Travel (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
TRAVEL. During the course of history, the impact of travel on the relationship between food and man has been manifold. Encounters with new foods have often caused reactions of dissociation or of rejectionot only of the foods themselves, but also of the people eating them. The widespread idea that the food consumed by a group of people is closely connected with their level of civilization has been a way to express and underscore differences between neighboring populations. Food being an inoffensive category, it readily lends itself to becoming a means of distinguishing between "us and them," both geographically, in relation, for instance, to regions or countries, and socially, setting "us" apart from people within the same region we consider to be at a lower level in the social hierarchy.
Food habits are closely linked to a person's conception of identity. The acceptance of different foodstuffs, or their avoidanceaste or distastes a mixture of cultural conditioning and personal idiosyncrasies. It is natural, therefore, that the food consumed by one's own group is considered to be the "proper food," whereas the food of the others encountered during one's travels is accepted with some reluctance. Foods associated with a higher status are more easily adopted, as are those associated with lifestyles one wishes to share.
Obviously the reason for traveling will have some bearing on the attitude toward the food encountered.
Historically, little is known about travelers' food. It may be said that in general those who could took their food (and even people in charge of preparing it) with them, which meant that they tried to emulate their usual food habits. Others would make do with the local fare at wayside inns or the tables of hospitable notables. After the emergence of restaurants at the beginning of the nineteenth century in Europe, an internationalized bourgeois cuisine became available to travelers. Regional cooking did not start to come into focus for the general public until the period between the two World Wars, alongside the emergence of automobile tourism. And only recently has local and regional food become a focus of scientific as well as of touristic discourse. To better understand the role of food in travel one needs to distinguish different categories of travelers. Professional travelers of the past, such as sailors and military men, would in the main take their own food with them; however, at the same time, they were often adventurers and would typically experience extremely foreign foods, though they would only rarely bring these back with them.
In many instances on the other hand, food became the very reason for travel: explorers set out from Europe to reach the homelands of desirable foods, particularly spices. In a second phase, explorers were followed by tradesmen, civilian officials, and others establishing colonies on other continents. From these activities came sugar, tea, coffee, and many fruits, vegetables, and grains (for example, pineapples, potatoes, and rice), now everyday commodities in the Western world. Their history is intertwined with that of major empires. In some cases, myths have been constructed around them (for instance, the one claiming that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from Chinaelied by the fact that there was a flourishing commerce of pasta in the Mediterranean before the time of his travels). The rise and fall of food trends is clearly reflected in more general world history, as exemplified by the passion for spices in the Middle Ages and Renaissance leading to journeys of exploration, or the court culture of Italy and France, which, through traveling notables, influenced the food habits in many European countries from the sixteenth century onward.
For immigrants, the acquisition of new food habits is dependent on the time spent in the new environment (usually it is a matter of generations). As for any traveler, the reaction to the different food habits experienced will be related to the scope and duration of the travel. A special case is that of the American Pilgrims adopting the food of Native Americans, with the event evolving into a national commemorative meal: the Thanksgiving dinner. On the other hand, the slaves brought to America from Africa, who had no possibility of either maintaining their own food habits or having a free choice among those they met in the new country, have developed a very different symbolic food: soul food.
However, food habits may also be affected in the opposite direction. Colonies of foreign nationals have introduced new items in the diet of the new environment. Thus, for example, in the Middle Ages, gingerbread spread throughout Europe with German immigrants, and more recently Chinese food has become a familiar food in Western countries. Following the rise of charter tourism in the 1950s, pizza and pasta started to become a familiar food in many countries outside Italy, having in some places even replaced potatoes as an everyday staple food.
During the second half of the twentieth century, food began to play a significant role in tourism. In the meeting with the unfamiliar that takes place during travel, food plays a central role, since everybody has to eat every day, and so the deviation from what is habitual and accepted cannot be avoided or disregarded. Travel thus brings about an awareness of differences between the self (the learned and shared culture at home) and others (notably, their culture and habits), as it forces the individual to venture into the realm of sensory experiences that belong to the others. In parallel with the increased movement of people we see in recent times, the establishment of international restaurants and sale of foreign foodstuffs means one no longer needs to travel to experience foreign foods. This highlights some of the paradoxes of the international world today, where tourists may oscillate between the attraction of what represents "other" and adventure, and the unchallenging ease of familiarity and security. Tourists typically want to escape boredom, but to do so while staying within their comfort zone.
See also Comfort Food; Herbs and Spices; Thanksgiving; Tourism; United States, subentries on African American Foodways and Ethnic Cuisines.
Children Traveling Alone (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law)
The number of children between the ages of 5 and 12 traveling alone, particularly by air, has risen steadily over the years. Estimates for how many children travel alone by plane in the United States per year run as high as 7 million. Children traveling alone, known in the travel industry as "unaccompanied minors," raise a number of issues, the most important being liability and safety. In most cases, solo child travelers neither create nor encounter difficulties. Even the best-planned trip, however, can go wrong, and when unaccompanied children are involved the issues can be particularly problematic.
Many air travelers, for example, have had the frustrating experience of finding out that their luggage was accidentally placed on the wrong plane, and they may have to spend hours or even days tracking it down. But in August 2001, two girls ages 11 and 8 wound up in Toronto instead of San Diego because airline personnel placed them on the wrong connecting flight in Phoenix. While many airlines have strict rules about allowing unaccompanied children to transfer to connecting flights, others do not. (The airline that placed the two girls on the wrong plane quickly revised its policy.)
There are no official guidelines regarding the transport of unaccompanied children. Train and bus regulations are more strict than air regulations, but in all cases it is the transportation providers' obligation to set the requirements. Neither the Air Transport Association nor the International Air Transport Association provides detailed guidelines or even statistics on the number of children traveling alone. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) does note in its "Traveler's Bill of Rights" that unaccompanied children have a right to "timely and courteous assistance" and that they should "never be abandoned or put in fear of being abandoned."
These omissions do not mean that the government is unconcerned about unaccompanied children. The self-imposed industry requirements that must be met are considered stringent enough. With the rise in concern for travel safety in general since the fall of 2001, the government has taken a more active role. Still, airlines, trains, and bus lines are all still allowed to set their own rules for children traveling alone.
The necessary precaution for sending children on trips unaccompanied is that those making the travel arrangements should get as much information before the trip as possible about travel policies and procedures for children. Because rules are subject to change and in order to avoid potential difficulties, it is important to check each time a child travels.
Why Children Travel Alone
The most common reason children travel alone is to visit relatives. As families spread out it is more likely that grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins may live across the country or overseas. Children whose parents are divorced also travel alone. In years past, divorced couples with children would tend to stay in the same geographic location to be able to spend time with those children. Today, job opportunities or remarriage may mean that a child's mother and father may live on opposite coasts.
Clearly, some children are more comfortable traveling than others. A child who flies several times a year will likely be more comfortable on a plane than one who has never flown alone. That is not a given, however. Just as some frequent passengers never get over their fear of flying, neither do some children. A 6-year-old who has never flown before may find the experience one big enjoyable adventure. An 11-year-old who dislikes plane travel, on the other hand, might actually be a difficult and demanding passenger.
Since the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, airline, train, and bus security have all increased. While this may not affect children as directly as it affects adults, the travel process is longer and involves a considerable amount more time standing in line and waiting. Not only that, children who are old enough to understand what happened in the plane attacks may be frightened of flying even if they were never afraid in the past.
Relatively few unaccompanied children travel by train or bus, in part, because train and bus trips may be too long for children. Also, railroad and bus companies have stricter regulations about who is old enough to travel solo.
Train and Bus Travel
Amtrak estimates that no more than 5,100 children per year travel unaccompanied on its trains. Greyhound estimates far fewer unaccompanied children on its bus routes. In part this low number reflects the fact that most long-distance travel is done by plane, but it also has to do with strict train and bus regulations.
Amtrak will not allow children under the age of 8 to travel unaccompanied, subject to the following restrictions:
- All trips must be scheduled for daylight hours
- Unaccompanied children cannot transfer to another train or to a bus
- Children must depart from and arrive at fully staffed stations; an Amtrak stop with only a ticketing machine is off limits
- Whoever takes the child to the train must fill out a form authorizing Amtrak to let the child travel alone
- The Amtrak agent who makes the arrangements must ask the child who is meeting him or her
- Children traveling unaccompanied pay the full adult fare
Greyhound's requirements are similar, with the following additional restrictions:
- The child's trip cannot be for more than 250 miles
- The child must sit in the first two rows of the bus and must get the driver's permission to get off the bus at rest stops
Travel by air presents a number of challenges where unaccompanied children are concerned. One reason is that so many more children travel solo by plane than by any other means. Another is that, while there are age guidelines and restrictions, maturity levels can differ dramatically among children. It is not just whether a child likes to fly. Some children are fearful of not being with their parents. Others may not want to travel to the place where they happen to be going. The Independent Traveler, Inc., an organization that provides travel advice, reported on its website the case of an 11-year-old boy whose father saw him board the plane that was to take him to his grandparents' home. After the father left, the boy got off the plane, left the airport, and walked 30 miles back to his house. Clearly he did not want to take this trip. Yet his behavior is surprising in view of his age.
No airline will allow a child under the age of 5 to travel alone, although some will allow a child under 5 to travel with a companion as young as 12. Most airlines will not allow a child under the age of 8 to take a flight that requires changing planes to make a connection. Any child under 12 who has to make a connecting flight will be escorted by an employee of the airline. Southwest Airlines does not allow any child under the age of 12 to take connecting flights. Although children between the ages of 12 and 15 are not automatically escorted, the parent or GUARDIAN making the travel arrangements can ask the airline to assist the child.
