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.
Marie McKeogh sued the airline and was 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 appealed the decision to the Circuit Civil Court on the basis that the convention, which restricted compensation for such loss to just €1,400.02, did apply.
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 were 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 were given a receipt of an identifying bag tag. Staff told them that 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.
Ms McKeogh, of The Village, Abbey Glen, Raheny, Dublin, said she had not removed her jewellery box from her bag before handing it over because she knew it would be in the care of the airline and she trusted them.
She said after retrieving her carry-on bag from the carousel at Dublin Airport, she did not immediately inspect it but later found that pieces of personal jewellery, including earrings, a ring and a necklace to the value of about €2,000 had been stolen.
She told Peter Lennon, solicitor for Ryanair, 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.”
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 Ryanair carries 120m passengers a year and this happens every day.
Judge Groarke 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.
He said the Montreal Convention did apply and awarded Ms McKeogh compensation of €1,400:02.
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