In a decision released today, the Canadian Transportation Agency ordered Air Canada to increase, starting September 18th, 2013, its cash compensation when it bumps passengers off a plane.
Quoting the decision, “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 [i.e. $200]
* Between 2 and less than 6 hour delay = 100% of the base amount [i.e. $400]
* 6 hour delay or more = 200% of the base amount [i.e. $800]
* 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.”
Canadians have Halifax mathematician Dr. Gábor (Gabi) Lukács to thank for because the decision today is a direct result of his 2011 complain against Air Canada. Lukács said in an extensive video interview,
“This is a very very good news for all Canadian passengers, everybody who travels by air within Canada because it recognizes that passengers are entitled to be treated with respect as equal parties to the contract.” While Lukács was reluctant to estimate the total hours he had spent to launch the complaint and reply to Air Canada’s submissions since 2011, one of the document submitted was 47 pages long including exhibits!
Upon hearing the interviewer suggesting this delay compensation should be named after Lukács, similar to mathematical theorems were named after Euclid or Gauss, Lukács paused to think for a moment and then thoughtfully insisted that,
“… it doesn’t matter where it was me or somebody else who got those [air passenger] rights. What is important [is] that those rights are put in place. And that people will now have better treatment. It doesn’t matter it was me, or my neighbour, or my friend or you, or that person in another city who made those changes. For me, it’s a question of I’ve learned enough about airlines to know that something are just wrong and against the law. And when I happened to see that, like in the case of what happened in Ottawa airport, I cannot just walk by and do nothing. I feel a responsibility.
Knowledge gives some responsibility. When you know that something is wrong, and you have quite a good idea of how to fix it, that does impose on you some level of moral responsibility, social responsibility. And so the issue of air passenger rights needs a face in Canada. I don’t see myself as a full-time passenger rights advocate, I am a mathematician after all. But certainly, I know that I am able to bring, through the agency, to the Canadian public some prospectives & arguments that benefit everybody. So I do it.“
For me, next time I see Air Canada bumps passengers off a plane, I will feel better knowing we now have the right to be compensated $200, $400, or $800 assuming Canadians know this decision and Air Canada staff are trained to comply with this decision without making a fuss. Given the increased and quantifiable cash penalties attached to passenger delays, it is expected Air Canada will make some changes, hopefully reducing their flight overbooking problems. Only time will tell what consequences or unintended consequences this compensation will lead to.
In the future, if this reporter gets bumped and receives this compensation, I will remember to thank Dr. Gábor (Gabi) Lukács. To me, this delay compensation will always be known as Gabi Air Canada Compensation! Thanks Gabi for your great work.
Postscript: 1) You can follow Gabi’s Air Passenger Rights tweets on Twitter @AirPassRightsCA
2) If you have your own complaints against airlines to file, Gabi has shared an extensive archived documents (airlines complaints, replies, decisions) at the docs directory on the Air Passenger Rights website where you may get some ideas to help draft your own complaint!
3) And yes, Dr. Gábor (Gabi) Lukács is a professional mathematician and you can check out some of his publications here.