Decision No. 269-C-A-2000
April 14, 2000
IN THE MATTER of a complaint filed by Mounzer Aboumounzer with respect to Canadian Airlines International Ltd. carrying on business under the firm name and style of Canadian Airlines International or Canadi*n Airlines or Canadi*n's refusal to carry him on board Flight No. CP1611 from Montréal, Quebec to Toronto, Ontario on April 5, 1999.
File No. 4370/C14/99
On October 28, 1999, Mounzer Aboumounzer filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) the complaint set out in the title. On December 6 , 1999, Canadian Airlines International Ltd. carrying on business under the firm name and style of Canadian Airlines International or Canadi*n Airlines or Canadi*n (hereinafter Canadi*n) filed its answer to the complaint, and on December 29, 1999 Mr. Aboumounzer filed his reply. Both parties subsequently filed additional comments.
Pursuant to subsection 29(1) of the Canada Transportation Act, S.C., 1996, c. 10 (hereinafter the CTA), the Agency is required to make its decision no later than 120 days after the application is received unless the parties have agreed to an extension. In this case, the parties have agreed to an extension of the deadline until April 15, 2000.
On December 8, 1999, Canadi*n requested that the in-flight reports that were submitted as part of its reply on December 6, 1999, be maintained confidential by the Agency.
By Decision No. LET-A-21-2000 dated January 26, 2000, the Agency determined that the release of the information would not cause specific direct harm to Canadi*n, and therefore denied the application by Canadi*n. The documents were copied to Mr. Aboumounzer for comment.
The issue to be addressed is whether Canadi*n has complied with the Air Transportation Regulations, SOR/88-58, as amended (hereinafter the ATR) and the CTA in respect of this matter.
Mr. Aboumounzer and a companion purchased round-trip economy class tickets for travel between Montréal and Toronto. Mr. Aboumounzer's carry-on baggage included a travelling suit bag.
After boarding Flight No. CP1611, a discussion ensued between in-flight personnel and Mr. Aboumounzer about the stowing of his suit bag. Following discussions and further to the aircraft captain's orders, Mr. Aboumounzer was informed that he had to leave the plane. After retrieving his belongings, Mr. Aboumounzer and his companion were escorted off the plane.
Canadi*n provided Mr. Aboumounzer and his companion with new tickets for Flight No. CP1613, departing Montréal one hour later than their originally scheduled flight.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
Mr. Aboumounzer submits that, upon boarding the aircraft, he asked an in-flight agent if she could place his carry-on suit bag in the closet located in the first/business class section of the aircraft. The in-flight agent refused to oblige, and informed Mr. Aboumounzer that he would have to place his bag in the overhead compartment himself.
Mr. Aboumounzer states that he proceeded to his seat and his companion placed their carry-on bags in the overhead compartment. He kept his suit bag on his lap, but was informed by the in-flight agent that he could not keep his bag on his lap, and that he would have to place it in the overhead compartment. Mr. Aboumounzer states that he requested assistance from the agent to stow his bag in the overhead compartment, explaining that he suffered from back problems, but the agent refused.
Mr. Aboumounzer submits that a second in-flight agent informed him that it was Mr. Aboumounzer's responsibility to place his suit bag in the overhead compartment. According to Mr. Aboumounzer, the in-flight agent stated "Would you like me to call security to take you off the flight?", to which Mr. Aboumounzer replied that if he was going to be taken off the flight, he wanted his money back. Shortly after, Mr. Aboumounzer submits that a security guard approached him, and after a discussion, the security guard placed the suit bag in the overhead compartment.
Mr. Aboumounzer states that a customer service representative then informed him that he had to leave the plane, as per the aircraft captain's orders. He and his companion were escorted off the plane. According to Mr. Aboumounzer, he was the victim of ill treatment by badly trained and abusive employees, which caused him severe anxiety, embarrassment and delay in returning to his daily professional commitments.
For its part, Canadi*n submits that its staff acted in accordance with the provisions of its tariff, as well as Transport Canada directives in respect of a passenger who does not comply with instructions from a flight crew member.
In response, Mr. Aboumounzer submits that he did comply with the instructions he was given by the flight crew members to the limit of his physical capacity. Mr. Aboumounzer further states that only after he had been properly assisted in his efforts by the security guard to comply, and compliance with the flight crew's directive was achieved, did the flight crew members seek the intervention of the aircraft captain to have him removed from the plane.
The in-flight reports submitted by Canadi*n indicate that despite several requests from the in-flight crew, Mr. Aboumounzer did not comply with the instructions to stow his bag, as per Transport Canada regulations. One of the reports states that although Mr. Aboumounzer indicated that he had a sore back, he did not preboard, ask for assistance, or have an attendant.
Furthermore, the reports indicate that several passengers thanked in-flight crew for removing Mr. Aboumounzer because of his obnoxious and rude behaviour.
Mr. Aboumounzer submits that when he was denied access to the closet and ordered to his seat, he complied. When he was asked to place his suit bag in the overhead compartment, he did not refuse to comply but informed the flight attendants he could not do it himself because he is physically unable to lift weight above his shoulders.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The Agency is the legislative authority responsible for the economic regulation of air carriers. The role of the Agency is to ensure that the provisions of the CTA, as well as those of its attendant regulations, including the ATR, are complied with by air service operators.
Section 55 of the CTA defines a tariff as a schedule of fares, rates, charges and terms and conditions of carriage applicable to the provision of an air service and other incidental services. Subsection 67(1) of the CTA provides, among other matters, that the holder of a domestic licence shall publish and make available for public inspection its tariffs for the domestic service it offers.
Pursuant to paragraph 107(1)(n) of the ATR, tariffs shall contain the terms and conditions of carriage clearly stating the air carrier's policy in respect of, among other matters, the refusal to transport passengers or goods. The Agency has examined Canadi*n's tariff applicable to the service described herein.
The terms and conditions of carriage applicable to Canadi*n's flight from Montréal to Toronto on April 5, 1999 were governed by the air carrier's Domestic General Rules Tariff in effect at the time of travel.
Paragraph 6 of Rule 34CP, Refusal to Transport, of Canadi*n's Domestic General Rules Tariff provides, in part, that:
(6) Carrier may refuse to transport or may remove at any point any passenger whose behavior is interfering or has interfered with the safety or comfort of any other passenger or any crew member. Passenger shall discontinue any such behavior immediately upon request of a crew member.
After having fully examined the evidence provided by the parties, as well as all documents pertaining to the complaint, including the air carrier's tariff, the Agency finds that Canadi*n's domestic tariff clearly states the carrier's policy in respect of refusal to transport passengers or goods. The Agency is also of the opinion that Canadi*n did not act in a manner inconsistent with the above-quoted tariff provision.
In light of the above findings, the Agency has determined that Canadi*n has not contravened paragraph 107(1)(n) of the ATR. The Agency is of the further opinion that Canadi*n did not depart from its tariff in respect of this matter.
Consequently, the complaint filed by Mr. Aboumounzer is hereby dismissed.