Accompanied minors usually pay half or reduced fare when flying. Unaccompanied minors are required to pay full fare, as well as an additional service fee of between $30 and $75 each way (the price is higher when the child has to make a connection). On most airlines, that fee will cover more than one minor traveling within the same party.
Airlines usually require that a parent or guardian fill out a form with all relevant information about the child. While the airline does not generally take actual guardianship of the child during the flight, one of the personnel is generally assigned to look after the child. Solo child travelers usually have to wear a button or badge to make them easy to identify by airline staffers.
Some children are required to take medication. Airline personnel will not dispense medication to the child, but if the child is able to administer his or her own medication, the airline will allow the child to carry that medicine. The form that parents and guardians fill out asks for a list of medications or other medical issues that may be important for staffers to know.
Most airlines will not allow minors to take the last flight of the day. The reason is that, air travel being subject to such unforeseen circumstances as weather, there is always a chance of delay. If a late evening flight is delayed, it means passengers will probably have to wait until the next morning to catch another flight. A stranded child clearly presents more difficulties to the airline than a stranded adult.
Other Air Travel Issues
In the event that a child is stranded at the airport overnight despite everyone's best efforts, different airlines have different procedures, all of which are subject to the approval of the parent or guardian. Usually, the airline will put the child up in a hotel room. An airline staffer may stay in the room with the child or in an adjoining room. Some airlines will post a guard outside the room. In most cases the airline assigns a staffer of the same sex as the child to serve as an escort. Some airlines may turn a stranded child over to a local child welfare agency for the night.
One of the biggest challenges for those in charge of watching children is keeping those children amused. Doing so is particularly difficult in the case of long flights. Many of the larger airlines have established facilities designed for children at major airports, where children can wait for their connecting flights. These rooms have games and other activities for children. They also will have other children, so that young travelers will feel less lonely.
Under no circumstances will airline personnel turn a child over to a waiting adult without seeing definitive identification and matching that carefully to the information filled out on the pre-departure form.
Children traveling alone on international flights face even closer scrutiny, in part because of the fear of child abductions. In fact, children traveling with only one parent are subject to strict regulations to ensure that a parent is not KIDNAPPING the child from a custodial parent. Any child under the age of 18 who is traveling with one parent to Mexico must show notarized consent from the other parent or a sole CUSTODY DECREE from the accompanying parent. If the other parent is dead, the airline requires the travelers to show a death certificate.
Children need the same documentation, whether passports, visas, or other official paperwork, as adults. It is a good idea to contact the consulate of the country being visited to determine whether there are any special requirements for children traveling alone.
The most important rule for both parents and children to remember is to plan ahead. Parents should explain to children exactly what will be expected of them as solo travelers. They should also let children know that inappropriate behavior by adult passengers (such as unwanted physical contact) should be reported to airline personnel. If the child has traveled alone before on a different airline, it is not a good idea to assume that the current airline has the same policies. Most airlines list their policies clearly and comprehensively on their websites.
Increased concern for flight security has made the travel process slower and more cumbersome. These new procedures should be explained to the child. It should also be made clear that no matter how accommodating airline personnel may be, they have no obligation to children traveling alone before or after a flight.
Checking out the airlines' websites is a good way to become familiar with each carrier's policies on solo child travelers. Groups such as ASTA (http://www.asta.org) and the U. S. Department of Transportation () can provide additional information. The Department of Transportation offers a free publication, Kids and Teens Traveling Alone, which can be obtained by writing to 400 Seventh Street SW, Washington, D. C., 20590.
Fun on the Run: Travel Games and Songs. Cole, Joanna, and Stephanie Calmerson, Morrow Junior Books, 1999.
Trouble-Free Travel with Children: Helpful Hints for Parents on the Go. Lansky, Vicki, Book Peddlers, 1996.
Air Transportation Association of America, Inc. (ATA)
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20004 USA
Phone: (202) 626-4000
Primary Contact: Carol Hallett, President and Chief
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
1101 King Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314 USA
Phone: (703) 739-2782
Fax: (703) 684-8319
Primary Contact: Richard M. Copland, President
and Chief Executive Officer
International Air Transport Association (IATA) (Regional Office, United States)
1776 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006 USA
Phone: (202) 293-9292
Fax: (202) 293-8448
Primary Contact: Pierre Jeanniot, Director General
and Chief Executive Officer
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
699 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 USA
Phone: (703) 274-3900
Fax: (703) 274-2200
Primary Contact: Ernie Allen, President and Chief
U. S. Department of Transportation, Office of Aviation and International Affairs
400 Seventh Street SW
Washington, DC 20590 USA
Phone: (202) 366-4000 (General Information)
Phone: (202) 366-2220 (Aviation Consumer
Primary Contact: Read van de Water, Assistant
Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs
Hotel Liability (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law)
Hotel guests should be aware of certain laws and regulations or policies that could impact their visits.
Special concerns affect the "hospitality industry" because its establishments hold their property open to the public at large. For hotels (collectively referred to as "innkeepers" under many state laws), duties owed to the public at large are based on the historic consideration that when weary travelers reached wayside inns as night approached, they were not to be arbitrarily turned away into the dark (the roads were filled with robbers) or otherwise subjected to the arbitrary mercy of the innkeeper with regard to prices or adequacy of quarters. Modern innkeepers' laws are mostly based on old English COMMON LAW.
Key Points to Remember
- Hotels are not liable for every accident or loss that occurs on the premises, nor do they insure the absolute safety of every guest.
- Hotels have a general duty to exercise "reasonable care" for the safety and security of their guests.
- Hotels have a general duty to reasonably protect guests from harm caused by other guests or non-guests.
- Hotels have an affirmative duty to make the premises reasonably safe for their guests. This obligation includes a two-fold duty either to correct a hazard or warn of its existence. The hotel must not only address visible hazards but must make apparent hidden dangers or hazards.
- Hotels are not liable for harm to person or property unless "fault" can be established against the hotel.
- Hotels may be "vicariously liable" for the NEGLIGENCE of their employees.
- Hotels are generally liable for damages if they cannot honor a confirmed reservation because of "overbooking."
- Hotels may generally sue for damages or retain deposits if confirmed reservations are not honored by prospective guests.
- Hotels may generally evict registered guests for a variety of well-established reasons.
- Hotels may retain personal possessions of evicted guests as security for room charges.
- Hotels are generally not required to have lifeguards on duty at hotel swimming pools, except by state STATUTE. However, conspicuous "No Lifeguard" warning signs are minimally required.
- Hotels are generally not liable for valuables that are not secured in the hotel safe, if conspicuous notice is posted.
- Hotels are generally not liable for harm to guests caused by criminal acts of others, unless hotel fault is established.
- Hotels may generally limit their liability for losses if conspicuous notice is given to hotel guests.
The federal government has limited involvement in the private relationships between hotels and guests.
- Title 42 of the U. S. Code, Chapter 21, Sub-chapter II (Public Accommodations) makes prohibited DISCRIMINATION under the CIVIL RIGHTS Act of 1964 applicable to "any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests."
- Under a phase-in provision, hotels must meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA); any new or renovated hotel facility must comply with the Act's mandates for public access and/or removal of physical barriers.
- The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 (as amended in 1996) imposes additional safety requirements upon hotel facilities above and beyond those found in local building codes.
Generally, most day-to-day liability issues affecting hotels are based on early English common law theories of contract and tort (negligence). States are free to enact their own statutes regarding innkeepers' rights and duties, so long as they do not abridge federal rights and most states have done so. Waivers or limitations to liability are also generally permitted, where not deemed "unconscionable" in law or fact.
Duty to Receive Guests
The very first and most important "public duty" of the hotel is the duty to receive guests. But the duty is not absolute and is subject to lawful excuses. Hotels may generally deny accommodations to a prospective guest for the following reasons:
- If the person is unwilling or unable to pay for a room or other establishment privileges
- If the person is visibly under the influence of alcohol or other drugs or creating a public nuisance
- If the person's use of a room or accommodation would violate the facility's maximum capacity
- If the innkeeper reasonably believes the person will use the room or facility for an unlawful purpose
- If the innkeeper reasonably believes the person will bring in something that would create an unreasonable danger or risk to others
Generally speaking, to avoid liability for refusal to receive a prospective guest, hotels must reasonably believe a person is unable or unwilling to pay, plans to use the room or premises for an unlawful purpose; or plans to bring a potentially dangerous object onto the premises.
Most hotels have well-established policies for making, confirming, and holding reservations placed by prospective guests. A confirmed reservation generally constitutes a binding agreement (in essence, a "reservation contract") between the hotel and prospective guest. If the guest fails to use the reservation, the hotel is generally entitled to damages. On the other hand, if the hotel breaches a reservation contract, the guest can sue the hotel for damages. If the hotel actually has accommodations available but fails to supply them as agreed, it may be liable for breach of its duties as an innkeeper.
Hotel overbooking often presents problems, and many hotels have adopted a pledge that requires their assistance in securing comparable accommodations, if, for any reason, a room should not be available for a patron who holds a valid confirmed reservation. A few states have enacted legislation that addresses hotel overbooking. Florida's law, for example, makes the hotel responsible for "every effort" to find alternate accommodations and up to a $500 fine for each guest turned away because of the over-booking.
