Decision No. 96-C-A-2017

October 16, 2017

APPLICATION by Ahmed Abouzeid against Icelandair ehf (Icelandair).

Case number: 
17-01689

SUMMARY

[1] Ahmed Abouzeid filed an application with the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) concerning the time at which Icelandair closed its baggage drop-off counter (counter) for Flight No. 602 at the Toronto Pearson International Airport (Airport) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 30, 2015.

[2] Mr. Abouzeid is seeking CAN$9,999.16 in compensation; CAN$2,499.16 for his one-way Air Canada ticket and CAN$7,500 for the time that he spent handling this case with Icelandair.

[3] The Agency will address the following issue:

Did Icelandair properly apply the terms and conditions set out in Rule 60 of its International Passenger Rules and Fares Tariff, NTA(A) No. 447 (Tariff), as required by subsection 110(4) of the Air Transportation Regulations, SOR/88-58, as amended (ATR)? If Icelandair did not properly apply the terms and conditions of carriage set out in its Tariff, what remedy, if any, is available to Mr. Abouzeid?

[4] For the reasons set out below, the Agency finds that Icelandair properly applied the terms and conditions set out in its Tariff, and dismisses the application.

BACKGROUND

[5] Mr. Abouzeid booked a return trip with Icelandair from Toronto to London, England via Reykjavik, Iceland. On December 30, 2015, Mr. Abouzeid was scheduled to travel on Icelandair Flight No. 602, departing Toronto at 8:10 p.m. He checked in online; however, when he arrived at Icelandair’s counter, it was closed. As a result, Mr. Abouzeid missed his flight. In order to arrive in London by December 31, he purchased a ticket from Air Canada from Toronto to London, departing on December 30.

THE LAW

[6] Subsection 110(4) of the ATR requires that a carrier operating an international service apply the terms and conditions of carriage set out in its tariff.

[7] If the Agency finds that an air carrier has failed to properly apply its tariff, section 113.1 of the ATR empowers the Agency to direct the carrier to:

  1. take the corrective measures that the Agency considers appropriate; and,
  2. pay compensation for any expense incurred by a person adversely affected by its failure to apply the fares, rates, charges or terms and conditions set out in the tariff.

[8] Rule 60 [F] of the Tariff sets out Icelandair’s terms and conditions with respect to arrival of passengers at airports.

The passenger must present himself at the airport of departure for check-in at least 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight on which he/she holds a reservation. If the passenger fails to arrive at such airport of departure by the established time limit or appears improperly documented and not ready to travel, carrier(s) will cancel space reserved for him/her. Departure will not be delayed for passengers who arrive at airports of departure too late for such formalities to be completed before scheduled departure time. Carrier(s) is not liable to the passenger for loss or expense due to passenger’s failure to comply with this provision.

Mr. Abouzeid’s position

[9] Mr. Abouzeid states that he checked in online and arrived at Icelandair’s counter at 7:08 p.m. for his flight. Mr. Abouzeid claims that when he arrived, the counter was closed and he could not find any employees at the counter to accept his baggage. He submits that he spoke with an Icelandair employee at 7:12 p.m. and that employee was unable to help him.

[10] Mr. Abouzeid states that he then contacted the Icelandair call centre and spoke to an agent who suggested that he be placed on a flight arriving in London on January 2, 2016. Mr. Abouzeid submits that, as he wanted to arrive in London by December 31, this was not an option. According to Mr. Abouzeid, he spoke to another agent who advised him that if he wanted to arrive in London on December 31, he should book a ticket with another airline.

[11] Mr. Abouzeid states that he booked an economy class ticket at the Airport to travel with Air Canada from Toronto to London.

Icelandair’s position

[12] Icelandair states that its counter was open from 4:30 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. and that Mr. Abouzeid did not arrive at the counter at 7:08 p.m. Icelandair refers to the correspondence filed by Mr. Abouzeid with his application, wherein an Icelandair representative states that “According to our findings the agents had almost finished boarding when you showed up. They may have been able to accept you but you were too late for checking in a bag.” In support of its version of events, Icelandair filed a signed statement from Juan Chuburu, the passenger service agent who was working at the counter for Flight No. 602.

[13] In his statement, Mr. Chuburu submits that he was present at the counter from 4:30 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. and that had Mr. Abouzeid arrived at 7:08 p.m., he would have been able to check in his baggage. He states that Mr. Abouzeid arrived late, after 7:20 p.m., and that Mr. Abouzeid saw him on his way to the office after he had closed the counter. Mr. Chuburu states that he was not able to check in Mr. Abouzeid’s baggage that late, as there was not enough time to have the baggage loaded onto the aircraft before the flight’s scheduled departure at 8:10 p.m.

[14] Icelandair argues that the deadline imposed on Mr. Abouzeid is consistent with Rule 60 [F] of its Tariff which states that passengers must check in at least 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.

Findings of fact

[15] When contradictory versions of events are presented by parties, the burden of proof falls on the applicant to establish that their version is most likely to have occurred. The Agency, therefore, in considering the evidence, must determine which of the different versions is more probable, based on the preponderance of evidence.

[16] In this case, Mr. Abouzeid alleges that Icelandair closed its counter for his flight before 7:10 p.m., that is, before the 60-minute cut-off time prior to the scheduled departure of his flight. However, Icelandair asserts that its counter was open until 7:20 p.m., 10 minutes after the cut-off time, and it filed a signed statement from one of its employees to support its version.

[17] The Agency finds that based on this evidence, Icelandair’s version of the events is more likely to have occurred. It is unlikely that Icelandair would close its counter early when at least one passenger, Mr. Abouzeid, had completed the online check in but had not yet presented himself at the counter. Icelandair filed evidence indicating that its practice is to keep the counter open until 7:20 p.m., 10 minutes beyond the cut-off time. Also, the evidence from Icelandair indicates that boarding was almost complete when Mr. Abouzeid presented himself, which would support a conclusion that he arrived at the counter after 7:10 p.m. While his assertion is that he arrived at the counter at 7:08 p.m., Mr. Abouzeid did not produce evidence to support this assertion. Accordingly, the Agency finds that Mr. Abouzeid did not arrive at the counter before 7:10 p.m.

ANALYSIS AND DETERMINATIONS

[18] Rule 60 [F] of the Tariff requires passenger to present themselves at the airport of departure for check in at least 60 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight. The Tariff further states that the carrier is not liable to the passenger for loss or expenses due to passenger’s failure to comply with this requirement.

[19] Based on the above, the Agency finds that, as Mr. Abouzeid arrived at Icelandair’s counter after the 60-minute cut-off time of 7:10 p.m. for his 8:20 p.m. flight, he did not comply with the requirements set out in Rule 60 [F] of the Tariff.

[20] Accordingly, the Agency finds that Icelandair properly applied its Tariff when it cancelled the space that was reserved for Mr. Abouzeid. It follows that Icelandair is not liable to Mr. Abouzeid for his ticket from Toronto to London or for the time that he spent pursuing this matter.

CONCLUSION

[21] The Agency dismisses the application.

Member(s)

Stephen Campbell
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