Agency Orders WestJet to Provide Denied Boarding Compensation for Flights To and From Canada

OTTAWA – June 12, 2013 –  In decision number 227-C-A-2013 released today, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled on the reasonableness and clarity of WestJet’s international tariff provisions related to its denied boarding compensation.

In response to a complaint alleging that WestJet’s international tariff contained several unreasonable and conflicting provisions respecting denied boarding, WestJet will now have to provide compensation to passengers affected by denied boarding on flights to and from Canada. The Agency has ordered WestJet to revise its existing rules for travel to and from Canada.

In addition, the Agency has disallowed tariff provisions that exempt WestJet from liability for overbooking a flight. This is irrespective of whether that overbooking occurred for reasons outside of the carrier’s control or if WestJet gives the passenger a travel credit or a full refund.

The Agency is of the view that passengers should be able to fully understand their rights and the remedies available to them simply by reading the tariff, which is the contract between the carrier and the passenger.

A carrier meets its tariff obligation of clarity when, in the opinion of a reasonable person, the rights and obligations of both the carrier and passengers are stated in such a way as to exclude any reasonable doubt, ambiguity or uncertain meaning.

When considering the reasonableness of a carrier’s tariff, the Agency strikes a balance between the rights of passengers to be subject to reasonable terms and conditions of carriage and the carrier’s statutory, commercial and operational obligations.

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.

About the Canadian Transportation Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent administrative body of the Government of Canada. The Canadian Transportation Agency has a number of mechanisms in place and is helping to protect consumers by:

  • resolving disputes between members of the public and air carriers through facilitation, mediation or formal adjudication;
  • working with air carriers and members of the public to ensure that they are aware of their rights and obligations;
  • ensuring air carrier tariffs are compliant with Canadian legislation and regulations; and
  • working with the industry to remove obstacles to transportation to the mobility of persons with disabilities by resolving individual complaints and by developing codes of practice, standards and regulations for accessible transportation.

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

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