Highlights of one-person-one-fare policy decision

The Canadian Transportation Agency has a number of ongoing cases concerning accessible transportation. The following are highlights from the Agency's One-Person-One-Fare Policy Decision.

After extensive written pleadings and evidence, and two hearings, the Agency issued a Decision expected to affect some 80,000 persons with disabilities.

On January 10, 2008, the Agency ordered Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet to adopt a One-Person-One-Fare Policy for persons with severe disabilities on flights within Canada. The airlines were given up to one year to implement the Policy, which does not apply to domestic segments of transborder and international trips.

The Decision means that, for domestic services, these carriers may not charge more than one fare for persons with disabilities who:

  • are accompanied by an attendant for their personal care or safety in flight, as required by the carriers' domestic tariffs; or
  • require additional seating for themselves, including those determined to be functionally disabled by obesity.

As well, the Agency ordered the Gander International Airport Authority, also a respondent in the case, not to charge its improvement fee for attendants of persons with disabilities.

The Decision does not apply to:

  • persons with disabilities or others who prefer to travel with a companion for personal reasons;
  • persons with disabilities who require a personal care attendant at destination, but not in-flight; and
  • persons who are obese but not disabled as a result of their obesity.

The Agency offered to facilitate a collaborative process to develop a common screening process for implementation of the One-Person-One-Fare Policy. Such a co-operative approach to work out common terms of compliance would potentially benefit Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz, WestJet and the Gander International Airport Authority, as well as other Canadian air carriers and airport authorities that may consider voluntary implementation of the Policy.

In February 2008, Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet sought leave to appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal.

In May 2008, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the airlines' application.

In August 2008, the airlines applied to the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal's Decision to dismiss their application.

On November 20, 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet's application for leave to appeal. The Agency's January 2008 Decision stands.

Current status

Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet are to implement a One-Person-One-Fare Policy by January 10, 2009.

Eligibility for the One-Person-One-Fare Policy is determined by the airlines. The carriers are implementing screening processes to determine eligibility. This process will require persons to submit documentation from their physicians or other medical practitioners upon reservation and usually at least 48 hours in advance of travel. Information on eligibility, process and medical documentation required is available from Air Canada and WestJet.

The carriers have internal processes for addressing complaints regarding their services including those offered to passengers with disabilities. Concerns regarding the carriers' application of their One-Person-One-Fare Policy should be directed to the carriers in order that they have an opportunity to address them. Recognizing that this Policy is new for the carriers and requires the administration of relatively complex processes, the Agency will monitor the implementation of the One-Person-One-Fare Policy and, if needed, will offer its facilitative assistance as a means of addressing any difficulties that may arise regarding persons' access to the Policy.

The One-Person-One-Fare Policy Decision is based on longstanding principles of equal access to transportation services for persons with disabilities, regardless of the nature of the disability, and the Agency's legislative mandate to remove "undue obstacles" to their mobility. The Decision respects related decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada and Federal Court of Appeal.

For more information on the Agency's One-Person-One-Fare Policy Decision:

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