Decision No. 2-C-A-2018

January 10, 2018

APPLICATION by Jody Mckenna on behalf of herself and her husband, Colin Marshall (applicants) against Air Canada carrying on business as Air Canada rouge and as Air Canada Cargo (Air Canada).

Case number: 
17-03341

SUMMARY

[1] The applicants filed an application with the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) pursuant to subsection 110(4) of the Air Transportation Regulations, SOR/88-58, as amended (ATR), concerning Air Canada’s cancellation of several portions of the applicants’ multi-segment itinerary.

[2] The applicants seek compensation in the amount of EUR1,591.14 for the replacement tickets that they had to purchase. Additionally, they request that tickets sold by Air Canada’s agents clearly state that if a passenger misses a flight on a multiple-city itinerary, all subsequent flights will be cancelled.

[3] The issue before the Agency is whether Air Canada properly applied the terms and conditions set out in its International Passenger Rules and Fares Tariff, NTA(A) No. 458 (Tariff).

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

BACKGROUND

[5] The applicants purchased turnaround, open-jaw tickets issued by Air Canada. An open-jaw ticket consists of round-trip travel where the outward point of arrival and the inward point of departure are different. The applicants’ itinerary consisted of the following segments:

May 20, 2016: Toronto, Canada to Paris, France (first flight coupon);

May 23, 2016: Paris to Zurich, Switzerland (second flight coupon);

May 23, 2016: Zurich to Athens, Greece (third flight coupon); and,

June 4, 2016: Barcelona, Spain to Toronto (fourth flight coupon).

[6] The applicants travelled on the first flight coupon as scheduled; however, instead of using the second and third flight coupons, they took an alternate route to Greece. As the applicants did not check in or show up for travel on the second flight coupon, Air Canada cancelled the remaining flight coupons in their itinerary. Upon arriving at the Barcelona airport to travel on the fourth flight coupon, the applicants were informed that they would have to purchase new tickets in order to travel, which they did.

POSTIONS OF THE PARTIES AND FINDINGS OF FACT

The applicants’ position

[7] The applicants submit that their May 20, 2016 travel to Europe began with a visit to their daughter in Paris for three days, following which they were scheduled to travel to Athens on May 23, 2016 to meet their cruise. The applicants state that as their flight to Athens was not direct (and in light of their health issues), they took an alternate, direct route. By taking that alternate, direct route, the applicants arrived in Athens at 9:00 p.m. on May 23, 2016, instead of 12:50 a.m. on May 24, 2016.

[8] The applicants state that upon their arrival at the Barcelona airport for their return flight to Toronto, they were informed by Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. personnel (Air Canada’s agent) that their flight was pulled because they had missed their May 23, 2016 flight from Paris to Zurich. The applicants explain that while they were shocked and in disbelief, they explained to the Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. personnel that they had taken an alternate, direct route to Athens due to their health issues. The applicants submit that the Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. personnel advised them that the only way that they could get on the flight was to repurchase tickets from Air Canada’s partner, Deutsche Lufthansa Aktiengesellschaft. The applicants state that they then repurchased tickets at a cost of EUR1,591.14.

[9] The applicants raise issue with the fact that they were not informed of the cancellation of the remaining portions of their itinerary, and that nothing on their flight information stated that if they missed a flight, all subsequent flights would be cancelled. The applicants therefore request compensation for the replacement tickets that they purchased. They further request that tickets sold by Air Canada agents state that if a passenger misses a flight on a multi-city ticket, the airline will cancel all subsequent flights.

Air Canada’s position

[10] Air Canada acknowledges that as the applicants did not check in or show up for their flight from Paris to Zurich, the remainder of their itinerary was cancelled. Air Canada also confirms that the applicants were advised that they would have to purchase new tickets, which they did.

[11] Air Canada points out that Rule 25 of its Tariff clearly states that flight coupons must be used in sequence, and that one of the potential consequences for failure to respect this Rule is the cancellation of the remaining flight coupons. Air Canada states that this Rule is in accordance with the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) publication on “Coupon Sequence and Use”.

