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Do You Issue Tickets on Private Flights?

The discussion started here (thanks to @achimha and @Patrick for the helpful inputs) made me thinking: shall we issue tickets on private flights?

The topic of liability and insurance has probably been mentioned in every law course but I never heard somebody answering it fully and directly. I’ve heard absolutely different oppinions (from instructors), ranging from “Issue a ticket, even if your passengers don’t pay anything, just say they paid a salad for you” to “You should think well before issuing a ticket because by doing so you admit that everything that goes wrong is your fault”.

So what do you do when you go flying with others in the case that:
- they pay a share of the flight
- they don’t pay anything?

Last Edited by Vladimir at 24 Jun 13:57

What do you want to prove with your ticket? That they paid a share and that it was amount x and not more? I don’t really see the need for it, in which scenarios would you benefit from having issued such a ticket?

I would even find it dubious in the sense that it makes it look like a commercial operation.

I sometimes gave away flights to close friends/relatives and printed them on a fake Lufthansa Boarding pass (with seat 1B). That’s about as far as I would go.

Essen-Mülheim (EDLE), Düsseldorf (EDDL), Paderborn (EDLP), Mönchengladbach (EDLN), Germany

The idea of issuing a ticket had to do with the liability and insurance. When I studied for my PPL theory (about 2005) we were told that if you don’t issue a ticket you are limitlessly liable against your passengers. I.e. if something happens you have to pay them whatever they want/win in court. With the ticket you could limit your liability to some amounts which later changed to some types of “virtual” currency or points which had exchange rates to normal currencies.


Well, limitation of liability is a complex legal matter that chiefly depends on the country. It is not really different from taking somebody in your private car. There it is very common advice (here in Germany) that you sign a liability waiver. However, those can be very tricky because typically the law would set limits in how far you can go when you exclude liability and your whole agreement might be invalid.

If you take somebody with you in the aircraft, car, boat, sleigh, etc. you are liable. To which extent depends on the exact legal situation. If you have a passenger liability insurance, then you can get compensation for liability damages.

Personally I don’t worry much about these things. Life is full of risk, the ultimate one is that you die one day.

The ticket had a very specific purpose under the Warsaw convention on international air travel in that it limited the transporter’s (eg pilot’s) liabilities. Under the Warsaw convention the transporter was only liable in case of mistake. Failure to emit a carriage ticket would render the transporter liable regardless of having committed a mistake or not, and there would be no upper limit on the liability

Under the terms of the newer Montreal convention, the transporter has a causal liability (ie. one that is not conditioned by having made a mistake) of up to 100’000 SDR. Liabilities exceeding that sum are still subject to the pre-existence of an error, but in a marked change from Warsaw are unlimited.

Under the Montreal convention (and Swiss legislation and all other Montreal convention signatories) while the ticket is still technically required, failure to emit one has no practical effect (other than maybe a fine) as the liability limits do not change.

Nota bene – the precondition for applying the Montreal convention is the existence of remuneration for the flight. A free flight is not subject to the terms of the convetion.

Last Edited by Shorrick_Mk2 at 24 Jun 14:24

Shorrick_Mk2 wrote:

the transporter has a causal liability (ie. one that is not conditioned by having made a mistake)

I don’t completely understand that. Does it mean you are liable no matter if you made a mistake or not? E.g. engine dies because of bad maintenance (you are not the owner but are renting the plane) – are you liable and to what extent?



Suppose the engine dies, you crash, the passenger dies. Suppose you have to compensate the heirs / family for financial support to the tune of CHF 500’000. As the crash is not due to pilot error, you the pilot are only liable up to SDR 100’000 equivalent in CHF. You / your heirs can then try to sue the maintenance company to get that back.

Always good to check what rental prices cover in terms of insurance liability. Normally the SDR 100’000 coverage insurance is covered in Swiss rentals.

Last Edited by Shorrick_Mk2 at 24 Jun 14:42

That’s a bit scary with 100’000 SDR being about 76’000 CHF (or EUR) even in case of no error.

So the conclusion is that for a paid private flight a ticket is not a requirement and you can fly without one.


The ticket is always a requirement when the flight is remunerated (Montreal Convention, and Swiss Ordinance on Air Transport – and equivalent body of laws in signatory countries). The difference under the new law is that if you do not issue the ticket your liablility exposure does not change.

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