Decision No. 664-AT-A-1999
November 25, 1999
IN THE MATTER OF Decision No. 309-AT-A-1998 dated June 17, 1998 - Lufthansa German Airlines.
File No. U 3570/96-12
In Decision No. 323-A-1997 dated May 27, 1997, the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) made a determination on the complaint filed by Angela Schreiner regarding difficulties she experienced when travelling with Lufthansa German Airlines (hereinafter Lufthansa) on a round-trip from Toronto, Ontario, to Dusseldorf, Germany, in October and November 1995. The Agency found that the requirement imposed by Lufthansa's doctor that she travel with an attendant resulted in an undue obstacle to her mobility and Lufthansa was required to issue a bulletin informing Lufthansa's contracted physicians in Canada of the services provided by Lufthansa, and of the relevant carrier policies regarding the transportation of persons with disabilities, including the acceptance of the person's determination of self-reliance. Lufthansa was also required to develop an amendment to its tariff to clearly reflect the services provided to persons with disabilities.
After consideration of the material submitted by Lufthansa, the Agency, in its Decision No. 309-AT-A-1998 dated June 17, 1998, determined that Lufthansa's amended guidelines and the bulletin issued to its contracted and replacement physicians were adequate. With respect to the amendment made by Lufthansa to its International Tariff, while recognizing that Lufthansa has reflected in its tariff the acceptance of the person's determination of self-reliance, the Agency was concerned with the absence of other basic provisions, such as the services it provides; seating restrictions; medical clearance; refusal to transport; and, acceptance of mobility aids and service animals.
The Agency determined that anyone consulting Lufthansa's tariff, such as Lufthansa's physicians, employees, agents, or travel agents, should be aware of the services provided by Lufthansa to persons with disabilities as well as any policies or requirements in place regarding the transportation of persons with disabilities.
Lufthansa was required to amend the provisions of its International Passenger Rules and Fares Tariff NTA(A) No. 312 to clearly reflect the services provided by Lufthansa to persons with disabilities and was requested to submit the proposed amendment for the Agency's review and approval prior to amending its tariff.
The issue to be addressed is whether the tariff provisions proposed by Lufthansa satisfy the requirements of Decision No. 309-AT-A-1998.
Lufthansa advises that it has reviewed all its internal corporate policies and notes that many of them are covered in its tariff NTA(A) No. 312. Lufthansa submits that a carrier is free to develop internal policies which are not considered as Conditions of Contract, and as such, these policies are not to be filed in the carrier's tariff. It also notes that many other carriers have similar internal policies which are not contained in their tariffs. However, in order to comply with the Agency's decision, Lufthansa has agreed to further amend its tariff.
On September 16, 1999, Lufthansa responded to the Agencys directives contained in its Decision No. 309-AT-A-1998 dated June 17, 1998. Lufthansa provided instructions to its agent, Airline Tariff Publishing Company (hereinafter ATPCO), to include the following provisions in Rules 21 and 25 of its International Passenger Rules and Fares Tariff, NTA(A) No. 312:
- Acceptance of Disabled Passengers - This provision sets out that the number of disabled passengers are only limited where groups are travelling together on aircraft with less than 100 seats; that with notification at the time of reservation, service animals will be accepted within the cabin without charge, as long as they are properly harnessed; and that blind passengers are not allowed on the upper deck during the flight of aircraft with spiral stairways.
- Reservations - This provision sets out the advance booking requirement policy, in order to permit Lufthansa to be aware in advance of the needs of the passenger and to make the necessary arrangements.
- Seating Restrictions - This provision sets out that persons with disabilities will not be permitted to occupy seats in designated emergency exit rows or on the upper deck of the B747.
- Mobility Aids - This provision sets out that the carrier will accept manual and battery operated wheelchairs. While non-spillable batteries are accepted, wet cell or spillable batteries will not. Furthermore, it provides that the carrier shall provide on-board wheelchairs for all flights operated from Canada and on all connecting flights on Boeing 747, Airbus A-300, A-310 and A-340 aircraft. Lastly, it sets out the restrictions on the number of bookings of persons with disabilities who are completely immobile and require assistance into the aircraft cabin, and to and from the cabin seat per aircraft type.
- Medical Clearance - This provision sets out that the carrier reserves the right to require a medical clearance from the company medical authorities if travel involves any unusual risk or hazard to the passenger or to other persons (including, in cases of pregnant passengers, unborn children).
As instructed by Lufthansa, ATPCO filed these new tariff provisions on September 14, 1999 which became effective on November 13, 1999.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The Agency has considered all of the material submitted by Lufthansa.
The Agency has reviewed the new tariff provisions filed by Lufthansa in its International Passenger Rules and Fares Tariff NTA(A) No. 312.
The Agency finds that these new provisions as set out in Rules 21(B), (C) and 25(B) are adequate and satisfy the requirements of Decision No. 309-AT-A-1998.
The Agency is satisfied that with the addition by Lufthansa of internal policies to its International Tariff regarding seating restrictions, medical clearance, refusal to transport, and, acceptance of mobility aids and service animals, Lufthansa now has appropriate provisions to ensure that anyone consulting Lufthansa's tariff will be aware of the policies and/or requirements in place regarding the transportation of persons with disabilities.
With respect to the services provided to persons with disabilities such as boarding and deplaning assistance, the Agency is aware that Lufthansa provides a full range of services including assistance during the boarding and deplaning process. The Agency also notes that Lufthansas policy of providing assistance during boarding and deplaning is reflected in its tariff, in provision 21(A) - Definitions where it is noted that assistance may be required by a person with a disability during the boarding and deplaning process.
The Agency is of the opinion that these new tariff provisions will assist in preventing the recurrence of similar situations such as those experienced by Mrs. Schreiner and in eliminating undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities.
Based on the above findings, the Agency does not contemplate further action with respect to this matter.