Right to Evict Persons Admitted as Guests
Hotels may generally evict a guest and keep the room rental payment, despite the EVICTION, for the following reasons:
- Disorderly conduct
- Using the premises for an unlawful purpose or act
- Bringing property onto the premises that may be dangerous to others
- Failing to register as a guest
- Using FALSE PRETENSES to obtain accommodations
- Being a minor unaccompanied by an adult registered guest
- Violating federal, state, or local hotel laws or regulations
- Violating a conspicuously posted hotel or motel rule
- Failing to vacate a room at the agreed checkout time
Generally speaking, to avoid liability for evicting a guest, the guest must have refused to pay; or the innkeeper must reasonably have believed that the person used the room or premises for an unlawful purpose or brought a potentially dangerous object onto the premises.
Duty to Persons Who Are Not Guests
A person who is not a guest (or intending immediately to become a guest) generally has no right to enter or remain on the premises over the objection of the hotel. Nor can a non-guest resort to public areas of the premises, such as lobbies or hallways, without the consent of the hotel. Despite the fact that the hotel has held itself out to the public with an invitation to enter and seek out accommodations, any person who enters without the intention of accepting an invitation for accommodations remains on the premises only by the consent of the hotel.
A widely-acknowledged exception to this general rule is that a non-guest or stranger coming to the hotel at the request or invitation of an existing guest has a right to enter the premises for that purpose; otherwise, the guest would unfairly be deprived of a privilege necessary for his or her comfort while at the hotel. However, the hotel may revoke such permission if the non-guest engages in conduct which would justify his or her eviction.
There is no duty to permit non-guests into the hotel public areas for the purpose of soliciting business from hotel guests. To the contrary, there is a duty to protect guests from bothersome or troublesome non-guests. Accordingly, most hotels have posted notices that prohibit SOLICITATION of any kind on the premises.
Duty to Provide Safe Premises
The duty of an hotel to provide safe premises is based on the common law duty owed to business and social invitees of an establishment. Under common law, hotels must exercise reasonable care for the safety of their guests. Hotels may be found negligent if they knew or should have known, upon reasonable inspection, of the existence of a danger or hazard and failed to take action to correct it and/or warn guests about it. Accordingly, hotels have an affirmative duty to inspect and seek out hazards that may not be readily apparent, seen or appreciated by patrons and guests. In addition, they may have an affirmative duty to warn guests of dangers or hazards. If the risk of harm or damage was foreseeable, and the hotel failed to exercise reasonable care to either eliminate the risk or warn guests of its existence, the hotel may be liable for any resulting harm or damage caused by its negligence ("proximate cause").
However, the law does not protect hotel guests from their own negligence. An "open and obvious" hazard, such as a bathroom tile floor that becomes slippery when wet after reasonable use, is not a basis for liability. On the other hand, if a poorly maintained bathroom fixture results in standing water on the tile floor, and an unsuspecting guest enters the bathroom and slips on the tile, the hotel would most likely be liable for damages. Likewise, standing water on any floor in the hotel, if left standing beyond a reasonable time for management to have detected and eliminated it, may result in liability for the hotel.
Hotel swimming pools are a major topic for LITIGATION battles. After a rash of lawsuits in the 1970s, diving boards have disappeared from almost all hotel pools. But that has not stopped diving accidents from occurring as a result of swimmers leaping from the edges of pools, piers, and docks. It is important that "NO DIVING" signs are posted in highly visible areas. There is no minimum requirement regarding the number or nature of posted warnings, but a hotel's diving-accident history is key in establishing what would be considered "adequate," "sufficient," or "satisfactory" posted warnings in any legal matter. Statutes in most states do not require the presence of lifeguards at hotel pools. However, "NO LIFEGUARD" warnings should be posted and visible from all angles of the pool. All water recreational facilities must have emergency telephone service.
Harm or Damage Caused by Other Guests
Hotels have an affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety and security of their patrons. This obligation may include the duty to evict or otherwise restrain drunken or disorderly guests or patrons who may possibly cause harm to other guests or their property. However, the hotel also has a duty not to cause foreseeable injury or harm to the drunken or disorderly guest as a result of the eviction. Under those circumstances, hotels must seek more reasonable alternatives, such as contacting police and arranging safe transport of the drunken or disorderly guest or escorting the person back to his/her room (if this can be done safely without the risk of recurring problems).
A major area of liability exposure is in the serving of alcohol to guests and non-guests. If the hotel actually creates the risk of harm by serving alcohol to an already-intoxicated person, other laws come into play, most notably, state "dram-shop" acts. These laws generally provide that persons injured by intoxicated persons may sue the seller/provider of the alcohol (in this case, the hotel). Hotels can also lose their liquor licenses for serving minors, and, in many states, can be sued for a subsequent drunken driving accident caused by the minor.
Hotels also may be liable for the PERSONAL INJURY of guests caused by the criminal act of another patron or guest, if it can be established that the hotel was negligent or at fault. Criminal acts of other patrons do not always fall into the category of foreseeable risks that hotels can protect against. Nonetheless, in assessing potential fault of the hotel, several factors will be considered. Was the injury or harm reasonably preventable? Who was in charge of security? Were security personnel properly trained? Is there a past history of crime at the hotel? Were assessments of security risks ever established for the hotel? Were security personnel uniformed? Were there an adequate number of security persons on hand to handle routine matters as well as potential emergencies or crises?
Harm or Damage Caused by Third Persons
Hotels have an affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety and security of their patrons. Therefore, they must protect their guests and employees from foreseeable criminal acts of third parties. In most states, a greater burden of protection is placed upon hotels than upon landlords and other business owners. However, the law in this area varies greatly from state to state. Most states hold that hotels are not liable for third-party crimes unless at fault (negligent) in reasonably protecting guests from foreseeable harm.
For example, numerous court decisions nationwide have found hotels liable for failing to provide adequate locks on doors and windows. While the lodging industry does not recognize an official "standard of security," there are several minimum safety and security measures that indicate compliance with "standard practices," and have in fact been used to establish legal precedent. These would include dead-bolt locks, viewing devices (peepholes) on room doors, chain locks, communication devices (telephones to enable emergency calls for assistance), and track bars for sliding glass doors. Closed circuit television has been found to be fundamental to reasonable security in facilities with several entrances, high-risk parking lots, or remote locations.
It is fair to say that the ultimate test in establishing hotel liability is to ask whether the hotel had taken reasonable steps to prevent certain crimes, in light of the relevant facts and circumstances surrounding the particular incident. Often, the hotel is simply the location of a random crime. Other times, it is the preferred location for a particular type of crime, thereby enhancing the probability of its recurrence, and raising questions of potential liability.
Generally, the same or similar ASSESSMENT of hotel security will be appropriate for crimes committed by third parties as for those committed by other guests or patrons. Ultimately, there must be fault on the part of the hotel in failing to prevent harm caused by foreseeable risks. The probability of occurrence of a particular crime or type of crime, as well as the level of care required from the hotel, are questions of fact which may vary from case to case.
Natural Disasters, Acts of God, Public Enemies, Catastrophic Exposures
Common law and most state statutes excuse hotels from liability if guests are injured or harmed as the result of an act of God or natural disaster. Hotels are likewise not liable for terrorist acts or harm caused by public enemies. Most hotel insurance policies exclude coverage for catastrophic or widespread disasters which affect a great number of insureds or an unmanageable number of claimants. Acts of war, damages arising from nuclear energy, and certain exposures to pollutants are routinely eliminated from coverage. Notwithstanding, hotels are keenly sensitive to enabling guests to vacate the premises, in an orderly and speedy fashion, in the event of a catastrophe.
Responsibility for Personal Property
To avoid liability, most hotels exempt themselves or substantially limit their liability for loss or damage to valuables kept in hotels rooms. Most will post conspicuous notices declaring that valuables worth more than a certain amount of money (e.g., $250) must be stored in the hotel safe in order to be covered for loss. When a hotel requests that a guest state a "declared value" for valuables, the hotel generally has the right, on behalf of its insurer, to inspect the valuables for stated value. Room safes are generally recommended only if they contain digital keypads, and the guest assumes all responsibility for getting into the safe and keeping the combination confidential.
A hotel is generally not liable for loss of luggage or other personal items belonging to guests of the hotel and lost in areas other than the guest's private room, unless the hotel or its employees are at fault.
Statutory or Contractual Limitations on Liability
Hotels may waive, exclude, or limit liability coverage for certain losses or harms, including dollar amount limitations on loss of valuables, and may exclude from coverage any assaults or crimes committed by third parties. It is imperative that guests check their hotel's policies prior to checking in, to review its liability limitations.
All states have enacted legislation that permits hotels to limit their liability for damage to guests or their PERSONAL PROPERTY. This action even may include limits placed on damages resulting from the hotel's own negligence ("exculpatory clauses"), unless found to be "unconscionable" in certain jurisdictions.
Whenever hotels intend to limit their liability, it is almost always required that they notify guests in a conspicuous manner. Failure to post adequate notices in conspicuous locations may result in a court finding that the limits are not in effect and that the hotel must cover the entire loss, if applicable.
Many states have retained the common law right of an "innkeeper's lien." If a hotel has properly evicted a guest, or if a guest refuses to leave or pay, the hotel may take into its possession the personal property of the guest and hold it as security for hotel charges. Innkeepers' liens differ from others in that the hotel need not take physical possession of the guest's personal property, but may simply prevent its removal from the hotel until the debt is satisfied. Hotels cannot sell the goods or personal property until there has been a final judgment in an action to recover charges.
Good Samaritan Acts
Laws regarding Good Samaritan acts generally apply to hotel personnel in emergencies. Most states have Good Samaritan Acts that generally shield persons from liability if they try to save a life but fail. Florida was one of the first states to enact new legislation allowing hotel desk clerks, among others, to revive heart attack victims using automated defibrillators, without the fear of exposure to unreasonable lawsuits.
