New Canadian Transportation Agency Decision Reconfirms Air Carriers' Right to Ban Unruly Passengers

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OTTAWA - January 31, 2001 - The Canadian Transportation Agency issued a new decision today confirming that air carriers, WestJet in this instance, have the right to impose sanctions on unruly passengers. These sanctions can include prohibitions from travel with that carrier for various periods of time, up to and including a lifetime ban.

However, to protect passengers from possible arbitrary action by an air carrier, a carrier's tariff must clearly set out a system of graduated sanctions to be taken against unruly passengers with the sanctions imposed being consistent with the severity of the incident.

The Agency, in its Decision No. 48-C-A-2001, states: "... a passenger having been found responsible for a minor incident affecting the comfort of the other passengers could be subject, according to the present wording of the tariffs, to a permanent ban. As the reasonableness of the sanction to be taken in relation to a particular incident is at the carrier's sole discretion, every passenger should be able to clearly understand the full extent of the carrier's authority to sanction an unruly passenger."

Further, the Agency concludes that WestJet's international and domestic tariffs "clearly provide that the air carrier has the ability to refuse or remove [from an aircraft] an unruly passenger on a one-time basis when this passenger's behaviour is a threat to the safety of that passenger or other passengers, the air crew or the aircraft." However, the Agency finds that the tariffs "do not clearly state WestJet's policy with respect to its authority to impose upon an unruly passenger a sanction other than simple refusal or removal."

Consequently, pursuant to the Canada Transportation Act and the Air Transportation Regulations, the Agency directs WestJet to ensure, within ninety (90) days from the date of the Decision, that its international and domestic tariffs "contain the terms and conditions of carriage clearly stating WestJet's policy in respect of refusal to transport unruly passengers."

In response to an Agency decision issued on January 3, 2001, the Air Transport Association of Canada invited Canadian air carriers to take part in a working session to be held in February on the topic of "air rage" with a view to developing a consistent approach to new tariff provisions relating to unruly passengers. The Canadian Transportation Agency welcomes this initiative.

The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent administrative quasi-judicial tribunal whose procedures are governed by the rules of natural justice which ensure that all parties receive fair and equitable treatment.

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For additional information:

Jadrino Huot
Communications Advisor
Canadian Transportation Agency
(819) 953-9957

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