American Airlines is being sued after the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier managed to ‘lose’ part of a shipment of French cognac worth $65,820 that AA had agreed to transport as airfreight from Paris, France to Los Angeles.
Last September, the unnamed manufacturer of the expensive brandy delivered 1,680 cases to American Airlines at Paris Charles de Gaule airport. By the time the shipment made it to California, 423 cases of cognac were ‘missing’.
Thankfully, the seller of the cognac had insured the shipment but the insurance company is now suing American Airlines, claiming the carrier is responsible for covering the costs of the lost (or seemingly more likely, stolen) cognac under the Montreal Convention.
The Montreal Convention was signed by member states of the UN’s civil aviation organization, ICAO, in 1999 and it is designed to give passengers and consumers certain protections in the event of an airline accident.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the convention “establishes airline liability in the case of death or injury to passengers, as well as in cases of delay, damage or loss of baggage.”
Sometimes referred to as MC99, the Montreal Convention is “designed to be a single, universal treaty to govern airline liability around the world,” and it is often used by passengers to claim compensation when they have been injured in an accident onboard an aircraft.
Although primarily designed for large-scale accidents, the convention is usually used for minor accidents like luggage falling on a passenger’s head or all-to-common slip and trip accidents.
The convention can also be used to cover damages for delayed or lost cargo.
The National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh has submitted a lawsuit in a California district court in an attempt to exercise its rights under the Montreal Convention to get the value of the lost cognac – a measure that isn’t as rare as it might first sound.
Insurance companies regularly submit claims against airlines using MC99 – in some cases, airlines are sued for allowing fresh fruit and vegetable to waste in transit, although all types of cargo are covered by the convention.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.