In the 1996 case of Woods-Leber v. Hyatt Hotels of Puerto Rico, Inc., a federal district court found that the posh oceanfront Cerromar Beach Hotel in Dorado, Puerto Rico was not liable for damages caused by a rabid mongoose that entered upon the hotel grounds and bit a guest. The hotel had no control over adjacent bordering swamplands, and no history of recurrent visits from mongooses.
Nor was there liability in two bizarre swimming pool cases: one involved the death of a 12-year-old girl whose hair was caught in a whirlpool's suction; the other involved a Scottish Inn guest's ENTRAPMENT when his genitals became stuck in the pool's suction hole. There is no duty to warn of unique hazards.
In 1999, several pre-lawsuit notices were filed against California hoteliers for alleged violations of California's controversial "Proposal 65 of 1986." The statute was intended to provide warnings about hazardous waste sites and contaminated water. However, lawyer Morse Mehrban, on behalf of the California Consumer Advocacy Group, sued Hilton Hotels, Fairfield Inns, and Residence Inns by Marriot for alleged violations of "Prop 65" involving guest exposure to chemicals in alcoholic beverages, chemicals in second-hand tobacco and cigar smoke, and noxious fumes in enclosed parking structures. Under the law, violations must be corrected within 60 days of notice. Prop 65 places primary burden on the manufacturer or packager of alcoholic and tobacco products, but responsibility shifts to hotels when products are separated from their original packaging, such as when hotels serve "house wine" or "house cigars" from hotel humidors. In such cases, liability can be avoided if hotels post required warning signs or correct the defect within the notice period.
Selected State Innkeepers Laws
ALABAMA: See Title 34 of the Alabama Code of 1975, ACA 34-15. Hotel owners may eject guests for INTOXICATION, PROFANITY; lewdness, brawling, or otherwise disturbing the peace and comfort of others. Hotels must give oral notice to leave the premises and return the unused portion of any advance payment. Refusal to leave upon request is a MISDEMEANOR.
ALASKA: See Title 8 of the Alaska Statute, Chapter 56, "Hotels and Boardinghouses." which discusses such issues as registration, refusal to register, liability for valuables, and baggage liability.
ARIZONA: See Title 44 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, Chapter 15. Arizona has special provisions for the posting of minimum and maximum rates, and a STATUTORY requirement to have advertised accommodations available.
CALIFORNIA: See California Civil Code, Sections 1861-1865. Hotels may evict guests who refuse to depart at checkout, with proper notice of check-out time and a need to accommodate another arriving guest. Moreover, if a guest refuses to leave, the hotel owner may enter the room and take possession of the guest's personal property, re-key the door, and make the room available to new guests. The personal possessions may be sold to enforce an innkeeper's LIEN.
COLORADO: See Title 12 of the Colorado Revised Statutes Annotated, 12-44-302 codifies common law with respect to refusing accommodations to certain persons.
FLORIDA: See Florida Statutes Annotated, FSA 509.141. In addition to the usual reasons for evicting guests, Florida hotels may evict a person for injuring the facility's reputation, dignity, or standing.
GEORGIA: See Chapter 43 of the Georgia Code, 43-21-2, et seq; 48-13-50, et seq. Georgia has a very comprehensive statute that expressly outlines the rights and duties of hotels; much of it is carried over from common law.
IDAHO: See Titles 39 of the Idaho Code, Sections 39-1805 and 1809. The statute follows the common law general reasons for denying accommodations to or evicting guests. The statute expressly permits hotel owners to enter the rooms of guests who fail to pay and leave and remove personal property to be held by lien.
IOWA: See Iowa Code Annotated 137C.25C and 137C.25. Iowa follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
KANSAS: See Kansas Statutes Annotated, 36-604 and 602. Kansas adds a few more categories to the general rights to evict guests: failing to register as a guest, using false pretenses to obtain accommodations, exceeding the guest room OCCUPANCY limits, or being a minor unaccompanied by a parent or GUARDIAN.
LOUISIANA: See Louisiana Statutes Annotated 21:75 and 76. Louisiana expressly requires that a hotel owner notify a guest at least one hour before the time to leave, before he may legally evict the guest. After this, the hotel may have law enforcement personnel remove the guest and personal belongings.
MINNESOTA: See Minnesota Statutes Annotated 327.73. Minnesota follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
MISSOURI: See Missouri Revised Statutes, 315.075 and 315.067. Missouri follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
MONTANA: See Montana Code Annotated 70-6-511 and 70-6-512. Montana follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions and expressly adds the right to evict guests for refusing to abide by reasonable hotel standards or policies.
NORTH CAROLINA: See Chapters 72 of the North Carolina General Statutes, Article 1. North Carolina has express provisions that address liability for lost baggage, losses by fire, safeguarding of valuables, and hotel rights for negligence of the guest. North Carolina also has an express provision for the admittance of pets to hotel rooms.
OKLAHOMA: See Title 15 of the Oklahoma Statutes Annotated, OSA 15-5-8 and 506. Oklahoma follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
OREGON: See Chapters 699 of the Oregon Revised Statutes, "Innkeepers and Hotelkeepers." Oregon's thorough statutory provisions cover liability for valuables, baggage, and other property. Special provisions address personal property left in a hotel for more than 60 days. Guests who refuse to leave or pay are deemed "trespassers" under Oregon law and may be removed by force without the hotel incurring liability.
PENNSYLVANIA: See Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated, PSA 37-106 and 103. Pennsylvania follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
RHODE ISLAND: See RIGL 5-14-4 and 5-14-5. Rhode Island follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
SOUTH CAROLINA: See South Carolina Statutes Annotated, SCSA 45-2-60 and 45-2-30. South Carolina follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
TENNESSEE: See Tennessee Code Annotated 68-14-605 and 68-14-602. Tennessee follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
UTAH: See the Utah Code Annotated, UCA 29-2-103. Utah follows the general rules for denying accommodations and for evictions.
"ADA Compliance Needs Practical Approach." Dawson, Adam, and Charles Sink. Hotel & Motel Management, 15 September 1997.
"California Hoteliers Fend Off Lawsuits Alleging Harmful Chemical Exposure." Carolyn Woodruff. Hotel & Motel Management, 19 July 1999.
The Court TV Cradle-to-Grave Legal Survival Guide. Little, Brown and Company, 1995.
Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990. P.L. 101-391; 104 Stat. 747, as amended, P.L. 104-316, 1996.
"Innkeepers' Rights Regarding Guests." Sandra Norman-Eady. Available at http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/civil_procedure.html
The Laws of Innkeepers. Sherry, Jophn H. Cornell University Press, 1972.
"Protect Guests Against Third-party Crimes." James R. Butler, Jr. Hotel & Motel Management, 3 June 1996.
"Security Standards for the Lodging and Residential Industries." Published by the Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center. Available at
U. S. Code, Title 42: Public Health and Welfare, Chapter 21: Civil Rights, Subchapter II: Public Accommodations. U. S. House of Representatives, 1964. Available at
"Your Uniform, Nametag and Defibrillator." Lodging Hospitality, 15 July 2001.
American Hotel & Motel Association
1201 New York Avenue. NW, #600
Washington, DC 20005-3931 USA
Phone: (202) 289-3100
Educational Institute of American Hotel & Lodging Association
800 North Magnolia Avenue, #1800
Orlando, FL, FL 32803 USA
Phone: (800) 752-4567
International Travel (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law)
The U. S. Government's Representatives Abroad
Embassies are the official diplomatic representation of one sovereign government to another. The principal person in charge of an embassy is usually an ambassador. An ambassador is the official representative from the head of state of one country to the host country. Embassies are primarily responsible for maintaining government-to-government communications and business. Embassies generally do not perform functions directly for nationals from their home country who may be travelling or residing in their host country.
Supervision of U. S. embassies is the job of the U. S. Department of State (DOS), under the administration of the U. S. Secretary of State. The DOS is the large governmental department that manages relations with foreign governments and helps to interpret and implement U. S. policies around the world. It also assists U. S. citizens abroad. The DOS divides its embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic posts into six geographical regions. These are:
- East Asia and the Pacific
- Near East
- South Asia
- The Western Hemisphere
There is an embassy in almost every country with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations; the embassy is usually located in the capital. Each embassy contains a consular section. Consular officers in consular sections of embassies perform two primary functions:
- They issue visas to foreigners wishing to travel to the United States, and
- They help U. S. citizens abroad.
In some countries, the United States may have a consulate general or a consulate to assist the embassy in handling its business. These are different from the consular section within embassies. Consulates General or consulates are regional offices of embassies. When U. S. citizens travel abroad, they may want to register at the U. S. embassies or consulates at the countries they visit. When they register at an U. S. embassy or consulate, it makes their presence and whereabouts are known, in case it is necessary for a consular officer to contact them. It is a good idea for them to register at the Consular Section of the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate, especially if their stay in a country will be longer than one month. They should also consider registering at the nearest U. S. embassy or consular office if they are traveling in a country or area that is experiencing civil unrest, is politically unstable, or has experienced a recent natural disaster.
American consular officers can help evacuate U. S. citizens from a country were that to become necessary, but they cannot help them if they do not know where the travelers are. Registration also makes it easier for travelers to apply for a replacement PASSPORT, if theirs becomes lost or stolen. Sometimes, registration will be done for them if they are traveling with an organized tour to areas experiencing unrest or political upheaval.
U. S. consulates are a special division or office located at U. S. embassies and sometimes in other important cities or regions in foreign countries. The officials who work at consulates are known as consular officers. They can give advice and assistance if travelers are in serious trouble. Their services are loosely grouped into none-emergency services and emergency services. Non-emergency services include providing information about Selective Service registration, travel safety, ABSENTEE VOTING, and how to acquire or lose U. S. citizenship. Also, they can arrange for the transfer of Social Security and other Federal benefits to beneficiaries residing abroad, provide U. S. tax forms, and notarize documents.
