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Federal and Global Protections

At the global level, one must consider the many provisions contained in international treaties and federal statutes which address issues of travel safety. Among them are the following:

  • The Warsaw Convention (Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air Signed at Warsaw on 12 October 1929): Among other things, this body of law governs the legal rights of international travelers to sue airlines for physical injuries or death suffered on an airliner. The amended Warsaw Convention provides that airlines have strict liability (providing an automatic entitlement without proof of fault) up to $100,000 SDRs (“Special Drawing Rights,” equivalent to approximately $135,000 U.S. dollars).
  • The Athens Convention and The Hague Convention.
  • The Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA), 49 USC 40120, governs crashes occurring more than one marine league (approximately three miles) from land. The DOHSA limits recovery to pecuniary damages only.
  • The Ford Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 2000, PL 106-181, which, among other things, amends provisions of the above DOHSA to clarify that crashes within 12 nautical miles (“territorial waters”) from U.S. shores will be adjudicated by domestic state and federal laws and not DOHSA.
  • The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 USC 1330, governs the waiver of sovereign immunity for foreign governments whose airlines cause injuries in the United States.

Domestically, major issues of travel safety fall under the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and to a lesser degree, the National Transportation Safety Board (which is not affiliated with the DOT but is responsible for investigating air accidents), the Department of State, U.S. Customs, and the Department of Health’s Center for Disease Control (CDC).

As part of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, P.L. 107-71, the Bush Administration created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security. These entities are concerned with traveler safety from a security perspective. They include initiatives such as airport passenger screening and color-coded homeland security alerts for travelers.

Inside Federal and Global Protections