A Vancouver Island family has been awarded $3,000 under the new federal air passenger protection rules on a flight they took from Comox to Fort Lauderdale on Air Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A Vancouver Island family has been awarded $3,000 under the new federal air passenger protection rules on a flight they took from Comox to Fort Lauderdale on Air Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

B.C. family wins landmark tribunal case against Air Canada

“I feel a little bit like it was David versus Goliath.”

A Vancouver Island family has been awarded $3,000 under the new federal air passenger protection rules for a pre-pandemic trip from Comox to Fort Lauderdale on Air Canada.

In a Jan. 28 decision in the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal (an administrative tribunal that has jurisdiction over small claims under $5,000, strata property disputes, motor vehicle accident injury claims and others) ordered the airline to pay Robert McNabb, Adrianne McNabb and their son Jonathan McNabb $3,000 in damages, and $159 in interest and fees.

The Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) came into effect Dec. 15, 2019, and since the family travelled after the federal law came into effect, the APPR could apply, noted tribunal member Rama Sood in her decision.

In July 2019, the McNabbs, who live in the Comox Valley, booked roundtrip flights with Air Canada from Comox to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which left on Dec. 31, 2019 and was set to return to the Valley Jan. 13, 2020. Their itinerary called for connecting flights in Vancouver and Montreal during both the flight out and return flight.

Upon their return to Canada, the McNabb’s flight from Montreal to Vancouver was delayed, which caused them to miss their connecting flight into Comox – the last flight of the day. They stayed overnight in Vancouver and flew out the following day; Air Canada did not pay for their accommodation, meals or transportation.

RELATED: Airlines failed to prepare adequately for new passenger rights charter: report

In the decision, Sood noted the McNabbs say the flight delay was within Air Canada’s control since it was due to staffing issues. Air Canada denied the delay was due to staffing issues and noted the one hour and 13-minute delay (the flight was delayed twice) was due to situations outside of its control.

The airline added it was only obligated to rebook the McNabbs’ flight to Comox, which it did. They also offered the McNabbs a 15 per cent promotional code as a goodwill gesture, which they declined.

While she agreed with some of the reasons for the initial delay, Sood said Air Canada’s reasons for the second delay were vague.

“On Jan. 13, it stated the delay was ‘due to additional preparation time,’ and then on Jan. 20 it stated the delay was ‘due to scheduling issues.’ It now says the delay was due to the crew’s flight to Montreal arriving late due to mechanical failure. Air Canada did not explain what the mechanical failure was and so I find it has not proved the delay was beyond its control, or within its control but due to safety purposes … I find the second delay within Air Canada’s control,” she wrote.

According to a rule within the APPR for provisions for delays, Sood noted the McNabbs are entitled to receive compensation of $1,000 each.

“I feel a little bit like it was David versus Goliath,” said Robert from his Royston home. “My hope was (going into this) was win or lose, we could come out of this with a way to tighten up air passenger regulations.”

He originally went through a complaint process directly with Air Canada upon their return to the Comox Valley, and “the results came back less than satisfactory – it was quite maddening.”

He and his family then decided to file the formal complaint to the Civil Resolution Tribunal in late summer 2020.

While he is delighted by the result, Robert admitted he fully expects Air Canada will object to the decision and will take the case to provincial court. Unlike in court, decisions made in the tribunal are not relied upon as ‘case law.’

If the case does go to court, Robert said he will consult with advocate Gábor Lukács who runs the Air Passenger Rights website and has filed more than two dozen successful complaints with the Canadian Transportation Agency.

To see the full decision, visit the CRT website: https://bit.ly/2Ldn1Bb



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual all candidates forum for the Coast Mountains School District trustee by-election on Feb. 23, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Terrace trustee candidates lay out top priorites during virual all candidates forum

All candidates forum was held virtually on Feb. 23, 2021

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Most Read