Emergency services are often the most crucial functions of the consulate. Travelers may need the emergency services of a consulate in the following situations:
- If travelers need emergency funds, consulates can help them get in touch with their families, friends, bank, or employer and tell them how to arrange for money to be sent.
- If travelers become ill or injured, the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate can provide them with a list of local doctors, dentists, medical specialists, clinics and hospitals. If the illness or injury is serious, they can help travelers find medical assistance and can inform their family or friends of their condition. Because travelers must pay their own hospital and other expenses, they may want to consider purchasing additional or supplemental medial insurance before they travel abroad.
- If travelers get married abroad, their marriage must be performed according to local law. There will be documentary requirements to marry in a foreign country, and in some countries, they may be asked to complete a lengthy residence requirement before their marriage may take place. Before traveling, U. S. citizens need to ask the embassy or consulate of the country in which they plan to marry about the marriage regulations and how best to prepare to marry abroad. Once abroad, the Consular Section of the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate may be able to answer some of their questions, but it is the travelers' responsibility to comply with local laws and to interact with local civil authorities.
- If a U. S. citizens child is born abroad, their children generally acquires U. S. citizenship at birth. As soon as possible after the birth, they should contact the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate to obtain a Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America. This document will serve as proof of U. S. citizenship, and is acceptable EVIDENCE for obtaining a U. S. passport for a child. It is also acceptable for most other purposes where parents must show a birth certificate or proof of citizenship for their child.
- If U. S. citizens plan to adopt a child overseas, they should know that the U. S. government looks on foreign adoptions as private, legal matters subject to the sovereign JURISDICTION of the nation in which the child is residing. U. S. embassy or consular officers may not intervene on prospective parents' behalf in the courts of the country where the ADOPTION takes place. Even so, there are a ways in which U. S. embassies and consulates can assist them in an overseas adoption. These officials can provide them with information on the adoption process in that particular country, inquire about the status of their case in the foreign court, help to explain the requirements for documents, try to ensure that they will not be discriminated against by foreign courts, and provide them with information about the VISA application process for their adopted child.
- If the death of a U. S. citizen occurs abroad, the consular officer reports the death to the NEXT OF KIN or LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE. The consular officer will prepare a Report of the Death of An American Citizen. This document will provide the facts concerning the death and the CUSTODY of the personal effects of the deceased. The consular officer also arranges to obtain from them kin the necessary private funds for local burial or return of the body to the United States because the U. S. Government will not pay for local burial or shipment of human remains to the United States. However, travelers may purchase private insurance to cover these expenses. As a first step toward simplifying the process for their loved ones in the event of a death while traveling abroad, travelers should complete the address page in the front of their passports, and do provide the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.
Health and Immunizations
Depending on their destination abroad, travelers may need to show proof that they were immunized against certain diseases. It is a good idea to check with representatives of the countries they intend to visit to make sure they comply with any immunization requirements they may have. The requirements vary based on specific diseases. Travelers may find that countries with more tropical climates may require international certificates of vaccination against yellow fever and cholera. Generally, typhoid vaccinations are not required for international travel, but may be recommended for countries where there is a risk of exposure. Smallpox vaccinations are not required anywhere. And it is a good idea for travelers to check their health care records to make sure that their measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis immunizations are current. Preventative measures are advisable for certain areas, such as quinine in areas prone to outbreaks of malaria. Regardless of where U. S. citizens travel, the United States currently requires no immunizations for citizens returning from travel abroad.
If travelers must receive vaccinations, they should keep a record of them on approved forms. An increasing number of countries require that people entering their countries be tested for Human Immune deficiency Virus (HIV) prior to entry. The HIV test is usually included in a medical exam for long term visitors (i.e., students and workers). Before people travel abroad, check with the embassy or consulate of the country that they intend to visit to learn about the health or immunization requirements for visiting their countries, and whether they require an AIDS/HIV test as a condition to enter their countries.
When U. S. citizens are in a foreign country, they are subject to its laws. It helps to learn about local laws and regulations and to obey them. Travelers should learn the local laws and customs before they consider selling their personal effects like clothing, cameras, or jewelry. The penalties for disobeying local laws can be quite severe, regardless of how such an act would be viewed or treated in the United States. Some governments are especially sensitive about tourists taking photographs. Basically, it is a good idea to avoid photographing police, and anything to do with the military and industrial facilities, including harbors, railroads, and airports. Taking pictures of these subjects may result in travelers' being detained, their cameras and film being confiscated, and their being fined. People need to check with the country's embassy or consulate for information on restrictions on photography.
About 1,000 Americans are arrested abroad on drug charges each year. Many countries strictly enforce their drug laws and impose very severe penalties for drug violations. When people travel abroad, they are subject to the laws of the countries in which they travel, not to U. S. laws. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE in other countries can be very different from U. S. criminal procedure, especially in cases of drug-related offenses. If travelers are arrested, they will find the following is the case:
- Jury trials are often not allowed.
- Trials can be very long, with many delays and unaccountable postponements.
- Most countries do not have a system for accepting bail.
- Pre-trial detention, which is often carried out in solitary confinement, may last for many months.
If U. S. citizens are convicted on a drug charge, they face the possibility of the following:
- 2-10 years in jail,
- In some countries, there is a minimum of 6 years hard labor and a steep fine, and, in a number of countries,
- The death penalty (e.g. Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia).
Getting Legal Assistance
If U. S. citizens become involved in legal difficulties abroad, there is little that the U. S. embassy or a consular officer can do for them. American officials are limited by foreign as well as U. S. laws. In short, a consular officer cannot get them out of a foreign jail, nor can they serve as their attorney or give them legal advice. They can, however, provide them with a list of local attorneys. These lists of attorneys are compiled from local BAR ASSOCIATION lists and responses to United States Department of State questionnaires, although the embassy or consular staff cannot vouch for the competence of any particular local attorney.
If U. S. citizens are arrested, they should ask the local authorities to inform a consular officer at the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate. International agreements and diplomatic practice give them the right to talk to the U. S. consul. If the local authorities refuse to inform the nearest U. S. embassy or consular office, try to have someone else get in touch with the U. S. consular officer for. Once they know that U. S. citizens has been arrested, U. S. officials will visit them, advise them of their rights under the local laws, and contact their family and friends, if they wish. Additionally, U. S. consuls can arrange to send money, food, and clothing to the appropriate authorities from their family or friends. If they are being held in unhealthy or inhumane conditions, they will work to get relief for them.
A passport is "a document issued by competent authority (which is a state or the United Nations Organization), evidencing the right, arising from law, of the person named and described in the document to travel abroad, and, in relation to a state, authenticating his right to diplomatic protection and consular services" (Stephen Krueger, Krueger on United States Passport Law [Hong Kong: Crossbow Corporation, 2001], 6). "State" in this sense means a nation state or country, not one of the fifty states in the United States.
Who Needs a Passport?
U. S. citizens need passports to depart or enter the United States and to enter and depart most foreign countries. There are a few exceptions for short-term travel between the United States and Mexico, Canada, and some countries in the Caribbean, where a U. S. birth certificate or other proof of U. S. citizenship may be accepted. But even if people need not have a passport to visit a foreign country, the United States requires one to prove U. S. citizenship and identity to reenter the United States. Hence, travelers need to provide documentation when they pass through United States IMMIGRATION upon their return. U. S. passports are the best proof of U. S. citizenship. Travelers may also use one of the following:
- An expired U. S. passport
- A CERTIFIED COPY of a U. S. birth certificate
- A Certificate of Naturalization
- A Certificate of Citizenship
- A Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States
All U. S. citizens must have their own passport. Family members may not be included on any passport. This applies to everyone, even newborn babies. To obtain their first passport, citizens must appear in person at one of the 13 U. S. passport agencies, along with a completed Form DS-11, Passport Application. They may also apply for a passport at one of many federal and state courts, PROBATE courts, county/municipal offices, or at U. S. post offices authorized to accept passport applications.
If applying for the first time, applicants who are 16 and older must appear in person when applying for a passport. Minors aged 13, 14, and 15 must also appear in person, and must be accompanied by a parent or legal GUARDIAN. Applicants ages 16 and 17 may apply on their own as long as they have acceptable identification. The passport agency may contact their parent or legal guardian to confirm that the parent or legal guardian gives permission to issue the passport. If a passport applicant is a minor and has no identification, then the parent or legal guardian must accompany the applicant. For children under age 13, a parent or legal guardian may appear and apply for a passport on their behalf. If individuals previously had a U. S. passport and wish to obtain a new one, they may be able to apply by mail.
It may take many weeks to process the application for a passport. If possible, individuals should apply for their passport several months before they plan to depart on their trip abroad. If they also need to apply for visas, they need to allow approximately two weeks per visa. Finally, if their U. S. passport becomes altered or mutilated, it may be invalid. If they alter or mutilate it themselves, they may be prosecuted (Section 1543, Title 22 of the U.S. CODE).
Keep a Passports Safe
Carelessness is the principal reason travelers lose their passports. People may need to carry their passport with them because they must show it to cash traveler's checks or the country that they are visiting requires them to carry it as an identity document. When they must carry their passport, they must conceal it securely on their person. It should not be put it in a purse, handbag, or in an outer pocket. When possible, it should be deposited passport in the hotel's safe. It should not be left Do not leave it in the hotel room or m, and do not try to conceal it in pieces of luggage. One member of a group should not carry all the passports for the entire group.
