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A contract of carriage is a contract between a carrier of goods or passengers and the consignor, consignee or passenger. Contracts of carriage typically define the rights, duties and liabilities of parties to the contract, addressing topics such as acts of God and including clauses such as force majeure. Among common carriers, they are usually evidenced by standard terms and conditions printed on the reverse of a ticket or carriage document. Notification of a shipment’s arrival is usually sent to the "notify party", whose address appears on the shipping document. This party is usually either the buyer or the importer.

Air travel

In July 2010, it became widely public that Southwest Airlines had classified mechanical difficulties as an act of God in their contract of carriage, expanding the definition formerly shared with Delta, American, Continental and United.[1] This was later clarified by the airline as mechanical difficulties beyond the airline's control, as for instance the failure of the air traffic control system, or fuel delivery systems operated by airports.

Involuntary denial of boarding

The rate of passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding is around 1 in 10,000 and has been falling for the 25 years between 1990 and 2015.[2]

According to aviation analyst Henry Harteveldt, the airline's Contract of carriage[3] favors the company, not the passenger. Involuntary denial of boarding is not uncommon[4] but removal after boarding because the seat is needed by others is "exceedingly rare". Nonetheless, an airline has a right to do so based on the contract, in his view. "Remember, it is their aircraft and their seat — you're just renting it to get from point A to point B," Harteveldt told Business Insider.[5]

Rail travel

Cross-border European railway tickets are covered by the CIV conditions of sale.


  1. ^ "Southwest: Breakdown is now an act of God". Arizona Daily Star. July 24, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
  2. ^ Passengers Boarded and Denied Boarding by the Largest U.S. Air Carriers - US DOT
  3. ^ "Airline Contracts of Carriage". Airfare Watchdog. Smarter Travel Media LLC. Retrieved April 12, 2017. What are your rights if an airline delays or cancels your flight, or loses your bags? What are the airlines' rules and regulations
  4. ^ "United bumps more passengers than any other large American airline". The Economist. April 11, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Zhang, Benjamin (April 10, 2017). "How airlines like United choose who to kick off a flight". Business Insider. Business Insider Inc. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
Airline contracts