10

Consider an aircraft registered in country A. On a flight operated by an airliner based in country B, it carries passengers on a flight from country X to country Y. The flight path overflies airspace of country C and international airspace.

Assume that countries A, B, C, X and Y all have different legal drinking ages.

What is the legal drinking age on this flight? Does the same apply on ships?

  • Whichever is greater? – ShemSeger May 29 '15 at 13:58
  • 1
    The Tokyo Convention may be of interest, but I don't know enough about it to form a full answer. – Flup May 29 '15 at 15:20
  • 1
    The short answer is, in absence of a treaty or convention governing, then the law of the country over which the place is located govern for the time the plane is in overflight. Laws of a country are generally taken to extend upward from their boundaries (and downward for the control of mineral rights, etc.). – David Rankin - ReinstateMonica May 29 '15 at 16:45
  • @DavidC.Rankin Post as an answer? – L235 May 29 '15 at 17:09
  • 1
    related question on Avation SE: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/12532/… – Chad May 29 '15 at 19:54
5

The short answer is, in absence of a treaty or convention governing travel, then the law of the country over which the plane is located governs for the time the plane is in overflight. Laws of a jurisdiction (a country, or a state) are generally taken to extend upward from their boundaries (and downward for the control of mineral rights, etc.).

There are a number of jurisdictional cases where service of process (presenting a defendant with a copy of citation starting a civil suit) or an arrest has taken place on-board aircraft where the action had to take place over a given country or state to invoke jurisdiction.

As mentioned in the first sentence, there is nothing to prevent countries for entering into a Treaty or agreement that would alter the basic scheme, but absent a treaty or convention, the basic scheme of boundary extension would apply.

  • 2
    I expected this to be correct but all research I did hoping to improve your answer with citations indicates that the country of registration's laws apply. – Chad May 29 '15 at 19:55
  • You have to separate laws governing who is responsible for the aircraft and problems with the aircraft and laws governing in personam jurisdiction of the passengers aboard. While by regulation, the country of registration is responsible for the 'aircraft' (We see that in Malaysia Flight 370 Investigation), the general situs of the aircraft governs jurisdiction over, and laws applicable to, those on-board at any given moment in flight (aside from the terrorism applicable laws). Two different areas of law entirely. – David Rankin - ReinstateMonica May 29 '15 at 21:44
  • 4
    Does this means that if a flight overflies Saudi Arabia, all the women in the plane should put a veil (assuming that it is mandatory there)? – Gabriel Diego May 30 '15 at 20:39
  • 1
    There is something in law known as "legal realism", originally adapted as an explanation for why judges should have more discretion in sentencing when a seemingly trivial offense would dictate a life sentence under a "3-strikes and your out" framework (or the like). A weasle-word for making sure that judges had discretion to insure "the punishment fits the crime". It is applicable in many areas, like here. While there may be a technical argument all women should don burkas (sp?) over Saudi Arabia, the legal reality of the situation recognizes that "that's not going to happen." – David Rankin - ReinstateMonica May 31 '15 at 0:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.