Criminals sometimes use stolen U. S. passports to enter the United States illegally or to help them establish false identities. This can cause distress and embarrassment to innocent U. S. citizens whose names become associated with illegal activity. Travelers should be aware that consular officers overseas may take certain precautions to process lost passport cases. Should they lose their passport while traveling abroad, these precautions may in turn cause them some delay before their new passport is issued.
If their passports is are lost or stolen abroad, travelers should report the loss immediately to the local police and to the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate. It will help speed the replacement process if travelers can provide the consular officer with the information contained in their passport. Their passport is the most important document that they will carry abroad. It is proof of their U. S. citizenship. It should never be used it as COLLATERAL for a loan, nor should someone lend it to anyone. It is the best form of identification. Travelers may need it when they pick up mail or check into hotels, or when they register at embassies or consulates.
When entering some countries or registering at hotels, travelers may be asked to fill out a police card listing their names, passport numbers, destinations, local addresses, and reasons for travel. They may be required to leave their passport at the hotel reception desk overnight so that the local police may check it. These are normal procedures required by local laws. However, if the passport is not returned the following morning, immediately report the seizure to the local authorities and to the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate.
Passport Services maintains records of passport information on individuals for the period from 1925 to the present. These records contain applications for U. S. passports and supporting evidence of U. S. citizenship. The records' contents are protected by the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act permits individuals to obtain copies of passport records in their own name. The National Archives and Records Administration maintains records for passports issued prior to 1925.
A visa is an endorsement by a foreign country that permits individuals to visit that country for a defined purpose and for a specific duration. It usually comes in the form of a stamp placed in their passport. Their visa to visit a foreign country will indicate the length of time of their visit, as well as the scope of activities they may perform while in that country. Probably the most common visas are travel visas that identify people as a tourists visiting the country for leisure purposes. But, there are also visas that permit them to work and earn income in a country or visas that allow them to attend a college or university in that country, or possibly a visa that indicates they are a members of the U. S. diplomatic corps on official business. It is best to apply for visas before individuals leave the United States. They may not be able to obtain visas for some countries after they have left the United States.
U. S. citizens should apply for a visa directly to the embassy or nearest consulate of each country they plan to visit. Visas are stamped directly onto a blank page in their passport, so they will need to give their passport to an official of each foreign embassy or consulate along with their application for a visa. When applying for a visa, individuals will usually be asked to fill out a form and submit one or more photographs with the form. They should also be aware that many countries require a fee to accompany visa applications. The application process may take several weeks, depending on the country where they apply for a visa.
U. S. customs laws help regulate the conduct of business, protect U. S. citizens from harmful diseases, and protect U. S. crops and livestock from damaging foreign diseases, infections, and other pests. The customs laws also reflect U. S. policy on environmental issues. The United States Customs Service is the agency with primary responsibility for protecting the nation's borders. It has an extensive air, land, and marine interdiction force and with an investigative branch supported by its own intelligence resources. Among its areas of responsibility, the U. S. Customs Service is charged with overseeing the importation of goods into the country.
Before Departing the United States
Before individuals travel abroad, it is helpful to learn about U. S. Customs regulations. The regulations apply to things they take from the United States as well as items they bring into the United States from abroad. Foreign-made items taken abroad (e.g. a Swiss watch or Japanese camera) are subject to U. S. Customs duty and tax upon return, unless they have proof they possessed them before they left the United States. A receipt, BILL OF SALE, insurance policy, or a jeweler's APPRAISAL usually is sufficient proof of prior ownership. In some cases, it may be necessary to register their foreign-made goods that they intend to take on their trip abroad. If they do not have sufficient proof of prior ownership, but their property includes foreign-made items that can be identified by serial number or some other permanent marking, travelers can take them to a Customs office or to the port of departure for registration. There they can obtain a certificate of registration, which can expedite free entry of these items when they return to the United States.
Bringing Foreign Products into the United States
The United States prohibits travelers from bringing many fruits, vegetables, meats, plants, soil, and other products from abroad into the United States. These products may carry harmful insects or diseases that could damage U. S. crops, forests, gardens, and livestock. In general, travelers may not bring the products in person, nor can they import them through the mail. In addition to these items, it is a crime to bring many wildlife souvenirs into the United States. These crimes are specified in U. S. laws and in international treaties. The list of prohibited items is long, and includes those made from sea turtle shell, reptile skins or leathers, ivory, furs from endangered species, as well as items manufactured from coral reefs. Consequently, travelers should not purchase wildlife souvenirs, especially if they are unsure about being able to bring them legally into the United States. The penalties for violating these laws are severe; at the very least, the purchases could be confiscated.
When returning to the United States from a trip abroad, if travelers needed their passport for their trip, they will need it when they go through U. S. Immigration and Customs. If they took other documents with them such as an International Certificate of Vaccination, international driver's license, medical documents, a customs certificate of registration for foreign-made personal articles, they will need them upon their re-entry to the United States.
When individuals buy goods abroad and bring them back to the United States, they are subject to TAXATION on the value of those goods. Currently, travelers may bring back $400 worth of foreign-acquired goods without having to pay a duty on those goods, known as "duty free" merchandise. There are some important limitations to the duty free exemption:
- Travelers must have been outside the United States for at least 48 hours,
- They may not have imported duty free goods within 30 days, and
- They must be able to present the purchases for inspection upon their arrival at the port of entry.
After travelers have used their exemption on their first $400 worth of duty free goods, the next $1,000 worth of items they bring back for personal use or gifts are subject to duty, taxed at 10%. For some products, there are additional limits on the quantity they may bring into the United States duty free:. For example,
- 100 cigars,
- 200 cigarettes, and
- One liter of wine, beer, or liquor.
Depending on where travelers purchased some items, their duty free exemption may be higher. The exemption is $600 for goods purchased in any of 24 specific countries in the Caribbean and Central America. For a group of U. S. possessions (the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam), the exemption is $1,200.
. "Americans Abroad." U. S. Department of State, 2002.
. "A Safe Trip Abroad." U. S. Department of State, 2002.
. "Foreign Entry Requirements." U. S. Department of State, 2002.
http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html. "Passport Services." U. S. Department of State, 2002.
. "U. S. Customs Service." U. S. Customs Service, 2002.
. "Traveler Information." U. S. Customs Service, 2002.
http://www.embassyworld.com/. "Directory & Search Engine of the World's Embassies & Consulates." Embassy-World.com, 2002.
Krueger on United States Passport Law. Hong Kong: Crossbow Corporation, 2001.
United States Customs Service
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20229 USA
Phone: (202) 927-1000
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
Phone: (202) 647-4000
United States Department of State
Public Inquiries, Visa Services
Washington, DC 20522-0106 USA
Phone: (202) 663-1225
Passports And Visas (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law)
The U. S. Department of State issues nearly seven million passports to U. S. citizens every year. For most people, obtaining a PASSPORT is a fairly routine experience. In fact, a passport is more than just a personal identification document. A passport is actually a guarantee to the bearer that he or she can travel freely and securely through other countries.
Not all countries are willing or able to grant unimpeded travel and protection to others. Countries that are at war with each other or whose diplomatic ties are strained or broken will likely not permit their citizens to travel to territory designated as dangerous or unfriendly. Visas, or endorsements, indicate that a government has examined the traveler's passport and that the traveler can continue on. Some countries do not require a formal VISA process; others insist that visitors obtain visas, sometimes well in advance of their trips.
Because a passport is an important identification document, applicants must prove that they are who they are, and they also must prove citizenship. Proof can be established through birth or baptismal certificates or other documents; sometimes AFFIDAVIT from people who know the applicant are necessary. Passports are the property of the governments that issue them and must be returned on demand.
Obtaining a Passport
Anyone who wishes to travel abroad needs a passport, as does anyone whose work requires overseas travel. Some countries, such as Canada and Mexico, do not require U. S. citizens to show passports upon crossing the border; other forms of identification such as a driver's license will suffice. Still, it is a good idea to have a passport because it is a much more re-liable means of establishing identity and nationality.
The fee for a first-time passport is $60, which includes a $45 passport fee and a $15 EXECUTION fee. Applicants under 16 pay $40 (the passport fee is $25). Renewing a passport costs $40.
The average wait for a passport is six weeks. For those who need a passport sooner, expedited service is available (the waiting period is only two weeks) for an additional $35. Passport officials recommend that to further expedite a passport, the application should be sent via overnight delivery and the applicant should include a pre-paid overnight delivery envelope in which the passport can be sent. This cost must be paid by the applicant in addition to the expedited service fee.
Applying in Person
Individuals can apply for their passports by mail unless they are applying for the first time. If a previous passport was issued more than 15 years ago or when a person was under the age of 16, the individual will also need to apply in person; likewise if the person's name has changed or if the old passport was lost, stolen, or damaged. Minors under the age of 14 do not need to appear as a matter of course, but passport officials have the right to ask the child to appear.
There are 13 Regional Passport Agency offices across the country; they are located in Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Norwalk (Connecticut), Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. These offices are open to the public by appointment only, and appointments are usually only granted to people who need urgent action on a passport application (for example, if they need a passport in less than two weeks). For routine passport applications, there are 4,500 designated passport application acceptance facilities across the United States.
Proof of Citizenship
To obtain a U.S. passport, individuals must prove that they are U. S. citizens. A previous U. S. passport will suffice, but if they do not have one they will need to supply either a certified birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, or a consular report of birth abroad. A birth certificate must have been issued within one year of their births to be acceptable. A later, or delayed certificate may be valid if it comes with affidavits from an attending physician or midwife or the parents.
