Right to Assign or Transfer a Flight Ticket to another Passenger Civil Action - Summary Procedure - 24292-02-20 Lipschitz v. Sun d'Or International Airways
by Shirly Kazir
Published: January, 2021
Submission: January, 2021
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The Magistrates' Court in Bat Yam recently heard a claim brought against the company Sun d'Or which concerned the question of whether under Israeli law a person who purchased a flight ticket could transfer or assign their ticket to a different person. The court in this case also adjudicated on whether the original ticket purchasers held this right even if it was agreed in advance at the time of purchase that assigning or transferring the ticket was not permitted in accordance with the airline's conditions.
In this case the Plaintiffs purchased two flight tickets from the airline. Approximately one week before the scheduled departure date, the Plaintiffs requested to transfer their flight tickets to their daughter and her spouse due to Plaintiff's health issues which suddenly arose. The airline denied the request and refused to transfer the flight tickets.
The Plaintiffs argued that the airline did not indicate in the reservation and on the flight tickets that the flight tickets are not transferrable. However, the airline argued that its General Conditions of Carriage and a separate summary three-page document that it provided to its customers with specific details on the relevant services, expressly stated that the tickets were not transferrable.
The court found that there were no Israeli laws or caselaw that dealt with the issue of the passenger's right to transfer their flight ticket, thus it was necessary to apply the Standard Contracts Law, 5743-1982. Accordingly, the court held that the contractual term which precluded the right to transfer or assign the Plaintiffs' flight tickets was an unfair term which was void and of no force and effect and which the Defendant could not benefit from.
In the court's judgement it found that the airline failed to prove that there were security, economic or aviation reasons which justified preventing the transfer of a flight ticket to another passenger. In addition, the court held that the rule prohibiting such transfer did not arise from the airline's technical or logistical limitations, and moreover the court stated that the rule demonstrated a moral and social failing and deficient service to consumers which amounted to serious harm to the flight ticket purchasing public.
Under these circumstances the airline was obligated to permit the Plaintiffs to exercise their transfer right of their flight tickets but because it failed to permit such exercise at the time of the flight, the court ordered the airline to refund the cost of the flight tickets to the Plaintiffs.
In addition, the court reviewed in detail the documents the airline claimed established the prohibition to transfer the flight tickets. The court found that these documents did not contain clear and express terms prohibiting the transfer of flight tickets for the following reasons:
The above-described judgement constitutes a significant innovation with respect to the law on the passenger's ability to transfer or assign his flight ticket. However, as the judgement was rendered by the lower Magistrates' Court, it is not binding caselaw.
We will continue to follow this case and update you on any developments.
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