[12] In light of the above, Air Canada maintains that it acted in accordance with its Tariff when it cancelled the applicants’ remaining flight coupons, and that furthermore, Rule 25 of its Tariff is clear, reasonable, and not unduly discriminatory.

[13] With respect to the applicants’ concern that they were not informed of the cancellation of their remaining flight coupons, Air Canada argues that any such obligation would lay with the travel agency with which the applicants booked their travel. Air Canada adds that it is reasonable for airlines to assume that when passengers do not use a flight coupon without notifying the airlines, those passengers will not be using the remaining flight coupons on the same booking. Air Canada argues that given this reality, no obligation to notify the passengers exists.

[14] In terms of the applicants’ request that an explicit statement highlighting the cancellation policy be included in itineraries/receipts, Air Canada submits that IATA requires that itineraries/receipts issued by travel agencies include the following statement:

Carriage and other services provided by the carrier are subject to conditions of carriage, which are hereby incorporated for reference. These conditions may be obtained by the issuing carrier.

[15] In light of the above, Air Canada maintains that the onus is on the passengers to obtain copies of the conditions of carriage from carriers involved in the itinerary, and to verify the conditions of carriage themselves.

[16] In terms of compensation owed to the applicants, Air Canada states that as the value of the ticket used is greater than the fare paid for the entire itinerary, no refund for a fare difference is owed to the applicants. Air Canada however submits that the applicants are owed a refund of CAN$106.78 in taxes, and that a cheque in that amount will be sent to Ms. McKenna shortly.

Findings of fact

[17] The applicants acknowledge that as they took an alternate, direct route to Athens, they consequently did not travel on the second or third flight coupons of their scheduled itinerary. Air Canada concedes that when the applicants did not check in or show up for their flight from Paris to Zurich, the remainder of the applicants’ itinerary was cancelled. The Agency therefore finds that as a result of the applicants not using the second coupon of their scheduled itinerary, Air Canada cancelled the remaining portions of the itinerary.

ANALYSIS AND DETERMINATIONS

[18] Rule 25(B) of Air Canada’s Tariff states that flight coupons will be honored only in the order in which they are issued. At the time of the applicants’ travel, Rule 25(F)(b) stated that:

Where a ticket is not valid as the result of the passenger’s non-compliance with any term or condition of sale, with this rule or applicable fare rule, or where one or more tickets have been issued in furtherance of a prohibited practice, AC has the right in its sole discretion to:

    1. Cancel any remaining portion of the passenger’s itinerary or ticket
    2. Confiscate or revoke unused flight coupons
    3. Refuse to board the passenger or check-in the passenger or the passenger’s baggage or
    4. Assess the passenger for the reasonable remaining value of the ticket, which shall be no less than the difference between the fare actually paid and the lowest fare applicable to the passenger’s.

[19] Based on the above findings of fact, the Agency finds that Air Canada complied with Rule 25 of its Tariff when it cancelled the remaining portions of the applicants’ itinerary and assessed the applicants’ eligibility for a refund for the remaining value of their tickets. The Agency accepts that Air Canada’s cancellation of the unused portions of the applicants’ itinerary was unexpected and frustrating for the applicants. That being said, had the applicants contacted either Air Canada or their travel agency prior to deciding to take an alternate route to Greece, it is possible that they would have received information that may have led them to reconsider that decision.

[20] The Agency notes that Air Canada has filed evidence indicating that its Refund Services is in the process of issuing a cheque to Ms. McKenna in the amount of CAN$106.78, which represents the taxes and fees for the travel that the applicants did not complete. However, as Air Canada did not contravene the terms and conditions set out in its Tariff, Air Canada is not required to compensate the applicants for any expenses that they incurred as a result of the cancellation of the remaining portions of their itinerary.

CONCLUSION

[21] The Agency dismisses the application.

Member(s)

William G. McMurray
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