If individuals do not have certified birth certificates, they will need a "letter of no record" issued by the state and listing their name and date of birth while also noting that there is no birth record. In addition they will need as many other documents as they can provide, including baptismal certificates, school or family Bible records, or physician's records. A parent or other older relative can submit an "Affidavit of Birth" claiming personal knowledge of when the individual was born. In addition, individuals can ask a friend to vouch for them. This friend must be a U. S. citizen and a permanent resident, have a valid identification, and have known them for at least two years. He or she must fill out a special form in the presence of the passport agent.
Certain travelers may be able to receive a passport free of charge, known as a "no-fee" passport. Those eligible for no-fee passports include members of the armed services and their dependents, diplomats or other government officials, family members of a deceased member of the U. S. Armed Forces, and Peace Corps volunteers. (Anyone who applies for a no-fee passport in person may have to pay the $15 execution fee, but that fee can be waived.) Essentially these passports are sponsored by the agency or group that the applicant represents.
The no-fee passport is valid only for specific travel. Peace Corps volunteers can use no-fee passports to go to and from the countries in which they are working. Members of a deceased soldier's family must be traveling to visit that soldier's grave. Diplomats and other government officials must be traveling on government business. For personal travel, a regular passport is required. It is acceptable to hold both a regular and a no-fee passport. No-fee passports are not sent directly to the applicant; they are mailed to the sponsoring organization and applicants must pick them up.
Two copies of a current (no older than six months) photograph are required as part of the passport application. It should be full face, front view, and be 2x2 inches in size. (There should be between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.) Passport photos should be taken in normal street attire, and officials remind applicants that photos showing the applicant smiling or looking relaxed are welcome. Hats are not acceptable, nor are non-prescription glasses that are dark or tinted. Uniforms are not allowed although members of the clergy can wear religious attire if it is worn daily. Photos can be either color or black-and-white.
Photos from vending machines are usually not acceptable for passport photos. It is usually quite easy to find a photo service near a passport acceptance center, where photos are taken for a nominal fee. Regarding application for a passport for a baby or youngster, be aware that some photographers will not take pictures of infants or toddlers because it can be difficult to get them to cooperate.
Children Under 14
Children are required to submit the same forms for passport application as adults, but their parents or guardians must submit identification to ensure that they are in fact the child's parents or guardians. Each parent must submit identification forms; if only one parent is submitting forms he or she must have EVIDENCE that the other parent has consented or a court order showing sole CUSTODY of the child or a valid death certificate if the other parent is deceased.
For adoptive parents whose children were born overseas and who do not acquire U. S. citizenship at birth, the Child Citizenship Act confers citizenship automatically as soon as the ADOPTION DECREE is final. A CERTIFIED COPY of this decree needs to be presented to obtain a U. S. passport for the child. Because this law has only been effect since February 2001, there is still some lack of familiarity, and occasionally there might be confusion as far as which documents to submit and in what form. It is probably best to err on the side of caution; for example, adoptive parents should not send originals of any adoption document when mailing material to a passport agency office. It is probably a good idea to speak to the adoption agency and someone knowledgeable in IMMIGRATION law, as well as passport officials, when applying for a passport for an adopted child.
National Passport Information Centers (NPIC)
In the 20 years between 1975 and 1995 the number of passports issued by the U. S. Department of State more than doubled, from just over 2.3 million to nearly 5.3 million. The workload increased more that 70 percent, but the number of employees handling the work remained unchanged. In 1996 the State Department opened the National Passport Information Center (NPIC) to answer the public's questions about passports. NPIC is a fee-based service; callers either dial a 900 number for up to $1.05 per minute or an 888 number for a flat rate of $4.95 per call. The money collected goes toward running NPIC; the State Department receives no income from the center, nor does the government provide it with tax dollars. The reason the State Department decided to create NPIC was service. With more passport-related calls coming in but no additional staff to handle the volume, callers often had to wait on hold, sometimes for lengthy periods. While there was no charge for the service, many callers were frustrated at what they saw as a waste of their time. Thanks to NPIC, waits are shorter and callers are greeted by people who are not nearly so overextended. Today, people calling for anything other than the most basic information about passports will need to call NPIC. The phone numbers are 1-900-225-5674 or 1-888-362-8668. (For the hearing impaired, the TDD numbers are 1-900-225-7778 and 1-888-498-3648.)
From the United States
Each country has different passport and visa requirements for U. S. citizens. The most commonly visited countries, such as those in Western Europe, generally do not require visas; other countries do require visas, sometimes with specific stipulations. Still other countries require some sort of additional or substitute documentation, usually to ensure that the traveler is merely visiting as a tourist.
Countries with which the United States has troubled relations may require more documentation, from both that country and from the United States. The United States will not allow its citizens to travel to certain countries except for clearly defined business purposes. Because governmental changes in some countries can happen with remarkable speed, it is advisable for travelers to know whether their visit will put them at risk. The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U. S. State Department keeps an updated list of visa requirements for traveling to every country at its web site . Travelers should also contact the foreign embassy or consulate of the country they wish to visit; most often these offices are in Washington, D. C., or New York. Although some countries, such as Canada, Mexico, and certain Caribbean nations, do not require a U. S. passport, it is still a good idea to carry one because of its value as an identification document.
To the United States
Overseas visitors who wish to visit the United States usually require a visa. Most people come to the United States for business or tourism; others, taking advantage of highly skilled American medical facilities, may come to the United States for medical treatment. In general, a visa application asks the individual to state the purpose and length of the visit. It also asks for proof that the applicant has a domicile outside the United States, along with binding ties such as family members; this is to ensure that he or she plans to return home after the visit.
To obtain a visa, a foreign visitor must submit an application form with a nonrefundable $45; a valid passport, and two photographs 1.5 inches square. Some 29 countries around the world participate in the Visa WAIVER Program, which allows visitors to travel without applying for a visa. These countries include most of Western Europe, as well as such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Argentina, and Iceland. Travelers visiting under the Visa Waiver Program may only stay for 90 days and must submit proof of financial SOLVENCY. Overseas travelers can get information from the nearest U. S. Embassy office, or they can visit .
Travel agents are often able to provide many of the forms and applications necessary, in addition to updated travel guidelines and advisories.
The United States Passport: Past, Present, Future. U. S. Department of State, 1976.
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)
1101 King Street, Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314 USA
Phone: (703) 739-2782
Fax: (703) 684-8319
Primary Contact: Richard M. Copland, President
and Chief Executive Officer
United States Customs Service
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washingtona, DC 20229 USA
Phone: (202) 927-1000
Primary Contact: Robert C. Bonner, Commissioner
U. S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
Phone: (202) 647-4000
Fax: (202) 647-5225 (Overseas Citizens Services)
Primary Contact: Georgia Rogers, Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Passport Services
Safety (Encyclopedia of Everyday Law)
Both domestic and international travelers are often exposed to unique risks and dangers not common to other activities or industries. In the course of travel, direct control over the safety and welfare of travelers is effectively transferred to others (often unknown third parties). In some instances, the law imposes "strict liability" upon these third parties, whereas in other circumstances, there must be fault on the part of the third party before a traveler may recover damages for injury or harm.
However, the issue of travel safety invokes more consideration than merely the identification of potentially liable parties. Of particular concern is the myriad of complex bodies of law that affect different aspects of travel safety, e.g., maritime law, aviation law, hotel law, consumer law, etc. This is further complicated in instances of international travel, which may invoke questions of JURISDICTION and choice of law rules.
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).
The Travel Industry
Congress has used the Commerce Clause as authority to enact other laws affecting travel safety. One such law is the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 (49 CFR 382), which prohibits DISCRIMINATION and requires physical accommodation of passengers with disabilities. Airlines may not require advance notice that a person with a DISABILITY is traveling (with certain exceptions involving special equipment or hook-ups), and airlines are prohibited from restricting the number of DISABLED PERSONS on a flight.
As a general rule, "common carriers," such as airlines, cruise line, bus and rail operators, are held to a higher standard of care owed to passengers and travelers. Common carriers cannot require or request patrons to sign contracts that purport to disclaim liability caused by the GROSS NEGLIGENCE or intentional misconduct of the common carrier or its agents/employees. Nor may common carriers attempt to enforce such a disclaimer even if it appears on a passenger ticket.
Liability of Travel Agencies
Several state courts have ruled that travel agents are agents of the consumer and not the travel service providers. According to these states (including Arizona, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia), travel agents are fiduciaries owing a high standard of care. This makes their obligations and duties to the consumer independent from their relationship with airlines, cruise lines, hotels or tour operators. In addition, it exposes them to potential liability for harm or injury to their customers caused by travel arrangements made by them.
Some of the legal theories under which travel agents or agencies have been sued (in addition to the travel supplier or tour operator actually providing the service or accommodation) include:
- Failure to Disclose Identity of Supplier: A travel agent must disclose the identity of a supplier or tour operator ultimately responsible for delivering the travel services. If the agent fails to make such a disclosure, the agent may be jointly liable for any harm or injury caused to the traveler by the supplier or tour operator.
- Vouching for the Reliability of Suppliers or Tour Operators: By doing so, the travel agent may be jointly responsible for harm or injury to the traveler under a variety of legal theories, including breach of WARRANTY and negligent or FRAUDULENT misrepresentation.
- Failure to Disclose Health and Safety Hazard Information: While the travel agent generally has no duty to investigate ultimate service providers for compliance with safety and health laws, the agent may be jointly liable in circumstances where the agent knew or should have reasonably known of specific risks and did not communicate them to the traveler. Some jurisdictions have found travel agents liable for failure to investigate crime levels in destination areas or advise of epidemics or needed shots/vaccines, or advise of need for travel insurance.
