Decision No. 516-AT-A-2007

October 15, 2007

October 15, 2007

IN THE MATTER OF Decision No. 670-AT-A-2001 dated December 27, 2001 - Marie Laporte-Stark vs Air Canada.

File No. U3570/99-68


In its Decision No. 670-AT-A-2001 dated December 27, 2001 (hereinafter the Decision), the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) made a determination with respect to an application filed by Marie Laporte-Stark regarding the difficulties she experienced while travelling from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Montréal, Quebec, Canada, with Air Canada in December 1999.

The Agency found that certain difficulties experienced by Ms. Laporte-Stark constituted undue obstacles to her mobility. These include Air Canada's failure to explain the boarding procedures to Ms. Laporte-Stark in advance of boarding; to provide her with a braille passenger briefing card; to inquire as to whether she needed orientation of the aircraft features; to install tactile row markers in its aircraft; to refer Ms. Laporte-Stark to Customs Officers for the completion of her Customs Declaration Card; and to ensure that it had procedures for the relieving of guide dogs at the Dorval airport, now Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (hereinafter the Montréal airport). As such, the Agency directed Air Canada to take the five (5) following corrective measures, as set out in the Decision, and indicated that it would review the appropriateness of the measures taken:

  1. Issue a bulletin to in-flight personnel on the importance of providing large print and braille passenger briefing cards to passengers who are blind or visually impaired; and provide a copy of the bulletin to the Agency, along with an indication of the measures in place to ensure that an adequate supply of these cards is available on each flight.
  2. Inform the Agency of the measures that Air Canada will take to ensure that contractors that may provide its ground handling in Tel Aviv in the future will be aware that customers who are blind or have visual impairments must be given the choice of taking the bus or the lift truck, be provided with a briefing on the consequences of the two boarding choices (for example, pre-boarding versus travelling to the aircraft on the bus with other passengers), receive proper boarding instructions ahead of time, and be given enough time to prepare their animal when using the lift truck.
  3. Submit a plan and schedule for the installation of tactile row markers in its aircraft on the overhead bins or on the passenger aisle seats.
  4. Amend the script used for in-flight announcements to also refer customers with disabilities to Customs Officers for the completion of the Customs Declaration Cards; and submit a copy of the revised script to the Agency.
  5. Enter into discussions with the operator of the Montréal airport (hereinafter ADM), and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (now the Canada Border Services Agency) to determine the facilities and procedures needed to assist travellers in ensuring that guide dogs can relieve themselves in a timely manner at the Montréal airport; submit to the Agency, within ninety (90) days from the date of this Decision, the procedures Air Canada proposes to implement, and the time frame for implementation, for the recording and conveying of information to airport personnel with respect to the need for assistance to allow guide dogs to relieve themselves, as well as the procedures for the relieving of guide dogs at the Montréal airport. This is to include, where possible, providing this service before escorting passengers for Customs clearance following international flights.

On January 18, 2002, Air Canada applied for reconsideration of corrective measure 3 of the Decision, which involves the installation of tactile row markers on overhead bins or on passenger aisle seats of its aircraft. In Decision No. 66-AT-A-2002 dated February 8, 2002, the Agency determined that it would consider the application under section 32 of the Canada Transportation Act, S.C., 1996, c. 10, as amended.

On February 13, 2002, Air Canada filed its response to corrective measures 1, 2 and 4 of the Decision, and sought an extension of time to file its response to corrective measure 5, stating that it had been unable to enter into discussions with ADM and the Canada Border Services Agency and that certain security measures being implemented as a result of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 could affect or limit the implementation of measures to meet the requirements of this corrective measure. On April 5, 2007, Air Canada indicated that it would implement procedures introduced by ADM to provide a relieving area for service animals, and inform appropriate personnel of these procedures.

CONCLUSION

The Agency has considered Air Canada's response and the measures taken in response to corrective measures 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the Decision and is satisfied that the requirements of the Decision concerning these corrective measures have been met. As such no further action is necessary in this matter.

As for corrective measure 3 involving the installation of tactile row markers on overhead bins or on passenger aisle seats of Air Canada aircraft, this matter is still under review by the Agency and will not be addressed in this decision.

Members

  • Gilles Dufault
  • Beaton Tulk
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