Air Canada faces class-action lawsuit

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Montreal — A Quebec judge has approved a class-action lawsuit against Air Canada (TSX:AC.B) on behalf of disabled people who had to pay extra for seats.

The suit covers both disabled individuals and those with a functional disability related to obesity who faced extra charges for seats adapted to their condition.

It is also filed on behalf of those who had to pay extra fees when acting as the attendant for a person with a disability.

The class action is specifically for people who traveled on a domestic flight from Dec. 5, 2005 to Dec. 5, 2008.

Air Canada could not immediately be reached for comment.

Organizations: Air Canada, TSX

Geographic location: Montreal, Quebec

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  • MS GIGGLES
    December 13, 2011 - 10:16

    There are two different issues going on here -- obese and disabled are NOT the same thing....... I don't think anyone can argue that a disabled person should be accomodated at no extra charge. If Air Canada doesn't have specialized seating to accomodate someone who is disabled, same as every employer and retail business should, they really should accomodate the best way they can, at no extra charge. That said, if you're obese, to be quite frank, you should own that other half of your arse and pay for it........you shouldn't be allowed to decrease flight capacity for free. It's not discrimination when Air Canada is offering you the option of flying -- either squeeze your arse into the standard seat, or pay extra for more space and comfort.........let me stress that this post is not meant to be insulting, I'm a larger person myself.......but a private company, even one as large as Air Canada, should not have to pay for my lifestyle.......

  • Maggy Carter
    December 12, 2011 - 14:35

    Two seats (or three with attendant) for the price of one is only one of many instances in which the general public, as consumers or taxpayers, subsidize the personal expenses of others. It is extremely common in health care wherein patients with self-inflicted wounds, dependencies, or medical conditions are treated no differently from others. Such enlightened policies are the mark of a compassionate society. But air travel is normally not a medical issue. It may be a work related requirement but so are the threshold physical and mental standards for acceptance in the police force or military. A seat in an aircraft is not much different than a seat at Mile One, the Arts & Culture Centre or a Greyhound bus. When courts rule on such claims, they will typically look to the inevitable application of their decisions beyond the case at hand. Failure to do so opens their judgments to the non-judicial law of unintended consequences. This might be one such case. Like those suffering from substance abuse, we need to offer obese people a full range of public supports designed to address the underlying cause of their condition. That is not the same however as contorting ourselves, our public infrastructure and our commercial services to accommodate the limitations arising from those self-imposed conditions. Indeed even the mere acknowledgement that they have a debilitating condition is often seen as politically incorrect. Absent any public disapproval or private consequences of behaviors that are self-destructive, what is the motivation to make critical life-style changes? Airlines could possibly accommodate obese passengers if there are unsold seats on a particular flight. But no paying passenger should be deprived of a seat on a flight because another passenger requires the use of two seats for the price of one. When the pendulum is allowed to swing too far there is invariably a backlash.

  • NO WAY EDMUNG
    December 12, 2011 - 13:23

    You got to be kidding me EDMUND. obesity is NO WAY A disability. May they should sue McDonalds for all the fat foods that lead to this .. oh ya .. i forgot THEY CHOOSE TO EAT THIS FOOD. I know, i'm a food lover and i have to SAY NO to these high cal, fat foods. No way should air canada be sue. IF there BUTTS take up two seats, then they should have to pay for two seats and I agree with ELI .. they could of picked another way of transport if they were not up for paying for the fees ... good god help socitey

    • Edmund
      December 13, 2011 - 12:34

      Hey No Way, Eli, Maggie etc., glad to see some are paying attention to this issue. My reference was to those with Mental (down syndrome) and Physical (genetic obese problem, broken limbs) disabilities. I guess I should have been more specific. Any carrier, Air Canada or other, should not charge these people extra. I agree that self inflicted obese persons should have to choose the larger seats in business or first class and pay the going price. Eli, hope your leg is better and yes I pay too much taxes. Try getting a war vet back from Asia who fell and broke a hip while on a soldiers reunion trip. After a month of haggling with Governments and Insurance companies while he remained in hospital and not being able to get commercial air carriers to give him space, even in first class, with an attendant on a 36 hour trip to come home, at a cost we were willing to pay of $21,000.00. We finally had to arrange for a private jet to do the trip at a cost of over $200,000.00. So please pardon my love of Air Canada for their helpfullness when disabled people are in a pinch. Until people like those with the law suit and myself start bringing these issues to the forefront for the public to know about nothing changes for the less fortunate with disabilities beyond their control.

  • Edmund
    December 12, 2011 - 12:47

    Hey Eli, get your head out of your a--e. Obviously you do not have a disability (other than your head) and have never had to care for or travel with someone who has a disability. If you did you would never have made this ststement. Try it sometime and experience first hand how difficult it is for those challenged individuals and their caregivers to get around especially on airplanes. This also relates to those struggling with weight problems. It is, in my opinion, an insult to humanity, especially for those with disabilities, for Air Canada or any other carrier to expect them to pay extra for having a disability. If anything they should be offering more assistance at reduced rates. As for you, go volunteer some of your idle time to some charitable organization for people with such disabilities so you may be able to make an educated opinion about such matters the next time. Be careful what you wish for, maybe you will break a leg on vacation and have to pay extra to get home, see what that feels like. Don't tell us what you think it is like until you walk a mile in their shoes.

    • Eli
      December 12, 2011 - 15:29

      Thank you Edmund. I actually contracted a disability away from home. I knew my splinted leg would not fit me into a coach seat on an airplane. That was not the airlines fault. They had a product for sale and their coach seat was'nt suitable for me. So I booked a first class bulkhead seat and was just fine. I might remind you that airlines are not charities, unlike the government that gets you anything and everything you want...and we pay for. I'm aware some obese people are genetically fat. A lot are not. Go to the recycle depot and see the huge amound of soda pop bottles turned in every week. It would be a real show if they recycled salt beef buckets. It took me a couple of months payments but I eventually paid for my ticket, no cost to you. You do pay taxes?

  • Eli
    December 12, 2011 - 10:52

    A bottle of beer too small for my thirst? A Toyota I can't comfortably get into? A TV recliner too small for my butt? A futon that cracks under my weight? Sue everybody! For heavens sake stop blaming the world for disabilitIES. Air Canada, Toyota, Laze -E - Boy, and every other PRIVATE service provider sell a product. If it doesn't suit you, go someplace else. Paracite lawyers sicken me.