The way Porter Airlines treats its passengers is about to change, thanks to the efforts of a Halifax mathematician.
On Wednesday, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), the body responsible for governing the airline industry, disallowed some provisions in Porter's tariffs — the rights and obligations that passengers are entitled to when flying with the airline — after it found the tariff's wording violated the Montreal Convention. The convention is an international agreement designed to protect passengers, and determines the payment passengers can expect from airlines for damages.
Porter must now rewrite their policies on lost baggage and delayed flights so passengers are better informed they will be compensated. The CTA said that the current version of the tariff was "silent" and "unreasonable" and omitted the fact that an airline is legally liable if a flight is late, rescheduled or a passenger's baggage is misplaced. However, the decision also adds Porter will not be held liable if flights are delayed due to factors beyond the airline's control, such as events of disruptive weather.
The ruling comes after Gabor Lukacs, a mathematician and an airlines passengers right activist, brought the case to the CTA last April. Lukacs calls the decision a win for passengers.
"This is a significant gain for passengers, because the tariff (policy) is the blueprint of how the airline is supposed to behave and treat passengers," he told Linda Nguyen of the Canadian Press in an e-mail.
“We’ve actually been operating under the premise for quite awhile [sic] that is essentially in line with the (transport agency) ruling,” Porter Airlines spokesperson Brad Cicero told the Star.
“What we do is provide compensation for delays on a case-by-case basis," said Cicero, adding that the airline has handed out things like meals and travel vouchers as forms of compensation in the past.
This isn't the first time a Canadian airline has had to amend its obligations to passengers. A few years ago, Lukacs filed a complaint against Air Canada and WestJet — and won both times, according to the Chronicle Herald.
In the case of Air Canada, the CTA ordered the airline to replace the rules surrounding international baggage after the company said it wasn't responsible for items like money or the jewelery in the checked luggage of passengers on certain flights.
For WestJet, the agency ruled that its $250 cap for luggage remeasurement was not high enough, and mandated the airline increase the payment to $1,800.
Porter now has less than 20 days to revise the wording used in its tariff.
With files from the Canadian Press
Earlier on HuffPost:
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Ryanair Boarding Pass Fees
Songstress Lily Allen took to twitter to express anger over<a href="http://news.travel.aol.com/2011/06/06/lily-allen-twitter-ryanair-boarding-pass/" target="_hplink"> Ryanair's policy of charging passengers to print out their boarding passes</a>.
Spirit's Online Booking Fee
In November 2011, Spirit Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/spirit-airlines-raises-on_0_n_1093430.html" target="_hplink">raised its domestic "passenger usage fee" (aka online booking fee) from $8.99 to $16.99</a> each way.
Southwest Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/southwest-airlines-fees-fuel-costs_n_1381008.html" target="_hplink">raised its ticket prices by $4 to $10 to offset the high cost of jet fuel</a> in March 2012. Its subsidiary AirTran, plus United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, US Airways, Frontier Airlines and Virgin America followed suit.
Ryanair Emergency Row Fee
Ryanair found itself under investigation after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/ryanair-in-hot-water-over_n_1366497.html" target="_hplink">instituting a 10 pound fee to sit in the emergency row</a>.
Allegiant Air's Carry-On Fee
In April 2012 the budget carrier announced a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/02/allegiant-air-carry-on-fe_n_1397911.html" target="_hplink">$35 carry-on fee</a>.
Spirit's New Carry-On Fee
A month later, low-cost Spirit Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/spirit-airlines-carry-on-fee_n_1472508.html" target="_hplink">upped carry-on fees to as much as $100</a>.
Airlines Could Charge Extra For Seats Together
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United's $100 Bag Fee
In June 2012, United <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/united-airlines-raises-international-bag-fee_n_1589223.html" target="_hplink">raised its fee for a second checked bag on trans-Atlantic flights to $100</a>. Delta had done the same a few months earlier.
Wizz Air's Carry-On Fee
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Credit Card Booking Fee
In August 2012, Airefarewatchdog called out <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-hobica/the-latest-airline-fee-credit-card_b_1829396.html">Allegiant Airlines for charging more to book flights via credit card</a>.
Southwest Airlines' Early Boarding Fee
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United Fare Increase
United Airlines announced in December 2012 that it would be raising domestic fares up to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/united-airlines-raises-prices-10-dollars_n_1954864.html" target="_blank">$10 per round trip</a>. While the price bump is minimal, travelers looking for the best deal could be dissuaded from purchasing the slightly more expensive tickets.
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American Airline Fare Initiatives
In response to "nickle-and-diming" complaints, American Airlines introduced new <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-hobica/american-airlines-new-fare_b_2312289.html" target="_blank">fare-bundling initiatives</a>. The options -- "choice essential" and "choice plus" -- offer an array of packaged perks for one set price, rather than a la carte. While many complained about the initiative, others saw it as a way to get more for your money.
United Premier Access
United Airlines rolled out "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/01/united-premier-access-rip-off_n_2788513.html" target="_blank">Premier Access</a>" in March 2013. The program includes a designated check-in and security lines, and priority boarding and bagging handling. While the fees for the exclusive services only start at $9, travelers must <em>already</em> be elite customers.
Frontier Third-Party "Fees"
In May 2013, <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2013/05/frontier-airlines-carry-on-fees-050213?MBID=twitter_" target="_blank">Frontier announced</a> that anyone purchasing a ticket through a third-party, such as travel agents or websites like Expedia, would be subject to additional fees. In reality, the fees are actually perks (such as carry-on luggage) Frontier only offers to travelers booking through the airline directly.
New Alaska Airline Fees
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