British Airways to Provide More Reasonable Terms and Conditions

How the Canadian Transportation Agency Helps Air Passengers

January 17, 2014 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Transportation Agency

In a decision released today (Decision No. 10-C-A-2014), the Agency deemed certain British Airways’ tariff provisions unreasonable and ordered the carrier to revise them accordingly, by February 17, 2014. As a result, provisions that deal with baggage liability and its limits, as well as loss, damage or delay of items, and scheduling changes will be consistent with the applicable Conventions and will clarify the terms and conditions of carriage of British Airways’ passengers.

By that same date, the carrier also has to demonstrate why it should not apply one of the following denied boarding compensation:

  1. The regime applicable in the United States of America (200% of fare, with a maximum of $650, if alternate transportation is offered, and 400%, with a maximum of $1,300, if not);
  2. The regime proposed by the complainant as set out in Decision No. 342-C-A-2013 ($200 to $800);
  3. The regime proposed by Air Canada as set out in Decision No. 442-C-A-2013 ($200 to $800); or
  4. Any other regime that British Airways may propose that the Agency may consider to be reasonable.

This ruling strikes a balance between the passengers’ rights to be subject to reasonable terms and conditions of carriage and British Airways’ statutory, commercial and operational obligations.

The Agency helps air passengers in two primary ways:

  1. When they are not satisfied with how a carrier has dealt with their issue such as lost baggage or cancelled flight. After first attempting to resolve their issues with the air carrier, passengers can file a complaint with the Agency and be assisted through its informal dispute resolution processes, which include the facilitation and mediation services, or by filing a formal complaint which will be adjudicated through a court-like process.
  2. If an air passenger wants to challenge a carrier’s policies (tariff provisions) as being unclear, unreasonable or discriminatory for such things as compensation when they are denied boarding or are not adequately informed of changes in flight schedules. In such cases, they can file a formal complaint which can be adjudicated through a court-like process.

In 2012-13, the Agency assisted approximately 370 travellers in resolving disputes through its facilitation and mediation services. The Agency strives to process complaints through facilitation within 90 days and within 30 days for mediation after receiving completed applications.

In that same year, the Agency issued 16 adjudicated decisions that have ordered specific domestic and international carriers to make changes to their policies to address problems of clarity, reasonableness and discriminatory aspects of their tariff provisions affecting the rights of air passengers.

Quick Facts

Examples of adjudicated Agency decisions that have clarified or strengthened the rights of passengers travelling with specific air carriers include:

Denied boarding

  • Air Canada’s domestic compensation rate for denied boarding now ranges from $200 to $800 and is based on the length of the delay (Decision No. 342-C-A-2013);
  • Air Canada’s international compensation rate for denied boarding now ranges from $200 to $800 and is based on the length of the delay (Decision No. 442-C-A-2013); and,
  • WestJet provides denied boarding compensation for flights to and from Canada (Decision No. 227-C-A-2013).

Scheduling changes

  • Porter provides better information on schedule changes and the reasons behind them (Decision No. 344-C-A-2013);
  • Air Transat provides the same protection for passengers who are affected by flight advancements or delays (Decision No. 327-C-A-2013); and,
  • Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat now let passengers choose whether they prefer to receive a refund or be rebooked when a flight is delayed, overbooked or cancelled. The news release can be consulted.

Baggage liability

  • Sunwing increased its liability for the loss of or damage to baggage (Decision No. 249‑C‑A‑2013); and,
  • United Airlines’ tariffs now clearly reflect its policy on baggage liability (Decision No. 182‑C‑A-2012).

Fares

  • Jet Airways (India) Limited now properly applies its terms and conditions for the cancellation of tickets (Decision No. 284-C-A-2013).

Contacts

News Media Enquiries, Canadian Transportation Agency, media@otc-cta.gc.ca, 819-934-3448.

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