Canadian Transportation Agency Symbol of the Government of Canada

Two Agency Decisions Increase Rights and Remedies of Passengers Travelling with Air Canada and Porter

OTTAWA – August 29, 2013 – In two separate decisions released today, the Canadian Transportation Agency ordered Air Canada and Porter Airlines to revise certain domestic tariff provisions.

A tariff is the contract between the carrier and the passenger which contains an air carrier’s terms and conditions of carriage. Tariff provisions are enforceable by the Agency.

“Passengers have a fundamental right to be informed about schedule changes that affect their itinerary and ability to travel and to be compensated or refunded in a reasonable fashion,” said Geoff Hare, Chair and CEO of the Agency. “These decisions help ensure that consumers are protected when experiencing schedule changes while travelling with Air Canada and Porter.”

In its Decision No 204-C-A-2013 issued in May 2013, the Agency acknowledged that Air Canada should have the flexibility to determine when an aircraft should be substituted for operational and safety reasons.

The Agency gave the carrier the opportunity to demonstrate how these conditions could be met in its tariff. As indicated in today’s final decision, as Air Canada failed to do so, the Agency determined that the carrier has to provide boarding compensation to affected passengers. The Agency has also concluded that the regime proposed by the complainant is the preferable option to apply as it strikes a reasonable balance between the consumers’ interest and Air Canada’s commercial obligations.

Air Canada now has to revise its denied boarding compensation regime by September 18, 2013, to reflect the following compensation provisions:

  • Less than 2 hour delay = 50% of the base amount
  • Between 2 and less than 6 hour delay = 100% of the base amount
  • 6 hour delay or more = 200% of the base amount
  • The base amount is established as $400

This compensation applies solely to involuntary denied boarding, and does not relate to situations where a passenger volunteers to be denied boarding for whatever compensation Air Canada wishes to offer.

In a separate decision, the Agency dealt with Porter’s responsibility for schedules and operations, as well as the reasonableness and clarity of its domestic tariff. In response to the complaint, Porter proposed certain tariff revisions, which the Agency found still lacked clarity and some were found to be unreasonable.

The Agency finds that it is unreasonable for Porter to refuse to refund the fare paid by a passenger because of its cancellation of a flight. The Agency found that, consistent with Decision No. 16-C-A-2013, Porter should make reasonable efforts to provide passengers with accurate information on schedule changes and the reasons for them.

Porter now has until September 30, 2013, to revise its tariff provisions for domestic flights as per the findings in the decision.

About the Canadian Transportation Agency

The Agency is responsible for, among other things, resolving complaints related to an air carrier's terms and conditions of carriage set out in its tariff.

The Agency has the authority to address the terms and conditions of carriage for domestic traffic on complaint and for international traffic on complaint and its own motion. In these contexts, the Agency has the power to suspend, disallow or substitute the terms and conditions of carriage.

Agency complaints are treated on a case-by-case basis. Each decision is based solely on the individual merits of the case. In the course of the process, the Agency assesses relevant facts and circumstances, by way of written submissions, weighs the various factors and makes a decision based on law and evidence presented by the parties involved in the cases.

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Related Agency decisions

Air Canada

For more information on dispute resolution for air travellers, consult the Backgrounder: Dispute Resolution for Air Travellers.

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