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Compensation for overbooking of airline tickets must be at least 25%

In recent days the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) ruled that commercial airlines must compensate passengers who are denied boarding due to overbooking of flights with at least 25% of the ticket price, regardless of the options provided for in the Civil Aviation Law (LAC, for its Spanish abreviation).


Article 52 of the LAC establishes that, in the event that tickets have been issued in excess of the available capacity of the aircraft and result in denied boarding (flight overbooking), airlines have the duty to provide, at the passenger's choice, one of the following options:

  • I. The reimbursement of the passenger's ticket

  • II. Transportation on the first available flight, in addition to food and lodging coverage at the airline's expense during the waiting time.

  • III. The rescheduling of the flight to a date convenient to the passenger.

In this sense, the same article provides that the airline must grant a compensation of at least 25% of the value of the ticket in case of choosing the first or the third of the referred options, meaning that if the passenger chooses option II (transportation on the first available flight), he/she would be entitled to the 25% compensation.


In this sense, the Court points out that although the article recognizes that the breach of a contract due to overbooking of tickets may cause other damages unrelated to the loss of the flight, the fact is that in the hypothesis set forth in section II, it unreasonably denies the possibility of full compensation, which is unconstitutional.


Therefore, commercial airlines must compensate passengers who are denied boarding due to overbooked flights, regardless of offering them the aforementioned options.


With this argumentation, the First Chamber of the Court concludes that the last paragraph of Article 52 of the LAC is unconstitutional because it excludes from the aforementioned indemnity those who, in the event of a fight overbooking, choose to be transported on the first available flight, with the food and lodging coverage necessary until boarding, at the airline's expense.

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