court’s reasoning was based, inter alia, on the fact that, immediately after the incident, the defendant offered to sell alternate flight tickets to the plaintiffs.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs eventually flew back from Budapest to Tel-Aviv on a flight operated by the defendant.
The Court opined that, if the plaintiffs had posed a genuine threat to the flight in real-time, the defendant surely would not have suggested that the plaintiffs fly on another of its flights.
Finally, the Court ordered the defendant to pay both monetary and punitive compensation in accordance with the Israeli Aviation Services Law (Compensation and Assistance for Cancellation of Flight or Changes in its Conditions), 2012.
Decisions of the small claims courts do not constitute binding precedents, but may be referred to by other courts in their rulings.
If you have any questions or require further information on this judgement or related topics, please do not hesitate to contact us.