Although air disasters are quite rare, they are of such magnitude and consequence that applicable laws and regulations should be addressed.
Under its International Aviation Safety ASSESSMENT Program (IASA), the FAA, as part of its responsibility to inform the public about safety issues, assesses the civil aviation authority of each country with service to the United States. The assessments are to determine whether or not the civil aviation authority (CAA) overseeing airline operations to and from the United States meets the safety standards set by the United Nations body known as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The FAA has established two ratings for the status of these civil aviation authorities at the time of the assessment: compliance with ICAO standards, noncompliance with ICAO standards. CAAs are the FAA's foreign counterparts. The IASCA assessment program began in 1992.
The FAA also conducts domestic Flight Operational Quality Assurance Programs (FOQA) through the use of in-flight recorders. The data logged by the recorders is used to evaluate in-flight operations, including standard operating procedures (SOPs), flight training, and cockpit workload. In the event of an accident, the FOQA program assists in interpreting the events leading up to the accident in order to determine causation.
In the unfortunate event of a domestic air accident, the NTSB is called in to investigate. Based upon its findings, injured persons or victims' survivors may have causes of action based on several legal theories including products liability against the aircraft manufacturers; negligent maintenance and repair; NEGLIGENCE of pilot and crew; negligence of ground support/air traffic control departments; negligent maintenance of airport runways or facilities, etc.
The Warsaw Convention applies to airlines passengers ticketed on an international itinerary, whether or not the accident occurs on the domestic part of a continuous international trip. In El AL Israel Airlines, Ltd. v. Tsui Yuan Tseng, 97-475 (1999), the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed the Warsaw Convention's "exclusive" control over a passenger's right of recovery in U.S. courts for "physical injuries" sustained on international flights.
This created an inequity among passengers on the same flight, as those who were ticketed for a shorter (domestic) leg of the international trip (i.e., traveling between two U.S. cities on an international itinerary that continued beyond the second city) did not fall under the purvey of the Warsaw Convention. Until 1997, the maximum allowable recovery for damages against the airlines subject to the 70-year-old Warsaw Convention provisions was $75,000 (excepting actions grounded in "willful misconduct"). Families of domestic passengers on the same flight, conversely, could recover millions of dollars.
In 1997, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) joined with the U.S. DOT to sponsor an international agreement which removes the $75,000 limit of liability and permits passengers to recover full COMPENSATORY DAMAGES according to the laws of their place of permanent residence (domicile). More than 120 airlines have signed the agreement.
Cruise Line Travel
An area of more limited and restrictive legal rights is that of cruise line travel. In addition to accidents or injuries occurring on the vessels themselves, passengers may also be injured while being transported from ship to shore (embarking or disembarking), shopping in a port of call, on local excursion trips, or at a hotel owned by the cruise line. (The U.S. Supreme Court held, in Kenward v. The Admiral Peoples, 295 U.S. 649, 1935 that admiralty jurisdiction applied to an injury sustained on a gangplank leading to a ship.)
Admiralty (maritime) law (46 USC 183b) permits very short statutes of limitations for filing claims or lawsuits. For injuries occurring while on board cruise vessels that touch U.S. shores, passengers are generally required to file claims within six months and commence a lawsuit within one year, but CASE LAW suggests that the limitations must be "reasonably communicated" to passengers.
The passenger ticket is a very important document in the event of injury. It must disclose any limitations periods for filing suits or claims. Again, maritime law governs the rights and remedies of cruise passengers and preempts any state laws requiring "fine print" on consumer contracts to be printed in a certain print type or size.
The passenger ticket may also contain a "forum selection" clause. Such clauses generally provide that any disputes, claims, or lawsuits must be brought in the local court ("forum") in the country of the ship's registry or where the cruise line is headquartered. Again, these clauses are generally enforceable if notice to passengers is deemed adequate and fair. Forum selection clauses may be subject to JUDICIAL REVIEW for fundamental fairness or reasonableness.
Passenger tickets may also contain "choice of law" clauses, which are extremely important to a passenger's right to recover damages for injury or death. In such clauses, a statement of notice is made to the passenger that all disputes or claims will be resolved according to the laws of a certain country, state, or principality, etc. Choice of law clauses are generally enforceable but can be subjected to judicial review for PATENT unreasonableness or unjustness (such as fraudulent misrepresentation or overreaching). The application of foreign law may greatly impact the monetary damages or types of actions available to an injured traveler.
Waivers or limitations on liability may be contained in passenger tickets. Under maritime law (46 USC 183c), cruise vessels touching U.S. shores may not disclaim liability for physical injury or loss caused or contributed to by the vessel's negligence. However, in 1996, Congress enacted a provision (46 USC 183(b)(1)) permitting limitations on liability for infliction of emotional distress, mental suffering, or psychological injury.
Finally, if passengers are injured or need medical treatment while on board, cruise lines are generally not liable for MEDICAL MALPRACTICE of a ship's doctors or medical staff. Some courts have found liability when medical staff are touted or advertised by the cruise lines as an added benefit or advantage during the cruise.
Bus and Rail Tours and Packaged Tours
Generally speaking, the same rights and protections afforded passengers of other common carriers are extended to bus and rail travelers, as bus and rail systems are also considered "common carriers." Often, bus and rail tours are integral parts of total "package tours" arranged by a single tour operator or sponsor. U.S. based tour operators may not disclaim liability for injuries caused by their own negligence or the negligence of their agents or employees, but they may disclaim liability for injuries caused by a foreign supplier. Such disclaimers may be over-come by the application of certain theories of liability such as the following:
- Breach of warranty of safety: This may occur if the bus or rail tour operator promises that a particular travel service will be rendered in a safe manner, such as statements that recreational areas are "perfectly safe," or that buildings are "suitable for disabled persons."
- Negligent supervision: this theory applies for escorted tours handled by "qualified" or "trained" (etc.) tour directors or guides. When injuries occur as the result of the negligence of the guide, bus and rail tour companies may be held liable for negligent supervision, negligent hiring or selection, etc.
- Assumed ownership or control: this theory may apply in a minority of jurisdictions that hold tour operators liable for negligent travel services if they incorporate possessive language such as "our" or "we" when describing the availability or quality of travel services.
- Negligent or unreasonable exposure to risk: a minority of jurisdictions permit causes of action premised on a tour operator's failure to design or prepare an itinerary with safety risks considered, such as disease epidemics, political unrest, or inclement weather (for which the tour should be canceled or delayed).
- Motor vehicle accidents involving fault of a bus tour driver almost always results in liability on the part of the tour operators or providers.
Special Considerations for International Travel
- The FAA has limited air travelers to one carry-on bag and one personal item. All other luggage must be checked in.
- A government-issued photo identification (federal, state, or local) is generally required for passenger check-ins.
- Travelers should check their passenger tickets for such items as waivers of liability, time limits for filing claims, choice of law clauses, jurisdiction limits, etc., prior to implicitly accepting the terms by boarding the airplane, cruise ship, bus, or train.
- The State Department's Consular Information Sheets are available for every country in the world. They include information regarding unusual entry or currency regulations, drug penalties, unusual health conditions or high crime areas, political disturbances and areas of instability, etc. They are available at the 13 regional PASSPORT agencies, all U.S. embassies, and consulates abroad, and by electronic or first class mail (see below).
- Travelers are subject to the laws and customs of the countries they are in. Some of the offenses that U.S. travelers have been arrested abroad for include: drug violations; possession of firearms; photography of certain buildings, locations, or operations; and purchasing relics or antiques that were considered national treasures by host countries.
- Registration with the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate makes things easier in the event of a natural disaster, civil unrest, or terrorist attack. At a minimum, travelers should locate and be aware of the location of these entities wherever they travel.
Select State Provisions for the Licensing and Regulation of Travel Agents or Sellers
Under the laws of those states with express laws, travel sellers generally include tour operators and consolidators, travel agents, pseudo travel agents, time share salespersons, telemarketing representatives, Internet web sites, and travel discount clubs.
CALIFORNIA: See California Business and Professional Code Section 17554.
FLORIDA: See Florida Statutes Annotated, Sections 559.927(10) and (11).
HAWAII: See Hawaii Revised Laws, Section 486L.
ILLINOIS: See Illinois Annotated Statutes, Chapter 121 1/2, Section 1857.
IOWA: See Iowa STATUTE 120.4.
MASSACHUSETTS: See Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93A.
NEW YORK CITY: See General Business Law Sections 157 and 158.
OHIO: See Ohio Revised Code Annotated, Section 1333.99.
OREGON: See Oregon Revised Statute Section 642.218.
RHODE ISLAND: See Rhode Island Revised Laws Annotated, Section 5-52-12.
VIRGINIA: See Virginia Statutes, Section 59.1-448 et seq.
WASHINGTON: See Washington Revised Code Sections 19.138 et seq.
"The Cruise Passenger's Rights & Remedies" Dickerson, Thomas A., 2000. Available at http://courts.state.ny.us/tandv/cruiserights.html.
"Death on the High Seas Act" Available at .
Guide to Consumer Law. American Bar Association. Random House:1997.
Law for Dummies. Ventura, John. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc. 1996.
"The Legal Status of Travel Agents" Dickerson, Thomas A., 2000. Available at http://courts.state.ny.us/tandv/travelagent.html.
"The Licensing and Regulation of Travel Sellers in the United States" Dickerson, Thomas A., 2000. Available at http://courts.state.ny.us/tandv/Aqtaed1.htm.
"Recent Developments in Airline Disaster Law" Available at /.
"Tips for Travelers in a Time of War." Jackson, Kristin, The Seattle Times, October 22, 2001.