Ryanair passenger awarded €1,800 after 'jewellery stolen from bag placed in aircraft hold'
A Ryanair passenger had about €2,000 worth of jewellery stolen from a carry-on cabin bag that was taken from her and put in the hold of an aircraft, a judge was told today Friday.
Marie McKeogh had sued the airline and had been awarded €1,800 compensation in the small claims section of the District Court which had ruled that the restrictions of the Montreal Convention did not apply to her loss.
Ryanair had appealed the District Court judge’s decision to the Circuit Civil Court on the basis that the Convention, which restricted compensation for such loss to just €1,400:02cent, did apply.
Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, heard that when Ms McKeogh and her partner, James O’Rourke, turned up at Budapest airport for the return leg of their holiday journey, their cabin bags had been taken from them.
Judge Groarke was told it had been explained to the couple that since they did not have a priority boarding ticket their bags would have to be stowed in the hold of the aircraft and they each had been given a receipt of an identifying bag tag.
Staff had told them overhead lockers were firstly restricted to priority boarders and, when full, non-priority passengers had to pass up their carry-on cabin bags to go in the hold.
McKeogh, of Raheny, Dublin, said she had not removed her jewellery box from her cabin bag before handing it over because she knew it would be in the care of the airline and she trusted them.
She said that after retrieving her carry-on bag from the carousel at Dublin Airport she had not immediately inspected it but later found that pieces of personal jewellery, including ear rings, a ring and a necklace to the value of about €2,000 had been stolen.
She told Peter Lennon, solicitor for Ryanair, that the airline staff had not told her to remove her valuables from her bag before handing it over at the gate at Budapest airport.
“It didn’t trigger with me that somebody might steal my jewellery. I wasn’t panicking. I think it is Ryanair's responsibility to look after their customers' property,” she told Mr Lennon.
Mr O’Rourke, a solicitor, said it was he who had entered into the contract of conveyance with Ryanair. Their hand luggage had been taken to one side but he had not been told what was going to happen to it.
Mr Lennon said it was a condition of the contract that if they weren’t purchasers of priority boarding passes their carry-on bags could be taken from them and carried as free baggage in the hold and retrieved at the carousel.
Judge Groarke was told that Ryanair carried 120 million passengers a year and this happened numerous times every day.
Mr Lennon said that under the Montreal Convention the airline was responsible for a strict liability limit of €1,400:02c. He said Ryanair was appealing the decision of the District Court to award €1,800 compensation on the basis that the Convention did not apply in Ms McKeogh’s case.
Judge Groarke said the terms and conditions of travel applied and restricted the first 90 bags to the overhead bins. Thereafter other bags went into the hold.
He was satisfied the travellers were not warned or reminded to take valuables from their carry-on luggage before transfer to the hold. He said Ryanair, in its instructions to staff, told them to remind travellers to remove items of value when their cabin luggage is taken off them.
“There would be some queue of people waiting to board the aircraft if people had to stop and remove items. It would just not be practical in this day and age of travel,” Judge Groarke said.
He said the Montreal Convention did apply and awarded Ms McKeogh compensation of €1,400.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: "We have instructed our lawyers to immediately appeal this decision as we are not responsible for any loss of valuables."